Clive Derby-Lewis

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Clive Derby-Lewis
State President's Council
In office
September 1989 – April 1993
Leader F. W. De Klerk
Member of Parliament for Krugersdorp
In office
Leader Andries Treurnicht
Personal details
Born (1936-01-22) 22 January 1936 (age 78)
Cape Town, South Africa
Political party Conservative Party

Clive John Derby-Lewis (born 22 January 1936) is a South African ex-politician, who was involved first in the National Party and then, while serving as a Member of Parliament, in the Conservative Party. He is serving a life sentence for his role in the assassination of South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani. He has been described as a "right-wing extremist" by the Daily Telegraph; and as someone who "even by South African standards...has acquired over the years a reputation as a rabid racist" by journalist & South Africa commentator John Carlin.[1][2] He has repeatedly been denied parole since he began applying in 2007, most recently in April 2013.[3]


Derby-Lewis, who was born in Cape Town, is an Afrikaner with German and Scots ancestry.[4] He grew up in Kimberley and was educated at the then-Christian Brothers' College. He articled as a chartered accountant and worked for both an accounting firm and an oil company; he also became an Extraordinary minister of Holy Communion at Blessed Sacrament Church in Johannesburg before he left the Catholic Church in the early 1980s. He later joined the Afrikaanse Protestantse Kerk (English: Afrikaans Protestant Church), notably as a staunch supporter of Apartheid.[5]

He spent nineteen years as a volunteer in the South African Citizen Force and became the youngest ever commanding officer of the Witwatersrand Rifles Regiment, affiliated with the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles). He was awarded the John Chard Medal for long and meritorious service.

Community and Political History[edit]

Derby-Lewis joined the National Party and became a town councillor for Bedfordview (1972–1977), Deputy Mayor (1973–1974) and ultimately Mayor (1974–1975), and was made a Freeman of the Johannesburg Mini-Council. He served as the member representing Edenvale, Gauteng, on the Transvaal Provincial Council (1972–1981) where he spent several years as the National Party spokesman for Education and Hospital Services. He also served on the boards of numerous other bodies including hospitals, primary and high schools, and a school for physically challenged children.

Through his involvement in politics, he met Gaye Derby-Lewis, a former nun originally from Australia. They married in 1986.[6] This was his second marriage; from his first, he has two children.

Parliamentary History[edit]

Derby-Lewis was a founder member of the Conservative Party at the time of its split from the National Party in 1982, due to a softening of the government's apartheid policies of racial segregation. He was a member of the new party's General Council and Parliamentary Caucus until 1993. He also served on the Transvaal Party Council, in addition to the council's Information and Financial Committee.

Following his unsuccessful election bid in the Krugersdorp constituency, Derby-Lewis was nominated as a Member of Parliament in 1987 (after the then constitution allowed for political parties to nominate members to the House of Assembly, in addition to their elected representatives). Derby-Lewis served on a number of parliamentary committees. He also represented the Conservative Party on the Standing Committees of Parliament dealing with the Provincial Affairs of Natal, as well as Trade and Commerce.

When the Conservative Party became the Official Opposition he was appointed Chief Spokesman on Economic Affairs, Technology and Mineral Affairs. He was the only member of the Conservative Party Parliamentary Caucus to have served in all four levels of government in South Africa.

During his tenure in Parliament, Derby-Lewis and others in the Conservative Party were staunchly opposed by the anti-apartheid Progressive Federal Party. In March 1988, Derby-Lewis was slammed by opposition leader Harry Schwarz as the "biggest racist in Parliament".[7]

In September 1989 he was formally appointed to the State President's Council where he served as a member of the Economic Affairs and the Amenities Committees.[8]

He visited London twice in an official Conservative Party delegation, including that of June 1989, which included their leader, Dr. Andries Treurnicht and Natal party chief Carl Werth. About that time he joined the London-based Western Goals Institute as an honorary Vice-President, and was one of their delegation to the 22nd World Anti-Communist League Conference in Brussels in July 1990.

Derby-Lewis has a long history of racially-inflammatory remarks, a number of which were considered off-putting even by his Conservative Party colleagues who themselves favoured a racially-divided South Africa. In 1989 he claimed in Parliament that "If AIDS stops Black population growth it will be like Father Christmas."[9] Similarly, that same year he was overheard remarking "What a pity" in response to a report by a minister that an aircraft had had to brake to avoid a black man on the runway at Johannesburg's airport (he later apologized, claiming it had just "slipped out").[2] Commenting on this, Andries Beyers (a senior party official at the time) said: "I think sometimes he became an embarrassment to us. He was very, very hardline. He had a calling to bring English-speakers to the CP, but his personal style put them off."[10] Derby-Lewis was defeated after a reelection bid in 1989, and had been in the process of contesting a Krugersdorp by-election at the time of his arrest.[11]

Assassination of Chris Hani[edit]

Derby-Lewis was arrested for aiding and abetting a Polish immigrant to South Africa, Janusz Walus, in the assassination on 10 April 1993 of Chris Hani, General Secretary of the South African Communist Party and leader of the African National Congress' military wing. Derby-Lewis had loaned the gun used in the assassination to Walus. A list of senior ANC and South African Communist Party figures had been developed allegedly by Arthur Kemp[12] and included Nelson Mandela and Joe Slovo.

Kemp's role in the incident was fully investigated by the South African Police, who were monitored in their investigation by George Churchill-Coleman, the former head of Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist squad [13] and Mathews Phosa, prominent ANC lawyer.[14]

Despite ANC input into the investigation of the Hani affair, Kemp was never charged and the subsequent court case found that Kemp had nothing to do with the assassination of Hani.[15] Kemp was subpoenaed to give evidence in the Derby-Lewis trial to confirm a statement given to police by the main accused.[15]

The court found that the list of names which Kemp had provided to the third accused, Gaye Derby-Lewis, was not a 'hit list.' Because of this, Gaye Derby-Lewis was acquitted of all charges and released.[16]

Derby-Lewis was convicted of conspiracy to murder and sentenced to death for his role in the assassination. The sentence was commuted to life imprisonment when capital punishment was outlawed in 1995. Derby-Lewis confessed his role in the assassination in his application to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for amnesty and testified that the assassination was encouraged or sanctioned by senior leaders of the Conservative Party.[17] In his defence, Derby-Lewis said that he was acting "in defence of my people, who were threatened with a Communist take-over."[4] He added that his Christian faith within the Afrikaanse Protestant Church was central to his decision: "As a Christian, my first duty is to the Almighty God before everything else. We were fighting against communism, and communism is the vehicle of the Antichrist."[5]

The application was denied in April 1999. In 2000, the Cape High Court dismissed an application by Derby-Lewis and Walus to overturn the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's decision.[18]

In June 2010 Derby-Lewis applied for parole on the grounds that he was over 70, and was entitled to parole in terms of South African law for having served in excess of 15 years in prison.[19] In November 2010, Derby-Lewis' lawyer reported that Derby-Lewis was receiving treatment for skin cancer and prostate cancer, hypertension, and for a gangrenous spot in his leg. The Correctional Services department reported that a decision on his parole could be announced in early December.[20]