Parties speak out against Derby-Lewis parole

Clive Derby-Lewis should serve the full 25 years of his prison sentence for the murder of South African Communist Party (SACP) general secretary Chris Hani, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Monday.

This followed a weekend report that Derby-Lewis could be released on parole.

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 in a statement.

The murder was pre-meditated and carefully planned and brought South Africa close to “meltdown 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.”

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 Walus, a Polish immigrant, using a pistol lent to him by Derby-Lewis.

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

‘Travesty to justice’
Meanwhile, the Young Communist League is appalled by attempts at securing parole Derby-Lewis.

“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,” it said in statement on Monday.

The YCL’s statement joins that of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, which said it was concerned about the report in the Saturday Star headlined: “Hani Killer to walk free”.

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 high court in Pretoria in March last year.

Cosatu said it backed the South African 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.

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.—Sapa

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