• Written by  Independent Online
  • Published in In the News
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Vlok, four co-accused plead guilty

Apartheid-era police minister Adriaan Vlok and four co-accused pleaded guilty on Friday to charges of attempting to murder a leading black activist cleric in 1989, Reuters reports. Vlok, his former police chief Johann van der Merwe and three lower-ranking policemen, pleaded quilty to the charge of the attempted murder of anti-apartheid activist Frank Chikane, now adviser to President Thabo Mbeki, by poisoning his underwear.

  • Earlier, Sapa reported that apartheid-era law and order minister Adriaan Vlok, police chief Johan van der Merwe and three former police officers arrived at the Pretoria High Court on Friday morning. They are facing attempted murder charges relating to the attempted murder of anti-apartheid activistFrank Chikane, now director-general of the presidency, by poison in 1989.
  • Vlok, Van der Merwe and the three other accused walked into the court moments after their alleged victim Chikane entered the court building surrounded by officials from the National Prosecuting Authority.

Earlier, protesters from the Khulumani Support Group and AfriForum gathered opposite the court. Khulumani supporters chanted and held up placards saying "We demand closure. We demand transparency" and "Truth shall set you free". One carried a placard with the face of former president FW de Klerk which read "walked out of the TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission), selective memory denialist, noble peace laureate?"

Khulumani advocacy co-ordinator Tshepo Madlingozi said the De Klerk poster was there to remind the public that "not only foot soldiers should be prosecuted". He said people should remember De Klerk shunned the TRC. Madlingozi said Khulumani was protesting against the guidelines under which Vlok, Van der Merwe and others were being prosecuted. "We are of the opinion this gives them a second chance at amnesty. Prosecution happens behind closed doors and without taking action." The group would also launch a charter of redress to emphasise what still needed to be done for victims of apartheid.

Protester Lenning Makhiwane said: "Of course they should go to jail. They should rot in jail." AfriForum supporters began sticking up gruesome pictures of the aftermath of bombings in the 1980s which they said were carried out by the African National Congress's (ANC) armed wing Umkhonto we Sizwe. The groups also held posters saying "ANC leaders are not above the law" and "TRC also found ANC guilty of gross human rights violations". This was in support of their campaign to have ANC leaders prosecuted for their resistance activities during the anti-apartheid struggle.

AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel said the group was protesting because they wanted equality under the law."Vlok and Van der Merwe didn't get amnesty. The same applies to 37 ANC leaders". He said : "It's in the interest of the country if we don't fall into a spiral of prosecution". However he said if prosecutions were to happen, everybody should have to disclose. Kriel said "household names" of the ANC were people they would like to see disclose the truth about apartheid-era crimes.

Saying the crimes of apartheid officials were worse than those committed by anti-apartheid officials smacked of "selected morality". "We are undoing the legacy of Mandela by taking this step... what we have now can be seen as retaliation, not reconciliation." A participant in the AfriForum protest, Dennis Holder, said the crimes of anti-apartheid activists were "at least and sometimes evenworse" than the crimes of apartheid officials. He said: "The country is going down. We are waiting for the third world."AfriForum members are laying yellow flowers opposite the court building in memory of victims of apartheid-era human rights violations.

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