/ 16 October 2007

Hani killers chase presidential pardon

Lawyers acting for Chris Hani’s killers said they would proceed with an application to the high court, asking it to compel President Thabo Mbeki to make a decision on their application for a presidential pardon.

Janusz Walus and Clive Derby-Lewis unsuccessfully sought amnesty from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1999 for the 1993 assassination of the then-head of the South African Communist Party (SACP), and applied for a presidential pardon five years ago, in May 2002.

Earlier this year they asked Mbeki to make a decision on their application, failing which they would take the matter to the high court, a step they would now take.

”They insist that it’s grossly unreasonable that a decision has not yet been made in their applications for pardons,” a statement released by the two’s attorneys, De Klerk and Marais Inc, of Pretoria, said.

”They maintain that the failure by Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development [Brigitte] Mabandla to submit recommendations to the president about their applications does not justify the failure of the president to make a decision, seeing that he has control over the performance of Cabinet ministers,” the statement said.

Mbeki’s spokesperson, Mukoni Ratshitanga, said his office was not aware of any court action, and would not comment further on the case.


Earlier this year, Walus and Derby-Lewis invited leaders of the SACP to visit them in jail and ask any questions about the murder.

Their legal representative had faxed a letter to SACP secretary general Blade Nzimande inviting a delegation to meet them and their lawyers.

”Ask us any questions you like about Chris Hani’s assassination and we will personally give you the facts,” the two said through their attorneys.

This came after delegates to an SACP congress held in Port Elizabeth reportedly opened the meeting with a song chanting and asking President Thabo Mbeki to tell them who murdered Hani.

The Young Communist League has repeatedly called for the re-opening of Hani’s murder investigation.

In the letter, Walus and Derby-Lewis said they would give answers to any questions the party might want, including documentary evidence they might have, and the probable reason why Hani was without any bodyguards on the morning of the killing.

The SACP subsequently turned down the invitation for the question-and-answer session, saying the two should rather hand their information to law enforcement authorities.

Walus and Derby-Lewis were arrested shortly after Hani’s murder in April 1993.

They were convicted for the crime and sentenced to death. This was later commuted to life imprisonment when capital punishment was outlawed in 1995.

In 2000, the Cape High Court dismissed an application by Derby-Lewis and Walus to overturn the TRC’s decision. — Sapa