Who is Selby Baqwa‚ the judge deciding if Chris Hani's killer can be released on parole?

Judge Selby Baqwa is presiding over Tuesday's parole application by Chris Hani’s killer‚ Janusz Walus.
Judge Selby Baqwa is presiding over Tuesday's parole application by Chris Hani’s killer‚ Janusz Walus.
Image: Alaister Russell

Judge Selby Baqwa is presiding over Tuesday's parole application by Chris Hani’s killer‚ Janusz Walus‚ who hopes to be released from a life prison term‚ alternatively to be deported to his home country of Poland.

He is familiar with the matter. In 2015‚ Baqwa agreed to the release of Walus's co-conspirator Clive Derby-Lewis on medical grounds‚ after the then 79-year-old‚ who was riddled with cancer‚ had spent 22 years in prison. He died the following year.

Who is Judge Baqwa?

He began his legal career as an attorney in 1976‚ before becoming an advocate in 1988. He took silk in 1997 and a high court judge in 2012.

Formerly a human rights and public interest activist lawyer‚ he was appointed as South Africa's first Public Protector by Nelson Mandela's administration in 1995‚ a position he held under 2002.

Baqwa’s handling of the Sarafina 2 theatre production scandal led to criticism that he shielded then-health minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Despite the criticism‚ the founding member of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers lists the establishment of the public protector’s office as one of his most significant contributions to the law.

Under Baqwa‚ the office began with 200 cases a week‚ which were investigated and processed by fewer than a dozen staff members.

When Thuli Madonsela left in 2016‚ the office was dealing with more than 24‚000 cases a year. At her farewell dinner‚ she said Baqwa and Lawrence Mushwana‚ the second and her immediate predecessor‚ had left a firm foundation for her. Dismissing criticism of their independence‚ she said being an ombudsman was a very "lonely job".

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