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Court date set for Justice Dept to appeal Hani killer's parole decision

The department will lodge an application on 12 April to appeal the decision that Janusz Walus be paroled.

FILE: Janusz Walus at a hearing in the Pretoria City Hall on 11 August 1997. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The Justice and Correctional Services Department has stated that a date has been set for its application to be heard for leave to appeal against a decision to release Chris Hani's killer Janusz Walusz on parole.

The department will lodge an application on Tuesday 12 April to appeal the High Court in Pretoria's decision that Walusz be released.

Walusz has served 23 years in prison after being convicted in 1993 for pulling the trigger that killed the former South African Communist Party (SACP) leader.

Spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga says Justice Minister Michael Masutha felt the court had erred in its judgment to release Walusz on parole.

Masutha said the High Court judge who granted the killer parole didn't have the prerogative to make the findings which motivated her final decision.

The minister had refused to give the Polish-born man the green light to be freed.

Masutha said the judge has a lot to clarify.

"She doesn't have an authority to substitute my decision for hers because she thinks hers is a better, more reasonable decision. It's not really her problem. All she has to deal with is to apply the rules or review."

WALUSZ LAWYERS SAY APPEAL WAS INEVITABLE

Earlier, lawyers for Walusz 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 said 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 claimed 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 Walusz 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.

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