Johannesburg - The correctional services department has promised to give convicted killer Clive Derby-Lewis's application for medical parole urgent attention.

Derby-Lewis's lawyer Elsabe Juin said on Monday she was told by department officials the application would be marked urgent and be treated as a priority.

“After the department said they lost the papers we initially filed for the application, I personally delivered copies to the head of the prison on Thursday. I was told my papers will be submitted urgently,” Juin said.

She said the department seemed co-operative after her firm said they would approach a high court to force the department to comply with the law when handling the 78-year-old's application.

“They did not want to commit to a date but I was told it would be a priority. The papers(for a high court application) are ready should we feel we need to proceed, but we expect feedback from the department by mid July.”

Comment from department spokesman Manelisi Wolela was not immediately available early on Monday afternoon.

On June 19, correctional services said it received an incomplete application for medical parole for Derby-Lewis and was waiting for a complete form.

Wolela further dismissed as “disingenuous”, claims by Derby-Lewis's lawyers that they had not received feedback from the department after submitting an application for medical parole on May 2.

Derby-Lewis was convicted of conspiracy to kill SA Communist Party general secretary Chris Hani by providing the gun Polish immigrant Janusz Walus used to kill him in the driveway of his Boksburg, East Rand, home on April 10, 1993.

The 78-year-old former Conservative Party MP, who was sentenced to 25 years behind bars, has already served more than 20 years of his sentence.

Derby-Lewis was initially sentenced to death, which was commuted to life imprisonment when the death penalty was abolished in 1995.

He testified before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that his fight against communism motivated the murder. The commission denied him amnesty in 1999, a decision upheld by the Cape High Court a year later.

He first applied for parole in June 2010.

Sapa