News / South Africa

Ilse de Lange
3 minute read
7 Aug 2018
2:02 pm

Unreasonable to expect Walus to become pro-communist, court hears

Ilse de Lange

Counsel for Walus argues the parole process was being manipulated to prejudice his client.

Chris Hani's widow, Limpho, at the parole hearing of her husband's killer. The hearing was attended by SACP members including the party's second deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila on the right of Limpho Hani. Photo: Jacques Nelles.

It was “ludicrous and unfair” to expect SACP leader Chris Hani’s assassin Janusz Walus to become pro-communist before he could be released on parole, his counsel has argued in the High Court in Pretoria.

Walus asked the court to set aside Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha’s November 2017 decision to refuse him parole yet again and to order his release, subject to his deportation to Poland.

The minister, the SACP and the SACP leader’s widow Limpho Hani, are opposing the application.

Emotions ran high in court today, with communist party members hailing the spirit of their murdered leader.

Walus, a Polish immigrant, has served almost 25 years of his life sentence for shooting Hani to death in the driveway of his Boksburg home in 1993. Home Affairs revoked his South African citizenship in 2016.

Walus and former Conservative Party MP Clive Derby-Lewis, who supplied the murder weapon, were initially sentenced to death, but their sentences were in 2000 commuted to life imprisonment. Derby-Lewis died of lung cancer in November 2016, a year after being granted medical parole.

The high court initially ordered his release on parole, but the minister appealed that, and the SCA in August last year set aside the decision and referred the matter back to the minister, who refused parole on the basis that Walus had no real remorse and posed a security risk because his views about communism had not changed.

Counsel for Walus, Roelof du Plessis, argued before Judge Selby Baqwa that the parole process was being manipulated to prejudice his client.

He submitted that the minister’s decision was irrational, as he had ignored all positive reports about Walus’ rehabilitation and remorse and elevated a few negative aspects to reasons why parole should be refused.

He said it would serve no purpose to refer the matter back to the minister, as he and his department “were trying every time to find new reasons somewhere to refuse parole” and were “clearly biased”.

Du Plessis said Walus had repeatedly and unreservedly apologised to Hani’s family, the SACP and the whole of South Africa, and there was no reason to conclude that his remorse was not real and sincere and that the 63-year-old Walus “might shoot communist leaders again” if he were to be released on parole.

He said a clinical psychologist’s impression that Walus did not have real remorse seemed to be based on a book by Hani’s daughter Lindiwe, in which she expressed the view that Walus was remorseful for killing Hani the husband and father, but not for murdering Hani the communist leader.

Du Plessis argued the minister had apparently ignored the fact that Walus had completed social skills and anger management courses in 2017, ignored the views of a case management committee that Walus was the epitome of what correctional behaviour was and that he was proof of the success of the rehabilitation programmes offered in prison.

He said Walus’ views about communism 25 years ago could not be held against him now and his anti-communist views today were irrelevant to parole.

“It cannot be required of him to become pro-communist before getting parole. It’s completely unreasonable,” he added.

The application continues.

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