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Furore over Zuma pardons as victims are 'sidelined'

THE Department of Justice has not set aside enough time for victims to speak out against those who are about to receive political pardons. This was the message from the South African Coalition for Transitional Justice (SACTJ) yesterday. SACTJ is made up of the Khulumani Support Group, Legal Resources Centre, International Centre for Transitional Justice, and the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, among other groups.

Elvina Ndamoyi, SACTJ secretary in Worcester, about 100km outside Cape Town, told Sowetan she was trying to reach victims, or their families, of the 1995 Shoprite bombing in Worcester.

She said: "Cliffie" Barnard and Daniel Coetzee bombed a Shoprite store and a pharmacy used mainly by black people in Worcester on Christmas Eve (1995), killing four people and injuring 50. Barnard and Coetzee have been approved for a special presidential pardon.

"It is hard to reach the farms where most victims of the bombing work. What makes the process even more difficult is the lack of phone reception there.

"So we are left with no choice but to travel to those remote places. The other problem is that we fund our travel out of our own pockets, so we don't do regular visits."

Ndamoyi said one of the victims was now suffering from cancer.

Zuma will pardon 149 people convicted of murder, robbery and theft. But victims affected by these crimes have not been directly informed, though they only have until December 4 to object.

Marjorie Jobson of the Khulumani Support Group said: "The deadline is very tight indeed. We are talking about hundreds of victims here, the majority living in remote areas."

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