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02 Aug 1996 00:00
Concessions by former Vlakplaas commander Eugene de Kock have serious implications for former Security Force officers and Cabinet ministers, reports Stefaans BrUmmer
AFTER 18 months in the dock, former Vlakplaas hitsquad commander Eugene de Kock has conceded his involvement in some of the 121 charges against him. The charges include murder, attempted murder, fraud and illegal arms possession.
De Kock was involved in a large number of “dirty tricks” operations during the 1980s and early 1990s.
His concessions this week have raised the spectre of him telling all when he testifies in mitigation—- and implicating top officers of the former Security Force and even former Cabinet ministers.
The prosecution closed its argument in the Pretoria Supreme Court on Wednesday, asking for conviction on a charge that De Kock was accessory to the murder of Sweet Sambo, who was brutally killed by security policemen near Komatipoort in 1991.
The state dealt with the other charges earlier, arguing that it had proved the majority of counts beyond reasonable doubt.
The turn in events came late on Wednesday, when De Kock’s junior counsel, Danny du Preez, asked Judge Willem van der Merwe for a postponement to consult with his client over “possible concessions”. Judge van der Merwe remarked that the weight of evidence against De Kock may have brought about a measure of reality. On Thursday, his counsel conceded De Kock’s guilt on the three murder charges against him.
Final argument by De Kock’s senior counsel is expected to take a week or more, which means judgment may be delivered towards the end of the month. A guilty sentence on at least some of the charges is now a foregone conclusion.
Plea in mitigation will follow argument. De Kock has already shown he will co-operate with his accusers, the office of Transvaal Attorney General Jan D’Oliveira, on other investigations.
There is little to hold him back from implicating top Security Force officers and members of the government when he testifies in his own mitigation. It is likely that his plea will centre on the “political” dimension of his crimes, and the argument that he was merely following orders.
It is understood preparations are being made for De Kock’s trial to be followed by the “trial of the generals” D’Oliveira has been promising for almost a year. The Transvaal attorney general last year told Parliament’s Justice Committee he was ready to prosecute the “first real `third force’ trial”, but was being held up by a lack of resources.
Former police general “Krappies” Engelbrecht may be among the first of De Kock’s superiors who will be in the dock. De Kock’s evidence may be a handy tool in the hands of the prosecution if and when this happens.
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