Apartheid hitman’s release bid fails
Cape Town – An application by apartheid-era hitman Ferdi Barnard was dismissed by the Northern Gauteng High Court, said the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services which welcomed the decision on Wednesday.
“The North Gauteng High Court has dismissed an application by inmate Ferdi Barnard following his review application for the Minister’s decision to be set aside and for the court to order his immediate release,” said Advocate Mthunzi Mhaga, spokesperson for Justice Minister Michael Masutha.
“The Minister has welcomed the judgment as it reaffirms his long-held view that his decision was reasonable and above board. Minister commits to ensuring that his department applies the law fairly in its parole processing.”
Barnard, a former apartheid-era Civil Co-operation Bureau (CCB) agent, was in 1998 found guilty of serious crimes which included the 1989 murder of anti-apartheid activist and anthropologist Dr David Webster and the attempted murder of struggle stalwart Dullah Omar.
Webster had been gunned down outside of his home in Johannesburg while Barnard was out on parole for a previous murder and offences he had reportedly committed during his service within the apartheid police force. Barnard was thus sentenced to two life terms and a further 63 years imprisonment.
Then, in November 2014, Barnard approached the North Gauteng High Court to apply for parole.
Recalling this matter, Mhaga explained: “The court order required the National Council for Correctional Services (NCCS) to consider the application on or before 19 December 2014 as required by the law.”
The NCCS then recommended Barnard’s release for June 1 2015, a recommendation Minister Masutha “refused to approve”. He subsequently ordered a further profile on Barnard.
“(The) Minister cited the lack of the second victim’s family involvement in the parole process [and] Barnard’s lack of participation in self-development programmes among the reasons for his decision,” said Mhaga.
The North Gauteng High Court, said Mhaga, found that Masutha’s decision had been based on “both positive and negative factors”.
“(The) Court concluded that on the facts before it, the Minister’s refusal to adopt the NCCS recommendation is not sufficient to render his decision unreasonable,” added Mhaga.