Posted March 7, 2016
by Lizeka Tandwa, Special to The KEY from News24Wire
Slain SACP leader Chris Hani’s family is disappointed by comments a high court judge made during his killer’s parole application, the party said on Wednesday. Both the family and the SA Communist Party were frustrated by Judge Nicoline Janse van Nieuwenhuizen’s comments that Janusz Walus should be shown compassion, SACP spokesperson Alex Mashilo said.
She reserved judgment on the application in the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday. Walus shot and killed Hani in the driveway of his Dawn Park, Boksburg, home on April 10, 1993. Mashilo said Walus’s lawyers spoke about ubuntu and the rainbow nation, while the judge mentioned compassion. “If you look at these three things, they do not go one way, they go both ways. The family and the SACP don’t accept that victims must be forced to forgive perpetrators who remain unrepentant.
We were disappointed by the judge,” he said. The family would only consider forgiving Walus if he revealed who else was involved in the assassination. “He must serve and complete his sentence. If he is repentant he should come forward and say who was involved and give details, and provide evidence so that the law can take its full course,” he said. Justice Minister Michael Masutha denied Walus’s parole application last year, despite the parole board granting it. He wanted further dialogue with the SACP and Hani family.
On Tuesday, his lawyers asked the court to make a decision on his parole application and not refer it back to the minister. In May last year, Conservative Party MP Clive Derby-Lewis, who provided the gun used to kill Hani, was granted medical parole. After Masutha denied his application in January, his lawyers approached the High Court in Pretoria. Judge Selby Baqwa ruled that Derby-Lewis had shown remorse. The 79-year-old had spent over 21 years behind bars and was dying of lung cancer. In January last year, he had been given six more months to live. He is still alive. Both Derby-Lewis and Walusz were sentenced to death.
The sentences were commuted to life imprisonment following a 1995 Constitutional Court ruling. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission rejected their applications for amnesty. Janus will be freed on parole in two weeks, a Pretoria court ruled March 3rd. The decision to free him is likely to be contentious in a country still dealing with the legacy of the brutality meted out by the white-minority regime that prevailed from 1948 to 1994.
Hani’s murder threatened to derail South Africa’s transition to multi-racial democracy, leading to nationwide riots and triggering fears of a civil war. “Yes, he got parole,” his lawyer, Roelof du Plessis, told online service News24. Walus was sentenced alongside Clive Derby-Lewis, a right-wing politician who provided the murder weapon. Both men were originally sentenced to death, but that was commuted to life in prison after South Africa abolished the death penalty in 1995.
Derby-Lewis was freed on medical parole last year. Hani’s wife, Limpho, criticised the decision to free Walus. “It’s very, very sad for South Africa. It’s a very sad day,” she told reporters Justice Minister Michael Masutha had blocked a parole board decision to release Walus, leading to his legal challenge in the Pretoria court. “We received the judgment with great disappointment,” SACP spokesman Alex Mashilo said.