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ANC defends seeking BLA help for private prosecutions of apartheid era-crimes

In an October letter to the Black Lawyers Association, the governing party made a special appeal to the organisation to make legal expertise available to assist families who had struggled to institute private prosecutions.

FILE: ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG – The African National Congress (ANC) on Friday defended its decision to seek help from the Black Lawyers Association (BLA) in the form of pro-bono work to prosecute apartheid-era crimes.

In an October letter to the body, the governing party made a special appeal to the organisation to make legal expertise available to assist families who had struggled to institute private prosecutions.

READ: ANC in grave danger unless it renews itself, says Radebe

Despite the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) holding hearings during the dawn of the country’s democracy, many families were still seeking justice for their murdered loved ones.

The ANC’s deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte said there were over 300 cases involving apartheid era-crimes, which were yet to be solved.

Duarte explained that the party took the decision to drum up support from “progressive” lawyers after the affected families expressed their struggle to bring the cases to court, mainly because of dwindling finances as they had to tap into their own pockets.

“And even if it is 25 years later, those families still feel the pain and they have a right to be assisted. And it is on that basis that we agreed to set up a technical team,” she said.

The ANC is working with the Foundation for Human Rights, among other activists.

Duarte also stressed that their intervention was not an indictment on the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) work. She said they would also reach out to academia to request archival material, which could help with the cases.

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