Hani killer fights on
Clive Derby-Lewis, one of the murderers of struggle icon Chris Hani, is using the new medical parole rules that allowed a convicted former national police chief to get out of jail.
Derby-Lewis, who was sentenced to death in 1993 along with Janusz Walus for the cold-blooded killing of Hani that year, will shortly file his application in his fourth bid for freedom.
Derby-Lewis's wife, Gaye, confirmed yesterday that the parole process application was being made on the grounds that her husband has prostate cancer.
But she denied that they had been prompted by the success of disgraced national police commissioner Jackie Selebi's July 20 release from Pretoria Central prison after serving only 229 days of his 15-year sentence for corruption.
The fate of Derby-Lewis and Walus have been a contentious and emotional topic since the day Hani was shot outside his Boksburg home.
The groundswell of anger about the death of the popular leader had the country on the verge of bloodshed.
The reaction of the S A Communist Party, of which Hani was general secretary at the time of his death, was to express contempt for his killer.
SACP spokesman Malesela Maleka said yesterday: "He committed a heinous act and deserves to rot in jail. He needs to tell the truth about the circumstances surrounding the act. He does not have much public sympathy."
Maleka's comments echoed those of former Correctional Services minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula in November, after Derby-Lewis's previous bid for freedom.
" Derby-Lewis said he will come forward and disclose everything that happened once he is freed and is relaxed. He can do that now, while he is still in prison," she said.
But Gaye Derby-Lewis believes that Mapisa-Nqakula's removal from Correctional Services this year offers her 76-year-old husband his first real chance of success.
"Each time he has applied for parole, the board has recommended that he be released, but each time the minister of correctional services has refused his request.
"Now that the minister has moved to another department, she can wreak havoc there.
"Mapisa-Nqakula has stated she would never give Derby-Lewis parole. On normal legal grounds, there is no reason she should have refused," Gaye Derby-Lewis said.
The Pretoria High Court is yet to rule on an application by Gaye Derby-Lewis last year for the overturning of Mapisa-Nqakula's parole dismissal. Derby-Lewis's lawyer, Marius Coertze, said the application for medical parole and a review of Mapisa-Nqakula's decision would run in parallel.
But Mapisa-Nqakula, who is now the defence minister, hit back yesterday, saying that Gaye Derby-Lewis's comments were "regrettable and unfortunate".
Her spokesman, Sonwabo Mbananga, said: "We reject with the contempt it deserves the suggestion that . the minister would act in opposition [to] the constitution and the upholding of the law."
Mbananga said it was Mapisa-Nqakula who had championed the new medical parole regulations - which came into effect in May - that Derby-Lewis would use to try to leave prison.
George Bizos, the advocate who represented the Hani family at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's amnesty hearings, would not comment.
Derby-Lewis and Walus were refused amnesty in 1999 because they had not fully disclosed their crime.
Lawyers for the Hani family said they would not comment until a formal parole application had been made.
Dave Stewart, executive director of the FW de Klerk Foundation, who has expressed dissatisfaction about the new medical parole system, said Derby-Lewis was entitled to the same rights as anyone else.
"If others are granted medical parole with adequate reasons and there are adequate reasons for Derby-Lewis to qualify for medical parole, then he should have the same opportunity as anyone else in his situation," he said.
Stewart said the medical parole system had recently been reviewed and that Selebi had benefited from the process.
"There should be no favouritism for prisoners with political connections," Stewart said.
Coertze said his client's ill-health meant it was time to apply for medical parole and he hoped the process would be completed by the end of the month.
He said Derby-Lewis had prostate cancer and it was a "ticking time-bomb".
"His wife takes him medicine weekly for his high blood pressure. We don't know what the situation is at this stage. It is [important] that he has a fresh medical examination and they check him.
"We have no confidence in the medical treatment in prison. In December 2010, Derby-Lewis had critical gangrene.
"He could have been dead a week later had we not gone to court to get him admitted to a private hospital.
"In jail, they prescribed Panado." - Additional reporting by Graeme Hosken