Derby-Lewis medical parole application starts

2015-05-25 11:41
Clive Derby-Lewis. (Netwerk24)

Clive Derby-Lewis. (Netwerk24)

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Pretoria - Limpho Hani and Gaye Derby-Lewis sat metres away from each other in an application to have apartheid-era Conservative Party politician Clive Derby-Lewis released on medical parole after serving more than 20 years for the murder of Chris Hani.

Derby-Lewis's lawyers began a special motion in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday for his release.

He is serving a life sentence for the April 1993 killing of Hani, and has repeatedly been denied parole.

Hani's widow, in the front bench of the court and Derby-Lewis's wife further back listened intently as advocate Roelof du Plessis SC went through the sections of law he would rely on.

Neither woman wanted to comment ahead of the application presided over by Judge Selby Baqwa.

Du Plessis said at the last parole denial, in January, Justice Minister Michael Masutha said Derby-Lewis had stage 3 lung cancer but inmates only qualified for medical parole if they suffered from stage 4 cancer.

He was also not convinced that Derby-Lewis had shown remorse.

Du Plessis, though, said two out of three doctors in independent tests had found that Derby-Lewis actually had stage 4 cancer.

Application opposed

The application is being opposed by the minister of justice and correctional services, the chair of the national council for correctional services as well as the SA Communist Party and Mrs Hani.

Du Plessis said that in January a report by the Medical Parole Advisory Board (MPAB) said Derby-Lewis had stage 3b cancer of the right lung, with probable but inconclusive spread to the andrenal gland, a marginal response to chemotherapy, with poor prognostic features.

The board took into account his age and gender and the history of the tumour, as well as other conditions such as hypertension, congestive cardiac failure, prostate cancer, which is in remission, and skin cancer.

The board recommended medical parole but Masutha overrode that.

‘No powers’

Du Plessis said Masuthu did not have the powers to make a medical decision.

''It is not as simple as the respondents make out, 'well they said he has stage 3b, he has to have stage 4'.

''The minister is a government administrative function and the minister will certainly not be in a position to say that the medical experts, that the [MPAB], was wrong,'' said Du Plessis.

''If there is a positive recommendation, the minister cannot second guess the medical practitioners,'' he said.

''We say that the minister was wrong in even considering any medical issues because that was left to the [MPAB].

He said the regulations that relate to medical parole do not say the minister must also consider it.

Once there is a positive recommendation by the MPAB to the minister, he said, the minister is bound to accept the recommendations.

Hani assassination

Derby-Lewis was arrested for providing the gun used by Janusz Walus, a Polish immigrant, to kill Hani the driveway of his Boksburg home on 10 April 1993. 

South Africa was on the brink of its first democratic elections at the time. Derby-Lewis was found guilty of conspiracy to murder and sentenced to death, but this was commuted to a life sentence after South Africa abolished capital punishment.

Derby-Lewis confessed to his role in the assassination before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He claimed he had been following orders from the Conservative Party and was "acting in defence of my people, who were threatened with a Communist takeover". He was denied amnesty.

From 2007, he lodged the first of several parole applications, stating that he was suffering from skin and prostate cancer and had gangrene in his leg.

Read more on:    chris hani  |  michael masutha  |  clive derby-lewis  |  pretoria  |  prisons

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