Justice to decide on 'Prime Evil's' parole

Minister Michael Masutha will today announce whether Eugene de Kock will be granted parole.

Eugene de Kock speaks to the judge at a Truth and Reconcilation Commision, Pretoria, 24 May 1999. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - As Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha prepares to announce whether apartheid-era police colonel Eugene de Kock will be released on parole, the daughter of one of the people he killed has told Eyewitness News he should be freed.

De Kock was sentenced to over 200 years in prison for the murders he committed and ordered while he ran a police hit squad for the apartheid government.

Marcia Khoza's mother Portia Shabangu was shot twice in the head by de Kock in Swaziland in 1989, but she says, speaking only for herself, it's time for him to be freed.

"If you look at it, how many people have done what he did? He's just the one that we know about and others are still free as if nothing happened. So let him be free as well."

De Kock's attorney Julian Knight says his client is one of the very few people from the apartheid regime that have been prosecuted.

"The politicians and the generals most certainly have escaped prosecution."

Masutha will make the announcement at 11:30 this morning.

The National Council for Correctional Services made a recommendation about de Kock's parole in November.

But his lawyers say he has now served his time and is eligible for parole.

When then minister S'bu Ndebele failed to act, de Kock approached the North Gauteng High Court.

He lodged an application in the Pretoria court in May to try force the department to make a decision.

In an affidavit submitted with his parole application, he pleaded for his freedom.

He said he would never have committed the crimes had it not been for the regime and the orders he received from his superiors.

Nicknamed 'Prime Evil', De Kock was arrested in mid-1994 and sentenced to two terms of life imprisonment and a further 212 years for conspiracy to commit murder, culpable homicide, kidnapping, assault and fraud.

In total, he was found guilty on 89 charges in 1996.

De Kock was the commanding officer of C1, a counter-insurgency unit of the South African Police Service, which kidnapped, tortured and murdered numerous anti-apartheid activists.

The crimes took place in the 1980s and into the early 1990s.

Following South Africa's transition to democracy in 1994, de Kock disclosed the full scope of C1's crimes while testifying before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.