Front National demands immediate release of Clive Derby-Lewis on humanitarian grounds
April 7, 2014
For attention: news editors / press agencies / international media
For immediate release
FROM: Hannes Engelbrecht
Leader: Front National Political Party, Potchefstroom South Africa/ZA
Front National is a South African Political Party registered with the Independent Electoral Commision. The party decided to embark on a campaign to demand the release of Mr Clive Derby-Lewis, as his release would signal that South Africa has indeed become a nation subjected to law and not only subject to the self interest of politicians. However, we found ourselves outraged and shocked at the total disregard for law and decency that we have encountered thus far, relating to a frail old man, terminally ill and brutally attacked in jail a number of times already.
Mr. Clive Derby Lewis was implicated in the assassination Mr. Chris Hani of the Secretary General of South African Communist Party and also Chief of Staff of Umkhonto we Sizwe, (The Spear of the Nation), which was the military wing of the now ruling African National Congress. The incident happened on April,10th 1993 when a Polish immigrant, one Mr. Janusz Walus shot and killed Mr. Hani. Mr Lewis was also arrested as it was alledged that he obtained and lent the pistol that was used, to Mr Walus some time before. Mr Derby-Lewis was not present at the scene of the shooting.
Both were found guilty and sent to prison on life terms, by the White Nationalist Government that was still in power at that time. The incident can be seen as the spark that led to the creation of the “Rainbow Nation”, as Mr Nelson Mandela stepped into the fray of history and delivered his passionate speech on peace and reconciliation shortly thereafter. Twenty years later, many have started questioning whether that noble intention was only words or whether we had the ability to effect the actions that were supposed to follow them.
South Africa followed a path of conciliation and Mr Lewis applied for amnesty before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, that was established after the first multiparty Democratic elections in 1994. Mr Lewis was not successful in his application because no evidence could be found that he was following orders from his own Conservative Party, the then Government or any other third party as he claimed. In short then, the TRC found he was complicit in an ordinary criminal murder with no political conspiracy. In the TRC’s final report it is also stated, without any doubt, that there was no assassination plot. In fact the TRC praises an Afrikaner woman who reported the incident to the police, for her bravery in doing so.
In the years following, Mr Lewis asked on numerous occasions for the widow of the victim, Mrs Hani, to allow him to offer his personal apology for his part in her loss. This has been refused every time.
Mr Lewis is now an aged man, terminally ill with lung cancer and various other ailments. What triggered the renewed effort to get him on parole were the brutal attacks which he had to face from fellow inmates over the last two months. He has been assaulted so severely that his arm was broken, he was stabbed multiple times, even with a sharp piece of broken glass and had to undergo lifesaving operations. It has now become clear that he will perish in prison if drastic steps are not taken and that his life is in serious jeopardy.
Front National has been in direct contact with the family and legal representatives of Mr Lewis. A number of previous attempts to have him put on medical parole were all unsuccessful. It seems as though Mr Lewis has become a political play ball for the SACP, as they politicise the issue at every opportunity. Being part of the ruling alliance alongside the ANC, they have successfully prevented the release of the prisoner on every occasion.
Front National, as a parliamentary Party and in the spirit of lawfulness and respect for the legal processes of the state, engaged in discussion with the appropriate authorities as early as 28 March 2014. We applied to have a peaceful protest and the handing over of a petition and a memorandum to the prison authorities. We also complied with all legal requirements. After several meetings with the authorities, we had the cooperation from all parties involved in the proposed protest action, except that of the Department of Correctional Services. In a letter by a spokesperson on 24 March 2014, we were informed that we cannot protest on the parking area in front of the correctional facility, as it will be occupied by visitors. We were invited to contact the spokesperson again, but that proved to be impossible, since. It became very clear that we were being stone walled. It became even more obvious when we saw media reports of ministerial meetings with another party over a weekend and apparently behind closed doors.
However we were very surprised to hear reports over the National Broadcaster on Saturday 5 April 2014, of a massive protest taking place, even disrupting traffic far and wide around the gathering point to protest against the release of Mr Lewis. Apparently as many as 2500 protesters violently stated their objection to the release of the prisoner. It also became clear that The South African Communist Party (SACP) indeed have received permission for their march against the release, in stark contrast to our own peaceful protest in favour of the release, which was not to be allowed.
What shocked us most was that the protest spokesperson stated as a condition of release, that Mr Derby-Lewis revealed all other parties involved in the assasination. As from our information above, even the TRC found no evidence of such a conspiracy – in fact, if they did, Mr. Lewis would have received amnesty and would have been released two decades ago. It is very clear that a narrative has been created based on a conspiracy theory about political interference in the murder that took place 21 years ago. For the SACP it is not about fairness, legality and an old man’s final days, it’s about politicking before an election. If the ANC government, of which the SACP forms an integral part, really suspected foul play they could surely have created resources over the past two decades to come to the truth of the matter.
We feel that a horrendous miscarriage of justice is taking place as we speak. It has become clear that there is no equality of law. A Party wants to have a peaceful protest and act within the law, but is declined on a superficial reason. Another party, which forms part of government is allowed to stage that same protest but against the same issue in a violent and intimidating way. Is this what South Africa, the once “beacon of light” has come to?
We also see what is happening here is sheer double standards, but much broader than only our protest. South Africa as a whole has been shocked by the release of hard-line criminals, fraudsters and corrupters on medical parole, just so that these individuals can be seen partaking in normal life and even playing tennis and golf shortly after release. Examples that comes to mind are the corrupter Shabir Shaik and the ex Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi who were both found guilty of various corruption charges and have been linked positively to organised crime. For them, it was easy to find medical parole. But for an aged terminally ill man that has come to within an inch of being murdered in prison, there is no way of receiving medical parole. This is simply revolting and shows a total lack of compassion and decency.
To further deny Mr. Lewis parole because he is supposed to divulge information on a conspiracy theory that has been officially discarded two decades ago, smacks of insanity. No official, no matter how incompetent or biased he or she may be, can make such a decision and then face no moral outcry. Must we accept that Mr. Lewis will then never be paroled, simply as he cannot divulge information that does not exist in the first place?
We have decided as a freedom loving party to still embark on a protest on 12 April 2104, but not to inconvenience the Department of Correctional services. We will stage a protest in a peaceful way at another venue. We call on the world to take notice of the gross disregard of human life that is at play here. We want the world to see the moral outrage that is taking place. An old frail man is being denied basic rights that other, so much less deserving, were afforded and they even flaunted their new found freedom. Is this justice? Is this what Mr. Hani died for? Or is this a silent conviction of the system that replaced apartheid as an even crueller one, one where systematic persecution and discrimination of a person is adjudicated based on the colour of his skin?
According to the South African government’s own statistics more than 364 000 murders have been committed since 1994; a woman is raped every two seconds in South Africa. That goes unnoticed and has become a part of South African life. But one old frail man on his death bed is made a political rally point by a party that has contributed little and taken much from our land, simply to remain a driving force in a bigger alliance with the ANC.
Clive Derby Lewis must become the new face of justice in South Africa, rather than the face of injustice for political scoring. If it so happens that he dies in prison, with him dies every glimmer of hope that we will ever have a society based on laws or a moral conscience in South Africa.