Thursday, October 28, 2010

Presidential Pardons: A Politically-Motivated Injustice

On 18 October 2010 the Department of Justice published the names of 149 convicted criminals recommended for Presidential Pardon.
The list can be downloaded here in pdf format (103KB).

Persons on the list include serial killers and persons who have engaged in crimes such as theft and robbery with aggravating circumstances. For example, two individuals on the list were convicted of 21 murders each. These massacres were committed in Richmond KwaZulu-Natal after the April 1994 elections during the years 1998 and 1999, which was a period of intense conflict between the ANC and the United Democratic Movement (UDM).

At that time I was employed by the SA Police as a Forensic Ballistic Specialist, and was based near Durban in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Some of my experiences are recollected in a short eBook-memoir which was recently published – (see the posting - Memoir of an Apartheid Cop for more info.)

Many of the crime scenes we visited were located in remote rural areas, in place-names I had long forgotten… until I started browsing through the list of names and dates on the latest Presidential Pardon List. Familiar places such as Richmond, Pietermaritzburg, and Port Shepstone and the crimes scenes we attended in those regions will always be remembered, but when I saw the unusual place-names such as Izingolweni, Shobashobane, Emavundleni, Emgungundlovu, and Thafamasi Endwedwe, - to name but a few, it brought back a few reflections of bullet-riddled walls, bloodstained taxi-seats, and other gruesome scenes that I thought I had forgotten, but apparently have not! The fact that I left KwaZulu-Natal to relocate in Pretoria in August 2005, probably contributed towards the process of memory loss. Some say it is old age that causes this, but I disagree… When you get older you tend to develop the art of forgetting simply because you want to!

The main purpose of this posting is to highlight the fact that KwaZulu-Natal remained a war-zone even after South Africa’s first so-called ‘democratic’ elections in April 1994, and that I was not exaggerating when I mentioned this in my memoir. One must also bear in mind that the crimes mentioned in the Presidential Pardon List are a mere drop in the ocean, and that there are many crimes which have remained unresolved. The list does however reveal that 46.3 PERCENT (69) of the applications for a presidential pardon are connected to murders which were committed in KwaZulu-Natal.

It is interesting to note that a statement issued on 26 October 2010 by Mr Humphrey Nobongoza, UDM Secretary General, claims that the list of people who will be considered for Presidential pardons seems to contain only ANC members.

The statement reads as follows:

The UDM joins other political parties in condemning the manner in which Government is refusing to cooperate in the matter of political prisoners, despite a Supreme Court ruling.

We now note with concern that the list of people who will be considered for Presidential pardons seems to contain only ANC members. This threatens to become a politically-motivated injustice with qualifying members of other political parties languishing in jail, whilst ANC members are released. Such a move would demonstrate yet again that the ANC believes there is one law for itself and its members, and another for the rest of the country.

The legitimacy of democracy depends on judicial processes being seen to be fair and impartial. The ANC cannot simply make a mockery of justice one day, and the next day claim to be concerned about crime and injustice in this country. Source

The table below (in image form) is a sample of some of the crimes committed in the KwaZulu-Natal province, which I copied (at random) from the latest Presidential Pardon List. It not only gives an indication of the extent of multiple murders committed by single individuals, but also shows the number of Cele’s involved. Is it just a mere coincidence that the National Commissioner of the South African Police also happens to bear the surname “Cele”? Bear in mind that Bheki Cele was appointed to this prominent position in July 2009 with no qualifications! Let’s wait and see how many “Cele’s” on the list are going to be pardoned.


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