A critical report to assist Minister of Justice and Corrections Michael Masutha in deciding whether the killer of former SACP leader Chris Hani should be released on parole, had never been placed before him.
This emerged yesterday in the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, Free State, where the court was supposed to hear why Masutha believed Janusz Jakub Walus should remain behind bars. Walus, in jail for the last 23 years, will spend another month in prison, while Masutha puts his house in order.
“The court raised a concern with counsel regarding a procedural irregularity,” said Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) Judge Mandisa Maya.
“It appears the victim impact statement, which was submitted by the Hani family to the parole board, was not placed before the minister, so he did not consider it when he made his decision not to place the respondent on parole.”
This meant both legal teams had to go back to the drawing board and revise their arguments, which is due to be resubmitted before May 29, when the court sits again to hear Masutha’s argument why Walus should not be released on parole.
“We are going to file additional heads of argument so the matter can be ventilated before this court, as it has a bearing on whatever decision it is likely to make in the matter,” said Masutha’s spokesperson, Mathunzi Mhaga.
The parole board has, in fact, completed the victim impact statement as far back as October 2013.
“On October 31, 2013, the victim’s family […] submitted a victim impact statement and a statement of opposition, which is attached to the offender’s profile,” Judge Jansen van Nieuwenhuisen noted in her March 2016 judgment, which ruled that Walus be set free.
Mhaga said it was the department of Corrections that had failed to include the documentation in its report to Masutha.
South African Communist Party spokesperson Alex Mashilo said there were still too many questions about Hani’s death and a formal inquest needed to be held.
“The firearm used to kill Hani was taken from a military armoury,” Mashilo said.
“Until today, we don’t know who took it from the armoury, and we don’t know whose hands it passed through until it was used to murder Hani.”
According to a December 5, 2000, South African Press Association (Sapa) report on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the firearm passed through a number of hands.
The firearm – a 9mm pistol – was stolen a month before Hani’s murder and was delivered to a Krugersdorp house a month before the murder, one Faan Venter reportedly had testified.
Venter was a friend of former Conservative Party MP Clive Derby-Lewis and he told the TRC that Derby-Lewis had asked him for an unlicensed firearm.
Venter said he had a pistol which had been stolen by his friend Jean Taylor, who was at the time in detention in connection with the theft of weapons.
Venter delivered the pistol to the Krugerdorp home of Lionel Durant, who reportedly was not at home, so Venter gave it to Durant’s wife, Elizabeth, who gave it to Derby-Lewis the next day.
Confusion arose at the time over differing timelines, which led to advocate George Bizos, who was acting on behalf of the Hani family and SACP, to comment: “We will submit that you know much more than what you are prepared to admit.”
Walus’ attorney, Julian Knight, said he did not believe the missing victim impact report would affect a positive outcome for Walus.