The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has refused to comment on claims that former president FW de Klerk has been implicated by former law and order minister Adriaan Vlok and former police commissioner Johann van der Merwe. The two have been charged with the attempted murder of the Director-General in the President's office, Frank Chikane, in 1989. Chikane was the secretary general of the SA Council of Churches when his underwear was laced with poison.
A weekend newspaper reported that sources said Vlok and Van der Merwe had claimed that their activities had been approved by De Klerk. When contacted by the Cape Argus on Sunday, NPA spokesperson Tlali Tlali said: "We are not aware of submissions (made by Vlok and Van der Merwe to the NPA) and even if there were submissions, we would not be able to comment on the content of it."
De Klerk's spokesperson, Dave Steward, told the Sunday newspaper that there was no information linking De Klerk to the hit on Chikane. The former head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's (TRC) investigative Unit, Dumisa Ntsebeza, said "a number of people might be implicated" by Vlok and Van der Merwe in their submissions.
"The general position is that if people who could've applied for amnesty didn't, or if people who did apply for amnesty didn't make a full disclosure - if and when the evidence is available, they will be prosecuted. "If (others are implicated by Vlok and van der Merwe), it is the duty of the State to charge people for those crimes," he said.
Former TRC commissioner Yasmin Sooka said this was the beginning of the process whereby those who had failed to come forward for amnesty during the TRC hearings between 1996 and 2004 would be charged if evidence was found against them - even the highest-ranking officials. "Vlok and Van der Merwe are of the highest ranking from the apartheid government and they didn't act without authorisation from somewhere. The process is now beginning to unravel," she said.
Shirley Gunn, a national board member of the Khulumani Support Group, said the NPA had had three years to investigate those who had not applied for amnesty and, although 800 cases had been handed over to the authorities by the TRC, charges against individuals were only being made now. "What is going to happen to the rest is an important question, but for now, we hope Vlok will go to court and speak the truth because the truth must be heard - it is the only way healthy reconciliation can be achieved," said Gunn.
"If they opt for a plea bargain, then presumably if they do not co-operate (with the NPA), the matter must go to trial. But with a trial, it can become excessively expensive to run and, like in case of Wouter Basson, could result in no conviction. "One hopes that if a plea bargain is negotiated, he will co-operate fully because the truth must be known for there to be reconciliation in Chikane's attempted murder case."