The consideration of presidential pardons to persons convicted of politically motivated apartheid-era crimes without any input from victims was an affront to the human dignity of victims, their families and society as a whole, the Pretoria High Court has heard.
Advocate Geoff Budlender SC, representing a coalition of victim and civil society organisations, yesterday argued that the court should “freeze” the pardon process until the final outcome of an application to determine if victims should have a say in the process.
The applicants, including the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation and the Khulumani Support Group, maintain that the special pardons process amounted to an impermissible rerun of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) amnesty process, violated the rule of law and infringed on the constitutional rights of victims, including their right to dignity and equal treatment.
Former Civil Co-Operation Bureau hitman Ferdi Barnard, a number of top former apartheid government officials, several AWB members and former PAC armed wing commander Letlapa Mphalele are among the 2 114 who have applied for pardons.
Budlender submitted that the decision-making process was fundamentally flawed because, unlike the TRC amnesty process, it operated under a blanket of secrecy and did not give victims an opportunity to make representations to the President.
Counsel for the President and Minister of Justice, Adv Marumo Moerane SC, argued that both the High Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal had ordered that pardon applications should be dealt with without delay.