South African apartheid-era death squad commander Eugene de Kock has been granted parole after 20 years in jail.
He was nicknamed “Prime Evil” for his role in the killing and maiming of activists fighting white minority rule in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Justice Minister Michael Masutha said De Kock would be released “in the interests of nation-building”.
De Kock, 66, was sentenced in 1996 to two life terms in prison and a further 212 years for the crimes he committed.
Mr Masutha said the time and place of De Kock’s release would not be made public.
The justice minister stressed that his decision was guided by South Africa’s constitution.
‘Close a chapter’
Sandra Mama, widow of Glenack Mama who was killed by De Kock in 1992, said she thought the minister was right in granting parole.
Continue reading the main story
He got the instructions from the top and they got away with it
Sandra Mama Widow of a man killed by Eugene de Kock
“I think it will actually close a chapter in our history because we’ve come a long way and I think his release will just once again help with the reconciliation process because there’s still a lot of things that we need to do as a country,” she told the BBC.
The former colonel was head of the notorious Vlakplaas police unit.
He appeared before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) which was established a year after South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994.
De Kock confessed to more than 100 acts of murder, torture and fraud, taking full responsibility for the activities of his undercover unit.