International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

South Africa’s “Prime Evil” Released on Parole

Eugene de Kock, a notorious apartheid death-squad leader in South Africa during the 1980’s and early 90’s, was granted parole on Friday January 30th after over two decades in prison. De Kock “is believed to have been responsible for more atrocities than any other man in the efforts to preserve white rule” in South Africa, and was arrested in 1994 for charges of murder, attempted murder, and kidnapping, to name a few. Known throughout South Africa as “Prime Evil”, due to his incredibly violent reputation, de Kock was sentenced to 212 years in prison for his extensive list of crimes. But, at a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1995, established to “unearth crimes committed by both sides”, de Knock confessed to many of his crimes and led authorities to the remains of many of South Africa’s “disappeared”. This cooperation, as well as the “interests of nation building and reconciliation”, were the two reasons cited for de Kock’s release on parole.

As one New York Times article stated about his granted freedom, “It was arguably the greatest single act of mercy to emerge from the anguished debate in South Africa over reconciliation and justice.” The response of the local and international communities have been mixed. Some believe that de Kock’s release is a part of the necessary forgiveness in order to rebuild society, while others believe that reconciliation cannot be found through essentially pardoning a violent and ruthless murderer. This case brings up even more questions about the right way to find “reconciliation” and move on as a society, while still recognizing atrocities and perpetrators for what they are.


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