Eugene de Kock contests parole delay

Ed Cropley

The former death squad commander's lawyer says the delay is a legally flawed "political game" and that he should be treated like any other criminal.

Former police colonel Eugene de Kock at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in July 2000. (Leon Botha, Gallo)

Jailed apartheid death squad leader Eugene de Kock has launched a court bid to force the government to consider him for parole, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

De Kock, who is believed to have been responsible for more atrocities than any other man in the efforts to preserve white minority rule, became eligible for release last month after 20 years behind bars.

But Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha  delayed by a year the sensitive decision on whether or not to set him free, saying the families of his victims had not been properly consulted.

De Kock’s lawyer, Julian Knight, said Masutha’s argument was being challenged as legally flawed because the need to consult families about parole decisions was only introduced in 2004, a decade after De Kock was arrested and jailed.

“It’s a political game,” said Knight. “The minister should be treating De Kock as any other criminal.”

If De Kock is successful in getting the court to overturn Masutha’s decision, it will put the ANC in a tight spot.

Although De Kock has few if any supporters, releasing convicted killers on parole has become commonplace, especially if – as is the case with De Kock – they have expressed remorse and are considered to no longer represent a threat to society.

But as the number of callers to radio stations showed in the run-up to Masutha’s decision last month, many among the black majority believe De Kock’s crimes are so extreme that he should die behind bars. – Reuters

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