Issued by: Truth and Reconciliation Commission
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission will today issue an application asking the High Court to declare void amnesties granted to 37 ANC members and to direct the Amnesty Committee to consider them afresh.
The reason we delayed filing the papers -- which were ready on Tuesday -- was that we had discussions with the ANC this week with a view to negotiating an agreement in terms of which we could (1) secure a court order by consent and (2) serve papers on an attorneys' firm. Such an order would have met the Commission's fundamental objective, which is to have the decision to grant amnesty re-considered by the Amnesty Committee, and we believe we had a good chance of securing it. Agreement to serve papers on an attorneys' firm would avoid us having to serve papers individually on the 37 applicants, who include ambassadors in foreign postings.
The National Party's action in filing papers yesterday complicates matters. Firstly, the approach they have adopted constitutes a weaker challenge to the granting of amnesty than our approach. Secondly, if our experience is anything to go by, they will have logistical problems in serving court papers on the 37 applicants. That could result in long delays to their case being heard. Thirdly, the NP has cited the TRC as respondents, putting us in a position in which we are a respondent in one matter and an applicant in another matter where similar relief is sought. Bearing in mind the statement by the leader of the National Party, Mr van Schalkwyk that he would have preferred the TRC to take this matter to court, we hope the party will now give serious consideration to withdrawing their application.
In the event, we have decided to issue our application today. This does not prevent us from negotiating a resolution of the matter to the satisfaction of all parties -- in fact the divergence between the positions of the TRC, the NP and the ANC is not so great as to make this unachievable.
The ANC's attitude in particular is one that is conducive to a resolution: they submitted their applications in the belief they would be handled correctly by the TRC and they are prepared to accept whatever lawful decision the Amnesty Committee may make as valid. The current controversy is not one of their making.
The TRC believes there is a good chance we can achieve our objective, which is to remove any doubt that the final decision on these amnesty applications falls within the terms of the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act.