Clive Derby-Lewis parole hearing today

Posted on June 23, 2010. Filed under: Courts, TRC |

Today, the parole board in Pretoria will hear an application by Clive Derby-Lewis, who together with Janusz Walus was convicted for the 1993 killing of prominent anti-apartheid activist and Communist Party leader Chris Hani. Derby-Lewis was not granted amnesty by the TRC. (Read the transcripts of the TRC amnesty hearings here)

As recently as August of last year, Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula was quoted as saying that Derby-Lewis had not completed his full prison sentence, nor had he shown any remorse for the Hani killing. “I will not let people abuse the process of parole,” the Minister stated, in maintaining that the “parole of apartheid-era hitman Butana Almond Nofemela does not set a precedent for the release of Clive Derby-Lewis.” A previous parole application made by Derby-Lewis  was dismissed by the High Court in March of 2009. (Full article here)

In a Business Day report this morning, Franny Rabkin writes that Hani’s killing “almost derailed SA’s negotiations for democracy” and “to this day, angers many South Africans.” The SACP has released a statement indicating that the party will oppose the parole application, together with Hani’s widow.

According to Rabkin’s article, last year High Court Judge Willem van der Merwe stated that “Derby-Lewis was, in law, eligible to be considered for parole — because he was over the age of 65 and had already served 15 years of his sentence.” However, he also stated that the “decision to grant parole was ultimately in the hands of the correctional services minister and not the court.” He also “ruled that Ms Hani had a right to make representations to the parole board before it could recommend parole.”

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Amici curiae application by relatives of apartheid victims

Posted on June 21, 2010. Filed under: Courts, Reconciliation, TRC |

On Saturday, The Times LIVE reported that “surviving relatives of apartheid victims have filed an application to intervene in the Constitutional Court case of The Citizen v. McBride as amici curiae (friend of the court) in a bid to challenge the ruling that calling people who received amnesty murderers would constitute defamation.”

According to the report, the Supreme Court of Appeals previously found that the “granting of amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) removes the conviction ‘for all purposes'”, and therefore “anyone who describes such acts as ‘murder’ and any statements referring to an amnesty applicant as a ‘murderer’ would now be considered false and a ground for defamation.”

One of the applicants is Joyce Sibanyoni Mbizana, whose brother Justice Mbizana was abducted, tortured and killed by members of the Northern Transvaal Security Branch in 1987. (Read the record of proceedings by the TRC Amnesty Committee here)

Mbasa Mxenge has also applied – the son of human rights lawyers Griffiths and Victoria Mxenge, both of whom were killed during the 1980’s. (Read more about the case of Griffiths Mxenge here, and that of Victoria Mxenge and the Duncan Village massacre that followed her funeral, here).

The article further reports that if the Court’s ruling is upheld, Mbizana, Mxenge and other victims “may face an untenable prospect of being sued for defamation, should they speak or publish the full truth by referring to heir loved ones’ killers as murderers.” If their application is granted, they will maintain that “no law may render the truth as false for purposes of public debate and discourse”, and that “freedom to speak the truth about the events of the past, should not be suppressed.” (Full article here)

Read the press release by the Khulumani Support Group here, and additional reporting in The Post here.

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