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  • Written by  Independent Online
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Vlok not the first to be charged

The case against apartheid-era law and order minister Adriaan Vlok is not the first arising out of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission process - at least three other cases have been finalised and another is pending.
The case against apartheid-era law and order minister Adriaan Vlok is not the first arising out of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission process - at least three other cases have been finalised and another is pending.

The case against Vlok, his police chief, General Johann van der Merwe, and three police officers over the attempted poisoning of the Reverend Frank Chikane, then the secretary-general of the SA Council of Churches and now director-general in the presidency, is the first initiated in terms of the amended prosecution policy, which came into effect in December 2005, says National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Tlali Tlali.

The case is due in the Pretoria High Court on August 17 and there has been speculation that a plea bargain may be made.

No plea bargains had been concluded in terms of the amended policy

Another National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson said that no plea bargains had been concluded in terms of the amended policy and that they could not be done in secret.

There have been at least three prosecutions finalised of apartheid-era cases arising out of the TRC process in the Eastern Cape. All were completed before the amended policy came into effect and a fourth was started.

One ended in conviction, one in a conviction arising from a plea bargain and the third in acquittal.

In November 2005, former Transkei police officer Pumelele Gumengu and Aron Mtobeli Tyani were jailed for 20 years for shooting dead ANC guerrilla Sthembele Zokwe.

Both were refused amnesty by the TRC for failing to make a full disclosure.

Gumengu and Tyani were arrested in the Transkei soon after the killing, but escaped the same day from different prisons. The South African security forces issued them with new identities and hired them in the defence force.

In May 2005, former Addo Youth Congress activist Buyile Ronnie Blani was jailed for a year in terms of a plea bargain agreement in the Grahamstown High Court, in connection with the June 1985 murder and robbery of elderly Addo farmers Koos and Marike de Jager. Blani did not apply for amnesty and fled into exile after the attack.

In March 2002 the Bhisho High Court acquitted former Ciskei Defence Force soldiers Vakele Archibald Mkosana and Thomas Gonya on all charges arising out of the September 1992 Bhisho massacre, when troops fired on ANC demonstrators, killing 28 ANC supporters and a soldier and injuring hundreds.

Mkosana gave the order to open fire and Gonya fired a lethal rifle grenade.

They were the only people to apply for amnesty in connection for this and both were refused on the grounds that the incident was not associated with a political objective.

In the fourth case, the National Prosecuting Authority started prosecution in the Port Elizabeth High Court against former policemen Gideon Nieuwoudt, Johannes Martin van Zyl and Johannes Koole in connection with the May 1985 abduction and murder of the Pebco Three activists.

The Pebco Three - Sipho Hashe, Qaqawuli Godolozi and Champion Galela - were abducted in Port Elizabeth, killed at Post Chalmers, near Cradock, and their charred remains thrown into the Fish River.

In July the National Prosecuting Authority found human remains at Post Chalmers believed to be those of the Pebco Three. Nieuwoudt died in August 2005 and the case has not been finalised.

The National Prosecuting Authority put such prosecutions on hold in 2004, until the amended prosecutions policy came into effect in December 2005. In terms of the amended policy, the Priority Crimes Litigation Unit is responsible for overseeing the investigations and instituting prosecutions.

All these cases, which were being dealt with by regional directors of public prosecutions were referred to the national director of public prosecutions, who is now responsible for deciding whether or not to investigate or to prosecute.

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