President Zuma unable to grant pardons

Former president Thabo Mbeki has effectively prevented President Jacob Zuma from unilaterally pardoning a number of racist, religious and political killers.

At least, not without consulting their victims. This was the unanimous decision of the Constitutional Court, which was faced with the president, ministers and Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) on one side and the victims and NGOs on the other.

The case stems from former president Thabo Mbeki’s attempt to conclude the business of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), using the principals of that body. An advisory group representing the political spectrum was formed and tasked with whittling down a list of nearly 2 000 names to 121 recommended for pardons under this special dispensation.

Since then, presidents Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma have been prevented from issuing pardons, with victims arguing that they had a right to be heard, if the process was to follow the spirit of the TRC.

Among those who applied for pardons were AWB members Ryan Albutt, Gerhardus Taljaard, Alexander Whitehead, Arend de Waal, Willem Jacobs, Hans Wessels, and Ryno Rossouw, who attacked black workers in Kuruman in 1995.

The court at the time described their attack as “unashamedly racist”. Others hoping to receive a pardon were members of the right-wing fundamentalist Israel Vision group, who planted a bomb under a Christmas tree in a Worcester shopping mall on Christmas Eve, 1996.

Source: thestar online, 20100224

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