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IFP to sue zuma

By unknown | Oct 01, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

THE IFP has instructed lawyers to start legal action against President Jacob Zuma for a six-year delay in the application of 384 presidential pardons.

THE IFP has instructed lawyers to start legal action against President Jacob Zuma for a six-year delay in the application of 384 presidential pardons.

"The IFP's struggle for justice and human rights continues and we have today (Wednesday) instructed our senior counsel to immediately commence legal action against the president,"IFP chief whip Koos van der Merwe said yesterday.

"We will not give up this fight until justice prevails."

This decision came after the Constitutional Court ruled yesterday that the president - and not the Justice Minister - should be held accountable.

"It has been a lengthy and painful battle to have the constitutional rights of these 384 political prisoners recognised and again we have now been instructed to restart the entire process. The system has once again failed these prisoners."

The Constitutional Court upheld an appeal by the Justice Minister against a Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruling in favour of the IFP members.

Chief Justice Pius Langa, who criticised the government for the long delay, said the president should be held accountable in the pardon applications of Mqabukeni Chonco and 383 others.

"In short, Mr Chonco has pursued the incorrect party to obtain the legal relief he seeks," he said in his judgment.

"The president retains full powers and functions - and is therefore the bearer of all obligations - in the greater pardons process . ," Langa said.

"I express no view as to the prospects of a future challenge that may be brought directly against the president."

He granted the Justice Minister's application, upheld it and set the SCA order aside. The Justice Minister was appealing against a SCA ruling that the minister had failed to handle the applications properly.

The SCA ruled that the Justice Minister had a constitutional obligation to process the applications before the country's president considered them.

The SCA judgment confirmed a high court ruling.

Chonco was convicted of murder, robbery, attempted murder and the unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition in 1989.

He was sentenced to death for the murder but the sentence was commuted to life when the death penalty was abolished in 1990.

Chonco, who has argued that his crimes were committed for political reasons, applied for a presidential pardon six years ago, and was joined by 383 other applicants in 2003.

He resorted to litigation after the processing of the applications was delayed.

Langa said the delay was "unacceptable".

"Despite public undertakings made by the president and the minister to expedite a response, the respondents have waited in vain. This is unacceptable... ," he said.

He ordered the government to pay costs. - Sapa


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