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[LISTEN] Ferdi Barnard's parole and forgiveness in post-apartheid SA

10 March 2019 1:02 PM

The decision the nation has taken against revenge and lack of forgiveness is an important step, says Methodist minister Paul Verryn.

Former apartheid hit-squad member Ferdi Barnard was granted parole on 7 March, igniting a debate among South Africans about forgiveness.

Barnard had been sentenced to life in prison in 1998 for crimes including murder and attempted murder.

From April, the convicted killer will serve out the remainder of his sentence under the supervision of a community corrections officer.

READ: Apartheid killer Ferdi Barnard granted parole

Barnard was convicted of the murder of anti-apartheid activist David Webster, with whom Methodist minister Paul Verryn had a close connection. Verryn conducted his funeral service almost 30 years ago.

I do remember the profound grief and sense of loss in the community.

Paul Verryn, Methodist Church minister

Verryn acknowledges the mixed feelings ignited by Barnard's parole, saying it raises the question of how the nation deals with the trauma it was exposed to by the apartheid state.

He warns however, against being imprisoned by what he calls the poison of hatred and craving of retribution.

So I think it's a very important step that is being taken, to implement as it were the decision that this nation has taken against revenge and violence and unforgiveness.

Paul Verryn, Methodist Church minister

Verryn also makes the point that a lot of work has been done with Barnard in prison to get him to a point of understanding the damage he has done.

I know there are still people who think what he did was unforgivable, but what is the purpose of keeping him in prison any longer? What do we achieve as a nation? I also know that his (Webster's) partner Maggie Friedman has also come to a place of wanting to let go of that dreadful memory.

Paul Verryn, Methodist Church minister

Listen to the full discussion below:

10 March 2019 1:02 PM