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Shaik: Govt 'hiding something'

2009-10-19 12:46

Cape Town - The DA on Monday accused Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe of being "disingenuous" and "misleading" in his reply to a parliamentary question on a presidential pardon for Schabir Shaik.

In reply to a question by DA MP James Selfe, whether or not Shaik had applied for a presidential pardon, Radebe responded by saying the question should be referred to the presidency.

"...the presidency, has the constitutional power whether or not to grant a pardon and the arrangement, determination and control of the processes attendant upon the discharge lies with the President of the Republic of South Africa and not the Minister," Radebe said in his reply.

In a statement, Selfe said the DA would do so.

"But the minister's response is disingenuous and is shown up as such by his response to a similar question from the Inkatha Freedom Party."

In reply to the IFP question, asking whether the same department had received similar applications from two other individuals, Radebe stated his department had indeed received the applications and that "all the applications, including the ones under question, were processed and are currently in the Office of the President".

Something to hide

Selfe asked why Radebe was willing to answer that question but unable to confirm, one way or the other, if Shaik had applied.

"The disparity between the two responses suggests the minister is either ignorant as to the nature of the process of applying for a presidential pardon, or has something to hide.

"In other words, Mr Shaik has indeed applied and the department is doing what it can to keep the matter off the public record.

"And the only reason it would do that, is because it is considering granting the pardon, which would be unconscionable," Selfe said.

The process of applying for a presidential pardon required an individual to first apply to the justice minister, before that application was then forwarded onto the presidency.

This had to happen because the justice department was responsible for motivating to the presidency either in favour of or in opposition to the application.

In 2001 Allan Boesak applied for a presidential pardon. His application was rejected at the first hurdle, by the justice department.

Quite clearly the department was central to the process concerning presidential pardons and was now being inconsistent.

Farce

"In other words, for the minister to suggest that any queries in this regard should be directed to the presidency is entirely misleading and begs the question, if Mr Shaik hasn't applied, why didn't the minister just say so? What has he got to hide?"

Schabir Shaik and those loyal to him in the ANC government had done everything in their power to dilute the effect of his sentence and undermine the impact of the guilty judgment handed down against him, he said.

"It is perfectly conceivable that - indeed one might say it is just a matter of time - before Schabir Shaik applies for a pardon.

"Worse still, and given the ANC's attitude to this matter up to this point, perfectly possible that the Department of Justice recommends and the president accepts that Schabir Shaik be pardoned.

"If that happens, the farce that has been his punishment will be complete and the South African public will have to watch on as the ANC subverts the justice system to its own will.

"As soon as the presidency responds to our question, we will make that answer and its implications known," Selfe said.

SAPA