Butana Nofemela to be released on parole

Friday, August 28, 2009

Cape Town - Correctional Services Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, has approved parole for apartheid-era police hit squad member, Butana Almond Nofemela, after 22 years in prison.

"I have decided to uphold the recommendations of the National Council of Correctional Services (NCCS) and have approved that inmate number 387097 be granted parole subject to him completing the standard departmental' pre-release programmes," the minister announced on Friday.

She emphasised that the decision was taken after broad consultations with legal practitioners.

According to the minister, the department will ensure that the offender understands his parole conditions. She refused to reveal the exact date and time of Mr Nofomela's release.

"Given the sensitiveness of the case and the requirement of the pre-release program that I have alluded to, I am not in a position to indicate the exact date and time of Mr Nofomela's realise."

Mr Nofemela was sentenced to death in 1986 for the murder of farmer Johannes Lourens near Brits. The sentence was later changed to life imprisonment. He also confessed to killing human rights lawyer Griffiths Mxenge in 1981 and Zwelibanzi Nyanda.

He was granted amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for his confession which led to the exposure of the Vlakplaas police hit squad.

"As a former MK combatant myself, I must admit this parole application was a difficult one to swallow," minister Mapisa-Nqakula said.

In line with ensuring restorative justice, minister Mapisa-Nqakula said the NCCS tried to trace the family of Mr Lourens in order to obtain their input, but they could not be traced.

The decision comes after the chairperson of the NCCS, Judge Siraj Desai, submitted recommendations for Mr Nofemela's parole to Minister Mapisa-Nqakula, earlier this month.

The council recommended that Mr Nofemela be granted parole, provided the Department of Correctional Services refer him to an appropriate agency for psycho-social support for the purposes of assisting him with reintegration.

It also recommended that he undergo the usual pre-release programmes and that he does not have access to firearms.

In terms of section 136(3) of the Correctional Services Act, any person serving a life sentence handed down before 1 October 2004, is entitled to be considered for parole after serving 20 years of the term.