Charging Vlok will not affect reconciliation, says HRC chief

Waghied Misbach

Waghied Misbach

South African Human Rights Commission head Jody Kollapen has shot down former state president FW de Klerk's argument that prosecutions of apartheid operatives would harm reconciliation in the country.

Kollapen told Sowetan yesterday that De Klerk was party to agreements that led to the formation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He said De Klerk would know that if people did not apply for, made full disclosure and received amnesty for politically motivated crimes, prosecutions would follow.

He said the TRC had departed from the principle of prosecutions for illegal acts, but things were different now.

"All that's happening now is that there is a normalisation of the criminal justice system. There is no change in policy or approach."

"Obviously there had been a call for even-handedness. So if the state has evidence against members of the liberation movement, then clearly these cases need to be taken forward as well."

Kollapen believes, however, that there are going to be many cases which will remain unresolved because evidence simply does not exist.

However, the human rights violations by state operatives would "far exceed the number, extent, scope and brutality" of human rights violations committed by members of the liberation movements.

Kollapen added that the perspective of the victim had to be taken into account. Many who had suffered under apartheid waited for perpetrators to come forward during the TRC period. When this did not happen, they had every right to ask the current government to act against perpetrators.

Asked whether he thought De Klerk should be charged, Kollapen said it depended on what evidence the NPA had gathered.

Steven Friedman, of the Institute for Democracy in South Africa, said he did not believe reconciliation would be harmed by post-TRC prosecutions. Friedman said it was part of the agreement reached by parties during negotiations.

However, if what jailed former Vlakplaas commander Eugene de Kock said was true, the situation was "quite serious" for De Klerk, argued Friedman.

In an interview from prison, De Kock said De Klerk had authorised an attack on a Mthatha house in which three teenagers and two boys were killed.

However, De Klerk said at the weekend the raid was "tragically botched", but that he had acted within the law.

His comments came in the wake of the National Prosecuting Authority filing charges of attempted murder against former police minister Adriaan Vlok, former general Johann van der Merwe and three high-ranking former police officers . The matter will be heard on August 17 and relates to an alleged attempt in 1989 to kill former SACC general secretary Frank Chikane by lacing his underwear with poison.

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