The High Court in Pretoria on Thursday dismissed Justice Minister Michael Masutha’s application for leave to appeal an earlier high court judgment which ordered the release of Janusz Walus, the man who murdered South African Communist Party (SACP) leader Chris Hani.
“I make the following order: the first respondent’s (Masutha) application for leave to appeal is dismissed,” Judge Nicolene Janse van Nieuwenhuizen told a packed high court.
“The first respondent is ordered to pay the costs of the application, which costs include the costs of two counsels.”
Hani was shot and killed by Walus on Easter Sunday, 10 April, 1993. Walus was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in October 1993, but this was later commuted to life imprisonment.
Walus’s application to be released on parole was initially turned down by Masutha, after which the convicted murderer sought the intervention of the high court to make a ruling for him to be released on parole.
His erstwhile co-accused Clive Derby-Lewis, who was also given a life sentence, was released on medical parole last year.
On 10 March, the High Court ordered that Walus be released on parole within 14 days, prompting Masutha to apply for leave to appeal.
Walus to remain behind bars, for now
Walus, however, will not be released immediately.
“He cannot be released until his lawyers apply for his release in terms of the Superior Courts Act, which immediately suspends automatically an order when there is leave to appeal notified,” Justice Minister Michael Masutha’s spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga told reporters.
“We have indicated to her (high court Judge Nicolene Janse van Nieuwenhuizen) that we are going to petition the Supreme Court of Appeal, which means he can’t be released.”
Mhaga said since the judge dismissed Masutha’s application for leave to appeal the decision to release Walus on parole, the next move was to petition a higher court.
“You have to go to the Supreme Court of Appeal and show them that this court which is below you has erred in not granting us leave to appeal.
Please look at the papers, records of proceedings and the judgement then decide or set aside that earlier order denying us access to the appeal court,” Mthunzi explained.
“If they are convinced that there are prospects of success, they will grant it (the leave to to appeal). We will present the same arguments we have been raising here.
“That the earlier court order was based on a misdirection. We will put a strong argument so that they will grant us leave to appeal. We believe that she (Janse van Nieuwenhuizen) misdirected herself.”
Mhaga said Masutha, the first respondent in the application for leave to appeal against Walus’s release on parole has 30 days to petition the appeals court.
“We will do it today or tomorrow because we feel that this is a matter of importance and urgency as well,” he said.
Mhaga said there are indications that Walus’s lawyers will be bringing a high court application for his immediate release.
“We are prepared for that too. We believe that he should not (be released),” said Mhaga. – African News Agency (ANA)