The eagerly-awaited court appearance on Friday of apartheid-era security bosses on attempted murder charges might yield little drama. It is widely speculated that former law and order minister Adriaan Vlok, ex-police chief Johan van der Merwe and three other former high-ranking policemen 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. They are accused of attempting to murder the anti-apartheid activist Reverend Frank Chikane, now director-general of the presidency, by poison in 1989.
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 plea, 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 (NPA) urged reporters covering the trial to arrive early as there would be no special arrangements for the media. The NPA 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. Also on hand would be the Tshwane metro police, keeping a watchful eye on two groups from opposite sides of the political fence who are planning protests outside the court.
The Khulumani Support Group will hand over a charter of redress to a justice department official. The charter would provide a checklist of
what victims and survivors of apartheid needed in order to experience justice and inclusion in 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," the group said.
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 (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) 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 demonstration and a wreath-laying ceremony in memory of "victims of ANC terror attacks" and "other victims of gross human rights violations" outside the court on Friday morning, the organisation said. "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 chief executive Kallie Kriel said the NPA had to note the TRC's finding that African National Congress 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.
Metro police spokesperson Alta Fourie, referring to the planned protests, said the streets around the court would be closed off, if need be. - Sapa