Court asked to halt presidential pardons

The High Court in Pretoria must grant an interim interdict preventing President Kgalema Motlanthe from granting pardons to prisoners convicted of apartheid-era, politically motivated crimes.

This request was made by lawyers for civil society groups on Tuesday.

Geoff Budlender, SC, said the court should freeze the granting of pardons until the rights of victims’ families to make representations had been determined.

“We are asking the court to freeze the situation until that issue can be debated properly,” he said.

It was argued that Motlanthe had asked Safety and Security Minister Nathi Mthethwa to look into the issue last year. However, by March no clarity had been sought and Budlender argued that the decision on pardons was imminent.

Therefore, the president’s undertaking had fallen away.

He also argued that the identity and whereabouts of the 2 114 prisoners who had applied for pardons and those of them who had been recommended was not known.

He said the State had refused to disclose the identities and therefore the matter needed to be put on hold.

The case continues.—Sapa

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