Sunday, August 05, 2007

Last White President

Few in South Africa took much notice when five sleeping teenage boys were shot by a military hit squad just days before the country's last white president, FW de Klerk, received his Nobel peace prize for ending apartheid.

Thirteen years later the deaths have returned to haunt Mr de Klerk after a decision to prosecute one of his former cabinet ministers for apartheid-era crimes prompted fresh scrutiny of what South Africa's last white president knew about the campaign of assassinations, bombings and torture against the regime's opponents.

Mr de Klerk has acknowledged that there was a strategy to murder prominent anti-apartheid activists but says it was carried out by rogue elements within the security forces and he was horrified when he found out years later. At a press conference in Cape Town, his voice cracked with emotion as he said he was being unfairly implicated.

But Mr de Klerk has not denied ordering the 1993 raid, in which the five boys were killed, on what was described as a Pan Africanist Congress safe house used to plan "terrorist attacks".

After the attack, the military said the dead were men who were armed and shooting but photographs of the scene showed the boys still in their beds, riddled with bullets and no guns in sight. Mr de Klerk later described the killings as a tragic mistake.

Sigqibo Mpendulo, a PAC activist who was imprisoned on Robben Island for five years and lost his twin 16-year-old sons in the attack, says the former president should be prosecuted because it was the modus operandi of such attacks to massacre everyone in the targeted house, as happened in similar raids on in Zimbabwe and Mozambique. "De Klerk killed my children. They were innocent. They were not [PAC] forces," he said.

Ten years ago, Mr de Klerk appeared before the truth and reconciliation commission to apologise for apartheid and the crimes committed in defence of white rule but to deny any personal knowledge or responsibility.

------Appropriately horrified, de Klerk was just muddling along when he ordered the murder of boys. The not-my-fault "poor intel" excuse. The old not-me "rogue elements" and "tragic mistakes" excuse– I dunno, those excuses sound so Pinochetian, or Bushsonian, as when Dubya finally meandered around to apologize for "Iraqi prisoner abuse".

As an aside, in 1973, when the Nobel Peace prize ($1M w/gold medal) was awarded to Henry Kissinger, it was confirmed that the Norwegian parliament has always selected its 5 most hopelessly unaware citizens to chair the Nobel committee.


Anonymous said...

And how many millions of blacks are dying in Africa now that apartheid has ended?

Kate-A said...

South Africa is 1 country in Africa. Your question, pertaining to the death rate for the entire continent and the causes would be another blog post.

And something tells me you're not really interested in the problems or history of Africa - south, north, east, or west.

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