Hani's killer in new bid for freedom

2016-04-20 16:40
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 – Chris Hani's killer, Janusz Walus, applied for an urgent order for his immediate release in the High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday.

This after Judge Nicolene Janse van Nieuwenhuizen's ruled that Walus must be released on parole, and dismissed Justice Minister Michael Masutha's application for leave to appeal the ruling.

Walus' advocate, Roelof du Plessis, told the court the appeal process might eventually go to the Constitutional Court and could take up to two years to complete.

Should the the minister's appeal eventually fail, it would mean that Walus would then have been incarcerated unfairly and unjustly for that period and that he would not have benefited from the court order he obtained.

"How are they going to add another year to his life and rectify that he was incarcerated for a year longer than necessary? The harm will be irreparable.

"His freedom cannot be rectified by a claim for damages or anything else. The harm will forever be irreparable," he said.

Du Plessis argued the only reason for the appeal was because of political interference and that the minister "was not playing open cards with the court".

"In our submission political pressure on him [Masutha] has led to his decision... and the appeal in this matter.

"... It's not about the fact that he is who he is and who he killed. It's about the rule of law.

"... Their opposition to this case is because of the minister's bias and because of political pressure, not because of the legal position," he said.

Du Plessis submitted no one would suffer prejudice if Walus was released now, as parole was a continuation of his incarceration and he could be sent back to jail if the government's appeal succeeded.

Victims' retribution

The only prejudice would perhaps be to the victims who wanted retribution and would not have the satisfaction of seeing him remain in jail.

Walus had already been in prison for a longer period than other persons who had committed murder and was subjected to delays regarding his parole. His apology to the victims and South Africa should also be regarded as an exceptional circumstance, Du Plessis submitted.

Advocate Gcina Malindi SC submitted on behalf of the SACP and the Hani family that Hani's murder remained an exceptional crime because it was an assassination of a prominent leader and was committed on the eve of South Africa's democracy.

He agreed with a remark by the judge that it could have caused a civil war in South Africa.

Malindi argued that Walus' remorse was not sincere and that his release would undermine nation building and reconciliation.

He referred to a psychological report stating that Walus had committed the murder because of his experiences under communist rule in Poland and his strong opinions regarding communist leadership remained the same.

"The court is asked to release a person into the community who says he hates communism and communist leadership.

"... The purpose of parole is to help the person rehabilitate. There must be a positive prognosis of rehabilitation. We submit there is no such prognosis," Malindi said.

Extraordinary argument

Du Plessis in reply described Malindi's argument as "extraordinary".

"It's a ridiculous submission that remorse depends on your views of communism," he said.

Marumo Moerane SC said while there may be some hardship for Walus if he remained in prison, he would not suffer irreparable harm. If the appeal did not succeed, he would simply be placed on parole.

He said the minister had expressly denied any suggestion of political pressure.

"... His lack of freedom is because of the (life) sentence he is serving, having been convicted and sentenced of what the courts and five SCA judges characterised as an atrocious... dastardly offence which deserves the most severe punishment.

"There is nothing arbitrary about his continued incarceration... It's malicious and unfounded to say the minister wants to keep him incarcerated for as long as possible because of political pressure," he argued.

Read more on:    chris hani  |  janusz walus

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