Eugene de Kock, South Africa’s most notorious assassin and leader of the apartheid era death squad who was nicknamed ‘Prime Evil’ for the many terror acts he carried out against black people, has been granted parole after spending 20 years in prison. Eugene’s nickname stemmed from his involvement in the torture and murder of a lot of black activists who were fighting tirelessly to see the end of the apartheid era in the 1980s and early 1990s. Eugene carried out over 100 acts of terror against black people in a bid to stop them from revolting. As head of an apartheid counter-insurgency unit at Vlakplaas, Kock is believed to have been responsible for more atrocities than any other man in the efforts to preserve white rule.
Kock, who was arrested in 1994 at the end of the apartheid era, came clean about his many killings of ANC Activists at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up in 1995 to try to unearth and, in some cases, forgive the crimes committed by both sides during the apartheid period. Following his confessions, he was sentenced in 1996 to two life terms plus 212 years in prison for his crimes, including the 1982 bombing of the ANC’s London offices.
According to South African Minister of Justice and correctional services Michael Masutha, who granted the parole, Kock will be released in the interest of nation building and reconciliation because he has shown remorse at the things he did and even helped the Government to recover the remains of some of his victims that had previously not been found.
More so, Even though he had been a model prisoner and had been eligible for parole for over seven years, the decision to grant him parole, which had been deferred several times over the last year on the grounds that the families of his victims had to be consulted first, 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. However, the Minister went on to add that the date when the 66-year-old Kock will be released will not be made open to the general public. Many people believe this is due to security reasons.
The news of his release has been greeted with mixed feelings. While some people believe that his crimes are too dire for parole; in the words of financial planner Aniel Motlhake, 35, to Reuters, “He is not supposed to be freed. The atrocities he did to our people were very bad”, Some others like taxi driver Joseph Dlamini, believe that forgiveness is the only way forward as he said “There are some of our black brothers that killed a lot of white people and also white people who killed, …At some point we need to forgive one another.”
Despite all of the debates going on as to whether the Justice Minister did the right thing or not, there is the common belief that the former police officer was a symbolic and repentant prisoner serving time as a scapegoat for countless perpetrators of apartheid evil who were never punished rather than a multiple murderer, kidnapper and torture mogul whose crimes were too heinous for forgiveness. In support of this, is his appeal in court last year when he wrote, “I am the only member of the South African Police Service that is serving a sentence for crimes which I had committed, as part of the National Party’s attempt to uphold apartheid and fight the liberation movements…Not one of the previous generals, or ministers who were in cabinet up to 1990 have been prosecuted at all”
To err is human and to forgive is divine. Whilst in prison, De Kock made contact with some of his victims’ families, asking for forgiveness, and in 2012, Marcia Khoza publicly forgave him for killing her mother ANC activist Portia Shabangu. Also, Sandra Mama, widow of Glenack Mama who was killed by De Kock in 1992, said she thought the Minister was right in granting Kock parole. “I think it will actually close a chapter in our history because we’ve come a long way and I think his release will just once again help with the reconciliation process because there’s still a lot of things that we need to do as a country,” she told the BBC.
Lets hope he has truly changed and repented of all his sins. Let us know what you think on our Facebook page.