De Kock up for parole - department

Johannesburg - Apartheid assassin Eugene de Kock is to be considered for parole, the correctional services department said on Wednesday.

"[The hearing] was supposed to take place today, but it was postponed," spokesperson Phumlani Ximiya told Sapa.

Ximiya was not immediately able to explain what caused the postponement or confirm the new date set for the hearing.

De Kock, along with fellow hit squad killer Ferdi Barnard, are among a number of inmates affected by a ruling made by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria in July this year.

It stipulates that anyone sentenced to life imprisonment before October 1 2004 must now automatically be considered for parole after serving 13 years and four months of their sentence.

"The law requires that the department facilitates for the inmate to be considered for parole... It's because of that ruling that his [De Kock's] consideration for parole has been put forward," Ximiya said.

He said the standard procedure for a parole application started with a case management committee compiling a profile on the inmate. The committee would hand over the profile to the parole board and suggest a direction in which the application should go.

Rehabilitation

The parole board would then make a decision on the inmate's eligibility based on the profile and factors such as the length of incarceration, and whether the inmate had attended rehabilitation programmes, such as for anger management or self-control.

Submissions from victims were also considered.

The board would then make a recommendation to a national council. The council would look into the case and pass on its recommendation to the minister, who had the final say.

Ximiya said the department had previously published a call in newspapers for victims or their relatives to make submissions when criminals sentenced to life before October 1 2004 came up for parole.

In March last year, Rapport newspaper reported that De Kock had applied for presidential pardon after meeting the president in 2009.

"I think Jacob Zuma has more understanding for my position because he was a warrior himself. Perhaps the Truth and Reconciliation Commission should have been managed by fellow soldiers from both sides of the field," he was quoted as saying in the newspaper at the time.

Vlakplaas

De Kock, the commander of the apartheid-era Vlakplaas security police unit, is currently serving two life terms and 212 years at Pretoria's C-max prison for masterminding assassinations of suspected anti-apartheid activists.

The Constitutional Court, in a judgment at the end of February last year, forbade the president from granting pardons to perpetrators of political violence without first consulting victims.

De Kock told the newspaper at the time that he looked forward to working after coming to grips with a changed society.

"I have no idea what the world out there looks like. I can't even answer a cellphone," he said.

He also did not foresee problems in adapting to the new South Africa.

"I was one of the few policemen, perhaps the only one, who wasn't a racist."

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