Lawyer says Hani was not Christ, killer should be set free
Janusz Walus is to make his third appeal for parole on Tuesday, amid renewed debate on whether he deserves freedom
Janusz Walus, the killer of Communist Party leader Chris Hani, is to again appeal to the courts to be set free, with his lawyers set to argue that like any other murderer he deserves to be paroled.
The appeal will be heard on Tuesday in Pretoria’s North Gauteng High Court, which is expected to be packed with supporters of the Hani family and the Communist Party.Walus has been in prison for 25 years. With the help of Conservative Party MP Clive Derby-Lewis, who supplied the firearm, he shot Hani dead in the driveway of his Boksburg home in 1993. Walus’s initial death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 2000.
It is Walus’s third attempt at parole. In 2015 Justice Minister Michael Masutha turned down his first parole application.
In 2016, the court granted Walus parole, but Masutha appealed, with the Supreme Court of Appeal in August last year ruling that the minister must review Walus’s parole application.
Three months later Masutha again denied Walus’s parole bid, saying he had not shown enough remorse for the murder.Walus’s attorney, Julian Knight, speaking ahead of Tuesday’s proceedings, told Times Select the appeal was to have Walus released on parole and deported back to his home country of Poland.
“What is ironic about this matter is the minister has so much to say about Walus, but by comparison if you look there are other people, who have been released, who have committed far more heinous crimes, and he has not had a problem with them being released.
“The minister has a problem signing Walus’s release and my question is why?”
As an example, Knight cited two of his previous clients, Chinese nationals Wang Jin and Hong Zhu. The illegal immigrants were sentenced to life imprisonment after kidnapping and murdering a Chinese woman, who they chopped up, boiled and then fed to lions at the Lion Park in Johannesburg.
“After serving 15 years of their sentence the minister did not have a problem signing their parole release documents. They were paroled and deported back to China. This is despite the trial judge, Philip Boruchowitz, finding that they stood very little chance of rehabilitation.“They could be paroled for having committed a far more heinous crime, but Walus, who has served 25 years in prison, cannot?”
Knight said the politics of the matter had clouded judgment.
“If one wants to take the Walus approach to murder then no one must be released on parole. There must be consistency. What distinguishes Hani from the tens of thousands of other people murdered since the 1990s?
“You cannot say that Hani’s life is worth more than others. We have to be careful not to elevate his status to some sort of Christ-like figure.”
He said in the end it was about basic fairness.
In a statement, SACP spokesperson Mhlekwa Nxumalo said the party’s leadership would accompany Hani’s wife, Limpho Hani, and family to court to oppose the application.
“As the SACP we still remain steadfast that Walus remains an unrepentant murderer and must remain in jail until he speaks the whole truth and nothing less.”