Apartheid death-squad leader Eugene de Kock dubbed ‘Prime Evil’ for his role in the torture and murder of black South African activists in the 1980s and early 1990s, was granted parole on Friday after 20 years in prison.
Justice minister Michael Masutha told a news conference that de Kock would be released “in the interests of nation-building” and because he had expressed remorse at his crimes and had helped authorities recover the remains of some of his victims.
“In the interest of… nation building, I have placed Mr De Kock on parole,” said Masutha.The time and date of his release will not be made public.
Clive Derby-Lewis, however, convicted of the murder of SACP leader Chris Hani, will not be released on medical parole, Justice Minister Michael Masutha said on Friday.
“There is nothing to suggest that Mr Derby-Lewis’s condition is such that he is rendered physically incapacitated … so as to severely limit daily activity.”
Masutha said that a recommendation that he be released on medical parole is not approved.
On Tuesday Derby-Lewis’s wife, Gaye Derby-Lewis, said that the medical parole board had again recommended he be released.
Derby-Lewis’s lawyers launched an urgent application in 2014 at the Pretoria high court 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 have been unsuccessful.
Two decades in prison
On July 10 last year, Masutha announced that De Kock, who has spent almost two decades in prison, would have to wait another year before his application for parole was reconsidered to allow the families of his victims to be consulted.
During apartheid, De Kock was in charge of a police death squad at Vlakplaas, outside Pretoria, which arranged and carried out the deaths of anti-apartheid activists.
He was arrested in 1994 and convicted and sentenced in 1996 to two terms of life imprisonment for six murders and to a further 212 years’ imprisonment on charges including conspiracy to commit murder, culpable homicide, kidnapping, assault, and fraud.
Many of his former colleagues who committed murder under his command testified in return for indemnity from prosecution.
Clive Derby-Lewis, who was convicted of conspiring to kill SA Communist Party general secretary Chris Hani by providing the gun Polish immigrant Janusz Walus used to kill him in the driveway of his home in Boksburg, on the East Rand, on April 10 1993, has spent more than 20 years behind bars.
Derby-Lewis was originally sentenced to death, but this was commuted to life imprisonment when the death penalty was abolished in 1995.
Last month the correctional services department said it would give urgent attention to Derby-Lewis’s medical parole application, as he is terminally ill. – Sapa