Monday, February 22, 2016

SOUTH AFRICA - Seeking Forgiveness

"A ruthless defender of apartheid now seeks forgiveness" PBS NewsHour 2/17/2016


SUMMARY:  In South Africa, thousands were killed and tens of thousands were detained under the watch of former apartheid-era government official Adriaan Vlok.  Once seen by some as the regime’s “face of evil,” Vlok is now seeking redemption by reaching out to the people he helped to oppress.  Special correspondent Martin Seemungal reports.

GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  A generation has passed since South Africa ended apartheid.  And while the country has made progress towards reconciling years of state-sanctioned, violent oppression, the reckoning continues.

At the same time, there have been smaller, individual efforts to do penance.

Tonight, special correspondent Martin Seemungal brings us the story of a man who was once the very symbol of apartheid, as he tries to make amends.

MARTIN SEEMUNGAL (NewsHour):  It is an unusual scene in South Africa, a white man in his late ’70s in a black township delivering free food to the needy.

But it’s not just what the man is doing.  It’s who the man is or, who he was.  His name is Adriaan Vlok, and he was a cabinet minister during the harshest years of apartheid, known as a ruthless defender of white minority rule over the black majority.

MONDLI MAKHANYA, Writer, “City Press”:  Adriaan Vlok was the manifestation of the evil that the apartheid regime was.  And he was the worst of the worst.

MARTIN SEEMUNGAL:  Mondli Makhanya was an anti-apartheid activist then.  Today, he is an outspoken editorial writer for a Johannesburg newspaper.

MONDLI MAKHANYA:  From the mid-1980s, I would venture to say, other than President P.W. Botha at the time, he was the most evil man in South Africa, and he was the face of the evil of the apartheid regime.

MARTIN SEEMUNGAL:  As minister of law and order, Vlok was responsible for the police, the shock troops in the war against black activists fighting apartheid.  A bloody, violent fight, thousands were killed.  Tens of thousands were detained, locked up without trial, all under the watch of Adriaan Vlok.

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