Ben James of the Front Nasionaal party is pulled by a chain during a symbolic picket outside the offices of Correctional Services where they demanded the release of Clive Derby-Lewis. Picture: Masi Losi

Pretoria - Chris Hani murderer Clive Derby-Lewis is still chained to his bed at the Eugene Marias Hospital while undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment for lung cancer although doctors believe he will not see past the end of the year.

This is according to Elsabe Juyn, a paralegal at Marius Coertze attorneys, the firm which acts as lawyers for the 78-year-old inmate at the Kgosi Mampuru II prison.

“He is not doing well at all. We hope that he can be released from jail to at least spend a little time at home. Doctors are of the opinion his prognoses is not good,” said Juyn.

But their biggest concern for now is that Derby-Lewis is being chained to his hospital bed and his legs are also shackled together.

Correctional Services, however, said this is a security measure which is applicable to all inmates who leave prison.

Juyn said this made no sense, as Derby-Lewis had been in hospital for two months during which he was not shackled. “This was not a problem then, but now it is suddenly necessary to shackle him. This violates all his basic rights.”

Derby-Lewis has been in chains for the past month and in a letter to Correctional Services, Coertze threatened the department with an urgent court application if the chains are not removed.

Coertze said said Derby-Lewis’s doctor had also made the request at the elderly prisoner had diarrhoea due to the chemo and could not move freely and fast enough to use the bathroom.

It was also said that the manacles put strain on his ankles which are swollen because of his heart failure.

Coertze said apart from the doctor saying this was not in Derby-Lewis’ best interests, the situation is also inhumane and amounts to torture.

Correctional Services on Friday answered in a letter that all offenders who left the prison had to be “mechanically restrained”, and that the removal of the chains will only be considered if a doctor or a magistrate said it would harm his health.

Juyn said they have turned to court on nine occasions to have Derby-Lewis’ rights enforced.

His application to be released on medical parole has been denied by the department twice.

Juyn said the parole board recommended in October 2007 that he be released on parole, but the minister never gave the final go-ahead.

Derby- Lewis has served 20 years of his life term for his part in the 1993 killing of SACP secretary general Chris Hani. At the time of his sentencing, life imprisonment meant serving 15 years before a person was considered for parole.

Legislation has meanwhile changed, which meant that a person now being sentenced to life has to serve at least 25 years in jail.

Juyn said the Constitutional Court had made it clear in judgments that the term of punishment to be served, is determined by when the person is sentenced.

“Derby-Lewis thus only had to serve 15 years before he was considered for parole,” she said.

A group of protesters from the political party Front Nasionaal, on Friday gathered outside the prison, where they called for his release.

Pretoria News