Bizos: To deny Hani's wife a say in parole is 'cruel justice'

To deny Limpho Hani, the wife of murdered SA Communist Party leader Chris Hani, the right to participate in the parole hearing of her husband’s killer was “cruel justice”, the Pretoria High Court heard on Tuesday.

Her husband’s convicted killer Clive Derby-Lewis had applied for parole on the basis that he was over 65 and had served 15 years of his life sentence.

Arguing on behalf of the Hani family, George Bizos told the court victims had rights to participate in all criminal justice proceedings and this included parole hearings.

“Mrs Hani is a victim. The loss of her husband [due to Derby-Lewis’ actions] has made her a victim. By participating, there is some comfort to the victim.”

Bizos said the court should not hand down judgement on whether or not Derby-Lewis should be granted parole, as it was not in its jurisdiction.

Cutting through the technical legal arguments of the four preceding respondents, Bizos said the court was not aware of what effects Derby-Lewis’ release would have on society, and had not been provided any information on the nature of his parole application.

“What do you know about this applicant ...
does he accept the Constitution ... does he no longer consider people like Chris Hani as the Antichrist,” Bizos said raising his voice.

He maintained that it was Hani’s widow’s common-law right to make representation and since this had not been done, the matter should be dismissed with costs.

The basis of the legal debate was contention over various amendments made to the law since Derby-Lewis was convicted in 1993.

Derby-Lewis and his accomplice Janusz Wallus were sentenced to death for the murder of the South African Communist Party leader in 1993. The sentence was reduced to life imprisonment after the death penalty was abolished.

The matter continues.—Sapa

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