Wit Wolf: Amnesty probe

2003-05-04 19:45

Pretoria - The ministries of justice and police are to probe the leadership role in rightwing politics played by pardoned convict and rightwing mass-murderer Barend "Wit Wolf" Strydom.

Spokespersons for both ministries told City Press Strydom's high profile support for extreme rightwing activities and what appears to be a leadership role in recent months, have prompted an investigation to establish if Strydom was in breach of his amnesty provisions.

The probes follow an outcry by a large crowd outside the Pretoria High Court on Friday.

Justice ministry spokesperson Paul Setsetse said the ministry could not rule out the possibility that another rightwing fanatic might carry out more massacres on innocent blacks.

"The complaints directed against Strydom are being viewed in a serious light by Minister Penuell Maduna, and they will be investigated," he said.

"Members of the public, both black and white, as well as his victims and their families, feel betrayed by Strydom, who is abusing his amnesty for his evil deeds (after killing eight black people in cold blood in 1989).

"Most were happy when he was pardoned because they wanted to build a non-racial society and democracy for all.

"However, Strydom has also breached our constitution, in which racism and hate speech are outlawed."

Setsetse added that for "the few rightwing elements to continue saying they were acting on the command of God to maim and massacre innocent people was self-defeating because Christians and God will never walk the path of people who attack innocent civilians."

Selby Bokaba, spokesperson for National Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi, said Strydom was stirring a hornets' nest.

"He was pardoned in good faith much against the will of the majority of people in this country, and as a result of complaints voiced outside the court on Friday, we will investigate to see whether any action can be taken against him."

Strydom was released in 1992 by former president FW de Klerk as a trade-off for the release of Robert McBribe.

The ANC objected to his pardon and, in a heated statement made at the time, said Strydom's release was not part of the agreement on the release of political prisoners reached between the ANC and the then government.

"The ANC has painstakingly, in co-operation with bodies such as the Human Rights Commission as well as local structures, compiled a list of prisoners sentenced for actions in opposition to apartheid," the statement said.

"Barend Strydom was not on that list. His crime was cold-blooded, premeditated murder founded on racial hatred.

"Black people were 'the enemy', and in the run-up to his Pretoria killing spree, he had a 'trial run' in which one woman was murdered.

"Rehabilitation was considered impossible by the presiding judge. The government must be held accountable for any future atrocities Strydom might commit," the ANC statement said.

Strydom again took centre stage following the unveiling of a plan by the Boeremag in which they plotted to overthrow the government.