The high court in Pretoria has ordered South Africa’s new justice and correctional services minister to consider parole for former police death squad commander Eugene de Kock.
Judge Thokozile Masipa on Wednesday granted an order giving Minister Michael Masutha 30 days to make a decision on whether the man nicknamed Prime Evil should be released on parole after two decades in prison.
The National Council for Correctional Services apparently made a recommendation about De Kock’s parole in November last year. The recommendation was sent to the then Minister of Correctional Services S’bu Ndebele, but when he failed to make a decision De Kock approached the high court early this year for an order to force him to do so.
The case was settled when Ndebele’s legal advisers undertook that the minister would make a decision by May 12.
No decision had been made by the deadline and when Ndebele lost his Cabinet post after the May 7 general elections this year, De Kock again approached the court for a ruling.
The former apartheid-era police colonel, who was in charge of a police death squad at Vlakplaas outside Pretoria, was arrested in mid-1994, but was only convicted and sentenced in the high court in Pretoria in 1996.
He was sentenced to two terms of life imprisonment for two particularly gruesome murders and to a further 212 years imprisonment on a range of other charges, including conspiracy to commit murder, culpable homicide, kidnapping, assault and fraud.
Many of his former colleagues who committed murder under his command testified in return for indemnity from prosecution.
He testified in detail before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission about the inner workings of the apartheid-era police force but was refused amnesty on some of the murders that were not deemed to be politically motivated. – Sapa