DA welcomes ruling on pardons

2010-02-23 18:02

Johannesburg - The Constitutional Court finding that victims have to be heard before perpetrators of political violence are pardoned was welcomed by the Democratic Alliance on Tuesday.

"Chief Justice [Sandile] Ngcobo's judgment on behalf of a unanimous court is rooted directly in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) process through which South Africa sought unity and reconciliation after the conflicts of the past," said DA justice spokesperson Dene Smuts.

"It will therefore resonate deeply with South Africans. Judge Ngcobo and the court ruled that pardons must be rationally related to the purpose sought to be achieved," she said in a statement.

The DA congratulated the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation for taking the initiative in the matter.

Shaik, De Kock not affected

Smuts noted that the court's findings applied only to applications brought under former president Thabo Mbeki's special dispensation for pardons and that the cases of convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik and convicted apartheid-era police hit squad commander Eugene de Kock were not at issue.

The Constitutional Court on Tuesday upheld a high court decision interdicting the president from granting pardons to perpetrators of political violence without first consulting victims.

Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) member Ryna Albutt had appealed against the decision in the Constitutional Court after it was handed down in the North Gauteng High Court on April 29 2009.

Albutt applied for pardon under a special dispensation introduced by Mbeki in 2007.

In a unanimous judgment, Ngcobo found that the exercise of the power to grant a pardon had to be rationally related to the its purpose.