Pardoned Political Prisoner Appears on Murder Charges
July 24, 2002
One of the political prisoners who was granted a controversial special presidential pardon in May appeared in the East London Magistrate's Court on Wednesday on murder and armed robbery charges.
Former Apla member Dumisani Ncamazana, 27, and Luntu Nguye, 21, are alleged to have murdered Martin Whittaker, 35, owner of the Sugar Shack Delicatessen, on May 27, just two weeks after Ncamazana's release from prison.
Whittaker was shot in front of his partner, Liesel de Villiers, their one-year-old son Timothy and employee Ernest Twani during an armed robbery.
Ncamazana, from Cambridge informal settlement, and Nguye, from Mdantsane, were remanded in custody and will appear in court again on August 15 for a bail application.
On Wednesday night President Thabo Mbeki's spokesman, Bheki Khumalo, declined to comment and referred queries to the Justice Department.
Justice Department spokesperson Paul Setsetse said that if Ncamazana had indeed committed the offence, the law should take its course.
Setsetse said the department had recommended Ncamazana's release because the information it received about him indicated that he qualified for a presidential pardon.
"If he misused his opportunity by committing a rime, he must go to jail if found guilty," said Setsetse.
Ncamazana was jailed for 16 years for his part in various Apla attacks before the 1994 election. The incidents included attacks on the Highgate Hotel in 1993 and on a bus of Da Gama Textiles employees, and the killing of three Baha'i Faith Mission members in Mdantsane in March 1994.
He was granted amnesty for some incidents but not for others by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He escaped from Middledrift Maximum Prison in October 1999 and was later recaptured in Mdantsane.
Ncamazana was one of a group of Apla prisoners who lobbied President Thabo Mbeki for blanket amnesty for crimes committed during the liberation struggle.
In mid-May he was one of 33 ANC and PAC members granted special pardons by Mbeki.
At the time, Eastern Cape Premier Makhenkesi Stofile said he had supported the prisoners' calls for pardons. Stofile's office could not be reached for comment on Wednesday night.
©Copyright 2002, South African Press Association