White woman linked to Hani assassination: Right-wing politician's wife charged as SA peace talks stumble

THE WIFE of a leading right-wing white politician appeared before a magistrate yesterday in connection with the murder of Chris Hani, the African National Congress (ANC) leader, a crime described in court by the police as part of a plot to sabotage negotiations towards a peaceful, democratic settlement.

At the multi-party talks, however, various representatives appeared determined to scuttle the process themselves. Progress on setting an election date, which both the government and the ANC agree to be urgent in the present volatile political climate, was undermined by a cabal of right-wing delegations who introduced one delaying stratagem after another.

One person who would have applauded such a ploy, Gaye Derby- Lewis, became the second person to appear in court in the Hani case. Janusz Walus, who was arrested by the police on 10 April, within half an hour of the assassination, has been charged with murder. The police believe Mr Walus, who belongs to a number of far-right organisations, pulled the trigger.

Mrs Derby-Lewis, a journalist, is the wife of the prominent right-wing spokesman Clive Derby-Lewis, a former MP of the South African Conservative Party. Mr Derby-Lewis, arrested in connection with the murder 12 days ago, lost a court ruling yesterday against a police application that he continue to be held under the Internal Security Act, a law introduced to curb the activities of the ANC and other black liberation movements.

According to affidavits submitted to the court by police, Mr Derby- Lewis supplied Mr Walus with a gun and silencer and told him to shoot Mr Hani over the Easter weekend. Police Colonel Adriaan van Niekerk, who is heading the investigation, said he was convinced both Mr and Mrs Derby- Lewis had information regarding a plot to kill Mr Hani and eight others, including Nelson Mandela, named in a hit-list in Mr Walus' home.

The day's other drama, the multi- party negotiations, proceeded in less sensational fashion. It was the second time this week that all 26 participating parties sat down at the 'negotiating council'. On Monday, the first meeting after the political storm that followed Mr Hani's death, the government and ANC delegations, led by Roelf Meyer and Cyril Ramaphosa respectively, arrived in business-like mood, determined speedily to arrive at a decision on an election date and the establishment of multi-party 'Transitional Executive Councils' designed to ensure a free and fair vote.

As it turned out, zero progress was made, for the Concerned South Africans Grouping had other plans. Cosag, established last year at the instigation of the Inkatha Freedom Party leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, is a loose alliance comprising Inkatha, Mr Derby-Lewis' Conservative Party, the right-wing, nationalist Afrikaner Volksunie, and the purportedly independent 'homeland' governments of Ciskei and Bophuthatswana.

Amid growing desperation from Mr Meyer and Mr Ramaphosa, each Cosag delegation took it in turn to propose points of order and procedural amendments which the rest would then support. In response to complaints by the other delegates, most of whom are allied either to the government or the ANC, that the broader population was clamouring for a rapid political settlement, a leading Inkatha delegate said: 'All this talk of urgency leaves me stone-cold'.

Yesterday, after much debate on whether to appoint 'technical sub- committees' or not, Frank Mdlalose, the Inkatha national chairman, sought to read out a document on political violence. He never got around to it because the non-Cosag delegates complained either that it was too long or too provocative. The document, which everybody had already read, pinned the blame for the violence on the ANC's armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, and demanded this 'private army' be disbanded before negotiations could proceed.

On Thursday, two Inkatha supporters were convicted of killing 10 occupants of a mini-bus.

(Photograph omitted)