Sun Dec 04 14:17:16 CAT 2016

Medical parole off limits for Chris Hani's murderers

The Times Editorial | 2012-08-07 00:10:11.0

The Times Editorial: On April 7 1999, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's amnesty committee rejected an appeal by Clive Derby-Lewis and Janusz Walus.

The two men, convicted of killing the then leader of the South African Communist Party, Chris Hani, were refused amnesty for the cold-blooded murder executed six years previously.

In August last year, Correctional Services denied Derby-Lewis parole, even though his lawyers had said he had prostate and skin cancer.

His legal team had argued that, like convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik, Derby-Lewis should be eligible for medical parole on the grounds that he had a terminal illness.

Derby-Lewis's application was, however, turned down.

Observers have often pointed out, however, that Derby-Lewis's case has always been referred to the Hani family for consideration.

No similar situation has been required in Shaik's case or that of former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi.

This case, many believe, points to a sensitivity around the death of a struggle icon and the potential emotional explosion if either of his killers were to be freed.

It now appears that Derby-Lewis will this week bring a new application to be granted medical parole, precisely because of the expeditious manner in which Selebi's application was processed and the fact that the former police commissioner seemed to have spent hardly any time in prison.

In contrast, Derby-Lewis and Walus - who were convicted of Hani's murder in 1993 and initially sentenced to death - have had successive parole applications dismissed.

If the medical parole application is rejected again, what should we infer from this matter?

While the brutal slaying of Hani remains a sensitive moment in South African history, how long should his killers pay for their crime? Would death in prison be sufficient punishment of them?

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