Min­is­ter to de­cide on pa­role for Vlak­plaas killer Nofemela

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CON­VICTED killer Al­mond Nofemela, who re­vealed many of the hor­rors of the Vlak­plaas po­lice death squads in the 1980s, may be on the brink of free­dom.

Nofemela in 1987 es­caped hang­ing at the eleventh hour af­ter con­fess­ing to killing eight ANC mem­bers. He later re­ceived amnesty from the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion for crimes that in­cluded the state-or­dered mur­der of anti-apartheid lawyer Grif­fiths Mx­enge and is serv­ing a life sen­tence for the non-po­lit­i­cal mur­der of Brits farmer Hen­drik Lourens.

Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices Min­is­ter No­siviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s of­fice con­firmed last night that she was con­sid­er­ing a rec­om­men­da­tion that Nofemela be paroled.

Judge Si­raj De­sai, chair­man of the Na­tional Coun­cil for Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices (NCCS), yes­ter­day sub­mit­ted his rec­om­men­da­tion.

He has pre­vi­ously held meet­ings with the min­is­ter over the long-out­stand­ing is­sue of Nofemela’s pa­role.

In­er­tia on the part of her pre­de­ces­sor re­sulted in lit­i­ga­tion but, by ar­range­ment with Nofemela’s lawyer Mapisa-Nqakula, has un­til Mon­day to ap­ply her mind.

This is the date the pris­oner’s ur­gent ap­pli­ca­tion was post­poned to by the high court.

“Mr Nofemela has served 21 years of his life sen­tence and was there­fore en­ti­tled to be con­sid­ered for pa­role in terms of the act,” the depart­ment said in a state­ment.

The NCCS yes­ter­day rec­om­mended that Nofemela be granted pa­role pro­vided the Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices refers him to “an ap­pro­pri­ate agency for psy­cho- so­cial sup­port for the pur­poses of as­sist­ing him with rein­te­gra­tion”.

It also rec­om­mended he un­dergo “the usual pre-release pro­grammes” and that he does not have ac­cess to firearms.

In terms of the act, the min­is­ter has dis­cre­tion, if the na­tional coun­cil has made a favourable rec­om­men­da­tion, as to whether or not to con­firm the place­ment on pa­role of an of­fender, the state­ment said.

In De­cem­ber last year, Judge Eber­hard Ber­tels­mann of the Pre­to­ria High Court ad­vised the pre­vi­ous min­is­ter Ng­conde Bal­four to de­cide on Nofemela’s pa­role within 10 days.

Noth­ing hap­pened and in April the NCCS again rec­om­mended his place­ment on pa­role and for­warded its rec­om­men­da­tion to the min­is­ter.

De­sai said yes­ter­day he had in­deed “raised the mat­ter” this week and had for­warded his rec­om­men­da­tions to Mapisa-Nqakula, “but she has still has to make her de­ci­sion”.

Nofemela’s pro-bono lawyer Ju­lian Knight has said that if Mapisa-Nqakula re­fuses to or­der Nofemela’s release, the mat­ter could go to the Con­sti­tu­tional Court.

Mak­ing an ur­gent ap­pli­ca­tion in the Pre­to­ria High Court, he said late last month that the con­se­quences of a re­fusal would be that they would ask for the pow­ers of the min­is­ter to be de­clared un­con­sti­tu­tional.

Nofemela made head­lines in the 1980s when, on the eve of his pend­ing ex­e­cu­tion, he gave de­tails of the bloody trail em­a­nat­ing from Vlak­plaas.

His for mer Vlak­plaas com­man­der Dirk Coet­zee and oth­ers sub­se­quently gave dev­as­tat­ing tes­ti­mony to the Harms Com­mis­sion on hit squads, and his ex­e­cu­tion was put on hold.

Bal­four wrote to the NCCS in De­cem­ber, query­ing some of the pa­role doc­u­ments and ap­par­ently ask­ing the coun­cil to re­con­sider Mx­enge’s mur­der.

Bal­four had said the NCCS had orig­i­nally rec­om­mended pa­role for Nofemela on con­di­tion that a job of­fer was con­firmed and that he was re­ferred for psy­choso­cial sup­port, but that both the job of­fer and a so­cial worker’s re­port had dated back to 2006. There­fore, he rec­om­mended that a clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist should do a new as­sess­ment of Nofemela.

But Knight pointed out that the doc­u­ments were old be­cause it had taken so long for the mat­ter to get through the depart­ment’s sys­tem that they dated from Nofemela’s ini­tial ap­pli­ca­tion for pa­role.

Al­mond Nofemela

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