Former apartheid hit squad leader Eugene de Kock was only allowed to go home minutes after his legal team walked into court on Tuesday with an urgent application to have him brought before court.
De Kock phoned attorney Julian Knight after members of the State Security Agency (SSA) prevented him from leaving the parking lot at the Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Pretoria, where he was attending a meeting with the departmental head. His legal team then prepared an extremely urgent application against the justice, police and state security ministers and the head of the prison to force them to bring De Kock before court immediately and to allow him to return home in terms of his parole conditions.
They also intended asking the court to prohibit the SSA from taking control of De Kock’s person and his freedom of movement, and to order Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko to “protect” De Kock from the SSA. Knight said the security agency apparently alleged there was some form of security threat against De Kock.
He said they had previously also used the so-called security threat as a ploy to prevent De Kock’s release on parole. “We don’t know why they keep on coming up with this nonsense that there’s some conspiracy and that his life is in danger, but where’s the proof?
“He was released 18 months ago and there hasn’t been one incident,” he said. Knight said De Kock had been held against his will since about 12pm, but he had been given the assurance that his client had been given permission to go home. He said De Kock was not held in a cell, but was prevented from leaving the parking lot. “Without a doubt we will immediately approach the court if anything like this happens again,” he said.
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De Kock’s legal team are also considering bringing an application against the agency to prevent the same thing from happening again, to ensure that De Kock was treated as an ordinary prisoner on parole and to prohibit state security from interfering with his rights as a paroled prisoner. De Kock was released in February last year under strict parole conditions and was technically under the control of correctional services, although he was guarded by SSA.
He had to launch a similar application in April last year to secure his freedom after Knight alleged his client was being held illegally at an unknown destination and denied access to legal representation. De Kock was then brought to court in person at the request of a high court judge Ronel Tolmay, who said it was her constitutional duty to make sure his constitutional rights were protected.
At that stage, he assured the judge that his situation had improved and that he was not being treated in an oppressive manner. The court at that stage granted an order that De Kock must be allowed free access to his legal representatives and to consult with them without any other party being present. De Kock was in 1989 sentenced to life and 212 years’ imprisonment on various charges, including six of murder.