I am rejecting Janusz Walus's parole application again - Mike Mashutha

Minister says a further psychological profile of Chris Hani's assassin is needed

Decision on the parole application of Janusz Walus

Today I announce my decision on the parole application of Mr Janusz Waluz who is currently serving a life sentence at Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre.

Mr Walus was sentenced to death on the 15 October 1993 on the charge of murdering Mr Thembisile Chris Hani. He appealed his death sentence, which was later commuted to a life sentence on the 7thNovember 2000.

On 17 November 2017, I made a decision not to grant parole to Mr Walus and directed that  certain conditions  be met. A decision which was later challenged by Mr Walus in the North Gauteng High Court on 06 September 2018.  The High Court set aside the above mentioned decision purely on procedural grounds.

In its ruling, the Court ordered that the matter be remitted back to the Minister Justice and Correctional Services for reconsideration within 120 calendar days. The Court made the following specific orders:- 

That the applicant be afforded the opportunity to respond the report of the Correctional Supervision and Parole Board (CSPB).

That the SACP and Hani family should be afforded the opportunity to file comments on the response of the applicant.

That the applicant must be afforded an opportunity to respond to the submission of the SACP and the Hani family.

That in the reconsideration of the applicant for placement on parole, I must take into account all relevant information.

In making this decision, I was privy to the above mentioned submissions, as ordered by the court. The submissions/representations from the SACP and Hani family were only received by my office on the 8 January 2019. We then agreed with the legal representative of Mr Walus that in light of outstanding submissions, an indulgence will be granted until Friday 18 January 2019 for purposes of my decision.

I now proceed to summarise the submissions received as follows:-

a) The applicant's response to the Parole Board's report

Mr Walus disagrees with the CSPB report on the basis that it is factually incorrect and that is purely based on the personal views of the parole board Chair.

b) Psychological report of Zelda Buitendag dated 15 October 2018 (Applicant's own private psychologist)

This report indicates that Mr Walus has made some progress and is showing signs of remorse. It is noted that in paragraph 5.2.5 of the report Mr Walus may be suffering from depression and has experienced explosive anger episodes.

c) Psychological report of Shane Govender dated 12 October 2018 (DCS psychologist)

The report highlights in paragraphs 8 and 9 that Mr Walus asserts that he cannot change his political beliefs but he now knows the difference between right or wrong. He also denounces violence as means to achieve political objectives.

d) Representations by the SACP and Hani family

Their representations assest that there is insufficient information on the reports filed by Mr Walus for a proper decisions to be taken. Both parties stand firm on their victim empathy statements filed in October 2013 and October 2017.

They noted that Mr Walus still requires psychological treatment for depression and anger problems. The Restorative Justice Progress Report of Linda Steyn is incomplete regarding readiness for parole and thus making it difficult to succinctly comment on it.

e) Response by Mr Walus on the Hani family report and SACP

This report notes and refutes the contents of the SACP and Hani family report.

Coming to my decision, I have carefully applied myself to all the above material together with all updated reports and the following is noteworthy:

The Psychological report of Mr Joel Mbhele dated 02 May 2017:

His clinical impressions on Mr Walus are as follows;

“In terms of his clarity of self, he presented clearly and volunteered information.

In the description of the crime, he provided detail to the crime and took responsibility for his criminal actions.

He clearly described his prominent and active role in the commission of the offence.

Regarding empathy, it can be said that he expresses remorse for the fact that the victim’s children are fatherless and wife is a widow, however he showed no remorse for murdering Chris Hani the Communist leader. He still rationalises his actions and insists that they were politically motivated. His ideas about communism still stand”

The Psychological report of Zelda Buitendag:

Her clinical impressions on Mr Walus are as follows;

“When asked about his reasoning regarding Mr Hani’s murder and if he is rationalising it, he admits to rationalising the assassination before, during and shortly after committing the offence, but says he realises that violence and killing someone is not the answer, even if people have different views. It is morally wrong and he feels guilty about it.

Mr Walus shows sincere remorse for the crime he committed.

It is possible that his thought processes are centred on certain topics that may lead to worry and obsessiveness. He may experience difficulties making decisions. The tests results indicate that he has thought about suicide recurrently. Although there are not sufficient clinical indications that Mr Walus is depressed, research suggests that people with this kind of problems and troubles are prone to become depressed and it should be something to keep in mind.

Mr Walus’ tests results (own emphasis) indicates that he has experienced anger problems where he would have explosive episodes”.

In my decision I had to take into account among others and have identified the following factors:

i. The possibility of him reoffending,
ii. His remorsefulness.

Having considered the various reports of Psychologists above and apparent contradictions arising therein, it was difficult for me to make a determination on the suitability for placement on parole at this stage. I have therefore come to the following decision.

The placement of the offender on parole is not granted. It is directed that a further profile be submitted within six (6) months of this decision for my consideration.

1. In light of the conflicting psychological reports from Dr. Zelda Buitendag and Mr Joel Mbhele, I have directed that the two professionals jointly asses the inmate and file a joint report on the issues concerning risk of reoffending and remorse.

2. The offender should undergo individual psychotherapy with the psychologist to assist in addressing challenges, which have been highlighted on paragraph 5.2.5 of Dr. Zelda Buitendag’s report dated 15 October 2018. This challenges include depression, suicidal thoughts and explosive anger episodes.

Issued by Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, 16 January 2019