News24

'Wit Wolwe' killer freed on parole

2010-01-20 22:12

Pretoria - The North Gauteng High Court has ordered the immediate release of double killer Pieter Groenewald, seven years after he was jailed for 20 years for a roadside attack on three men.

He was convicted in 2003 of the May 1990 execution-style murders of Simon Koba and Prince Makena on the road between Cullinan and Mamelodi.

He'd asked them if they knew who the "Wit Wolwe" (a militant rightwing group in the apartheid era) were before he killed them.

Groenewald, son of retired SA Defence Force general Tienie Groenewald, was also found guilty of the attempted murder of Xafier Lekgoate in the same incident.

Groenewald was on the run for more than ten years before he was arrested and tried for the murders.

During the trial, he claimed he had acted in self-defence because he feared he was being attacked by Umkhonto we Sizwe operatives.

Must be released now

Acting Judge Roelof du Plessis on Wednesday dismissed the Minister and Commissioner of Correctional Service's application for leave to appeal against his November 2009 ruling that Groenewald be released on parole.

Groenewald remained in custody while the application for leave to appeal was pending, but the Judge on Wednesday ruled that he now be released, despite any further possible appeal procedures.

Groenewald became eligible for parole in September last year after serving a third of his sentence.

He applied to the court for his release after the Parole Board turned down his application, saying he must wait until October this year to apply again.

He claimed he did not have a fair hearing because all of the relevant documents and reports - over which he had no control - were never placed before the Board.

Dept's actions 'deplorable'

The correctional services department opposed his bid for release, but never filed any answering papers and was not present when the application was heard in court.

The judge said he regarded their actions as "totally deplorable, reprehensible and completely unacceptable".

It was clear that they had no regard for the rights of prisoners and the authority, status and powers of the court, du Plessis said.

He said there was no explanation why all the necessary information and reports were not placed before the Parole Board.

Neither was there an explanation why Groenewald should remain further incarcerated because Correctional Services could or did not want to do its work properly.

Unfair treatment of Groenewald

The judge concluded that a referral to the Parole Board would simply lead to a further extension of the parole application and the unfair treatment of Groenewald.

"It is extremely disconcerting that the respondents are apparently trying to enforce their own views on the parole procedure, without applying the law, statutory principles and legal principles applicable to matters, nor do they apparently have regard for the constitutional and human rights of prisoners."

Du Plessis said there had been a tendency lately by government institutions that the rights of prisoners should not be held in high esteem.

"... There is simply no justification for this. There is no reason why that should be so and it is not clear why the respondents have this particular view regarding the matter," the judge said.