Govt in bid to appeal Walus parole ruling

2016-04-12 16:38
MK veterans outside the Western Cape High Court. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

MK veterans outside the Western Cape High Court. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

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Pretoria - Janusz Walus, the Polish immigrant who assassinated SACP leader Chris Hani 23 years ago, will hear on Thursday if Justice Minister Michael Masutha can appeal against a High Court ruling that he must be released on parole.

Judge Nicolene Janse van Niewenhuizen on Tuesday said she would deliver her ruling in the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday morning. Argument would also be presented in Walus' bid for temporary parole while awaiting the outcome of any appeal or petition process.

The Hani family would oppose the application. Hani's widow Limpho and members of the SACP were in court with red posters stating that Walus was a cold-blooded killer who had no remorse and should not be released.

The ANC, SACP, and uMkhonto We Size Military Veterans Association wanted Walus to remain behind bars.

Former right wing politician Clive Derby-Lewis, who supplied the gun Walus used to kill Hani, was released on medical parole in June last year after obtaining a High Court order for his release.

Marumo Moerane, SC, for Masutha, on Monday argued that Van Nieuwenhuizen had erred. She ruled last month that Walus must be released on parole and referred the matter back to Masutha for the determination of parole conditions.

He referred to the trial court and Appeal Court's remarks about the severity of the crime and that it was likely to cause an emotional reaction and harm South African society.

He said Judge Van Nieuwenhuizen had erred by not regarding these factors as being of the utmost importance.

Moerane, who described Hani as one of South Africa's best sons, said Hani's assassination was no ordinary run-of-the-mill murder. It was calculated to cause chaos and bloodshed in the country.

It was cold-blooded and preceded by weeks of planning. Hani was shot at his home when he was completely defenceless.

The Supreme Court of Appeal had said the crime was so vile that the judges said it should be visited with the severest penalty the law permitted, he added.

Moerane said it was ironic that the new dispensation, against which Walus and Derby-Lewis protested, had advantaged them.

Van Nieuwenhuizen remarked that they would have been hanged if it was not for the new dispensation, under which the death penalty was outlawed.

She asked Moerane how many years behind bars he would consider a fair sentence. Moerane said he could not answer that, but referred to the assassination of American presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy in 1968.

His killer, like Walus, was an immigrant who was initially sentenced to death until the death penalty was outlawed in California.

He said Kennedy's shooter had been in jail for 48 years and his 15th parole application was turned down in February.

He argued that Masutha's decision not to grant parole to Walus was lawful, reasonable, and rational and that the judge had erred in finding otherwise.

Roelof du Plessis, SC, for Walus, argued that the judge had been "100% correct" in finding that Masutha’s decision was irrational and unreasonable.

The longer a person stayed in jail, the less of a danger they became and the more the focus should be on rehabilitation, he said.

Parole should be considered on an ethical, fair basis. Justice would still be served even if Walus was released on parole because parole was "not easy", he added.

Read more on:    chris hani  |  michael masutha  |  janusz walus

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