Janusz Walus.
Janusz Walus.
Chris Hani’s daughter Linda Hani, widow Limpho Hani and SACP deputy general secretrary Solly Mapaila at the high court yesterday. Picture: Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency (ANA)
Chris Hani’s daughter Linda Hani, widow Limpho Hani and SACP deputy general secretrary Solly Mapaila at the high court yesterday. Picture: Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency (ANA)
JUSTICE Minister Michael Masutha took all the positive aspects into consideration when he declined parole for Janusz Walus.

However, the minister had reservations as to whether the Polish national truly had remorse for the 1993 killing of SACP leader Chris Hani.

This was the argument of advocate Marumo Moerane, on behalf of the minister, during Walus’s bid yesterday to be placed on parole.

The advocate argued in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, that the minister’s decision to refuse parole was reasonable.

Masutha took into account that Walus had participated in various programmes while in jail, including an anger management course, and that he was a model prisoner.

But the minister questioned whether Walus had true remorse. “One must face certain realities such as why would he only after all these years in jail for the first time express remorse.

"He knows if he does not, the chances of being granted parole are slim,” Moerane said.

He also quizzed why Walus always maintained that he was a mere footsoldier in the assassination of Hani, yet the facts showed he was much more involved.

Judge Selby Baqwa remarked that Walus had stated that he had repeatedly expressed his remorse, both to the Hani family and society. He questioned where one drew the line. “Is it self-serving or does he mean it? Is it a record which will play forever?”

It was argued on behalf of the SACP that it was not enough for Walus to now say, “I will no longer kill and I accept democracy.”

It was argued that it was not enough to say he had remorse if it was not supported by facts.

The judge once again pointed out that Walus did apologise in letters to the family but the SACP responded that this was self-serving.

Counsel for Walus questioned how many times more must he express his remorse for the killing. He also asked whether Walus must first become pro-communist before being granted parole.

Walus, who has spent 25 years of his life sentence for the April 1993 killing in the Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre, said he has time and again expressed his remorse to the Hani family as well as to society.

Walus said if he was released, he wanted to go back to Poland to be reunited with his family.

His fate now lies in the hands of Judge Baqwa, the same man who in 2015 granted medical parole to Clive Derby-Lewis, who was convicted with Walus for Hani's assassination.

The court was packed with SACP members, who often loudly voiced their displeasure at the arguments advanced on behalf of Walus. SACP deputy general-secretary Solly Mapaila sat next to Hani’s widow, Limpho Hani.

Du Plessis asked Judge Baqwa to order that Walus be placed on parole and deported to Poland, rather than referring the matter back to the minister for reconsideration.

“We ask you to make the decision in light of all the problems in the past. We cannot have the ball kicked back and forth all the time. Somewhere, someone must make a decision. We say you are in the best position to do so,” Du Plessis said.

This is Walus’s third attempt to be placed on parole. He received a positive recommendation from the parole board seven years ago but his parole was knocked back by the minister in 2013.

In 2015, the minister reviewed another application for parole but ruled that the placement was not recommended at that stage.

At that stage, he said Walus had to personally apologise to the Hani family and that a security assessment had to be done on him to establish whether he still posed a security threat to the country if released.

In 2016, Masutha once again turned down his application. The Supreme Court of Appeal subsequently ruled he had to reconsider his refusal. Masutha again ruled against Walus on the grounds he had not shown sufficient remorse.

He based this decision on a report from a psychologist, who remarked that Walus had expressed his remorse for the loss of the Hani family but did not show any remorse for killing “Chris Hani the communist”.

Du Plessis said Masutha and his department tried to find new reasons every time not to grant him parole.

Judgment was reserved.