'Free political prisoners'
THE Azanian People's Organisation has slammed President Jacob Zuma's decision to reduce the sentences of "criminals" but exclude political prisoners.
"We accept the fact that measures should be found on reducing overcrowding in the country's prisons. However, we don't think blanket remission of sentence should be one of those measures," the organisation said.
Azapo has criticised Zuma for releasing criminals while the ANC has repeatedly refused to pardon political activists aligned to it, who were convicted during apartheid.
"Azapo and the PAC are still calling for the release of political prisoners. These are comrades who fought for freedom and were found guilty by the National Party. Yet the ANC has not seen a need for these freedom fighters to be released in order to enjoy this pseudo freedom that many of us enjoy," said spokesperson Funani ka Ntontela.
"More disturbing is the report that people like Schabir Shaik and Jackie Selebi will also benefit from the blanket remission."
To mark this year's Freedom Day celebration, Zuma has shown clemency to offenders nearing the end of their jail terms, those on probation as well parolees.The move is aimed at reducing overcrowding in prisons by 40%.
The beneficiaries will receive a six-month remission, while those on probation and parole, but who were not sentenced for sexual, firearm and drug-related offences, will get a 12-month special remission.
Zuma said all those who were declared dangerous criminals in terms of Section 286A of the Criminal Procedure Act of 1957 would not benefit.
But Ntontela argued: "If the president says those involved in drug-dealing would not get remission, how then is Selebi granted remission when he colluded with a drug trafficker in flooding drugs into our country?
Other remissions were granted on former president Nelson Mandela's inauguration on May 10 1994; on the first Freedom Day anniversary in 1995; on July 18 1998 to mark Mandela's 80th birthday and May 30 2005.