Derby-Lewis parole: Right to die with dignity considered

Chris Hani's killer was today granted medical parole.

FILE: Clive Derby-Lewis during his amnesty hearing for his part in the murder of Chris Hani. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - In granting Clive Derby-Lewis medical parole today, Judge Selby Baqwa told the High Court in Pretoria that he took the elderly man's right to die with dignity into consideration.

Derby-Lewis supplied the firearm that was used to murder South African Communist Party (SACP) leader Chris Hani 22 years ago.

The 79-year-old received the death sentence which was then converted to life in prison in 2000.

Baqwa ruled this morning that Justice Minister Michael Masutha's decision not to grant him medical parole in January was unfair.

"Further delay would cause unjustifiable prejudice to the applicant whose life is already precariously poised according to the medical evidence presented in this application."

Baqwa emphasised that two independent doctors had reached the conclusion that Derby-Lewis had until the end of July to live as he suffers from terminal cancer which is spreading rapidly.

He said the court could not take that risk as it was unclear how long he would live.

Masutha has not yet indicated if he will appeal today's judgement.

REACTION

Police union Popcru's Richard Mamabolo says Derby-Lewis has not showed enough remorse.

"We are really disappointed at the decision. They claim he has shown remorse. We don't see any remorse. The South African population should be disappointed in that."

But Corne Mulder of the Freedom Front Plus says this was the best decision.

"We obviously welcome the decision by the court. We think it's something long overdue. It does not say anything about the merits of what happened but basically just in terms of procedural fairness."

Emotional friends of Derby-Lewis broke down after the judgment while Hani's widow, Limpho, left the courtroom declining to comment on the verdict.

At the same time, veteran workers leader Zwelinzima Vavi said the court ruling was bound to spark a backlash of anger.

"We are quite angry that this man will be now walking in the streets in the name of medical parole, that is now what is happening. Just to underline what a lot of people are saying, if you have money, you can work around the justice system."

The judge has told the High Court that he simply couldn't refer the matter back to the Justice Minister because the elderly man is likely to die soon.