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Apartheid Era Crimes Ready for Prosecution

In South Africa, authorities will go ahead with the first prosecution of cases of those who were denied amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission -- or did not seek amnesty from the panel. More than seven thousand people applied for amnesty from the TRC, but only about 850 received it. The first cases include a former law and order minister and a former police commissioner.

VOA reporter Delia Robertson is following the story. From Johannesburg, she spoke to English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the accused and the charges against them.

“There are five people involved. One includes the former minister of police, Adrian Vlok, another the former national police commissioner, Johan van der Merwe, and then three senior officers. And they will be accused of the attempted murder of Frank Chikane, who at the time was head of the South African Council of Churches and a prominent anti-apartheid activist,” she says. Chikane is currently an advisor in the president’s office.

Chikane and Vlok met last August. “In a rather unusual meeting in fact Mr. Vlok phoned Mr. Chikane and asked if he could come and see him. And when he arrived he then asked Mr. Chikane to remove his shoes and socks so that he could bathe his feet in an act of contrition, I suppose you could call it,” Robertson says. However, the gesture did not prevent action by the National Prosecuting Agency.

Robertson calls the attempted murder “bizarre.” She says, “Rev. Chikane was en route to the United States and his luggage was broken into and his clothing impregnated with a substance that nearly caused him to die. And in fact he probably would have died if he had not been in a country like the United States with excellent medical facilities and also a country that would have been prepared to help him. If it had happened in South Africa the outcome might have been different.”