Derby-Lewis freedom bid postponed

By Drum Digital
02 December 2014

An urgent application by Clive Derby-Lewis for his immediate release from prison was postponed indefinitely in the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday.

This was after Derby-Lewis and the justice and correctional services minister reached an agreement about when his application for medical parole would be considered.

Derby-Lewis was admitted to hospital months ago suffering from a range of medical problems. He has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, which, according to his attorney Marius Coertze, is inoperable because he is too weak to survive surgery.

He said a scan of Derby-Lewis's lungs showed one lung was already riddled with cancer and about to collapse.

Coertze said Derby-Lewis had been given only months to live, but correctional services had been dragging its heels on his release since May.

Judge Andre Louw granted an order, joining the SA Communist Party and the late SACP general secretary Chris Hani's widow Limpho as respondents in the application.

Coertze did not object to the order.

Hani has in the past maintained that Derby-Lewis never revealed the full truth about her husband's assassination by Polish immigrant Janusz Walus in front of their Boksburg home on April 10, 1993.

Derby-Lewis, who provided the gun used in the murder, and Walus were sentenced to death for the murder, but their sentences were later commuted to life imprisonment.

Their application for amnesty was turned down by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1999 because they failed to make full disclosure of the political motive for the murder.

Derby-Lewis claimed in court papers administrative incompetence was the cause of his rapidly declining health, and political interference behind his repeated failure to secure parole.

The 78-year-old has made various bids for parole since June 2010.

Coertze said the fact that the SACP and Hani became involved proved his client was being treated as a political prisoner and not like any other inmate serving life imprisonment.

Louw ordered the Medical Parole Board to consider all medical reports applicable to Derby-Lewis by December 10 and to provide the minister with a written recommendation by December 15.

Minister Michael Masutha was ordered to consider Derby-Lewis's application for medical parole by no later than January 31 next year, along with the representations of the SACP and Hani.

The SACP and Hani had until January 9 to submit their representations to Masutha.

Masutha was ordered to provide Coertze with reasons for his decision by no later than January 31.

-SAPA

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