'Prime Evil' De Kock denied parole

Former apartheid death squad commander Eugene de Kock has been denied parole.

FILE: Eugene De Kock at the amnesty hearing of two former Vlakplaas operatives at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 17 November 1997. Picture: AFP.

PRETORIA - Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Michael Masutha announced today in Pretoria that apartheid death squad commander Eugene de Kock will not be granted parole.

"In the circumstances, I have not approved parole at this stage, but have directed that a further profile be resubmitted not later than 12 months from today."

Masutha said he studied de Kock's profile with all the relevant reports from various bodies.

"I've noted positive report and progress he's made to improve his skills. I've taken into account the relevant laws and regulations related to parole. We are a Constitutional Democracy."

The minister says the families of de Kock's victims must be given the opportunity to discuss the matter.

"I am of the view that it is fair and in the interest of victims and the broader community that the families of the victims are afforded an opportunity to participate in the parole consideration process."

There's already been reaction to the announcement.

The sister of a woman killed under de Kock's command says the decision shows that government recognises the pain suffered by families.

"The minister's announcement feels as if it speaks to the entire Truth and Reconciliation Commission progress. It's a recognition that we are looking at a case of transitional justice here and not just standard parole procedures- this is about an entire country's history."

But de Kock's lawyer Julian Knight says denying his client parole is legally flawed.

"I think the minister has made a decision that is wrong in law. The fact that he now wishes to bring in victim participation is quite frankly not applicable to de Kock's parole regime."

'PRIME EVIL'

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.

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

But his lawyers insist that 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 TRC.