Pretoria - While there are factors in favour of releasing former apartheid era Civil Co-operation Bureau (CCB) agent Ferdi Barnard, who had spent the past 17 years in prison, these factors are not overwhelming, the high court in Pretoria found as it on Friday denied him parole.
Acting Judge Raylene Keightley said Justice Minister Michael Masutha was not wrong when he earlier this year denied Barnard’s release on parole.
“Mr Barnard is an offender with a seasoned history of violent crime of the most serious kind. He has previously committed murder while on parole.
“He committed a second murder thereafter,” the judge said in commenting that the minister’s refusal of parole was not unreasonable.
Barnard’s counsel asked the court to review the refusal of the minister for his client’s placement on parole and said he had paid his dues, he was reformed and it was time that he be released from jail.
The minister, in refusing parole, said Barnard would in any event be considered again within 12 months, which will lapse in February.
His lawyer, Julian Knight, told the Pretoria News on Friday there was no use in appealing the parole refusal at this stage, as the parole board’s reconsideration next year would overtake any appeal proceedings.
Roelof du Plessis, the advocate who appeared for Barnard, earlier argued that the minister was unfair and biased against Barnard, as he qualified to be placed on parole, or, at least for now, day parole.
Barnard was in 1998 sentenced on various charges, including two of murder, to two life terms in jail.
He has up to now served about 17 years in jail.
One of the murders was the killing of Dr David Webster, an anthropologist at Wits University, who was gunned down outside his home in Troyeville, Joburg in 1989.
Barnard was only convicted 10 years later. He was also convicted of attempting to murder the late former justice minister Dullah Omar.
At the time of the Webster murder, Barnard was working as an undercover operator for the notorious CCB.
Before joining the CCB, he had already been convicted of two murders.
He was, at the time, sentenced to an effective six years in jail.
He was placed on parole on December 10, 1987, and killed Webster on May 1, 1989.
According to correctional services, he was still out on parole when he murdered Webster, which was one of the reasons why his parole bid was refused by Masutha.
The judge, in refusing parole, said it may be so that other life offenders who had committed similar crimes, had been placed on parole, but each case had to be decided on its own merits.
“There is no evidence before me that Mr Barnard was treated in a discriminatory manner in comparison to other life offenders,” she said.
Although the judge ruled against Barnard, she said he had the right to turn to court and she did not burden him with a costs order.