News / South Africa / Courts

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
14 Jan 2019
6:00 am

Justice minister misses parole deadline for Janusz Walus

Ilse de Lange

Michael Masutha was given 120 days to reconsider releasing Chris Hani's killer.

Former minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha. Picture: Linda Mthombeni

Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha has missed the deadline given by the High Court in Pretoria to consider the release of Janusz Walus, who assassinated SACP leader Chris Hani in 1993.

Walus’ attorney, Julian Knight, said Judge Shelby Baqwa in September last year gave the minister 120 days to reconsider Walus’ parole, taking into account all relevant information, including comments by Walus, Hani’s widow, Limpho, and the South African Communist party on a negative parole board recommendation.

Masutha turned down Walus’ application in November 2017, after the Supreme Court of Appeal set aside a March 2016 high court decision to release him on parole but referred the matter back to the minister.

Knight said the high court’s deadline had come and gone early in January without a decision and they had now given the minister an extension until Friday this week to make a fresh decision.

Knight said he could not see how one could expect a minister who was a member of the ANC to be impartial when considering the parole of a person who had murdered his commander-in-chief (Hani was also the leader of the ANC’s military wing Umkhonto weSizwe) and Walus might have to consider taking the matter to the Constitutional Court if the issue of his parole just kept on going around.

He pointed out that the same parole board chair who had refused to recommend Walus’ parole had also refused to recommend parole for another client, Marius van den Heever, who was serving life terms for three gruesome murders.

Acting Judge George Avvakoumides last month criticised the minister for refusing Van den Heever parole and ordered his release on day parole under strict supervision for three months, followed by his release on full parole.

Knight said the minister had missed the deadline for Van den Heever, who has still not been placed on day parole.

Judge Avvakoumides found the minister’s refusal of Van den Heever’s parole, despite expert reports that he was no longer a danger to society, was irrational and showed “bias and/or incompetence with reference to consideration of the relevant facts and expert reports”.

He said the reasons for the refusal and insistence that Van den Heever needed further psychotherapy and evaluation by a criminologist were wholly based on the irrelevant personal views and conclusions of the Parole Board chairman.


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