Chris Hani, former general secretary of the SACP and ANC NEC member. File picture: Ken Oosterbrook
Chris Hani, former general secretary of the SACP and ANC NEC member. File picture: Ken Oosterbrook
Clive Derby-Lewis
Clive Derby-Lewis

As his wife and a victim, I should have been contacted by minister, says Limpho Hani.

I’d like to comment on what the minister of justice said in the print and electronic media regarding the parole board’s positive recommendation on the possible release of the killers of my husband, Chris.

I’d like to confirm that my lawyers, my family and the SACP are not part of the said recommendation.

And I want to go further to say I am very, very disappointed that a cabinet minister in my government disrespects the law of this country.

The above statement I will support as follows:

There are regulations for parole.

First of all, when Mr Clive Derby-Lewis applies for parole, the law says the minister and his officials are supposed to inform the victim.

I have for the past 21 years attended different parole hearings, in the high court and the supreme court in Bloemfontein, and all these years Mr Derby-Lewis’s parole applications have been turned down, including at the TRC.

However, I don’t want to talk about parole today.

I want to talk about the principle. I want to talk about the law of this country being followed by a cabinet minister.

And my concern is that for all these years the Department of Correctional Services has informed me as a victim whenever Mr Derby-Lewis applied for parole.

This (failed to happen) only happened once, when Mr (Ngconde) Balfour was the minister of correctional services, and of course you get the usual apologies. But all the ministers who have served in that department have always followed the law.

While I appreciate the fact that new Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha wants to hit the ground running, I would like him to be aware that there are laws in this country.

Mr Derby-Lewis’s parole application is not a new thing – it did not come to the minister’s desk two weeks ago.

In September last year Mr Derby-Lewis applied for normal parole; it was never a medical parole.

Now, for the first time, I hear from the media that Mr Derby-Lewis has applied for parole and I feel like the minister of justice and correctional services has failed me as a victim.

The question I’m asking myself is that if I, as a privileged person who lives in Sandton in Joburg and have access to the media, am experiencing this, imagine how many victims in this country who live in the rural areas – who do not have access to all these fancy things that we have – wake up 10 months down the line and hear from the street that people who killed their loved ones are released?

All I’m saying to South Africans, is that I would appreciate it if the minister follows the law, because the constitution says the law applies to all South Africans, including the new minister of justice.

I would like to appeal to South Africans to make sure that our constitution is followed.

I am an ANC member. This is my government. I voted for it and I will always vote ANC, even in my death, but let’s do things correctly.

Mr Derby-Lewis’s medical parole application is a new thing that the minister has not communicated to us until I saw him on TV talking about the medical report.

Now, according to the law, the minister is not supposed to go to the media and tell South Africans, including myself as Chris’s wife, that Mr Derby-Lewis has now applied for medical parole.

This is a new application. And according to the parole regulations, as his wife, I am supposed to be contacted and I have a view on that. I think the minister has been extremely unfair.

The thing is that at the moment I don’t know what is contained in the medical parole application. We were told over a period that Mr Derby-Lewis is sick, he can’t walk, his leg is amputated. Last year in September when we attended the parole hearing, although I am not a medical doctor, he looked fine. I think we have to be fair to everyone. The minister should send that application to me as I have the right to look at it.

I am not an animal. I am a human being. My husband will never come back. My children grew up without a father. I am just concerned that the minister is not following the law.

I don’t know the contents of Mr Derby-Lewis’s application so I’m not in a position to make a comment. It is unfortunate that after the minister made that statement, my lawyer still has to chase the department to ask for that application.

Is this how we are treated in this country?

* This is a transcript of an interview that Limpho Hani, wife of assassinated SACP leader Chris Hani, gave to 702 presenter Redi Tlhabi earlier this week.

My husband deserves to be released, legally and morally, says Gaye Derby-Lewis.

This government and its communist cohorts, the ANC, the SACP and Cosatu, have failed Clive miserably and utterly. They have manipulated and abused the system and failed to dispense equality, fairness and justice to Clive in his bid for parole.

Clive was sentenced in 1993 to die on the gallows for his part in the murder of Chris Hani. His death sentence was later commuted to a life term by the Constitutional Court in 1995, when the death sentence was abolished in South Africa.

At that time in 1995, the law stipulated that a prisoner serving a life sentence would qualify for parole after serving a minimum of 15 years of his sentence, and if at least 65 years old. Clive was recommended for parole in October 2007 by the local parole board.

Clive was a reformed man, having completed 12 different courses in prison and being fully rehabilitated and a model prisoner. He had served 15 years of his sentence in October 2008 and he was already 72 years old.

Tozama Mqobi, the wife of the then Minister of Correctional Services Ngconde Balfour, and a senior official within the DCS (Department of Correctional Services), held on to the approval application for almost a year before sending it back to the Parole Board under the pretext that Hani’s widow, Limpho Hani, had not given her permission for parole to be granted, which is completely outrageous.

A first court application followed and failed due to a perjured statement by Balfour that Derby-Lewis had not been recommended for parole by the Parole Board, which is also completely outrageous.

A further application for parole was submitted in March 2009, and the Parole Board again approved the application.

Again the process was stalled by DCS until a second court application followed in March 2009. The court found that it could not grant parole, as the internal process at DCS had not been followed through and completed. Also, and for the first time in parole history, the court granted the application that the Hani family must be given an opportunity to make an input.

Yet again, DCS kept stalling the process, until we threatened to bring a court application to have the minister incarcerated for contempt of court.

Only then did DCS respond and a full parole hearing was held on June 23, 2010, for the input of the Hani family. Again Clive was recommended for parole.

However, in November 2010, then new DCS minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula rejected the application on the grounds that it was incomplete and she requested various documents such as the record of the trial court, which was totally irrelevant. This was submitted only in March 2011, but the application was refused in June 2011, and referred back for a further profile in June 2013.

After intervention by the public protector, the minister’s reasons for refusing parole were given three and a half months later, which reasons were totally spurious and had all to do with sentencing, and nothing to do with parole.

It is clear that the SACP’s obsession that Derby-Lewis should “rot in jail” is what is calling the shots as far as Derby-Lewis’s bid for parole is concerned.

The constant whining of the SACP about some sort of “conspiracy” has become really tedious. Limpho Hani is repeating the same accusation of a suspected “conspiracy”, being a parrot for the SACP in this regard. These whining accusers claim to have had information about the alleged “conspiracy” for 20 years, but they have never come forward to present this so-called “conspiracy information” to have the alleged suspects arrested and tried for murder.

If the roles were reversed, Hani would have been paroled many years ago. There would have been no controversy. Also, if the killers were black and not white, parole would never have been controversial.

Which make these accusers, parading themselves as concerned citizens, nothing less than a bunch of racists in my mind.

Clive has already served close to 21 years of his sentence.

That is six years more than the 15 years he should have served. He is a sickly and frail. Clive has already paid his dues to society. To keep him incarcerated is not only demonstrating a total lack of compassion, but is also cruel and inhumane punishment. It makes a mockery and a farce of any of Chris Hani’s legacy.

* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

Sunday Independent