Apartheid-era police minister Adriaan Vlok and a group of Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging killers were among those who came close to receiving a presidential pardon through a back-door process that would have seen them walk free without having to account for their actions.
The process was halted earlier this year when civil society groups and victims’ families were granted an interdict by the then Pretoria High Court, preventing the president at the time, Kgalema Motlanthe, from granting the pardons.
The Presidency and lawyers for some of those who would have been pardoned have gone back to court in an attempt to have the pardons allowed.
In papers filed with the Constitutional Court on Friday, the lawyers for Ryan Allbut – a right-winger jailed for a racist killing in 1995 – included a list of those who the Special Dispensation on Presidential Pardons Reference Group had recommended for pardon.
Vlok’s name is on the list, at number 115, as are the names of several right-wingers and a number of IFP members involved in political killings in KwaZulu-Natal between 1994 and 1999.
The multiparty reference group, chaired by the DA’s Tertius Delport, was appointed in 2008 to hear applications for political pardon from those who had not applied for amnesty to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Applicants had to show the political objective that would be met by their crimes.
Among those recommended for pardon were former security branch head Johann van der Merwe; a group of AWB members – Allbut, Alexander George Whitehead, Arend Christian de Waal and Hans Jacob Wessels – who attacked black people in Kuruman in 1995; and right-wingers Jan van der Westhuizen, Clifton Barnard, Daniel Coetzee and Abraham Myburgh, who bombed a pharmacy and supermarket in Worcester on Christmas Eve, 1996, killing four people.
Civil Co-operation Bureau killer Ferdi Barnard, who applied for pardon, was not on the list of those recommended for pardon.
The Presidency has lodged an appeal against the interdict, with the Supreme Court of Appeal.