Pardon process legal, court told

2009-04-14 19:09

Pretoria - President Kgalema Motlanthe would not be acting unlawfully by granting pardons to over 100 people convicted of apartheid-era, politically-motivated crimes, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Tuesday.

Arguing on behalf of Motlanthe and the justice department, Marumo Moerane said according to the guidelines governing the pardons' special dispensation process, the victims of the crimes and their families did not need to be consulted.

The urgent application for an interim interdict preventing the pardons from being granted was brought by a coalition of civil society groups earlier this month and included the Khulumani support group.

The coalition has argued that the rights of victims to be heard were not catered for in the pardons process.

Support group squeezed into courtroom

To show support for the victims, members of the Khulumani support group squeezed into the packed courtroom on the sixth floor.

Counsel for the coalition Geoff Budlender, asked the court earlier on Tuesday to "freeze" the process until clarity on whether victims or their families had the right to make representations could be sought.

Moerane argued that Motlanthe had the constitutional mandate to listen to the special pardons reference group - made up solely of political parties in Parliament - then make an independent decision, nothing more.

"The powers of the president are wide and unqualified... His discretion is unfettered."

There was also no requirement stipulating he had to hear representations from the victims or their families, he said.

The legal teams also debated the origin of the special dispensation and how it related to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) proceedings.

Completing TRC business

Budlender argued it was designed to complete the unfinished business of the TRC, which had run its course, and therefore, as had been the case in the TRC hearings, the victims should be allowed to make representations.

However, Moerane countered that it was in fact an entirely separate process and therefore governed by a different set of guidelines.

"Those processes had run their course, you cannot revert to the TRC processes because it had run its course... This was a special process that the [then] president [Thabo Mbeki] decided on... You cannot suddenly inject new life into the TRC process."

Moerane said Motlanthe was bound to make his decisions on granting pardons flexibly, decisively and in a speedy manner.

"Nobody can fault him. There's nothing illegal, wrong or irrational. It is important and it is urgent that the president does what he is mandated to do without delay," he said.

The application was causing further delay

AWB 7 to present arguments

Legal counsel for seven members of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB), who will be arguing alongside the state, are also expected to present arguments before the court.

The men, jailed for assaulting black municipal workers in Kuruman in the Northern Cape in 1995, began serving their sentences in 2006.

The Khulumani support group was formed to show support for the victims of Kuruman.

The seven are among the about 120 prisoners who were recommended by the reference group for pardons.

Around 2114 people applied.

The matter was adjourned by Judge Willie Seriti until 15:00 and was expected to continue late into Tuesday afternoon.



Read News24’s Comments Policy


Inside News24


ANCYL: Not voting would be blasphemy

Not voting in the forthcoming elections would be blasphemy, the ANCYL says in a statement commemorating the 50th anniversary of struggle icon Nelson Mandela's Rivonia trial speech.


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

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! - 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 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’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

Nokia N9

The Nokia N9 has a beautiful one-piece, unibody design where...

From R2899.85

I'm shopping for:


You may be good at organising events but they do take their toll on your energy levels. You may need some time out today just more

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


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 network.


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.