Presidency quashes talk of pardons

The Presidency on Sunday denied considering any applications for presidential pardons amid an outcry from political parties and the media.

“The ongoing media speculation and reports that [SA President Jacob Zuma] has considered or is about to grant pardon to anyone are incorrect and misleading,” the Presidency said in a statement.

The response comes on the heels of various reports that Zuma is considering pardoning fraud convict and former financial advisor Schabir Shaik and former Vlakplaas commander Eugene de Kock.

Shaik served two years and four months of a 15-year-sentence for corruption until his release in March 2009 on medical parole, which is usually only granted to terminally ill patients.

He was subsequently photographed by a Rapport photographer driving and shopping in Durban in December. Media reports said Shaik had applied for a presidential pardon.

Rapport and City Press newspapers reported on Sunday that De Kock might be granted a pardon in exchange for information about apartheid-era crimes.
He is serving two life sentences and 212 years’ imprisonment in Pretoria’s C-Max prison for apartheid atrocities.

He has been in prison for 13 years.

The newspapers reported that De Kock’s release might divert attention from a possible pardon of Shaik and might be construed as a gesture of reconciliation toward Afrikaners.

‘Back-scratching exercise’
The Democratic Alliance (DA) questioned how any such pardons could serve the interests of the South African public.

“Any attempt to disguise shoddy political bartering as national “reconciliation” ought to be rejected with contempt,” said DA correctional services spokesperson James Selfe in a statement.

“The law should never be reduced to a game of ‘your criminal in exchange for mine’,” Selfe said.

“And in Schabir Shaik’s case, there is absolutely nothing that would disguise his possible pardon as anything other than a back-scratching exercise,” he said.

The Azanian People’s Organisation (Azapo) called for consultation of victims’ families in the presidential pardons process.

“It would be extremely inconsiderate of the president to set free De Kock after he was found guilty of heinous killing of people who sacrificed their lives for our liberation,” the party said in a statement.

Azapo also criticised the possible release of Shaik as condoning corruption and proof that an improper relationship existed between Shaik and Zuma.

The party questioned how the applications of “two convicts” could be considered above that of Azapo former secretary-general George Wauchope, who lives in exile in Botswana. Wauchope’s application for pardon was denied in the past on “flimsy excuses”, the party said.

He had been charged by the apartheid government when already in exile, said Azapo.

Refusing to go into details, the Presidency said it would “not enter into discussions of individual applications as their confidentiality must be respected”. - Sapa

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