Apartheid victims’ families slam De Klerk comments

Date: 07 Jul 2021

THE Imam Haron Foundation and the Apartheid Victim Families Group (AFVG) have hit out at the De Klerk Foundation for its patron FW de Klerk’s comments claiming that it would be unfair for the NPA to apply one standard to apartheid-era crimes and another to crimes perpetrated by anti-government organisations.

De Klerk’s comments followed the announcement by the NPA that they had established a special new unit, in which experienced former prosecutors would be appointed where there was a shortage of capacity to specifically look into apartheid crimes.

The NPA’s move to establish the unit followed a Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruling dismissing security branch police sergeant Joao Rodrigues’s application for a permanent stay of prosecution in the Ahmed Timol murder case, in which he is charged with Timol’s October 1971 death, while the latter was in police custody at the notorious John Vorster Square police station.

The move was welcomed by the AFVG and the Imam Haron Foundation, but De Klerk, through his foundation, warned that if the NPA chose to prosecute only those from the anti-revolutionary side, it will be in clear breach of its constitutional obligation to exercise its functions “without fear, favour or prejudice”.

“If it does not act in a scrupulously even-handed manner, it will be difficult to avoid the perception that the trials that would ensue would be political trials,” De Klerk said.

However, the AFVG said that De Klerk’s statement was another example of him having “yet another stake at apartheid denialism”.

Lukhanyo Calata, award-winning journalist and son of Fort Calata who was part of the Cradock Four who were killed by apartheid security forces for their activism, said De Klerk had once more entered the fray with a kinked sense of justice.

“He has returned too frequently to this theme for the world to continue to harbour the belief that he is either worthy of a national award or international peace prize, least of all the Order of Mapungubwe and the Nobel Peace Prize.

“It is regrettable that the ANC led us down the treacherous path of glossing over the differential in the moral fundamentals of apartheid and resistance. It was a horrible ahistorical move. This is perhaps the reason Mr De Klerk has been emboldened to revise history by arguing that apartheid was not a crime against humanity,” Calata said.

Cassiem Khan, director of the Imam Haron Foundation, said the SCA’s ruling had been a major turning point for the investigation and prosecution of apartheid-era perpetrators.

Imam Haron, an anti-apartheid activist, was held in police custody for four months, where he was tortured and eventually murdered by security branch police officers on September 27, 1969. Security branch police claimed that he had died following a fall down a flight of stairs.

“We note that De Klerk has correctly identified that the matters that will arise following that judgment of the SCA will eventually result in him facing the courts for his decisions as the political head of apartheid at the time.

“The process of further investigation and prosecutions recommended by the TRC will now pick up momentum and we will see more of these apartheid-era perpetrators facing the law. Joao Rodrigues is the start and certainly FW de Klerk will be on that list of people that will go to court,” Khan said.

SAMKELO MTSHALI samkelo.thulasizwe@inl.co.za

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