THE arrest of Clive Derby-Lewis, the most prominent English-speaking member of South Africa's right-wing Conservative Party (CP), points to his possible role in a last-ditch bid by white supremacists to sabotage majority rule.
The shocking arrest of Mr. Derby-Lewis in connection with the assassination of African National Congress (ANC) leader Chris Hani followed "intensive" questioning of the lone Polish gunman, Janusz Walus, who was arrested April 10 half an hour after Hani was shot outside his home in a Johannesburg suburb.
South African Police spokesman Frans Malherbe said Derby-Lewis, a former CP legislator, would probably appear in a South African court today.
The arrest was made after a day of peaceful marches around the country commemorating Hani. The only violence occurred when a gunman in a vehicle shot dead two ANC supporters outside the town of Vanderbijlpark. A white man with links to the Conservative Party and the far-right Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB) has been arrested.
Tens of thousands of people crammed a a soccer stadium outside Soweto yesterday to pay their last respects to Hani as his body lay in state in the stadium.
The ANC said that the arrest of Derby-Lewis could be "the first strand in unraveling the web of conspiracy designed to destabilize the country and the negotiations process."
Derby-Lewis, a former legislator who serves on a presidential commission with advisory powers, is known to be an open sympathizer of the extreme-right AWB and has direct links with several international right-wing organizations. According to Wim Booyse, a political risk consultant who has made a study of the right wing, Derby-Lewis helped deliver the extreme-right English-speaking groups into the CP fold.
"He played a major role in uniting right-wing splinter groups among English-speaking South Africans and taking them under the Conservative Party umbrella," Mr. Booyse says.
Derby-Lewis had known connections to Mr. Walus, Hani's alleged assassin through the Stallard Foundation - an extreme right-wing grouping that attracted significant numbers of East European emigres who share a passionate hatred of communism. Walus emigrated to South Africa from Poland and is a one-time financial supporter of the foundation.
As general-secretary of the South African Communist Party, Hani was a prime target for such groups.
Derby-Lewis, an officer on the South African Defense Force reserve, is a director of the Stallard Foundation and his Australian-born wife, Gabrielle, edited its newsletter as well as the CP's monthly mouthpiece, The Patriot.
Derby-Lewis was elected president of the London-based Western Goals Institute in February 1992 succeeding the late Maj. Roberto D'Aubuisson, founder of the right-wing ARENA party in El Salvador and a notorious death-squad leader. Retired United States Gen. John Singlaub, who was linked to the Iran-contra scandal, was also associated with Western Goals.
Derby-Lewis is a leading member of the World Anti-Communist League, a member of the British right-wing Monday Club and is on the mailing list of the ultra-right World Apartheid Movement. He once used Western Goals as an umbrella to call for white self-defense groups in South Africa to protect whites against an ANC-led revolution.
Derby-Lewis - with his carefully cultivated British accent, Royal Air Force-style handlebar moustache, and three-piece suits - also sought to give the CP respectability in English-speaking circles. In 1986, he was photographed with fiery AWB leader Eugene Terre Blanche at a National Party rally disrupted by the AWB.
The ANC, in a statement Saturday, said the government's "benign attitude" and its inaction in the face of provocation from the right-wing had "encouraged forces which were determined to cling to the old order to organize for and propagate violence."