Concern over Derby-Lewis reports

2010-09-13 11:21

Johannesburg - The Young Communist League and DA have both said they are opposed to attempts at securing parole for Clive Derby-Lewis, who was jailed for the murder of its general secretary Chris Hani.

"We reiterate that Clive Derby-Lewis's release will be a travesty to justice and the end of any possibility of unfolding the truth about the death of (comrade) Chris Hani," the YCL said on Monday.

It was responding to a weekend report that Derby-Lewis could be released.

The YCL's statement joins that of the Congress of SA Trade Unions which said it was concerned about the report in the Saturday Star headlined: "Hani Killer to walk free".

Death sentence

Hani was shot in the head as he climbed out of his car outside his home in Dawn Park, Boksburg, on April 10, 1993 by Polish immigrant Janusz Walus, using a pistol leant to him by Conservative Party MP Derby-Lewis.

Six months later, Walus and Derby-Lewis were convicted of murder and conspiracy to commit murder and were sentenced to death. However this was commuted to life imprisonment in 1995, when capital punishment was abolished.

The publication reported that the parole board had recommended for a second time that Derby-Lewis be freed, and with a decision expected next month, he could be out by Christmas.

His last application for parole was dismissed by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria in March last year.

Cosatu said it backed the SA Communist Party's view that Derby-Lewis should not be paroled unless and until he had fully disclosed the identities of all those involved in Hani's murder.

In 1996, Derby-Lewis and Walus applied to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) for amnesty for the murder. On April 7, 1999, the TRC's amnesty committee rejected the application on the basis that they had failed to prove the killing was politically motivated, and had failed to make a full disclosure, another prerequisite for amnesty.

'False' claim

The correctional services department dismissed as "false" the Saturday Star's claim that a decision on parole would be made next month.

"It is also false to say that he (Derby-Lewis) will be out by Christmas," ministerial spokesperson Sonwabo Mbananga said.

In determining whether parole was granted to a prisoner serving a life sentence, the parole board first made a recommendation to the National Council on Correctional Services (NCCS), which then made a recommendation to the minister of correctional services, who in turn made a decision based on these recommendations, he said.

The parole board had made a recommendation regarding Derby-Lewis, but this information had not yet reached the NCCS.

Its next sitting would be at the end of October, when Derby-Lewis's case might be tabled, said Mbananga.

Serve full sentence – DA

Meanwhile, the DA said on Monday that Derby-Lewis should serve the full 25 years of his prison sentence.

The party's shadow minister for correctional services James Selfe said the 17 years he had served so far were "inappropriately short" for murder.

"It trivialises the crime and is an insult to the memory of the hundreds of thousands of murder victims in South Africa and to their families," he said.

The murder was pre-meditated and carefully planned and brought South Africa close to "melt-down and even to civil war".

It affected not only Hani, but his family and the wider community.

"In our view, this constitutes an aggravating circumstance, that should be taken into account in rejecting his parole application."

His co-accused Janusz Walus received the same sentence, and it would be unfair if Derby-Lewis were freed because he is over 65, and Walus is not.

The DA also doubted his release on parole could contribute towards reconciliation, since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission refused to accept the crime was politically motivated and felt the pair had failed to make a full disclosure as required.

"We therefore call on the National Council (of Correctional Services) and the Minister to reject Mr Derby-Lewis's application until he has served at least 25 years of his life sentence."