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04.08.2008, South Africa, Khulumani demands trial in accordance with the rule of law without any offer of amnesties in the case of the assassination of Nokuthula Simelane

No to back-door apartheid amnesty

Khadija Bradlow Published:Aug 04, 2008

This makes a mockery of the TRC
Women in court to stop loved ones’ apartheid-era torturers evading justice

PERPETRATORS of apartheid-era crimes should face the full might of the law and not be allowed to enter into “back-door” deals to evade prosecution.
This is according to five women whose relatives were victims of the apartheid police’s notorious security branch.
The Pretoria High Court will soon hear an application by the sister of anti-apartheid activist Nokuthula Simelane and the widows of the Cradock Four.
Simelane was abducted by the security branch in 1982 and never seen again. The Cradock activists were killed by the apartheid police in 1985.
Their relatives, assisted by the Legal Resources Centre, are squaring off against eight former policemen, the minister of justice and the national director of public prosecutions. They want the court to strike down as unconstitutional several amendments to the policy of the National Prosecuting Authority.
The amendments offer immunity from prosecution, in certain circumstances, to perpetrators of apartheid-era crimes who did not apply for, or were denied, amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The women are joined in the court action by the Khulumani Support Group, which has for decades lobbied for apartheid victims’ rights, and particularly for financial compensation.
The policy amendments could remove victims’ rights to sue perpetrators.
Khulumani said those who will be worst affected by the amendments are “vulnerable people who have experienced the might of the state at its most brutal” and whose livelihoods had been adversely affected by the crimes.
Unless the court challenge succeeds, the men accused of abducting and torturing Simelane and the Cradock Four might never go to jail.
They, and countless other perpetrators of apartheid crimes, will be able to apply to the National Prosecuting Authority for amnesty.
The “general discretion” on instituting a prosecution lies with the national director of public prosecutions. Primary factors taken into account by the director are similar to those considered by the TRC, such as full disclosure and political motive.
But the amended policy allows for other factors, such as the extent to which the prosecution might “contribute to, facilitate or undermine our national project of nation-building”.
And, unlike the truth commission process, neither the applications made nor the decisions reached have to be made public.
“It seems that the policy is a back door that has been opened … this makes a mockery of the TRC process,” said Nkadimeng.

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