'I am able to leave it behind' - Maggie Friedman on release of apartheid assassin Ferdi Barnard

2019-03-08 15:47
Ferdi Barnard in 1996 (File)

Ferdi Barnard in 1996 (File)

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The former partner of human rights activist David Webster says it's not up to her to decide whether Ferdi Barnard should be released on parole for assassinating him.

"It is always painful when the whole thing comes up again," Maggie Friedman said telephonically on Friday when she spoke about Webster's murder in Troyeville in 1989.

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha announced on Thursday that the former government hitman would be released on parole from April 2.

She said Masutha did consult her, but in her view, it was not up to her to decide whether Barnard should be released or not.

"It's not my place to grant him parole or not," said Friedman, who works as a software developer.

She felt it was a task for the justice system, which had collated reports about Barnard and committed to monitoring him.

However, she feels victims must be informed if somebody is going to be released.

"You really don't want to bump into them in the street," said Friedman.

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

Asked whether she has been able to forgive Barnard, she said: "I have never been able to understand the process of forgiveness, but I am able to leave it behind."

Friedman said she had received numerous phone calls from friends who asked if it was true that she was not opposed to him being released on parole.

But Friedman insisted that this decision was one that the justice system should make, not her.

Moved on

Not keen to be in the limelight, she said she had moved on from the assassination and had also married in 2014.

Barnard was sentenced to life imprisonment in June 1998, after he was convicted of numerous charges, including murder, attempted murder, defeating the ends of justice and the unlawful possession of firearms.

He has served more than 20 years of his sentence.

Webster was shot and killed on May 1, 1989, outside the house he and Friedman shared at the behest of the apartheid police's security branch, the Civil Co-operation Bureau (CCB).

He was an anthropologist by qualification, but also lobbied against the torture of detainees and detention without trial during apartheid and had held meetings to help their families. As a result, the apartheid government regarded him as a threat.

The SA Press Association reported in 1998 that Barnard had pleaded not guilty to 34 charges, ranging from murder and attempted murder, to fraud and intimidation.

The charges also included the attempted murder of the late justice minister, Dullah Omar, in 1989.

According to Masutha's spokesperson Max Mpuzana: "The CCB misinformed Mr Barnard and told him that Dr Webster, a pacifist, was involved in terrorist activities."

Webster had also been studying the effects of torture on detainees during apartheid as part of his broader studies.

Masutha said the decision did not mean the end of Barnard's life sentence. The Community Corrections Office will supervise and monitor him as he serves the remainder of his sentence in the community for the rest of his natural life.

The house Webster and Friedman shared was declared a heritage site.

No parole

In January, Chris Hani's killer, Janusz Walus was denied parole again.

Masutha said that there were conflicting reports on whether he expressed remorse for killing Hani, as well as questions over his anger management.

Walus is serving a life sentence for killing the SACP leader in the driveway of his Boksburg home on April 10, 1993.

He has been jailed since October 1993, serving just over 25 years behind bars.

Conservative Party MP Clive Derby-Lewis, who supplied the weapon Walus used to kill Hani, was sentenced to death for the murder in October 1993, along with Walus.

Their sentences were commuted to life imprisonment in November 2000.

Derby-Lewis was eventually released on medical parole. He had lung cancer and died at home in Pretoria in November 2016.

Hani's wife Limpho opposed their release on parole.

Read more on:    david webster  |  maggie friedman  |  michael masutha  |  ferdi barnard  |  courts  |  crime
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