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  • Written by  Mail&Guardian
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Theatre of differences outside Vlok trial

Civil society groups from opposite sides of the political fence are to highlight their views on the Vlok trial at the Pretoria High Court on Friday. The Khulumani Support Group will be outside the court as part of its proceedings to hand over a charter of redress. The 33 000-member support group runs various programmes, including post-Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) lobbying and advocacy for the rights of apartheid victims.

On Friday apartheid-era minister of law and order Adriaan Vlok, former police chief Johan van der Merwe and three other former high-ranking police officials will appear in the Pretoria High Court in connection with the attempted poisoning of then anti-apartheid activist Frank Chikane.

Khulumani said in a statement on Thursday that the charter it would be handing over to a Department of Justice and Constitutional Development official would provide a checklist of what victims and survivors of apartheid need in order to experience justice and inclusion in South African society.

"The charter identifies the fact that reconciliation has a price -- the price is the cost of redressing the terrible wrongs done to individuals and communities across South Africa," said the support group.

Khulumani said the guidelines under which Vlok, Van der Merwe and others were to be prosecuted were too lenient.

"These amendments create new and less rigorous amnesty opportunities for apartheid criminals who either failed in their original applications to the TRC or avoided altogether engaging with the TRC," said Khulumani.

"While new opportunities are created for apartheid criminals to once again seek indemnity from prosecution, no benefits or opportunities have been extended to victims and survivors of apartheid atrocities to address their urgent needs."

Meanwhile, AfriForum will hold a peaceful demonstration and a flower-laying ceremony in memory of "victims of African National Congress [ANC] terror attacks" and "other victims of gross human rights violations" outside the court on Friday morning, the organisation announced on Thursday.

"AfriForum will protest in order to demand that ANC leaders will also be prosecuted for atrocities and gross violations of human rights committed by the ANC during the 1980s."

AfriForum CEO Kellie Kiel said in a statement that the National Prosecuting Authority had to note the Tic?s finding that the ANC leaders could be held responsible for the "gross violation of human rights" during landmine attacks as well as "other acts of terror".

"If the National Prosecuting Authority persists in treating the ANC's leaders differently from other offenders, any future prosecutions will amount to selective morality and a witch-hunt," he said.

'Beefed up'
The eagerly awaited court appearance of the apartheid-era security bosses might yield little drama.

It is widely speculated that the men might have entered into a plea bargain with the state. If so, they would only appear in the Pretoria High Court for a few minutes.

Should the case not be settled by a plea-bargain, it would continue for only a few minutes longer, as the indictment would be read out, the men asked to plead, and Judge Eben Jordaan would then postpone it for trial.

This does not prevent it from being the proverbial hottest ticket in town.

Earlier in the week the National Prosecuting Authority urged reporters covering the trial to arrive early as there would be no special arrangements for the media.

The National Prosecuting Authority also had bad news for the multitude of foreign news organisations wanting to cover the trial -- it would be conducted in Afrikaans.

Police spokesperson Director Phuti Setati said the police would "beef up" security at the court.

"We are not expecting any problems but we must be prepared," he said. -- Sapa

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