Jean-Jacques Cornish

Apartheid death squad head denied parole

South Africa’s Justice Minister says the country’s parole process needs to be overhauled after controversy caused by his denying the release of an apartheid era death squad leader.

Parole was refused because the families of the death squad’s victims were not consulted.

Lawyer for Eugene de Kock, who’s served 20 years of a more than 200 year sentence, says denying parole is legally flawed.

Julian Knight says it’s wrong in law to apply victim participation to the process.

Eugene de Kock was found guilty of more than 80 counts of murder, kidnapping and assault against dissidents in the final years of apartheid.

De Kock gave details of his crimes to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up by then President Nelson Mandela after South Africa’s first democratic election in 1994.

Prison authorities have given a positive report on de Kock, saying he shows remorse and has improved his skills in prison.

Justice Minister Michael Masutha’s declined the parole recommendation, saying the families of de Kock’s victims should be consulted.

He doesn’t know why this has not happened.

There will have to be a review of parole policy.

He says de Kock’s parole process can be fast tracked to allow a new application within a year.

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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.