Pardons ruling 'a victory'

2009-03-30 20:01

Bloemfontein - A Supreme Court of Appeal ruling on presidential pardons in favour of 384 IFP political prisoners is a "massive victory" for justice, said the party on Monday.

Inkatha Freedom Party spokesperson on justice Koos van der Merwe said the fact that the department of justice had failed to dispense justice was extremely troubling.

"The IFP is calling for immediate disciplinary steps to be taken against the former minister of justice and her senior officials," Van der Merwe said in a statement.

"We now demand that the president remove Minister Brigitte Mabandla, now the minister of public enterprises, from Cabinet."

Earlier on Monday the SCA held that Mabandla had failed to properly and speedily handle the 384 applications for presidential pardons.

The court ruled that the minister had a constitutional obligation to process the applications so that the country's president could consider them.

Appeal by minister

The SCA finding followed an appeal by the minister against an order by the High Court in Pretoria. It directed Mabandla to do all things necessary to enable the president to consider the 384 applications for pardons, submitted on behalf of IFP members for the period September to October 2003.

Van der Merwe said the ruling was once again proof that the criminal justice system was failing and that the ruling party did not care about the plight of ordinary South Africans.

He said the ruling would now force current Justice Minister Enver Surty to attend to the applications.

Wasted costs

"The minister's appeal was today dismissed with costs, which the taxpayer will now have to pay. The wasted costs will run into many hundreds of thousands of rand."

Van der Merwe said in January 2007 the Human Rights Commission found the former minister of justice guilty of violating the prisoners' human rights and ordered her to finalise the applications within three months.

"Mabandla is the only minister of justice ever to be found guilty of violating the basic human rights of the most defenceless members of society, prisoners," he said.

Van der Merwe said the IFP's lawyers had already informed the state attorney that it would gather and submit any further information, if needed, to finalise the 384 applications.