Pretoria - One of the apartheid regime’s most notorious killers, former Vlakplaas commander Eugene de Kock, “wants to have a normal life in a normal society”.

Now 66, De Kock, dubbed “Prime Evil” by the media, spent over two decades behind bars after his arrest in 1994 and his conviction two years later in the Pretoria High Court.

He has been serving two life sentences for six murders, plus 212 years for other crimes.

In 1997/98, De Kock’s testimony before the TRC on activities at Vlakplaas farm west of the city, shocked South Africans with its graphic details of the kidnapping, torture and murder of anti-apartheid activists.

But now the former police colonel simply wants to get on with his life and be left in peace.

De Kock’s friend, Dr Piet Croucamp, was at the briefing in the city where Correctional Services and Justice Minister Michael Masutha announced the decision.

Croucamp said: “I went to visit him not long ago and we talked about the possibility of parole. When he comes out, he wants to have a normal life in a normal society. You need to remember that he was an abnormal person in an abnormal society.”

He said De Kock’s case has always been a sensitive one for him and especially for his victims.

“When he comes out, he is still willing to help the National Prosecuting Authority with locating missing persons. He has no new information but he is willing to continue helping.”

He said De Kock would also like to start working.

“He will want to look after himself. He will not move in with his family but will live on his own.”

De Kock’s lawyer, Julian Knight, said he was pleased by the minister’s decision.

“This has been a long time coming and four applications later, I did expect this outcome.”

Knight said he had not spoken to De Kock since November and he did not know where he would be going or where he would stay. He did not deliver the good news to his client, saying this would have been done by correctional services.

De Kock asked that details of his release date not be made public.

Masutha said the move was in the interests of “nation-building and reconciliation”.

On Ferdi Barnard, sentenced to two life terms and 63 years for the murder of Wits lecturer Dr David Webster, Masutha asked for an extension.

Webster was gunned down outside his home in Troyeville, Joburg, in 1989 and Barnard was convicted over 10 years later.

Pretoria News Weekend