By Pinky Khoabane
RAMON LEON sent Andrew Sibusiso Zondo to the gallows in 1986. He was only 19. He had left South Africa at the age of 16 to get military training and returned as an Umkhonto We Sizwe (MK) operative. We published this story here http://uncensoredopinion.co.za/judge-ramon-leons-death-reminder-sas-hanging-judges/
Tony Leon, former Democratic Alliance (DA) leader, is this sorry Ramon’s dad. And you may be wondering why this information is important. If we were commercial, we would say it is the hook that makes the story attract readership and sell the paper. But this information is important because Tony is supposed to be a liberal and his father pulled the trigger that ensured people fighting for their rights were sentenced to death. If you are asking why a son is being persecuted for the sins of his father, the answer is that both have modelled themselves as liberals. So here is a liberal, who is supposed to abhor the barbaric system of hanging, sentencing people fighting for their freedom to hang and die. It is abominable. It is treacherous. In today’s speak, simply cringeworthy.
Ramon died last weekend and following his death, commercial media falsely reported that he had hanged Solomon Mahlangu. This is incorrect. But in correcting the false stories, the DA together with some sections of mainstream media tried very hard to disassociate Leon form the vulgarity of the death sentence or that he actually had blood on his hands. Zondo placed a bomb in a shopping centre which then killed five people. This, in retaliation to a raid in Maseru, Lesotho. Leon, in response to the actions of a freedom fighter, sent him to hang. He sentenced him to death five times. The claptrap we’ve had is that apartheid judges had no choice but to implement the law. Some shunned a law that propped-up an unjust system. Leon did not. And then he apparently in pain, sentenced Zondo five times. Give us a break.
There were many lawyers, former Constitutional Court Justice Arthur Chakalson, who refused to be judges in a system that protected white minority rule at every cost including killing victims of that system who were simply trying to have equal rights. They refused to prop-up the apartheid system which was declared a crime against humanity by the United Nations.
Ramon Leon DID NOT.
In an article published by Politicsweb, I cant identify the author, but this person, clearly a DA apologist if not Ramon and/or Tony Leon’s apologist, berates the M&G at length before then giving us Leon’s “illustrious” career. http://www.politicsweb.co.za/opinion/mg-pulls-hanging-judge-claim-against-judge-ramon-l
“After it was pointed out to the M&G on social media that it was Judge Theron – who was labelled as a “hanging judge” at the time – who had convicted and sentenced Mahlangu for murder in 1978 for the Goch Street shootings in Johannesburg (on the common purpose doctrine), the publication amended its report to claim that “The man who refused the appeal of Solomon Mahlangu’s death sentence has died….Judge Leon was dubbed a ‘hanging judge’ and was involved in the legal proceedings that saw both Mahlangu and Andrew Zondo to their deaths.”
“Beneath the article it appended the following correction: “A previous version of this article claimed that Ramon Leon had sentenced Solomon Mahlangu to death. Leon turned down Mahlangu’s appeal of his death sentence. The Mail & Guardian regrets the error.” A report on the IOL website published on Monday afternoon also claimed “that Leon senior was notorious during his years as a judge in apartheid South Africa when he was particularly feared as a ‘hanging judge’. He also refused the appeal of anti-apartheid activist Solomon Mahlangu against his death sentence.”
The point is mainstream newspapers got it wrong. UnCensored got it right. But the point remains that Ramon Leon was among apartheid judges willing to kill freedom fighters. It is as simple as that.
Some commentators didnt even touch the fact that Leon had hanged anybody let alone that he may have hanged more than Zondo.
Having been rapped on the knuckles by the liberal establishment for making this blatant mistake (media cabal speak for: you shouldnt have done that even if it was accurate), M&G corrected their piece and later thought to appease the establishment by writing another piece that softens Leon’s role in apartheid’s hangings. “Others, like Judge Ramon Leon, tried as hard as they could to avoid imposing the death penalty, but sometimes did so, albeit with great anguish”. And how do they know this? I can speculate but the piece has nothing further to corroborate this view.
The simple issue is this: whether Ramon Leon was mistakenly named the judge that killed Solomon Mahlangu, he remains one of the judges that killed revolutionaries. He is a Hanging Judge.