Vlok in line for pardon?

By Time of article published Jun 7, 2009

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By Eleanor Momberg

Former law and order minister Adriaan Vlok is among 121 people recommended for a presidential pardon, according to a civil society coalition that had legally challenged the granting of special pardons without the consultation of victims.

Vlok's name appears on a list of prisoners and convicted persons compiled by the pardons reference group set up by Thabo Mbeki to consider the applications and make recommendations to the presidency.

The reference group considered more than 2 300 applications.

The apartheid-era police minister received a suspended sentence in 2007 for his role in the plot to kill Reverend Frank Chikane, director-general in the presidency.

According to the coalition, which includes the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, the Khulumani Support Group and the Freedom of Expression Institute, the list was circulated by the "authorities" to pardon applicants in prison while the victims of their crimes were denied access to the list.

This was despite a ruling by Pretoria High Court Judge Willie Seriti in favour of the civil rights groups last month placing on hold the granting of any pardon in terms of the special dispensation for presidential pardons for political offences.

The interim order was granted until the matter could be fully argued in court at a later stage where the prisoners who stood to be pardoned could also be heard.

Seriti had also ordered that the civil rights groups be provided with a list of prisoners recommended for release by the pardons reference group.

The rights groups had challenged the special pardons process on the grounds that it unlawfully excluded the participation of victims and other interested members of the public; and that it violated the rights of survivors to dignity, equal treatment, freedom of expression and other fundamental rights protected by the constitution.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe has appealed Judge Seriti's decision in the Supreme Court of Appeals. The matter has yet to be heard.

Presidential spokesperson Thabo Masebe did not know anything about a list of names of people recommended for special pardons being circulated, adding the presidency would not be able to comment on the matter as the case was still before the courts.

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