De Kock ‘has paid his dues’

2015-01-31 00:00

PROMINENT advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza said he should be the last person who would want Vlakplaas death squad leader Eugene de Kock to be freed.

“De Kock admitted having plotted my assassination, he had Vlakplaas ­operatives out looking for me.

“He succeeded in assassinating my cousin, Bathandwa Ndondo, who was collected from my home in Cala [in the Eastern Cape] by security operatives on September 24, 1985. Thirty minutes ­later he was shot dead.”

Yet Ntsebeza, a human rights lawyer in the 1980s and later, head of the investigating unit at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), said it was “high time” De Kock was released.

The rule of law needed to apply and should not be conflated with political factors.

“Over and above the fact that he must have met the criteria [for parole], he has shown himself to be remorseful.

“De Kock has gone out of his way throughout his period of imprisonment to furnish the NPA with the facts in ­cases which would otherwise not be available.”

Through the co-operation of De Kock, the prosecution authority’s Missing Persons Unit was able to piece together many apartheid-era cases.

“Given the many scoundrels who were out there who ought to have ­applied for amnesty and didn’t, and who ought to have been prosecuted and who weren’t, I think there is a sense in which one feels a great sense of injustice, even for De Kock.”

When asked if he had forgiven him, Ntsebeza said there was not a simple yes or no answer. “I have forgiven a lot of people, my participation in the TRC is an indication of my preparedness to forgive.

“I don’t regret that he was sentenced to the years he was, but he has paid his dues. He cannot bring back my cousin. But I have no time, let alone the inclination, to wallow in grudges. If I were to see him now, would I take him to ­dinner? No. Would I greet him? Yes. If he came and said he wanted an interview, I would grant him the privilege.”

The family commemorates the anniversary of his cousin’s death annually on Heritage Day.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said De Kock’s parole was a milestone on South Africa’s road to reconciliation.

Tutu, who chaired the TRC, said in a statement: “I pray that those he hurt, those whose loved ones he took away, will find the strength to forgive him. To forgive empowers both the person who forgives and the one who is forgiven. But we cannot deny — it is not easy.”

An Mkhonto weSizwe veteran who is now a DA MPL in the Western Cape was also happy at the news of De Kock’s parole.

Basil Kivedo said it was a “good day”.

He is a member of the SA Foundation for Restitution, which has been working for De Kock’s release for several years.

Other members include Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, Tutu, former cabinet minister Leon Wessels, professors Piet Croucamp, Jonathan Jansen, Willie Esterhuyse and Sharlene Swartz, as well as André Keet and ­Wilhelm Verwoerd.

It was set up in 2010 after the Reitz residence racism incident at the ­University of the Free State, and works to bring about forgiveness between ­victims and perpetrators of crimes.

“[De Kock] has served his sentence and asked for forgiveness. Eugene is truly sorry for the deeds he committed as the commander of Vlakplaas,” he said.

He said De Kock’s parole could be a turning point for the country.

“The government needs to understand that forgiveness brings peace.”

Kivedo said it is a real pity that President Jacob Zuma and his government don’t seem interested in nation building, but seem rather to be motivated by “discrimination and witch-hunts”.

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