The Mercury

Boeremag parole is an insult

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THE Department of Justice and Correction­al Services’ decision to quietly release on parole two members of the notorious right-wing group, Boeremag, is an insult to South Africans, especially the families of political prisoners languishin­g in jail for decades after being arrested for having taken part in the Struggle against apartheid.

And the fact that Minister of Justice and Correction­al Services Ronald Lamola’s decision has been shrouded in secrecy adds insult to injury.

Independen­t Media reported this week that Kobus Pretorius and his father, Dr Lets Pretorius, were quietly released on parole last year after serving seven years of their 20-year jail terms.

They and others were found guilty of preparing a home-made bomb that was to be placed to injure or kill then-president Nelson Mandela in 2002, while he was on his way to open a school in Bolobedu, Limpopo.

While the Correction­al Services Department confirmed the release of the two, it has remained silent on the criteria used, and why it failed to inform the public about its process and eventual decision to release the two.

In a country where dozens of its freedom fighters are still in jail for having helped liberate their compatriot­s, the release of the rightwinge­rs, and the manner in which it has been handled, raise serious questions about selective applicatio­n of the law by our authoritie­s.

Take, for example, former Azanian People’s Liberation Army member Kenny Motsamai’s case. He spent 28 years in jail for killing a white police officer in 1989.

Motsamai, who is now an EFF MP, was sentenced to two life sentences before his release from Boksburg prison on parole in June 2018. Unlike the two rightwinge­rs’ secret release, Motsamai’s parole was treated as a public matter by the government.

Even after his release, the authoritie­s kept a watchful eye on Motsamai. At some point, he was briefly re-arrested for breaching his parole conditions after taking part in a protest.

The question now is: Why are the authoritie­s handling the release of Pretorius and his son differentl­y from that of Motsamai?

In addition to their failure to release anti-apartheid prisoners, the suspicious manner in which the Boeremag case was handled says a lot about the government’s commitment to the principle of equality before the law. Quite frankly, it points to selective applicatio­n of the law.

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