Two of the so-called” Waterkloof Four” were released from Zonderwater Prison outside Pretoria on Monday, the department of correctional services said.
“They are [being] released as we speak,” said spokesperson Zacharia Modise around 1.30pm.
He said Gert van Schalkwyk and Reinach Tiedt were at the community corrections centre where they would have to report in terms of their parole conditions.
Van Schalkwyk and Tiedt were imprisoned for killing a homeless man and assaulting another at a park in Pretoria in 2001.
Prison authorities initially ignored the Pretoria Regional Court’s order on Thursday for the release of the two under house arrest.
Modise’s comments came shortly before an urgent application was about to be brought before the Pretoria High Court on Monday in a bid to force the department to abide with the ruling of Regional Court.
He insisted the department did not agree with the order that the pair be released on parole.
“We are not happy with the court order. We want to challenge this.”
Tiedt and Van Schalkwyk were among a group of four boys convicted of killing a homeless man and assaulting another at a park in Pretoria in 2001. They were each sentenced to 12 years in jail.
Van Schalkwyk and Tiedt have served three years of the sentence.
The remaining two were being held in Pretoria Central prison and not included in the release order.
In a statement released on Monday the department said it was complying with immediate effect with the orders of the court by placing convicted murderers, Frederich Tiedt and Gert van Schalkwyk, on correctional supervision from Monday.
It said the release was subject to conditions set by the Regional Court.
The conditions of Van Schalkwyk and Tiedt’s release from Zonderwater Prison are that they are under house arrest, with the exception of the 15 hours of community service they are required to perform every month.
Neither is allowed to consume alcohol. They have to be home between 6pm and 7am on weekdays on the days on which they work. On the days on which they do not work, they have to be home from 1pm to 8am.
Tiedt has to clean the Transvaal Museum for his community service while Van Schalkwyk has to carry out his community service at the Bronkhorstspruit police station.
The department said correctional services national commissioner Tom Moyane would obtain legal advice and then take a decision on how to take the matter further.
Van Schalkwyk’s mother Sarita Stonehouse said she was “elated, absolutely elated” that her son was about to be released.
“We haven’t seen him yet,” she said.
Jimmy Stonehouse, Van Schalkwyk’s stepfather, said the urgent application was no longer going ahead and that he had been informed that correctional services would be bringing Van Schalkwyk home and they would not have to go to Cullinan to fetch their son from Zonderwater Prison.
The decision by the Zonderwater Parole Board to commute their 12-year jail terms has been widely criticised.
On Friday the Democratic Alliance’s James Selfe said the decision to release the two and place them under house arrest was made after the chairperson of the Zonderwater parole board was told by the department of correctional services that the recommendation was unlawful.
“In terms of a previous court decision, conversions of sentences can only occur if an inmate has less than five years remaining of his or her sentence,” Selfe said.
“Both the recommendation of the parole board and the decision of the Pretoria Regional Court were therefore wrong and should be set aside,” he said. — Sapa