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  • Written by  FRANNY RABKIN, www.businessday.co.za
  • Published in In the News
  • Read 5210 times

Presidential pardon list ‘shocks’ victim groups

VICTIMS of "politically motivated" crimes were yesterday invited to make submissions to President Jacob Zuma on whether he should grant pardons to the perpetrators. A list of the 149 names recommended for pardons was published by the Department of Justice yesterday. This follows a Constitutional Court judgment in February which said the president must hear the voices of the victims before he considers whether to grant pardons.

But the list, which includes two offenders convicted for 21 murders each and 15 and 13 attempted murders respectively, has shocked the coalition of nongovernmental organisations that originally took the case to court.

Marje Jobson of victim support group Khulumani said the recommendations "induce a sense of real shock and outrage in the wider community. They speak to how defective and inappropriate the special pardons process was."

The special pardons process was set up by former president Thabo Mbeki in 2007 to deal with the "unfinished business" of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Pardons were meant to go to those who could show their crimes were politically motivated.

The coalition fought the process, saying it was not transparent because victims could not participate. It eventually ended up at the Constitutional Court.

The coalition's Hugo van der Merwe said yesterday the coalition "had a sense of shock about many of the individuals recommended" and that some crimes seemed not to be politically motivated.

These included aggravated robbery and theft, and the vast majority of the offences were committed after 1994.

However, Mr van der Merwe said that the coalition is "very happy" to see that more information is now being revealed.

Apparently whittled down from about 2000 applicants, the list includes former law and order minister Adriaan Vlok and former apartheid police chief Johannes van der Merwe , who pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of United Democratic Front leader Frank Chikane.

But Ferdi Barnard , convicted for murdering anti-apartheid activist David Webster and attempting to murder former justice minister Dullah Omar, is not on the list though he was an applicant.

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