Another chance at parole for Derby-Lewis

The medical parole board has again recommended that Chris Hani’s killer Clive Derby-Lewis be released, his wife said on Tuesday.

“I do not know how to feel. It has happened four times before and each time it was blocked by the government. I do not know if the minister is going to release him,” Gaye Derby-Lewis said.

Clive Derby-Lewis’s lawyers in 2014 launched an urgent application at the high court in Pretoria in yet another bid to secure his release on medical parole.

The 78-year-old has lung cancer and was assaulted in prison last year. Previous medical parole bids were unsuccessful.

The application was postponed indefinitely after Derby-Lewis and the justice and correctional services minister reached an agreement about when his application for medical parole would be considered.

Derby-Lewis was admitted to hospital after suffering from a range of medical problems. He has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, which, according to his attorney Marius Coertze, is inoperable because he is too weak to survive surgery.

He said a scan of Derby-Lewis’s lungs showed one lung was already riddled with cancer and about to collapse.

Coertze said Derby-Lewis had been given only months to live, but correctional services had been dragging its heels on his release since May.

‘Incompetence’
Judge Andre Louw granted an order, joining the South African Communist Party (SACP) and Hani’s widow Limpho as respondents in the application.

Derby-Lewis claimed in court papers administrative incompetence was the cause of his rapidly declining health, and political interference behind his repeated failure to secure parole.

Coertze said the fact that the SACP and Hani became involved proved his client was being treated as a political prisoner and not like any other inmate serving life imprisonment.

Louw ordered the medical parole board to consider all medical reports applicable to Derby-Lewis by December 10 2014 and to provide the minister with a written recommendation by December 15.

Minister Michael Masutha was ordered to consider Derby-Lewis’s application for medical parole by no later than January 31 this year, along with the representations of the SACP and Hani.

The SACP and Hani had until January 9 to submit their representations to Masutha. Masutha was ordered to provide Coertze with reasons for his decision by no later than January 31.

Hani’s murder
Derby-Lewis was convicted for the murder of Hani, who was SACP general secretary. He was shot dead in the driveway of his Boksburg home on April 10 1993 and it was found that Janusz Walus, a Polish immigrant, pulled the trigger.

Derby-Lewis was convicted of being a co-conspirator and supplying the gun used by Walus, who had courted Hani for some time before the murder, even approaching him in a hotel while pretending to be a journalist. 

Walus told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC): “I did not want to shoot him in the back. I called to Mr Hani. When he turned I fired the first shot into his body. As he turned and fell down, I fired a second shot at his head.”

Refused amnesty
Derby-Lewis and Walus applied but were refused amnesty by the TRC on April 7 1999.  The TRC’s amnesty committee said the two had failed to make a full disclosure of the political motives for the murder, as it was “common cause” they were not acting under instruction from the Conservative Party, as they had claimed.

The committee found Walus was acting on instructions from Derby-Lewis.

Having been refused amnesty from prosecution by the TRC, Walus and Derby-Lewis were sentenced to death for Hani’s murder in 1993. Their sentences were later commuted to life imprisonment after the abolition of the death penalty. – Sapa, Staff reporter

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