Press Conferences: Presidential Pardons - Handing down of Constitutional Court judgement

Announcement of February 23 Press Conferences in Johannesburg & Cape Town regarding the Handing Down of the Constitutional Court Judgment on the Powers of President to Determine Pardons and the Rights of Victims

Johannesburg Press Conference at 14h30, CSVR Board Room, Braamfontein, Johannesburg

Date:               23 February 2010 (Tuesday)

Time:              14h30

Location:        Centre for the Study of Violence & Reconciliation (CSVR)

4th Floor Board Room, Braamfontein Centre

23 Jorissen Street, Braamfontein


Tel: 011 403 5650

Cape Town Press Conference at 15h00, CSVR Board Room, Observatory, Cape Town

Date:               23 February 2010 (Tuesday)

Time:              15h00

Location:        CSVR Board Room, 501 Premier Building

Main Road, Observatory, Cape Town


Chair:              CSVR Representative

Presenters:    Legal Resources Centre: Analysis of the Judgment

Khulumani Support Group: Perspectives of Victims on the Judgment

The view of Partners in the Civil Society Pardons Network

Questions & Discussion

On Tuesday, February 23, 2010 the Constitutional Court will hand down their judgment in the case that was heard by the Constitutional Court on November 10, 2009. The case dealt with the Powers of the President to grant pardons and the rights of victims to be consulted about the pardon applications of prisoners in the Special Dispensation for sentenced offenders who claimed a political motive for their crime. The President had been interdicted from pardoning the offenders recommended by the Reference Group in an urgent case brought by a network of civil society organisations. The subsequent Constitutional Court application against this interdict was brought by former AWB member Mr Ryan Albutt, who is in jail for a crime that was labelled "an unashamed racist attack" on black residents of Kuruman, Northern Cape. The President filed papers in support of Albutt's application, pushing for an unfettered mandate for the president to grant pardons.

Summary of Court Case:

A network of civil society organisations[SG1] successfully prevented the granting of Presidential Pardons recommended by a Reference Group comprising Members of Parliament that was set up under former President Mbeki’s watch. The arguments of the network were that process violated the conditions that were invoked as underpinning the process – that the pardons would be considered within the framework of the “principles, criteria and spirit” of the TRC and would seek to continue the process of working to resolve the “unfinished business of the TRC”.

The failure of the Reference Group to accept submissions from the Civil Society Network which includes representatives of the victims of perpetrators of political crimes, undermined these stated guiding principles. The High Court agreed with the Civil Society Network that the process had violated not only the criteria of the TRC, but also of the Constitution in respect of the fundamental values of transparency and citizen participation.

Albutt submitted that the provisions of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act relied upon by Judge Seriti in his interim order, are unconstitutional. The coalition has submitted that Albutt’s appeal should legally be first raised in a lower court. Furthermore, Seriti’s order should stand, and the court process to determine victims rights and presidential powers should move ahead to provide a final resolution to these issues.

The Constitutional Court judgment is expected to hand down a decision on the leave to appeal and if granted, a consideration of the substantive issues immediately, such as defining presidential powers.

Network Contacts:

Network was represented in court by the Legal Resources Centre, contact: Steve Kahanovitz, phone: 021-481-3000, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


[SG1]Consisting of Khulumani Support Group, CSVR, ICTJ, IJR, HRMC, FXI, SAHA,

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