Presidential pardons – victims have 30 days to oppose (11.10.10)

Presidential pardons – victims have 30 days to oppose (11.10.10)

By DES LATHAM

In one case, a man who murdered 21 may be back on the streets if his application is unopposed as president pardons 149 serious criminals

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.

That's according to Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation Justice Programme Manager Doctor Hugo van der Merwe who says victims have 30 days from last publication of the notice on the 4th November, to oppose the pardons.

A notice ran on the 4th November in the Sowetan published by the Department of Justice on behalf of the president.

According to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development this means that their correspondence must reach the Secretariat by 04 December 2010.

That's after the president was taken to court by the Centre which said in terms of citizens rights, he should inform the victims of the imminent release of murderers, rapists and serious criminals.

"The victims want to find out more information – some are going to oppose the applications, while others have actually met perpetrators and will support their release. But all need information from the state," says van der Merwe.

While the state has the list of criminals, no-one has collected a list of victims names, he says.

There are 46 members of the ANC, 31 PAC, 21 IFP and 8 AWB members on the list.

One, Mbongeni Mjwara, was found guilty of murdering 21 people and attempting murder 15 others.

The total count of offences include 339 counts of murder, 200 attempted murder, 5 counts of kidnapping, five of arson.

The ANC tops the list of party-linked murders at 90, followed the IFP with 78, by the PAC with 31, and the AWB with 17.

LIST OF MURDERERS UP FOR PARDON
Those on the list of murderers include Mbongeni Mjwara- 21 murders, 15 attempted murders, S'manga Emmanuel Dlamini- 21 murders, 14 attempted murders, Blessing Vulindlela Nkabinde- 19 murders, 14 attempted murders, Buzuyise Errol Dladla- 12 counts of murder, Derrick Bongani Nkabinde- 11 murders, 6 attempted murders, Sipho Edward Mntungwa- 11 murders, 6 attempted murders,

Innocent Mbukeni Zakuza- 10 murder, 2 attempted murders.

VICTIMS NOT CONTACTED
"The department of justice was supposed to contact victims directly, or they won't know their attacker is about to be released," he said.

"In Principle the pardon process can be a good thing, but if not done in a consultative way its likely to lead to real fears of revictimazation of the survivors," he told Business Day.

He said that should any of the 149 commit crimes after being released, there's little recourse for individuals.

"There's little or no recourse to action – essentially the perpetrators are being let out not because of rehabilitation but because of overcrowding. That's a serious fear for victims, for example when President Mbeki pardoned 33 people, one was re-arrested within two weeks for murder," he says.

"There are legitimate reason for looking at opening some of these cases, but the way that it was managed by a politically appointed committee could have resulted in a process driven more by political manipulation," he says.

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.

In Business Day

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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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