Correction and apology: A previous version of this article claimed Ramon Leon had sentenced Solomon Mahlangu to death and referred to him as a ‘hanging judge’. A subsequent correction had claimed Leon turned down Mahlangu’s appeal of his death sentence. In both these instances, we repeated reporting from elsewhere without checking the veracity of these reports. We hold ourselves to better standards and apologise to the Leon family.
The Citizen has reported that they came upon the news incidentally. The publication said it had reached out to the family for comments over Sydney Mufamadi’s allegations that Leon junior made former Police Commissioner George Fivaz reopen the investigation into Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s alleged involvement in the murder of Stompie Seipei.
Former Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon said that his father, retired judge Ramon Leon, had died over the weekend.
Leon, who has been confused with Judge Theron, who sentenced Solomon Mahlangu to death, actually sentenced Andrew Zondo to death in 1986. The death penalty was suspended in 1990, as talks between the then National Party government and the ANC gathered pace. It was formally scrapped in 1994.
Zondo, who was 19-years old at the time, was sentenced to death five times for his involvement in the Amanzimtoti limpet mine attack. Leon allowed his accomplice – who ratted in return for anonymity – go free. Zondo’s accomplice was later killed by the apartheid state special forces.
Leon subsequently became a supporter of the Society for the Abolition of the Death Penalty.