Assistance available for victims to comment on pardons process

Posted on November 12, 2010. Filed under: Pardons |

Yesterday, the South African Coalition for Transitional Justice (SACTJ) – which includes the Khulumani Support Group, Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, Legal Resources Centre, International Centre for Transitional Justice, Human Rights Media Centre, Freedom of Expression Institute and the IJR – issued the following press release in response to the recently-release list of individuals recommended for presidential pardons:

Victims Have Little Time to Comment in Pardons, Help is Available

Victims and other affected parties are working on a short deadline to engage with the process that could see up to 149 persons convicted of murder, robbery and theft, pardoned through Special Presidential Pardons.

While the Department of Justice has published the names of 149 convicted persons who have been recommended for a presidential pardon, victims affected by these crimes have not been directly informed.

The South African Coalition for Transitional Justice (SACTJ) has sought to make victims aware of the process and to inform them of how they can engage with the process to make sure that their voices are heard. Victims and other affected parties have 30 days from the date of the last publication, i.e. 04 November 2010, in the press of the list of 149 convicted persons to register their interest in making representations. According to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development this means that their correspondence must reach the Secretariat by 04 December 2010.

Victims are entitled to consider the applications for pardon as well the reasons of the Pardons Reference Group for making recommendations for pardon in order to decide whether to support or oppose the application. In particular victims are entitled to review the claims of perpetrators that their crimes were politically motivated. Victims may dispute that such crimes were politically motivated as well as the truthfulness of such claims. They may also register their concerns about the impact of such pardons on their safety or that of their community.

Many victims reside in rural areas and may have difficulties in enforcing their rights in this process. The SACTJ is committed to assisting victims and other affected parties to exercise their rights.

For Assistance : The SACTJ and its member organisations stand ready to assist victims and others with an interest in making representations. Please feel free to contact one of the numbers listed below:

GAUTENG: Mr Zweli Mkhize 073 704 6414
Phola Park, Vosloorus, Tsakane ‐ Ms Nomarussia Bonase 082 751 9903
Mamelodi ‐ Mr Zweli Mkhize
Stilfontein ‐ Mr Sandile Matati from Khutsong ‐ 0724608844
Diepkloof ‐ Mr Reginald Mafu ‐ 079 621 5524

NORTHERN CAPE: Mr Lesiba Kekana 079 476 1867 (Kuruman)
Taung ‐ Ms Tsholofelo Lobeko 083 619 2950

KWAZULU NATAL: Ms Rose Dlamini 072 841 3279,
Richmond ‐ Mr Musa Ndlovu 083 923 6232

EASTERN CAPE: Mr Phindile Ngcingolo 079 348 4144 (Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage, Cradock)
Transkei Region ‐ Ms Nomarussia Bonase 082 751 9903

WESTERN CAPE: Ms Elvina Ndamoyi 083 589 9683 (Worcester)
FREE STATE: Mr Mohluoa Monnye 083 988 9895
LIMPOPO: Ms Caroline Rathokolo 082 435 2295
MPUMALANGA: Ms Mpho Masemola 076 805 0690
NORTH WEST: Mr Edward Ramorogadi ‐ 078 402 5572

For recent media coverage of the current pardons process underway, have a look at recent articles in Business Day and The Sowetan.

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Special Pardons Supporting Documents

Posted on October 29, 2010. Filed under: Pardons |

Today marks the 12th anniversary of the release of the TRC report, and much work still remains in South Africa’s reconciliation process.

Last week, I posted a list of 149 convicted criminals recommended for special pardons – an announcement by the justice department indicated that individuals or parties wishing to make representations regarding these pardons should notify the Secretariat ( within 30 days.

A coalition of NGOs including the IJR, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, Khulumani Support Group, International Centre for Transitional Justice, South African History Archives Trust, Human Rights Media Centre, and the Freedom of Expression Institute, has been working to ensure that this information is disseminated as widely as possible, and that victims have the opportunity to make representations should they wish to do so.

The coalition has prepared the following guide and templates for public use and distribution: Special Pardons Manual, Special Pardons – Letter of interest, Special Pardons – Victim’s letter.

Contact details of organisations able to provide further assistance and support are also include in the manual.

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Political pardons recommendations tabled

Posted on October 20, 2010. Filed under: Justice, Pardons, Reconciliation |

On Monday, government released a list of 149 convicted criminals who have been recommended for political pardons – including perpetrators of some of the most heinous apartheid crimes committed in South Africa. On the list is Adriaan Vlok, apartheid ‘minister of law and order’, as well as former police chief Johannes van der Merwe. The list also includes the names of four AWB members convicted of the 1995 Kuruman attacks, as well as those of ‘Worcester bombers’ Cliffie Barnard and Daniel Coetzee. (Read more in The Sowetan or Business Day)

Two named perpetrators, Simanga Emmanuel Dlamini and Mbongeni Mjwara, have been convicted of 21 murders each, as well as numerous attempted murders.

Earlier this year, a coalition of NGOs that included the IJR, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, Khulumani Support Group, International Centre for Transitional Justice, South African History Archives Trust, Human Rights Media Centre, and the Freedom of Expression Institute launched a successful constitutional court case challenging the lack of victim participation in the special dispensation allowing for political pardons. (Read related posts by Brad Brockman and Fanie du Toit)

According to the Department of Justice, individuals or parties who want to make representations regarding the pardons recommendations must notify the Secretariat within 30 days.  The coalition has now expressed regret that government had to be legally compelled to involve victims in this process, and has called for serious efforts to “contact victims through an all-encompassing media campaign, involving the press, radio and TV”.

In the interest of broadening access and information dissemination, I have re-posted the procedures advertised by the Department of Justice below, and encourage others to re-post as well. The full list of pardons recommendations is available here.

‘Any person or party who wishes to make representations to The Presidency must notify the Secretariat in writing within 30 days of this publication. The Secretariat will respond to any communication received within 30 days. Thereafter such party will have a period of 30 days to lodge a detailed and substantiated written representation with the Secretariat. On receipt of communication from a victim or interested party the Secretariat will respond by way of a letter to the victim or interested party requesting that they, within a 30 day period:

  • State in appropriate detail, whether or not, in his or her view, the offence(s) was/were politically motivated.
  • Indicate, with reasons, whether they support the application for pardon.
  • Indicate, with reasons, whether they object to the granting of a pardon.
  • Victims should forward their written representations to the head of the Secretariat.

Victims or interested parties should forward their written notification and written representations to the Head of the Secretariat:

Mr Frederik Heyns
Director: Legal Process
The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, Private Bag X81, PRETORIA, 0001

Physical address: The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, 1st Floor – Reception, Momentum Building, 329 Pretorius Street, PRETORIA, 0001

E-mail enquiries:

Telephone: Liana Nieuwoudt: Tel (012) 315 1278, Thulani Khambule: Tel (012) 315 4822, Fritz Willmot: Tel (012) 3151412

Fax: 086 6425 357′

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The principle of ‘victims first’ endorsed

Posted on March 19, 2010. Filed under: Courts, News, Pardons |


On 23rd February the Constitutional Court ruled in favour of a civil society coalition that challenged the so-called ‘Special Dispensation for Presidential Pardons for Political Offences’ initiated by President Mbeki in November 2007. The ruling, unanimously awarded with costs against the President, the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development and a number of Afrikaner right-wing perpetrators, found that ‘given our history, victim participation in accordance with the principles and the values of the TRC was the only rational means to contribute towards national reconciliation and national unity’.

Although the ruling focuses only on the ‘Special Dispensation’, it has the potential to put a spanner in the works of future attempts to pardon political crimes without consulting victims. However, as one expert put it: ‘Consultation does not mean a veto, but at least victims can now no longer be ignored.’

This ruling marks the end of yet another unsuccessful attempt by government to overcome some aspects of the backlog of unfinished TRC cases. It also acts as a stern rebuke to all political parties who participated in the process, including the Democratic Alliance, which has publicly lauded the Constitutional Court finding last week despite having chaired the Presidential advisory committee that originally refused to grant victims access to the ‘Special Dispensation’ process.

Read the full article here

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