Justice must be seen to be done (02.05.2009)

Justice must be seen to be done (02.05.2009)

The granting of presidential pardons for political prisioners is on ice for now. Several civil society organisations were granted a temporary interdict by the Pretoria High Court this week, stopping President Kgalema Motlanthe from granting such pardons in terms of a special dispensation mooted by his predecessor Thabo Mbeki.

We were told at the time it would not be another Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but that it would complete its "unfinished business".

Given that the so-called issue of political pardons will always be a hot potato, Mbeki shrewdly co-opted opposition politicians led by DA's Tertius Delport.

They were tasked with making recommendations, although the President will make the final decision.

Members of the public were not privy to this "reference group's" deliberations – held behind closed doors – or the details of the applications by those convicted of offences they claimed were political.

Given that among the 100 that were reportedly due for consideration were Apartheid figures such as former minister of law and order Adriaan Vlok and ex-police chief Johann van der Merwe, it was inevitable such a process would run roughshod over the feelings of many victims.

Once again its up to the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, the Khulumani Support Group and others, to step up to the plate and to turn to the courts for relief.

The applicants know the victory is but a small one, given that the court must still make a final order.

However, to echo one of their own, perhaps it will be a turning point on how the government relates to victims in the future.

In Weekend Argus.

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CSVR is a multi-disciplinary institute that seeks to understand and prevent violence, heal its effects and build sustainable peace at the community, national and regional levels.

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