South Africa 5.5.2017 07:15 am

Masutha appeals Hani killer’s parole

FILE PICTURE: Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha. (Photo: GCIS)

FILE PICTURE: Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha. (Photo: GCIS)

The SACP will picket outside the SCA today ‘in support of our legitimate and objective call for an official inquest into Hani’s assassination’.

Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha will today ask the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) to overturn the parole granted to the killer of the SA Communist Party’s (SACP) former general secretary, Chris Hani.

Hani was gunned down in April 1993 by Polish national Janusz Walus and, with co-conspirator Clive Derby-Lewis having died in November last year, the SACP is desperate for Walus to reveal “all the circumstances of Hani’s assassination”.

“Walus’s own physiological evaluation in prison clearly states that he still harbours the same hatred against communists that he followed to murder our party general secretary in cold blood,” said SACP Free State provincial secretary Bheke Stofile.

The SACP will picket outside the SCA today “in support of our legitimate and objective call for an official inquest into Hani’s assassination”.

“Walus remains a dangerous man to be let loose in a democratic South Africa. The picket is part of our efforts, our genuine campaign, to have full disclosure of the truth detailing all the circumstances of Hani’s assassination. Walus has the responsibility to co-operate. His failure to co-operate is undisputed evidence that he failed correction in prison,” Stofile said, calling Walus an “unrepentant murderer”.

At the time of Derby-Lewis’ death, Pretoria News reported that Walus sent a message from jail which read: “I have taken note of the allegations made by my co-accused in his recent interview, which I have read about in the media. I wish to distance myself completely from the views expressed by him. I unreservedly apologised for and deeply regret my actions. I followed the instructions of Mr Derby-Lewis, which I should never have done.”

Derby Lewis, who supplied the pistol used by Walus, claimed Walus had volunteered to kill Hani, in an interview after being released on parole after 22 years in jail. Walus has served 23 years so far.

Today, a full bench of five Justices will hear arguments as to whether or not it would be in the best interests of Hani’s family and South Africa for Walus to be released on parole. They will hear arguments from Masutha to overturn the March 10, 2016, verdict of North Gauteng High Court Judge, Janse van Nieuwenhuizen, to place Walus “on parole within 14 days” of her order.

Masutha’s legal team is expected to argue whether the decision by Masutha not to place Walus on parole was one that a reasonable authority could make and whether all factors were taken into account by Masutha “by way of striking a reasonable equilibrium between the competing factors in favour of the respondent’s placement on parole and the negative factors militating against his placement on parole.”

The background to today’s hearing is well known.

“On 10 April 1 993 the applicant [Walus] murdered Mr Chris Hani, who was the General Secretary of the South African Communist Party at the time,” wrote Janse van Nieuwenhuizen.

“The applicant was convicted of murder and sentenced to death on 15 October, 1993. On 7 November 2000, the applicant’s sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.”

Janse van Nieuwenhuizen also accepted the social worker’s report.

“Offender expressed his feeling of remorse about the victim as well as about the family of the victim. He showed remorse by appearing before the truth and Reconciliation Committee and wrote a letter requesting to be involved in victim offender mediation stating that he would like to apologise to the victim’s family.

“Offender has accepted the responsibility of the consequences of his crime and has compiled with the expectations of Correctional Services in terms of good behaviour participation and involvement in compulsory programmes,” the report read in part.

The judge also found Walus would have employment if released with his brother’s trucking company.

The only reason Masutha was keeping Walus in jail, despite the parole board’s recommendation he be released, was because “the Minister considers the time spent by the applicant in prison as inadequate punishment for the crime he has committed,” said Janse van Nieuwenhuizen.

“The question whether the decision by the Minister is a foregone conclusion, should be evaluated in view of the facts,” Janse van Nieuwenhuizen stated.

“The Hani family made submissions to the second respondent and clearly stated that they oppose the application. Notwithstanding various endeavours to personally apologise to the Hani family as far back as 2011, the Hani family refuse to accept an apology from the applicant and further refuse to meet with him,” Janse van Nieuwenhuizen noted.

“Their stance is simply that they will not forgive the applicant. The Hani family’s decision in this regard must be respected.”

However Janse van Nieuwenhuizen said Masutha had applied too much weight to the Hanis’ rejection of Walus’ apology.

Whether or not the SCA will agree with Janse van Nieuwenhuizen, will be weighed up today in Bloemfontein.

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SCA to hear state’s new appeal on Hani killer’s parole

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