Baha'i News -- DA, Mbeki At Odds Over Presidential Pardon

DA, Mbeki At Odds Over Presidential Pardon

Business Day (Johannesburg)

July 26, 2002
Posted to the web July 26, 2002

Wyndham Hartley

Alleged killer of East London man was released in May

President Thabo Mbeki's office showed little sympathy yesterday for the family of an East London man allegedly killed by a convicted murderer released from his 16-year sentence by a presidential pardon earlier this year.

The matter has been taken up by the Democratic Alliance (DA), at the request of the family of Martin Whitaker, who was killed on May 27.

The man charged with his murder is Dumisani Ncamazana, a member of the Azanian People's Liberation Army, who was denied amnesty by the truth commission but released from prison in May.

The pardons granted to 33 men were highly controversial because most of them were members of either the African National Congress (ANC) or the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC).

Justice Minister Penuell Maduna insisted at the time that political considerations did not play a role in the pardons.

Responding to renewed criticism of the pardons by DA leader Tony Leon yesterday, Mbeki's spokesman, Bheki Khumalo, rejected his comments as a political gimmick.

Government believed Ncamazana should face the full force of the law if convicted of the murder. "This does not take away the need for the granting of presidential pardons, which the president will continue to do as and when he thinks it is appropriate," Khumalo said.

Leon said: "When the alleged murderers of Martin Whitaker stand in the dock for their bail application on August 16, President Mbeki will in a very real sense be standing alongside them.

"While Amnesty International excludes from the definition of political prisoners those who use violence to attain any goal, and the truth commission had seen fit not to accept the release application of the alleged Whitaker killer, President Mbeki sees things otherwise," Leon said.

Ncamazana was convicted for the murders of Bahai Church members; an attack on a busload of Da Gama Textiles employees; the attempted murder by machine gun of civilians near the Nahoon Dam turnoff in East London; the attempted ambush of a bus carrying school children; and a hand grenade attack on the Highgate Hotel.

That a man has allegedly been killed by a convict freed under presidential powers also raises the possibility of legal action against the state, particularly in the light of the Alix Carmichele case, in which the Constitutional Court ruled that police and courts had a responsibility to protect. Carmichele was brutally attacked by a man facing rape charges who had been released on his own recognisance.

Early last month, Deputy President Jacob Zuma said during parliamentary question time that Mbeki had considered the Carmichele judgment when he decided to grant the 33 pardons.

©Copyright 2002, Business Day (Johannesburg, South Africa)

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