Apartheid victims must be heard before presidential pardons

2010-02-23 12:58

VICTIMS of apartheid-era atrocities are entitled to make

representations before the president grants pardon to perpetrators, the

country’s highest court ruled today.

In a unanimous decision, Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo said “victims

must be given the opportunity to be heard in order to determine the facts on

which pardons are based, namely, whether the offence was committed with a

political motive”.

AWB activist Ryan Albutt applied for a pardon under the special

dispensation process initiated by former President Thabo Mbeki in November

2007.

Albutt participated in a 1995 attack in Kuruman, Northern Cape, in

which one person died and 200 were hurt.

Mbeki established the Pardons Reference Group (PRG), which

considered more than 2?000 applications for pardons and the group made

recommendations to him.

The PRG was established to deal with pardon applications from those

convicted for offences they claim were politically motivated, but did not

participate in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The president and the justice and constitutional development

minister supported Albutt’s applications during a high-court bid, insisting that

victims of apartheid-era offences for which the pardon was sought were not

entitled to make representations before a decision to grant the pardon is

made.

In April, the North Gauteng High Court granted an interdict

preventing Mbeki’s successor, then President Kgalema Motlanthe, from pardoning

121 inmates and others recommended by the PRG.

A group of non-governmental organisations was granted the interdict

against the issuing of pardons under the special dispensation.

Albutt brought his failed Constitutional Court application against

the NGOs as well as the president and the justice and constitutional development

minister.

During the hearing in November, Geoff Budlender accused Albutt of

not caring about the plight of the victims.

Budlender was acting on behalf of seven of the 15 respondents,

including the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, the Khulumani

Support Group and the Freedom of Expression Institute.


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