Apartheid assassin Eugene de Kock has been granted parole while Chris Hani’s assassin, Clive Derby-Lewis’, has been denied medical parole
Former Vlakplaas (apartheid death squad) commander, Eugene de Kock has been released “in the interest of nation-building”. De Kock, now 66, was sentenced in 1996 to two life terms in prison and a further 212 years for the crimes he committed during the apartheid era in South Africa.
Minister Michael Masutha made the announcement on 30 January in Pretoria. De Kock was eligible to apply for parole in 2014 as he had spent 20 years behind bars, but was denied in July 2014 as Masutha needed to consult the families of De Kock’s victims before making a decision.
De Kock confessed to more than 100 acts of murder, fraud and torture and took full responsibility for the activities at the Vlakplaas police unit at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 1994. The police’s notorious C10 counter-insurgence unity was responsible for surpressing the anti-apartheid movement.
While he was granted amnesty for most offences, the TRC could only grant amnesty to human rights violators whose crimes were politically motivated and who made a full confession. Amnesty was denied for a number of De Kock’s crimes as the political motivation was not fully proven.
Minister Masutha granted parole as he was now satisfied that De Kock’s victims had been consulted properly and that De Kock had taken part in rehabilitation programmes.
“I’ve considered the matter and noted positive reports from professionals. I’ve noted his progress. Eugene de Kock has been granted parole,” he said.
Sandra Mama, widow of Glenack Mama, who was killed by De Kock in 1992, said that De Kock’s release will aid the reconciliation process.
She told the BBC:
“I think it will actually close a chapter in our history because we’ve come a long way and I think his release will just once again help with the reconciliation process because there’s still a lot of things that we need to do as a country.”
Jane Quinn, who’s sister was killed by De Kock’s hit squad, said that he shouldn’t have been released.
“I don’t think we should be undoing the process of punishment for apartheid crimes before we have completed actually doing them.”
The families of De Kock’s other victims said they had forgiven him and that he should now be a free man, reported Eyewitness News.
Minister Masutha then discussed the medical parole application of Clive Derby-Lewis who is serving a life sentence for the murder of SACP leader Chris Hani in 1993. Derby-Lewis, who is now 78, has been diagnosed with lung cancer and appealed for release on medical grounds.
During his trial, Derby-Lewis justified the killing on religious grounds, explaining that, according to him, in his faith communism was considered “the vehicle of the Antichrist”.
Hani’s murder prompted riots and unsettled the transitions to democracy. Nelson Mandela reportedly called Hani’s murder “a deed so foul that our whole nation now teeters on the brink of disaster”.
Derby-Lewis was initially sentenced to death, but when South Africa went on to abolish capital punishment in 1995, the sentence was commuted.
Masutha said the following of Derby-Lewis’ parole application:
“I have considered the relevant laws and prescripts that regulate medical parole. There is nothing to suggest that Derby-Lewis’s condition is such that he is rendered incapacitated. Clive Derby-Lewis has been denied parole.”
He further said that there was uncertainty over the authenticity of Derby-Lewis’ medical records as he used a pseudonym when admitted to hospital which was incidentally the name of another patient at the hospital.
Former apartheid-era CCB agent Barnard, found guilty of the murder of anti-apartheid activist David Webster and attempted murder of Dullah Omar, was sentenced to two life terms and an additional 63 years behind bars.
Masutha said that he needed more information before he could make a decision on Barnard.
“An agreement has been reached with the parties and the dates will be extended. No decision has been made at this stage.”
Photo by: Yoav Lemmer/AFP/Gett