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Chris Hani’s killer denied parole, again

Chris Hani’s murderer, Janusz Walus, has once again been denied parole, the justice minister said on Monday.

The much-loved liberation hero was gunned down by Walus in the driveway of his Boksburg home in 1993 — bringing South Africa to the brink of civil war. In denying parole, Justice Minister Ronald Lamola said it was clear the aim of the assassination was “to create chaos and mayhem in the country”. 

Walus was originally sentenced to death for the murder but his sentence was commuted to life when the death penalty was declared unconstitutional. He has been in prison for 27 years and has been fighting a legal battle to be placed on parole since 2016. In December, his latest application to court for it to order his release on parole was refused. Instead, Judge Jody Kollapen ordered Lamola to reconsider the application.

Lamola said parole was a privilege, not a right. In making his decision he had considered  positive factors in Walus’s favour as well as negative factors. Positive factors included good behaviour in prison, “the remorse on the part of the offender for the crime of murder committed” and that psychologists had given an opinion that the risk of Walus re-offending was low.

Lamola said he weighed these factors against those militating against parole. These included how severe the crime was and the fact that, at the time, there were no mitigating factors found when the sentence was handed down. Lamola quoted the judgments of the sentencing and appeal court at the time saying the “murder was a deliberate, cold-blooded one…It was preceded by weeks of planning”.

Lamola said: “The record before me clearly reveals that the court took this fact into consideration when sentencing Walus to death. The crime was intended and had the potential to bring about a civil war within the Republic at the time.” 

He said placing Walus on parole “would negate the severity that the court sought when sentencing him. With this premise, and balancing both negative and positive factors, the placement on parole for offender Walus is not approved at this stage.”

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Franny Rabkin
Franny Rabkin
Franny is the legal reporter at the Mail & Guardian

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