Clive Derby-Lewis, 80, the man who supplied the gun that killed former SA Communist Party (SACP) leader Chris Hani, died yesterday, but not before telling his wife, Gaye, a “secret” so big she vowed to take it to her grave.
Derby-Lewis died yesterday afternoon at about 12.30pm in the Eugene Marais Hospital in Pretoria. He was on medical parole since May after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.
“Last night [on Wednesday] he had very clear eyes. He looked at me as if he knew he was going to be gone today.”
“He said something to me, a secret, but I can’t ever tell another person,” Gaye said, almost in a whisper.
“I am taking this secret with me to my grave,” she told The Citizen in a telephonic interview.
She dismissed any further questions about the secret and said she could not talk about it, “not now, not ever”.
She would not say if the secret was connected to the murder of Hani. Derby-Lewis served more than 20 years behind bars.
He and Janusz Walus, 63, a Polish immigrant, assassinated Hani on April 10 1993 outside his Boksburg home.
Hani was chief of staff of Umkhonto weSizwe (MK), the military wing of the ANC, at the time of his murder. Walus shot Hani in the head and back and was initially sentenced to death, but it was converted to life in prison after the abolition of the capital punishment.
Derby-Lewis was convicted of being a co-conspirator in Hani’s murder, as he had supplied the gun. Gaye said that when she had left after he told her the “secret”, he had trouble breathing and was put on a ventilator.
“This morning [on Thursday], when I got to the hospital, he still had trouble breathing.
“I was right there next to him when he died. I held his hand. He went quickly,” she said.
“I am tired and still in shock. He was there and now he is gone. His soul has departed,” she said.
She said she was happy that her husband was finally a free man.
“He was in jail, then he was on parole and now he is free. He is a free man. He has peace. I have peace.”