Zuma in court bid on pardons

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has asked the Constitutional Court not to grant IFP member Mqabukeni Chonco and 383 others an order to compel him to immediately consider their pardon applications.

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has asked the Constitutional Court not to grant IFP member Mqabukeni Chonco and 383 others an order to compel him to immediately consider their pardon applications.

The IFP members argue that Zuma has failed to "diligently consider and decide on their applications for presidential pardon".

They also said the president had failed to fulfil his constitutional obligation to ensure that their applications for a presidential pardon were "expeditiously processed".

Chonco was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in the late 1980s. The sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment when the death penalty was abolished in 1994.

In 2003 he applied for a presidential pardon on the grounds that he had committed the murder for political motives.

When Chonco and 383 other applicants received no feedback from the justice ministry, they took the matter to the Human Rights Commission, which ruled that then justice minister Brigitte Mabandla had violated their rights by not considering their applications.

They further took the matter to the Pretoria high court, which ruled in their favour.

Mabandla was ordered to finalise the applications within three months.

Mabandla appealed the high court's decision at the supreme court of appeals, arguing that it was not her task to deal with such a matter.

Her appeal was dismissed.

She then took the matter to the Constitutional Court where it was ruled last October that the president - and not the justice minister - should be held accountable.

In a supplementary affidavit, presented by Zuma yesterday, he indicated that he has processed all 384 applications.

He therefore asked that the court should not to grant the applicants the relief they seek.

"The relief they seek is in fact rendered academic by the fact that the applicants' applications have all been processed," the affidavit reads.

According to the supplementary affidavit, out of 384 applications he has decided to reject 230 applications.

Zuma argued the applicants would be informed of the outcome "within a reasonable time through the normal channels".

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