Clive Derby-Lewis

Johannesburg - Clive Derby-Lewis’s lawyers are sceptical that the convicted killer will be granted parole after prison authorities recommended his release on medical grounds.

Derby-Lewis, 78, is serving a life sentence along with Janusz Walus for the 1993 murder of SACP leader Chris Hani.

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

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha said on Monday there had been a positive move, “recommending his release on parole”.

He said the department would consider petitions by the SACP and others on whether to release Derby-Lewis, who has lung cancer.

According to Elsabe Juyn, a paralegal representative for Derby-Lewis’s attorney, Marius Coertze, the convicted killer has been denied medical parole three times.

Juyn said this morning they had only heard about the recommendation through the media.

“We haven’t heard it’s official… we won’t celebrate before we see that it’s for real this time.”

She said Derby-Lewis’s health was deteriorating, not only from the cancer but from being stabbed in prison earlier this year.

In March, Derby-Lewis was stabbed by another inmate for the second time within a month at the Kgosi Mampuru prison in Pretoria.

Juyn said they were struggling to move Derby-Lewis from Eugene Marais Hospital to the Muelmed hospital in Pretoria for radiation treatment.

Two of Hani’s children were contacted by The Star this morning but both declined to comment on the matter.

Spokesman for the SACP Alex Mashilo could not be reached for comment while ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa said the party would not comment while the matter was still in the recommendation phase.

Last month the department was ordered by Judge Thokozile Masipa to look into the release of Vlakplaas death-squad leader Eugene de Kock.

De Kock has spent 20 years in prison after being sentenced to 212 years’ imprisonment for crimes including murder, culpable homicide, kidnapping and fraud.

Max du Preez, a veteran journalist who reported on both men’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings, said this morning on Talk Radio 702 that he felt they should be released. “I think (De Kock’s) a very changed man now, which I’m not sure is true of Clive Derby-Lewis,” he said.

“Do we have enough grace in this country that we can say: ‘These two old men can now go.’?” Du Preez asked.

The Star