Derby-Lewis wants court to force Masutha to send him home to die

2015-05-25 16:01
Clive Derby-Lewis

Clive Derby-Lewis

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Clive Derby-Lewis’s attempts to meet the family of the man he killed, South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani, have failed despite numerous bids to apologise to them and the party, the North Gauteng High Court heard today. 

Derby-Lewis’ lawyer, Roelof du Plessis, told the high court in Pretoria that his client was terminally ill, despite assertions by Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha that Derby-Lewis’s cancer had not advanced to such a stage that he deserved to be granted medical parole. 

Du Plessis applied to the court to force Masutha to grant Derby-Lewis medical parole. In January, the minister denied his application to be released. 

Du Plessis told the court that Masutha did not have any medical background to deny parole or question expert opinion that Derby-Lewis’ cancer had reached stage four, which is the level at which the department considered medical parole for prisoners. 

Derby-Lewis wanted high court judge Selby Baqwa to force Masutha to urgently release him so he could die at home, but Masutha was opposing the application through his counsel, Marumo Moerane. 

When Masutha turned down Derby-Lewis’ application for parole in January, he said the 79-year old former Conservative Party MP only had stage-three cancer. 

Du Plessis said one of the main reasons the court should grant his client’s application was that Masutha ignored advice from his own department after the Medical Parole Advisory Board, which assessed Derby-Lewis’s state of health, recommended that he be released due to his health. 

But Masutha was not satisfied with the recommendation because the doctors who assessed Derby-Lewis differed on how far the cancer had advanced, with one of the three doctors stating that Derby-Lewis, an Afrikaner of German and Scots descent who grew up in Kimberley, had stage-three cancer. 

Du Plessis told the court that Masutha erred when he turned down the parole application and said his client had shown remorse, including requesting numerous meetings with the Hani family and the SACP, so that he could apologise personally for his role in the 1993 assassination, which was aimed at plunging South Africa into a civil war. 

It was not the first time that Derby-Lewis had been denied medical parole. Four previous applications were also turned down. 

Du Plessis, who said his client had been given until July to live, also announced that Derby-Lewis would apply for parole for the sixth time to appeal to the minister to let him die at home. 

Today in court, Du Plessis apologised “unconditionally” on behalf of Derby-Lewis to Hani’s widow Limpho, who sat quietly in the front row of the high court as the application was being heard. 

Du Plessis filed numerous reports documenting the times Derby-Lewis had tendered his apology to the Hani family and pleaded to meet with them to apologise “face to face”. 

The reports, said Du Plessis, were proof that Derby-Lewis was remorseful for the killing for which he has spent 21 years behind bars. 

Derby-Lewis’s death penalty conviction was commuted to life imprisonment in 1993 after the abolishment of the death penalty in South Africa. 

The application continues.

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