South Africa's 'Prime Evil' apartheid killer de Kock up for parole

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 30, 2015 2:16 AM

PRETORIA (Reuters) - Apartheid death-squad leader Eugene de Kock, dubbed 'Prime Evil' for his role in the torture and murder of black South African activists in the 1980s and early 1990s, will learn on Friday whether he will be released on parole after 20 years in prison.

Justice Minister Michael Masutha is due to announce his decision on de Kock's application for parole at 0730 GMT at a news conference in Pretoria.

Whatever his ruling, it is likely to be highly contentious in a country still dealing with the legacy of repression and brutality meted out by the white-minority administration that prevailed from 1948 to 1994.

Masutha will also announce his decision on the medical parole application of right-wing politician Clive Derby-Lewis, who masterminded the 1993 assassination of South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani.

As head of an apartheid counter-insurgency unit at Vlakplaas, a farm 20 km (15 miles) west of Pretoria, de Kock is believed to have been responsible for more atrocities than any other man in the efforts to preserve white rule.

Arrested in 1994, the year Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress (ANC) came to power, he was sentenced two years later to 212 years in prison on charges ranging from murder and attempted murder to kidnapping and fraud.

However, at a Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up in 1995 to try to unearth - and, in some cases, forgive - crimes committed by both sides, de Kock came clean about the killing of many ANC activists.

(Reporting by Ed Cropley; Editing by James Macharia)