Pretoria - Eugene de Kock will have to wait another year before his application for parole is reconsidered, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha said on Thursday.
The minister announced that the 65-year-old apartheid-era police colonel's current application had been denied, because the families of his victims had not been consulted.
“I am of the view that it is fair and in the interests of the victims and the broader community, that the families of the victims are afforded an opportunity to participate in the parole consideration process,” Masutha told reporters in Johannesburg.
“I have not approved parole at this stage but have directed that a further profile be re-submitted not later than 12 months from today instead of the two-year period prescribed by the law.”
He said he was considering De Kock's parole when he became “doubtful” that the families had been consulted.
Masutha met the victims' families on July 4, which was arranged to confirm whether they had been consulted.
De Kock, a former police death squad commander, approached the High Court in Pretoria for a decision in May.
Judge Thokozile Masipa gave Masutha 30 days to make a decision. The 30 days did not include weekends and holidays.
The national council for correctional services made a recommendation about De Kock's parole in November last year.
The recommendation was sent to then minister S'bu Ndebele. When he failed to act, De Kock approached the high court to force him to do so.
De Kock was in charge of a police “death squad” at Vlakplaas, outside Pretoria, and was arrested in mid-1994. He was convicted and sentenced in the High Court in Pretoria in 1996.
He was sentenced to two terms of life imprisonment for six murders and to a further 212 years' imprisonment on charges including conspiracy to commit murder, culpable homicide, kidnapping, assault, and fraud.
Many of his former colleagues who committed murder under his command testified in return for indemnity from prosecution.
De Kock, nicknamed “Prime Evil”, has spent two decades in prison.
Masutha on Thursday explained how the parole process works.
He said he had used the 30 days ordered by the court to peruse De Kock's profile along with reports from professionals and relevant bodies.
“I have considered the matter and noted the various positive reports compiled... I have noted the progress he is reported to have made,” Masutha said.
He said De Kock had improved his skills while in prison and helped the National Prosecuting Authority's missing person task team.
However, Masutha said he could not discuss De Kock's profile.
De Kock was notified of the minister's decision before the announcement.
His lawyer Julian Knight reportedly said he would take the matter on review to the high court.