'PARDON IS NO PAROLE'
The Constitutional Court has heard that that President Jacob Zuma is not obliged to consult victims of crime when intending to give pardons to perpetrators.
Vincent Maleka SC, representing Zuma, told the court yesterday the president could choose to listen to victims when exercising his powers but that did not mean he had to.
"There is a difference between a parole and a pardon process," said Maleka. "During a parole process, relatives or victims have the right to make presentations and take part. But, in a pardon process, the president exercises his executive powers accorded to him by the Constitution. To make an analogy between a pardon and parole is unreasonable."
About 121 political prisoners, including Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging members who bombed a Shoprite Checkers supermarket in Worcester, Western Cape, on Christmas eve in 1996, are seeking amnesty. The attack left four people dead and 67 injured.
Maleka said when former president Thabo Mbeki said in Parliament in 2007 that he would consider recommendations or presentation by the victims, he did not intend to rerun the Truth and Reconciliation Commission process.
He said the organisations acting on behalf of the victims had lifted certain context from the speech and used it to argue that Mbeki had committed himself to give them a hearing.
Albutt Ryan, an AWB member, brought the Constitutional Court appeal.
Ryan was convicted and sentenced for participating in an attack in Kuruman in 1995, which left one person dead and nearly 200 injured.
The victims' advocate Geoff Budlender SC argued that the preliminary process was flawed.
Budlender said: "These AWB members went on vicious racist attacks against innocent people. They now insist to be released without views from the victims."
Judgment was reserved.