Derby-Lewis controversy ‘torments’ Motlanthe

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derby lewis dec 17

Independent Newspapers

Clive Derby-Lewis. File photo

Johannesburg - Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe feels “tormented” by the question of whether Chris Hani's killer, Clive Derby-Lewis, should be released, Beeld reported on Tuesday.

“I think this is one of those issues that calls into question our commitment to a caring society, a society that is not driven by the desire for revenge,” Motlanthe was quoted as saying at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Houghton, Johannesburg, on Saturday.

“The country should discuss the issue of Derby-Lewis's release, because justice cannot be selective. It must be consistent, even with people we regarded as opponents.”

Motlanthe said the issue around his release was a test of how far the country had come in terms of truly consolidating a culture of human rights.

“He (Derby-Lewis) is also sick. No matter how many times he applied for release, we always said: 'No, our people are not ready for it'.”

Motlanthe said that if Derby-Lewis died in prison he could become a martyr for certain people.

Derby-Lewis was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in the killing of South African Communist Party general secretary Chris Hani in 1993.

Derby-Lewis arranged a firearm for hitman Janusz Walus, who is serving the same prison term.

They were both initially sentenced to death, but this was commuted to life imprisonment when the death penalty was abolished.

A medical parole application made in 2012, and another in 2011, were turned down. Derby-Lewis, now 77, is believed to have cancer.

During a ceremony earlier this year commemorating the 20th anniversary of Hani's murder, SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande said Derby-Lewis and Walus should reveal the truth about who else was involved in the crime or rot in jail.

“We don't want this to happen again,” Nzimande said at the time.

At the memorial ceremony, various political figures paid tribute to Hani and the contribution he made in the struggle against apartheid.

“We are returning here to once again make a proclamation that we will not allow Chris Hani to die,” now-suspended Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said at the time. - Sapa

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