New pardons law proposed

2010-01-13 19:10

Cape Town - The Democratic Alliance on Wednesday called for a new law to guide the president on granting pardons that would make it easier to challenge his decisions in court.

Admitting the move had been precipitated by Schabir Shaik's bid to have his name cleared, DA MP James Selfe said it was currently not clear whether a presidential pardon could be taken to court for review.

He said the party would hand the Speaker a private member's bill - based on currently non-binding guidelines - that would force the president to consult the ministry of justice before making a decision.

The bill also stipulates that the president must consult with the victims of the crime before considering pardoning the perpetrator.

Selfe denied the bill sought to limit a constitutional power held by the president, saying it would simply help him make a "rational decision" and avoid accusations of abuse of power.

Constitutional trouble

"The president should not wake up one morning and decide to grant a pardon because his breakfast cereal told him to do so," he told a media briefing.

He argued that the post-apartheid Constitution did not confer an unfettered power on the president, unlike its earlier version which did and derived from the divine right of English kings to pardon perpetrators.

But constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos told Sapa he believed if the bill were passed, "it may run into constitutional trouble".

De Vos said while he agreed with the DA that the right to pardon was not unfettered, the Constitutional Court had made it clear in the Hugo case - where a decision by former president Nelson Mandela was unsuccessfully challenged by a prisoner - that it is a prerogative power, limited only by the stipulation that it should be exercised in good faith.

"If for example you were paid a bribe to pardon someone, that would be a bad faith pardon," he said.

Can already challenge pardons

De Vos said that case, as well as two others on which the court has yet to pronounce, proved it was already possible to challenge a presidential pardon.

The DA unveiled the bill two days after President Jacob Zuma caused a stir by denying knowledge of Shaik's request for a presidential pardon, which was submitted in 2008.

Selfe accused the presidency of subsequently "patronising" South Africans by suggesting the public should not concern itself with something that is clearly a matter of presidential prerogative.

"The granting of pardons ought to be exercised sparingly, in exceptional circumstances and to correct an incorrect or excessive sentence," he said.
He went on to warn that the lack of legally binding guidelines created the danger "that a pardon could be abused in order to pardon political allies, or act in ways contrary to the interests of the public".

De Kock denied amnesty

The presidency has confirmed that Zuma met Eugene de Kock, who has served 14 years of a 212-year-sentence for apartheid era atrocities, prompting speculation that he is considering pardoning the former Vlakplaas commander, nicknamed "Prime Evil", as a political trade-off for a reprieve for Shaik.

Shaik was controversially granted medical parole last year after serving two years and four months of a 15-year jail term for fraud and corruption, relating in part to an alleged bribe he arranged between Zuma and a French arms dealer.

Selfe said the DA not only opposed pardoning Shaik, but also De Kock. He said it should be remembered the latter was denied amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the crimes that put him in jail.

"Maybe one day when De Kock has served 28 years of his sentence and things are different," Selfe said.

Presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya has brushed off criticism of Zuma's denial by saying the president did not have the details of some 300 pardon applications awaiting his attention.
 

- SAPA

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  schabir shaik  |  jacob zuma  |  eugene de kock  |  james selfe  |  pardons
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Wednesday Cape Town - 07:37 AM
    Road name: N1 Inbound
    DELAYS between Sable Road and the M5 Koeberg Interchange
  • Wednesday Newlands - 07:31 AM
    Road name: Newlands Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bowwood Road
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

HOUSES FOR SALE IN Somerset West

Houses R 6 750 000

APARTMENTS / FLATS FOR SALE IN Hermanus

Apartments / Flats R 1 825 000

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Torch 9810

The BlackBerry Torch 9810 gives you the powerful combination of...

From R2820.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may find yourself fascinated by something which could draw you in to obsessively exploring this subject in depth....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.