Vryburg’s infamous son, Andrew Babeile, wants a fresh start in life and he says President Cyril Ramaphosa is the only one who can grant it.
Babeile was expected to confront Ramaphosa publicly and stage a protest at the Women’s Day event held at the Vryburg Showgrounds on Friday.
The rumour quickly got around and Ramaphosa’s office sent a delegation led by Ntsiki Sisulu to verify the story and hear his side.
“It would have been awkward to surprise the president, especially after he explained that he was not familiar with the case and needed time to study the matter,” Babeile told City Press yesterday.
“But my people were ready to support me,” he said, also hinting that he might have quashed the plans because he was concerned the protest could have been blown out of proportion as an anti-Ramaphosa stunt, given the toxic nature of ANC politics in the province.
The presidency delegation heard that Babeile had been applying – through his mother – for a presidential pardon since 2013.
In terms of his conviction, only a presidential pardon can expunge his criminal record.
Babeile is infamous for stabbing a white pupil with a pair of scissors in a racial brawl in 1999 when he was 16 years old and for bullying a pregnant white woman and assaulting her husband in 2003.
He spent 18 months in prison for the stabbing and then a further 25 months in prison for the assault.
Babeile said yesterday that during his interview with the presidency delegation this week a consensus was reached that the team would return to Vryburg in the coming week to interview his mother, after which Ramaphosa would consider the matter.
He said the criminal record, which is now more than 14 years old, had blocked him from becoming a councillor, participating in ANC politics, including the election list, and even studying for a law degree.
“I live in a dilapidated house and I do not ask for anything from the government. All I want is a fresh start so that I’m also able to live my life like everyone else,” he said.
Babeile, who had the privilege of having Nelson Mandela visit him in prison more than 10 years ago, had promised the global icon he was going to get a degree in law or politics.
At the age of 16 Babeile led a group of black pupils from Huhudi township to Vryburg Hoërskool in North West, where they forced their way in and demanded that the Afrikaans school admit them.
They were admitted after intervention by the government, but Babeile previously told City Press that they never enjoyed school because of constant racial slurs and attacks.
A few years later he was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for stabbing a pupil with a pair of scissors after he was involved in what he described as a “racial attack” by white pupils.
Babeile was freed on parole after 18 months in prison.
A year later he was sentenced to four year’s imprisonment after being convicted for groping a white woman and assaulting her husband in a supermarket in what he dismissed as a “racially motivated plot to send me back to prison”.
He was released after serving 25 months.