In an opinion piece published in the 5 February 2015 edition of Business Day, Ms Palesa Morudu, sister of the forcibly disappeared young activist from Mamelodi, Mr Moss Morudu, whose body has never been recovered, reflects on the statement by Deputy Correctional Services Minister Mr Thabang Makwetla made at a an exhumation ceremony held in December 2014 for an askari who was killed at Vlakplaas that "perpetrators of heinous (apartheid) killings also deserve to be pardoned and forgiven" because "perpetrators and victims were victims of the system that destroyed our minds".
The expression by a senior government leader of these sentiments highlights the continuing terrible imbalance that characterises South African society today where the lives of those who served the apartheid killing machine are given greater importance and value than the lives of the families of of the victims of these perpetrators.
As Morudu points out the application of the rule of law equally to perpetrators and to victims is grossly distorted in our country twenty years after the adoption of founding values that proclaim the end of a regime of statutory discrimination.
Ms Morudu explains that "most of the (apartheid) politicians and the generals, and many of the killers, were never held accountable. They were allowed to walk, and the ANC argued that we should accept this in the interest of nation building and reconciliation".
These statements ring hollow in the context of the continuing failure to apply the same standards of a rule of law to both perpetrators and to families of victims. The foundations of the envisaged 'new nation' are shaky indeed when the rule of law is not applied equally to everyone regardless of their backgrounds. It is time that the continuing generous provisions extended to those who were involved in carrying out murderous activities in the name of the apartheid killing machine are matched by the institution of a regime of reparations to provide equal justice to all their victims. .
The post-apartheid state has failed in its obligations to balance justice for perpetrators with justice for their victims by instituting an inclusive regime of reparations for all victims of the atrocities of the past.
Our country remains judged by this distortion of justice which continues to privilege the lives of apartheid perpetrators over those of the victims of the crimes committed by these perpetrators.