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Michael Masutha condemns judge who granted Janusz Waluś parole

Masutha says the judge misunderstood several legal aspects applicable to reviewing his parole decision.

Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - Justice Minister Michael Masutha says the High Court judge who granted Chris Hani' s killer parole did not have the authority to set aside his decision and misunderstood legal aspects in the ruling.

The justice ministry announced today that it will lodge an application to appeal the High Court in Pretoria's decision that Janusz Waluś be released.

Waluś has served 23 years in prison for the 1993 murder of the South African Communist Party (SACP) leader.

But Masutha says the judge misunderstood several legal aspects applicable to reviewing his parole decision.

"The manner in which she sought to evaluate my decision and the process she followed is a process she would ordinarily would apply in an appeal and not in the case of a review. She does not have authority to substitute my decision."

He says the Hani family have always remained front of mind.

"They have made it clear that the interest of the victim should be taken into consideration."

WALUŚ'S LAWYERS SAY APPEAL WAS INEVITABLE

Earlier, lawyers for Waluś said they were not surprised the Department of Justice was appealing the decision to grant him parole because of the politics around the case.

His lawyer, Julian Knight, said he was fully expecting government to appeal this decision.

"You had the [African National Congress] itself organising a protest to the Constitutional Court where minister of the Cabinet took part in the matter."

But the SACP's Alex Mashilo says the killer cannot be released yet.

"The man remains an unrepentant murder, he does not show any adequate remorse and parole in South Africa is not a right, it is a privilege. The behaviour of the offender cannot be ignored."

Knight claims this appeal has nothing to do with the law.

"I think if you look at a broader context of other people that have been released on parole, I don't believe there are any merits other than the politics surrounding the sensitivity of the murder of Chris Hani."

But Mashilo said Waluś should never be released because of what he did.

"That murder drove South Africa to the brink of a civil war and the enormity of that cannot be underestimated."

The High Court judge in the case said the justice and correctional services minister had not followed the proper procedures in denying him parole.

The SACP is also going to join the justice ministry in lodging this appeal.

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