Argument that further incarceration amounted to cruel, degrading punishment was unsustainable, misplaced, says judge
SACP leader Chris Hani’s killer, Janusz Walus, will remain behind bars after the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria refused his release on parole.
His legal team said they would take the judgment on appeal.
In refusing his application to be released on parole, Judge Elizabeth Kubushi said the argument that his further incarceration amounted to cruel and degrading punishment was unsustainable and misplaced.
In April this year Walus, who is in his 60s, will have spent 28 years in the Kgosi Mampuru Prison in Pretoria, following the 1993 assassination of Hani. He was arrested shortly after the killing in April, and sentenced that October in terms of which he is due to serve a life term in prison.
In turning to the court once again, his counsel earlier told the judge that, after all these years in jail and several fruitless attempts to obtain parole, it is now time that the court once and for all decides the issue.
They asked the court to release Walus on parole after Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola last year refused parole. It was argued that Walus had paid his dues, that he had genuine remorse for what he had done, and that over the years he had rehabilitated and became a model prisoner.
The minister’s legal team, however, argued that it was within his rights to refuse parole, as he had regard to the remarks of the judge who had sentenced Walus decades ago, who said this was a cold-blooded and deliberate murder.
The judge also at the time imposed the death penalty, which was later commuted to a life sentence, and remarked that this should serve as a warning that a political assassination would not be tolerated.
Advocate Marumo Moerane, acting on behalf of the minister, said it was ironic that the Walus camp was arguing the principles of Ubuntu, while Walus exhibited the opposite when he executed Hani.
Moerane said Walus expressed his remorse only 20 years after the murder of Hani, when he applied for parole for the first time.
“The deceased in this matter is not only a historical figure, but he is someone I personally knew,” Moerane said.
The SACP’s counsel argued on its own behalf and that of widow Limpho Hani that this was a crime unlike many others in the country.
The court was told that Limpho Hani did not accept Walus’ apology, nor did she or the SACP accept that he had any remorse.
Walus’ advocate, Roelof du Plessis, earlier told the court: “In the words of Martin Luther King, we must forgive … Now is the time to show Ubuntu …
“This matter cannot go back and forth all the time. It makes a mockery of the justice process.”
Du Plessis told Judge Kubushi that Walus had done everything in his power over the years to prove that he had rehabilitated and that he had remorse for the killing. This was confirmed by Correctional Services officials.
The judge said she had regard for the minister’s argument, that the nature of the crime had to be considered, as well as the scathing remarks made by the judge who had sentenced him.
The judge also took into consideration that Walus only had to serve two years of parole after his release, as he was sentenced before the law in this regard changed. At present, lifers released on parole would have to spend the rest of their lives on parole.
“That Mr Walus has not been placed on parole yet does not mean that he would never be placed on parole,” the judge said.