Former President F.W. de Klerk demanded Saturday that 117 African National Congress members stand trial for political crimes committed during white minority rule.
Some of the 117 are members of President Nelson Mandela’s Cabinet. They were granted temporary amnesty in the lead-up to last year’s all-race vote, which brought Mandela and his ANC to power.
De Klerk, addressing a congress of his National Party, called for an end to that amnesty so that ANC political crimes could be investigated in the same manner as those of former apartheid rulers.
“We insist on evenhandedness being applied when dealing with the past,” said de Klerk, now a deputy president in Mandela’s government.
De Klerk cited the case of former Defense Minister Magnus Malan, who, along with his top generals, is accused of setting up a hit squad that killed 13 ANC sympathizers in 1987. They are scheduled to appear in court Friday to be formally charged. The trial is not expected to begin before March.
Mandela dismissed de Klerk’s demands as “a joke.”
The government is setting up a commission to investigate apartheid-era political crimes. But Mandela has said some murders and other crimes would be ineligible for amnesty.
In any event, he told reporters Saturday, Malan and the generals first have to confess their crimes, just as the 117 ANC members did.