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Chris Hani’s killer Janusz Walus in fresh bid for freedom

By Zelda Venter | Pretoria News |

After spending more than 28 years behind bars for his role in the 1993 assassination of SACP leader Chris Hani, Polish killer Janusz Walus will in February approach the Constitutional Court in another bid to be released on parole.

Walus, who expressed remorse for what he had done, said that since his incarceration he had returned to his Roman Catholic faith and fully understood his wrongdoings. He also accepted the present South Africa and its constitutional dispensation.

The apex court agreed to hear his application after he earlier this year lost his bid for leave to appeal the refusal of his release on parole to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).

Walus said in papers before the Constitutional Court that he had demonstrated that he was now fully rehabilitated, not a danger to anyone and genuinely remorseful for his actions.

Judge Elizabeth Kubushi, sitting at the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, in April turned down his bid for parole and said there was no prospect of success at the SCA if Walus turned his plight to that court.

Walus asked for leave to appeal the entire judgment and order handed down by Judge Kubushi. His legal team argued that apart from believing that the SCA would rule in his favour, they believed his constitutional rights were trampled by his further incarceration.

He said as far as he knew, he was one of the people who had been incarcerated the longest. Walus questioned in his application whether the grounds forwarded for refusing him parole were lawful.

He was initially given the death sentence, but when this form of punishment was abolished by the government, it was automatically converted to a life sentence.

In refusing his application to be released on parole, Judge Kubushi earlier said the argument that his further incarceration amounted to cruel and degrading punishment was unsustainable.

In the leave to appeal application, she said judges may only grant such if they were of the opinion that there were chances that the process may succeed. In this case, she said, there were no such chances.

Walus’s legal team at the time had told the judge that after all these years in jail and several fruitless attempts to obtain parole, it was now time that the court decided on the issue.

It was submitted that he had paid his dues, had genuine remorse for what he had done and that over the years, he had rehabilitated and became a model prisoner.

Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola’s legal team earlier this year questioned why Walus had only expressed his remorse for the assassination 20 years after the incident when he for the first time applied for parole.

Hani’s widow Limpho Hani, as well as the SACP, have over the years opposed each attempt by Walus to be placed on parole. Hani made it clear during each application that she did not accept Walus’s apology. She said neither she nor the SACP accepted that he had any remorse. They maintained that he had to remain behind bars.

Walus, however, maintained that he had time and again expressed his remorse to the widow.