With the National Prosecuting Authority having recently committed a new specialist unit to probe apartheid-era atrocities dating from the 1960s to the 1980s, family members of apartheid victims have called FW de Klerk to also face the courts for his involvement.
The call comes in the wake of De Klerk’s comments in which he said that if the NPA chose to prosecute only those from the anti-revolutionary side, it would be in clear breach of its constitutional obligation to exercise its functions ’’without fear, favour or prejudice’’.
De Klerk had also claimed in his statement that if the NPA does not act in a scrupulously even-handed manner, it would be difficult to avoid the perception that the trials that would ensue would be political trials.
He said that when the NPA embarks on this course it should give very careful consideration to the constitutional requirement that “everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.”
“It would, accordingly, be unacceptable to apply one standard to apartheid- era crimes’ and another to crimes perpetrated by anti-government organisations. And yet there is not the slightest indication in the NPA’s statement that it has any intention whatsoever to prosecute the latter,” De Klerk said.
However, the Imam Haron Foundation’s director Cassiem Khan said that De Klerk comments were not only just a sign of desperation, but he was definitely aware that his day to face the law for his complicity in apartheid atrocities is coming.
Haron was an anti-apartheid activist who was held in police custody for four months, where he was tortured and eventually murdered by security branch police officers on 27 September 1969. His death, security branch police claimed, was a result of a fall from a flight of stairs.
“We are very much aware that he’s been tracking what is happening with Joao Rodrigues. We believe that he’s even consulted his own legal team whether there’s any possibility that even he will face the courts,” Khan said.
Rodrigues, a sergeant in the apartheid regime’s security branch police force, recently had his application for a permanent stay of prosecution in the Ahmed Timol murder, in which he is charged with Timol’s October 1971 death while in police custody at the notorious John Vorster Square Police Station, dismissed by the Supreme Court of Appeal.
“A desperate person makes all sorts of claims, and this is why his claims about blanket amnesties and his message about different types of ways in which the negotiations process could not have proceeded if amnesty was not on the table shows that he’s not just desperate, he’s running scared.
“He is picking that up particularly because the cover that he believes that the ANC government had given him by not pursuing him for the last 27 years has now run its course and because the families of apartheid victims are themselves now driving the process and putting pressure on the NPA and the Hawks that these matters must be pursued,” Khan said.
The Apartheid Families Victims Group said that De Klerk’s statement was another example of him having “yet another stake at Apartheid denialism”.
Lukhanyo Calata, the award-winning journalist and son of Fort Calata who was part of the Cradock Four which was killed by apartheid security forces for their anti-apartheid activism, said De Klerk had once more entered the fray with a kinked sense of justice.
“He has returned too frequently to this theme for the world to continue to harbour the belief that he is either worthy of a national award or international peace prize, least of all the Order of Mapungubwe and the Nobel Peace Prize.
“It is regrettable that the ANC led us down the treacherous path of glossing over the differential in the moral fundamentals of apartheid and resistance. It was a horrible historical move. This is perhaps the reason Mr De Klerk has been emboldened to revise history by arguing that Apartheid was not a crime against humanity,” Calata said.