Chikane complained of Vlok case

2008-05-07 18:48
Johannesburg - The Rev Frank Chikane wrote a letter to the justice minister to complain about the way the case against apartheid-era law and order minister Adriaan Vlok was handled, the Ginwala inquiry heard on Wednesday.

Chikane, the director general in the presidency, said he was unhappy with the way in which the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) handled the case of the five apartheid securocrats who tried to poison him.

Vlok made news headlines last year when it became public knowledge that he had asked Chikane's forgiveness by washing his feet.

"You get into court, the people who consult you about the case are insensitive and threaten to charge you and engage in power games using you as a victim," said Chikane.

Last August, Vlok and apartheid police chief Johan van der Merwe were sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment, suspended for five years, for attempting to kill Chikane in 1989 by lacing his clothes with poison.

No chance to respond

The other three accused - Major-General Christoffel Smith and colonels Gert Otto and Johannes Van Staden - were sentenced to five years', similarly suspended.

Chikane said he was not shown the plea-bargain agreement with Vlok and was surprised to hear in court that he agreed with its terms.

He was not given a chance to respond and, because of his position in the presidency, instead of making a statement against a colleague, he decided instead to write to the justice minister.

The Ginwala inquiry - which is investigating whether suspended National Prosecuting Authority head Vusi Pikoli is fit to stand office - heard that Chikane found the experience with the NDPP to be "hostile, painful and degrading".

He explained that there were guidelines on how to deal with post-Truth and Reconciliation Commission prosecutions, and that there was a dispute about these between the NDPP and "other departments".

He said that when asking the directorate how his case was proceeding, "it became quite clear that my case was being used to resolve disputes about guidelines".

"The NDPP's office seem to be saying 'we are not bound by these guidelines'," he said.

State prosecutor Anton Ackerman approached him with a draft letter to sign which was to be used against other officials that guidelines be followed, he explained.

He said that when he refused to sign it, Ackerman said that he could force him to say what Vlok had told him and at one point threatened to charge him with larceny for speaking to Vlok.

"He said he was going to use Section 205 to force me to tell them what Vlok said to me."

Chikane said that the "old order" had already tried and failed to force him to do things.

'Didn't agree to plea bargain'

When he arrived in court, for the finalisation of the Vlok case, the plea bargain was read out and the State said he had agreed to it.

"I would not have agreed that we make the arrangement that people be given suspended sentences," he said.

He wrote to the minister saying that he did not understand the court proceedings and that the NDPP should have been worried about the concerns of victims in terms of the guidelines.

He said there were also factual inaccuracies in the papers brought before court.

- SAPA

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