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Eugene De Kock Released: South Africa’s ‘Prime Evil’ Apartheid Killer Paroled

PRETORIA — Apartheid death-squad leader Eugene de Kock, dubbed "Prime Evil" for his role in the torture and murder of scores of black South African activists in the 1980s and early 1990s, was granted parole on Friday after more than 20 years in prison. Justice Minister Michael Masutha said de Kock would be released "in the interests of nation-building and reconciliation" and because he had expressed remorse at his crimes and helped authorities recover the remains of some of his victims.

The decision, which had been deferred several times over the last year, is contentious in a country still dealing with the legacy of repression and brutality meted out by the white-minority regime that prevailed from 1948 to 1994. "He is not supposed to be freed. The atrocities he did to our people were very bad," Aniel Motlhake, 35, a financial planner, told Reuters after the decision.

Many South Africans, however, believe forgiveness is the only way to leave the memories of apartheid behind. "There are some of our black brothers that killed a lot of white people and also white people that killed," Joseph Dlamini, a taxi driver in Johannesburg, told Reuters. "At some point we need to forgive one another."

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— Reuters