SACP wants amnesty denied to Derby-Lewis

Derby-Lewis and Walus
Derby-Lewis and Walus

At the past weekend the SACP in Gauteng marched to the Kgosi Mampuru correctional facility, handing over a memorandum to the Department of Correctional Services with demands including that any parole application by Hani’s killers, Clive Derby-Lewis and Janusz Walus be denied. They were both given life sentences, and have served 20 years. Mr Derby-Lewis was denied parole in 2011 and again last year. He was stabbed twice in prison in recent months.

The main reason the SACP opposes their amnesty application is their refusal to divulge the “full circumstances of the killing”.

“They have not disclosed the fuller wider conspiracy and there clearly was one,” says SACP deputy secretary-general Jeremy Cronin, who represented the party when the pair applied for amnesty. Another factor is the continued endorsement of their “toxic” views publicly. Mr Cronin referred to a letter in a national newspaper this week that described Derby-Lewis in glowing terms. The author said “if he (Derby-Lewis) did what he did to prevent communism, then he did very well”.

“This was a letter indicating support for the assassination, basically,” Mr Cronin says.

“Considering whether he should be released or not, that’s another factor, there are people out there who praise them … they are not just lone lunatics who did something very stupid. There are forces who have not been uncovered, who are still lurking in our society; and secondly, there are people who are brazenly supporting what they did, and the newspaper letting that be published.”

He says more should be done to uncover the truth behind the killing of Hani. The SACP does not simply want amnesty denied to them, but it also wants the “networks” to which they belonged uncovered.

Mr Cronin, too, is cautious about treading into the terrain of “what Chris Hani would say” about South Africa today. But he does feel Hani would have been proud that the ANC has remained in power. Hani was the chief of staff of Umkhonto weSizwe and an ANC national executive committee member.

Mr Cronin says the complications inside the alliance would not have surprised Hani, but the factional battle in the Congress of South African Trade Unions would have been a cause for concern.

“Sometimes the stories we tell of a heroic past are a little one-sided. Hani would have been the first to (acknowledge) there were many, many challenges — and (that there) always are in real struggle. He knew real-life organisations have their complexities and complications, and it’s important to build those organisations, to respect their unity, but at the same time be principled.” Hani would have been a “huge asset” and would not have criticised from the “outside”.

Former intelligence minister and SACP leader Ronnie Kasrils has been in the firing line for his criticism of the ANC after he said he found it difficult to urge people to vote for the party today.

Mr Kasrils agrees more has to be done to uncover all the facts behind Hani’s death. He recalls Hani’s outstanding achievements and unblemished record, in a country plagued by challenges such as maladministration, cronyism and corruption. Quoting a biography of Hani, he says Hani believed that if the ANC did not deliver, the people should not hesitate “to march against them”.

There are many lessons to draw from Hani’s teachings. “I mean, none of us would have believed and imagined we would see police shoot people during protests … Marikana, Andries Tatane and the list goes on … so this is something we need to consider if we learn lessons from what Chris had to say.”

Young Communist League secretary Buti Manamela says Hani believed socialism was about “simple things” such as education, health, shelter and food security. He told Hani’s memorial service on Thursday the SACP had ensured these issues remained on the ANC’s agenda.

Source: Natasha Marrian, Business Day