Former apartheid-era Civil Co-Operation Bureau (CCB) agent Ferdinand Barnard has been released from prison on Tuesday morning after serving more than 20 years for the murder of anti-apartheid activist David Webster, multiple sources have confirmed.
Barnard was granted full parole by Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha on March 7 this year.
Correctional service spokesperson Singabhakho Nxumalo confirmed parole was granted for Barnard’s application at the time.
Barnard was sentenced to life behind bars in 1998 for the murder of Webster on May 1, 1989. As well as an anti-apartheid activist, Webster was a Wits University academic.
Webster, who was an anthropologist at the University of the Witwatersrand, was gunned down in 1989 outside his home in Troyeville, Johannesburg.
A decade later, Barnard was convicted of the killing. He was also found guilty of the attempted murder of another activist, Dullah Omar, who served in both former president Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki’s cabinets.
Barnard was given two life terms plus a further 63 years in jail and served time in Pretoria’s Kgosi Mampuru II Prison.
Nxumalo said Barnard was sentenced to life imprisonment on June 4, 1998, after being convicted on numerous charges including, murder, attempted murder, defeating the ends of justice and unlawful possession of firearms.
“One of the two murder charges is in connection with the killing of anti-apartheid activists and Wits University academic Dr David Webster on 1 May 1989. Mr Barnard shot and killed Dr David Webster at the behest of the apartheid police’s security branch, the Civil Co-operation Bureau (CCB). The CCB misinformed Mr Barnard and told him that Dr Webster, a pacifist, was involved in terrorist activities.
“In reaching the decision to grant parole, Minister Masutha satisfied himself that Mr Barnard has met all requirements for parole.
Before finalising the decision, Masutha personally engaged with Maggie Friedman, the wife of Webster.
“After raising her concerns with Minister Masutha, Ms Friedman indicated that she had no objection to the placement of Mr Barnard on parole.”
The department in a statement said: “In terms of section 136(3)(a)(b) of Correctional Services Act 111 of 1998, an offender serving a life sentence is entitled to be considered for day parole or parole, after having served 20 years or above on their life sentence. The profile of such an offender must be submitted to the National Council for Correctional Services (NCCS), which must make a recommendation to the minister regarding the placement of the offender on day parole or parole. In terms of the Act, the minister has discretion, if the NCCS has made a favourable recommendation, as to whether or not to confirm the placement on parole of an offender.”
Barnard was first considered for parole by Masutha on August 29 2016.
“It is important to note that parole placement for Mr Ferdinand Barnard does not mean the end of his life sentence. He has been transferred to the community corrections office which will supervise and monitor him as he will be serving the remainder of his sentence in the community for the rest of his natural life.
“As with other parolees, the parole conditions of Mr Barnard will be subjected to continuous review and may be changed depending on his personal conduct.”