'He's entitled to a nice and good life' – former apartheid hit squad head Staal Burger on Ferdi Barnard parole

2019-03-07 19:05
Staal Burger (centre) at a funeral in 2010. (File, Netwerk24)

Staal Burger (centre) at a funeral in 2010. (File, Netwerk24)

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Former Civil Cooperation Bureau (CCB) head Colonel "Staal" Burger has welcomed a decision by Justice Minister Michael Masutha to release apartheid-era hitman Ferdi Barnard on parole.

Masutha announced the decision in a statement on Thursday. The minister has approved Barnard's placement on full parole with effect from April 2, 2019. 

Barnard was sentenced to life imprisonment in June 1998 after being convicted on numerous charges including murder, attempted murder, defeating the ends of justice and unlawful possession of firearms. He has served more than 20 years of his sentence.

One of the two murder charges was in connection with the killing of anti-apartheid activist and Wits University academic Dr David Webster in 1989. Webster was shot and killed at the behest of the apartheid police's security branch, the CCB. 

Burger says Barnard's release is long overdue and it's time for his old colleague to be free and for society to look forward.

"It's a long story you know, but I think it's a good thing that he's released. I think it's overdue if you compare it with the bullshit story of Schabir Shaik and all those who are out on lies. He's done his due and he's entitled to a good and nice life and I hope he gets the support from the public," says Burger.

Also read: 'He loved to be feared' - A reminder of who apartheid hitman Ferdi Barnard is

'An extremely violent person'

The former colonel wouldn't be drawn on whether or not he believed Barnard had been sufficiently rehabilitated for release.

"The way I know him I think he's done his time and the board would have made that decision, whether he's been rehabilitated. We must rather forget about the past and look at the future and look at it as a positive way. And if I can help him I will."

Journalist Jacques Pauw revealed the existence of the apartheid hit squads and wrote extensively about Barnard's involvement. He has also documented how Barnard confessed to him about killing Webster.

Pauw says Barnard is lucky to have been released.

"He has, throughout his life, been an extremely violent person. Remember that he was convicted of double murder when he was a young Sanab (South African Narcotics Bureau) policeman. He got a very small sentence. When he left prison, he started working for CCB. Drugs, prostitution, diamonds, robberies, murder. Name it and he did it. It seems at the time when I knew him (1991-1996) that he loved what he did. He loved to be feared. He loved his power. He is lucky to be released on parole."

Masutha's spokesperson, Max Mpuzana, says as part of the consultations prior to finalising his decision, the minister personally engaged with Maggie Friedman, Webster's partner.

"After raising her concerns with Minister Masutha, Ms Friedman indicated that she had no objection to the placement of Mr Barnard on parole," says Mpuzana. "The CCB misinformed Mr Barnard and told him that Dr Webster, a pacifist, was involved in terrorist activities."

Read more on:    michael masutha  |  ferdi barnard  |  apartheid
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