I've turned down Janusz Walus' parole - Mike Masutha

Justice minister says psychologist's report found that assassin showed no remorse for murdering Chris Hani the communist leader

Parole decision on offender Janus Walus

Members of the media

Today I announce my decision on the parole application of Janus Walus, an offender incarcerated in our correctional centre who is serving a sentence of life for the murder of the South African Communist Party leader, the late Mr Thembisile Chris Hani. He had brought an application to be placed on parole on 10 April 2015 after serving 21 years and six months of the sentence, in terms of s 136(1) of the Correctional Services Act 111 of 1998.

I had denied him parole by ordering a further profile to be submitted, a decision that was challenged by Mr Walus. The Gauteng Division of the High Court in Pretoria set my decision aside and ordered his placement on parole. The Supreme Court of Appeal (the SCA) then upheld my appeal against that judgment with an order remitting the matter to me for reconsideration and a decision within 90 days. This matter has attracted publicity here and abroad because of the grave impact caused by the crime he committed which is well documented. It is for this reason that we elected to communicate my decision on this platform.

I have now considered the offender’s application. In making my decision, I took into account the SCA judgment in so far as it related to representations made by Mrs Hani, Mr Walus and recommendations made by the Parole Board.

Our country is a constitutional democracy which is governed by the rule of law. Therefore, in reaching my decision, I have taken into account the relevant laws and prescripts that regulate our parole process, in particular, the provisions of the Correctional Services Act 111 of 1998.

The following observations have been noted from the profile submitted to me:

A psychologist’s report has highlighted the offender’s political ideology as a risk factor in the report and is stated as follows:

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

The above clearly articulated state of mind presents a potential risk as it reflects the continued existence of the primary motive that led to the commission of the offence. In this regard, and in line with my previous decision of the 10th April 2015, in which I directed that the Department to, in consultation with other relevant structures, advise on the security threats that might continue to exist; State Security must be approached with a request to provide a security risk assessment report if the offender were to be released on parole.

If one has regard to the fact that remorse is a strong feeling of sadness and regret about something wrong that one has done, the report demonstrates a person who sees nothing wrong in eliminating a communist who happens to be a father and a husband. This can in no way qualify as full remorse as he continues to justify his killing of a communist.

This negative attitude towards communists is also evident in Mrs Hani’s submission in her victim impact statement dated 13th October 2017 which states that:

It is submitted that the victims’ representations of October 2013 remain valid and undisturbed. The progress report reveals that Walus remains unchanged in his ideals regarding his anti-communist views and that he does not disavow violence as a means to retaliate against communists.”

Further there appears to be inconsistencies in the offender’s account of the circumstances that led to his decision to commit the offence further justifying Mrs Hani’s persistent doubt about his sincerity. This is apparent in particular when comparing what is contained in the aforementioned psychologist report reflected in the profile report, wherein he provides a detailed account of the political context that underpinned his decision to commit the offence on the one hand versus his assertion contained in his document titled: Representations by Janus Jakub Walus to the Honourable Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, dated 5th October 2017 wherein he states the following:

“58. I also submit that in the light of the fact that I was merely a foot soldier, it would have been very unlikely that anybody else would have been also involved, would have disclosed his identity to me, being a foot soldier at the lowest part of the ladder. I simply have no knowledge of any such person having been involved.

59. In saying the above mentioned I clearly cannot speak for Mr Derby-Lewis and I do not know whether he had any further information that he had not disclosed before his death. He had never shared any such information with me, should there have been any such information.”

On the contrary, at paragraph 6.2 mentioned above he states the following, according to the psychologist version of Mr Walus account of events underpinning the circumstances of his offence:

The offender met Clive Derby Lewis in 1986. In 1987 he started helping Clive (co-accused) to canvass for a parliamentary position in Krugersdorp, as a member of the Conservative Party. In 1989 Clive was appointed as an advisor in Parliament. The Conservative Party won a seat in Parliament. The party was gaining popularity among White South Africans. The then President of National Party, started negotiating with the ANC. Members of Conservative Party saw this as a strategic move by the National Party to silence and disempower the Conservative Party. Mr Walus felt that this move will lead to the country being governed by Communists.

In 1993, Clive suggested to him that something needs to happen to prevent Communism from coming to power. It was then that Clive suggested to him that Chris Hani (then General Secretary of South African Communist Party) should be assassinated.

Mr Walus states that he felt it was necessary that the assassination happen. He also felt convinced that if he does not do it, no one will. It was then that he agreed to execute the plan. He took the order without any hesitation. In April 1993, he received a list from Clive Derby Lewis. This list contained names and addresses of politicians and journalists. Chris Hani’s name was third on the list.

In light of the above the Department is to assist the offender to engage in further Restorative Justice processes which should also include other identified victims, being the SACP and the community (as previously requested in my 2015 decision.)

In addition to the above, there is a need for the offender to participate in individual therapeutic programs with a Social Worker to enhance his social functioning skills as recommended in the Social Workers report.

The focus of the program should be on the following identified areas of intervention:

(i) Assertiveness;

(ii) Decision making skills;

(iii) Approach, beliefs and behavioral patterns that leads to anger and aggression.

It appears that over the entire period of his incarceration, the offender has acquired neither further academic nor vocational skills that could enhance his prospects of reintegration into society. It is therefore recommended that the Department should assist him acquire any such appropriate skills.

In the result, I have decided that the placement of the offender on parole is not advisable at this stage and his application is therefore not approved. A further profile should be submitted within a period of twelve (12) months of the date of this decision.

Section 78(4) of the Correctional Services Act 111 of 1998 states that in instances where I don’t approve parole, such matters must be reconsidered by me within a period of 24 months.

Section 78(2) states the following:

“If the Minister refuses to grant parole or day parole in terms of section (1), the Minister may make recommendations in respect of treatment, care, development and support of the sentenced offender which may contribute to improving the likelihood of future placement on parole or day parole.”

In the interim the Department should assist the offender in the areas of intervention stated above.

This decision has already been communicated to Mr Walus.

I thank you.

Issued the Department of Correctional Services, 17 November 2017