Issued by: Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Former senior member of the SAP Anti-Terrorist Unit, Jeffrey Theodore Benzien, was today granted amnesty by the Amnesty Committee of the TRC for the killing of popular ANC Cape Town activist, Ashley Kriel, who was gunned down at his home in Athlone on 15th July 1987.
Benzien who presently holds position of captain at the Airwing of the South African Police Services in Cape Town, was also granted amnesty for the use of his "favourite" torture method, known as the "Wet Bag Method" during the torture and interrogation of a number of political activists, including a leading ANC MP, Tony Yengeni.
He was granted amnesty for the severe torture and assault on Ashley Forbes on 16th April 1986 at the Culemborg Police Station. Forbes suffered a damaged eardrum. He was granted for the torture of Bongani Jonas whom he denied medical attention after being seriously wounded in a shooting, and instead carried on interrogating while he laid on the floor wringing in pain.
He was granted for the torture of Peter Jacobs on whom he administered his "Wet Bag" method and the electric shock method, continuously for more than 5 hours during interrogation. And also for Nico Pedro who was arrested near Lesotho on 15th August 1987 and severely assaulted and tortured, almost "to the verge of death".
He was also granted amnesty for assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm on Gary Kruser, whom he tortured and severely assaulted while trying to get information out of him.
Benzien's Wet Bag method which was widely publicised when he displayed it during a public hearing, entails making the suspect to lie on the ground on his stomach, with his hands handcuffed behind his back. He would then sit on the small of the suspects back and pull over his head a wet cloth bag, twisting it tightly around the suspects neck, cutting off the air supply to the victim.
Benzien bragged during his hearing, saying that his method was so effective that he invariably got the desired results within a matter of thirty minutes.
He was also granted amnesty for committing perjury in the trial of Gary Kruser and at the inquest proceedings on Ashley Kriel's death.