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NIGHTíS JOURNEY INTO DAY
LONG NIGHT'S JOURNEY INTO DAY
Narration: In the final days of apartheid, violence escalated throughout South Africa. Thousands died, but one death made headlines around the world. Amy Biehl, a young American student, was killed in a black township by a mob chanting anti-white slogans. After spending three years in jail, her convicted killers were among the first to apply for amnesty from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Mongezi Manqina affidavit: The car stopped and the driver, Amy Biehl, stumbled out of the car and started running towards the Caltex petrol station. We chased after her and I tripped her and she fell down... I asked one of the persons in the crowd for a knife. I got the knife and moved towards Amy Biehl as she was sitting down in front of the box facing us.
Peter Biehl: I was in the middle of a meeting. It was during the noon hour and my secretary came to the door and motioned to me. And I came out and she said, "you have a family emergency phone call."
Mongezi Manqina affidavit: I took the knife and stabbed her once in front on her left-hand side. I heard the evidence that this blow was fatal. I accept that it must have been the wound which I inflicted.
Peter Biehl: I just couldnít believe it really. And uh the only thing that was left to me to do at that point was to sit on the airplane and write her a letter. Which I did. And it was the uh, it was the only way I could communicate with her at that point. And I told her that we were very proud of the fact that she would put herself in harmís way for others. I told her how proud I was just to listen to her when she would call from South Africa on Sunday mornings. And, in the end, I told her I thought sheíd done a great job with her life. And that her mother and I and her family would try to do something, not up to her standards, but would try to honor her with some sort of action. That was it.
Mongezi affidavit: I stabbed Amy Biehl because I saw her as a target, a settler. I was highly politically motivated by the events of that day and by the climate prevailing in the township. Political tensions were further heightened after White policemen and some White passers-by had shot at us along Vanguard Drive.
Gcobisa Makana: People were fighting for liberation and all those things. So in the days of our lives then, it used to be politics, politics, daily, meetings, rallies, all those things.
Sizwe Makana: The problem was one, at that time, everyone can do anything to anyone because of the situation. That is why we are saying now, we cannot believe it, but we believe it. Because there were many people, even myself, I can do that thing at that time.
Mongezi Manqina affidavit: I deeply regret what I did. I apologize sincerely to Amy Biehl's parents, family and friends and I ask their forgiveness.
Manqina (subtitles): Before
it all happened, I was a person who loved sport.
week that this thing happened,
Nofemela (subtitles): Killing
someone like her exposed both our anger and the conditions under which
TRC Lawyer: How did you possibly think that the killing of a single, unarmed, white young woman would bring about your objective?
Mongezi Manqina (translator): The government would get very angry during the times of Apartheid, if only one white person is killed. Therefore by killing Amy Biehl that was going to make us proud and force the government to attend to the demmands of the black people.
Lawyer: You had no mercy in your heart that day?
Mongezi Manqina: No.
Linda Biehl: After the conviction the mother of the sort of ring leader said, you know, she felt sorry for me and there was remorse. And that was the first statement of that kind, you know, of remorse.
Evelyn Manqina video message: It's going for Christmas time. Each and every house is sitting with his family, around the table enjoying themselves. She's going to sit at the table, but when sheís sitting and eating sheís thinking that hmm, there's somebody short here.
Linda Biehl: She did it through a friend of ours whoís in the press. She allowed her to film sort of a message to us.
Evelyn Manqina video message: She passed away without any sickness. You haven't been even to the doctor. Just like that. Without no reason. It's too much.
Linda Biehl: I have always thought it would be good to give this woman some support.
News story @ meeting: Nearly 4 years after their daughter was stabbed and beaten to death in a South African township, the parents of Amy Biehl met the mother of one of her killers, and told her they would not oppose his application to be freed from jail. Peter and Linda Biehlís arrival at the tiny concrete blockhouse, in the black township of Guguletu, was a moment packed with emotion.
Linda Biehl: Donítí cry, donít cry.
Filmmaker: Have you been surprised how Amyís parents have reacted?
Neliswa Solatshu: Uh, wow! I donít know what to comment. I couldnít believe it when this lady phoned, saying they were coming on Saturday to meet us, the family. And I asked my aunt, "are you mad? Youíre going to meet the Biehls?!" She said, "No they say theyíre coming. We must meet them."
Linda Biehl: It started kind of funny actually because we were taken to the house next door. We knocked on the door. . .
Peter Biehl: These ladies come out.
Linda Biehl: These ladies came out theyíre smiling and greeting. . .
Peter Biehl: They embraced us. And they were the wrong ladies.
Linda and Peter Biehl: And the guy kept saying "Evelyn, Evelyn. . whereís Evelyn?" "Oh next door." So by the time we got next door, we were half hysterical. Actually, that was probably a good thing ... a blessing. It was funny.
Linda Biehl: You have no concept, until something happens, what your attitude is going to be. Now if I lost a child in an automobile accident, if I lost a child to cancer, if I -- I donít know how Iíd react, I have no idea how I would react. In this particular case, because of what Amy was doing, how she talked about it - this is how weíre reacting.
Peter Biehl: We wanted to honor the quality of Amyís life. And the best way for us to do that, we felt, was to go and to demonstrate our solidarity with the People of South Africa in their struggle.
Linda testimony: Because Amy was killed in South Africa, because our lives have now become forever linked to South Africa, we are here to share a little of Amy with you. Amy was a bright active child. She loved competitive sports, such as swimming, diving, gymnastics among others. Upon high school graduation she went on to Stanford University. Her love of Nelson Mandela as a symbol of what was happening in South Africa grew.
Manqina (subtitles): It
made my heart sore to hear how they described her.
Peter Biehl testimony: Just two months before she died, Amy wrote in a letter to the Cape Times editor, ĎRacism in South Africa has been a painful experience for blacks and whites, and reconciliation may be equally painful. However, the most important vehicle toward reconciliation is open and honest dialogue.í
shocked me that Amy Biehlsí parents didnít oppose amnesty for us.
Peter Biehl testimony: Amy would have embraced your Truth and Reconciliation process. We are present this morning to honor it and to offer our sincere friendship. We are all here, in a sense, to consider a committed human life which was taken without opportunity for dialogue. When this process is concluded we must link arms and move forward together.
Glenda Wildschut: Our amnesty process has been quite unique in the world. We have conditional amnesty. We would not have had all of these revelations if we had just gone for a blanket amnesty and families would still have been deprived of the knowledge.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu: This process is not about pillaring anybody. Itís not about prosecuting anybody. Itís ultimately about getting the truth, so that we can help to heal and also so that we may know what to avoid in the future.
Glenda Wildschut: One can quote the German example over and over again, where there was no Truth Commission, twenty, thirty, x amount of years down the line people are still saying, you know, I need some resolution to this and I haven't had it.
URBAN & RURAL VISUALS
Narration: Being politically active in the rural areas during the years of Apartheid, was to be dangerously conspicuous. Teachers Matthew Goniwe and Fort Calata mobilized the youth and community of a small town called Cradock making it a focal point of anti-Apartheid resistance. They soon became targets of the security police. On June 27, 1985, on their way home from a political meeting, Matthew and Fort along with two colleagues, disappeared.
Nomonde Calata: That particular evening it was so quiet I couldnít believe it. It was quiet. I even went out and stand on on my stoop looking up and down the street with the hope that I will see the car coming, but there was no car coming. I started to lose hope then.
TITLE CARD: No one was ever been found responsible for the murders of the "Cradock 4."
Eastern Cape, April, 1996
Mr Smith: You realize, of course, that it is quite possible for persons to come forward and to actually admit to the killing of your husband and apply for amnesty. Would you want to know the identity of the person or persons who were responsible for your husband's death?
Nyameka Goniwe: We know that those people are within the security forces but who they were, we don't know. So I think we need to crack that, we need an inside person, we need a witness. And I would appeal to those people who are still out there and still concealing the truth, to come forward. Thank you.
Eric Taylor: I joined the police force when I was 18 straight from school. I accepted that we are there to uphold the present government and Apartheid was part and parcel of the government at the time. There were a lot of values that I felt we had the responsibility to protect, and Christianity was, of course, one of those values. All the people that I worked with were Christians. You must remember that one of the elements of Communism is Atheism and that is the outstanding point, as far as Iím concerned, that actually justified the kind of work that we were doing.
Nomonde Calata: Everybody was aware that they were oppressed and people were standing together. People here in Cradock actually were very much united. And Fort was the President of the Youth Association. And and the youth was so disciplined. In Cradock -- you could go around at night at that time, nobody will harm you. You can let your clothes hang outside, your washing, nobody will take it. You know. They were just disciplined, young people in Cradock. Because of the efforts that they have put in the youth. You know sometimes I would be busy here washing dishes and you know working and keep on wondering - I wonder who was responsible for the murders of our husbands. We went to the TRC hearings, told our stories, and a year thereafter, one of the TRC members came to us and said thereís a man who has applied for amnesty who would like to speak to us, who is responsible for the killings, who was involved actually in the killings And I was keen, I wanted to go. I wanted to see this man. And when we got there, it was. Eric Taylor.
Eric Taylor: I saw a film, I think it was about in Ď89, 1990, Mississippi Burning, which was also about Apartheid,
Mississippi Burning: "Shit it is a cop"
Eric Taylor: It made quite an impression on me, especially the involvement of the Police in the assassination of activists. I started realizing that thatís actually not what policing is all about, it should rather be about protection than assassination.
Mississippi Burning: Oh shit, we into it now boys, laughs...MISSISSIPPI 1964
Eric Taylor: After that, I read Nelson Mandelaís autobiography, and it changed my whole perspective.
Nyameka Goniwe: He wanted to just talk to the family because this has become heavy on his soul. And immediately I said "no this is not possible for me because I do not want to see him."
Nomonde Calata: I told him that "ah Mr. Taylor, it is going to be very difficult for me to say that I forgive you, for what you did to me. Because you have caused so much pain to me and my family. You actually robbed my children from their father love. Because Fort loves his children very much. He was my husband, but he was a friend also, he was everything to me.
Nyameka Goniwe: Iím not going to absolve him, I mean, if he wants, you know, to feel lighter, Iím not the person whoís going to do that. I refuse to do that. Umm, he can use, I mean, the TRC for that.
Translator: Mr. Taylor, do you swear that the evidence that you will be giving, the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God. So help me God.
TITLE CARD: Eric Taylor is one of five applying for amnesty for the "Cradock 4" murders.
TITLE CARD: He killed Fort Calata.
TITLE CARD: The "Cradock 4" widows are opposing amnesty.
Johan van Zyl: There was only one way in which to try and stabilize these areas and that was by means of the elimination of Mr. Matthew Goniwe and his closest colleagues.
Hermanus du Plessis: Through their actions, they were combating the government of the day and the machinery of the government and they were succeeding in toppling the government.
Nicolaas van Rensburg: And I believed that by doing this, this violent revolutionary onslaught against the state could be stopped.
Johan van Zyl: At approximately eleven oíclock that night we saw the vehicle passing on the way to Cradock.
Gerhardus Lotz: I took one of the people from the vehicle. I let him walk in front of me and then I hit him with this uh iron object over the head.
Gerhardus Lotz: I hit as hard a I possibly could.
Eric Taylor: I hit Mr. Calata from behind with this heavy iron object approximately where the head joins the neck. He fell to the ground. I cut the petrol pipe from the Honda to pour over Mr. Goniwe's and Calata's bodies. And I set both these bodies alight.
IMAGES OF BURNT CAR
Nomonde Calata: You know what have hurt me the most is to hear that he was killed and after he was killed, his body were burned. You know that hurts me a lot. (crying) And, even now, I canít even make -- I canít make peace with that.
Jann Turner: A healthy normal reaction to that, to facing the killer of your.. your beloved husband, is that.. I mean that you should want to go and just hit them, hurt them, get revenge. I mean, I donít have that reaction and I know a lot of women donít. Iíve talked to Jillian Slovo, whose mother was killed in, uh by parcel bomb, Ruth First. Jillian and I talk quite a lot and weíve talked about why donít we have that reaction. Why is it that we just want to face that person and say, can you explain to me why you did that? Why donít we want to do what Mario Scurn wants to do about the killers of his wife, is face that person once and only once and thatís through the sights of an AK47. Which is really kind of healthy, in a weird way. I dunno what it is but it seems more normal than wanting to sit down and face them in this extraordinary Kafkaesque Truth Commission, where we sit and listen and go in the breaks and have cups of tea.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu: We make the mistake of conflating all justice into retributive justice. Whereas there is something called "a restorative justice." And this is the option that we have chosen. But there is justice. The perpetrators donít get off scott-free. They have to confess publicly in the full glare of television lights that they did those ghastly things. And thatís pretty, pretty tough.
BIZOS: If anyone were to suggest that Mr. Mhlawuli was unknown to the security police in Port Elizabeth, what would you say to that?
Taylor: I would have differed.
BIZOS: Now Mr Taylor, it is my sad duty to tell you that you are deliberately committing perjury. I ask for leave to hand in, Mr Chairman, a report made by the South African police in Port Elizabeth, as Exhibit GG. Mr Taylor. Have a look at paragraph 4: "Sicelo Mhlawuli, unknown." If this is true, a pack of lies has been told to this Committee.
Eric Taylor: Terrible. I expected it to be different from a normal court case, it was actually worse than a normal court case. I mean weíre talking about reconciliation here, itís..itís part of the process and I think it... it was like a war out there.
George Bizos: You can't reconcile with a person whom your clients and you yourself, don't believe. So yes, it is confrontational.
MR BIZOS: Do you agree Sir, that if this document speaks the truth, your applications in relation to Mr Mhlawuli contain a big pack of lies?
MR TAYLOR: If the question of this unknown is so, then it would appear as such.
MR BIZOS: Yes.
George Bizos: The audience actually plays the role of a chorus in an ancient tragic play. Here we are, the actors on the stage - it's unusual to have a judicial proceeding on a stage, but here we are on a stage and an audience, and when they see them squirm, it's part of the.. it's part of the cathartic process. Here you were, the all powerful that would come and arrest us in the middle of the night and not give account to anyone, you "white masters," and now you are not the super humans you thought that you were. You are subjected to cross-examination by a person who's on our side. I think that that is an important aspect of the TRC's work.
Nomonde Calata: It was quite a big funeral. All the streets were full. That street there was full of people, you see that street. People were moving there out of the graveyard, this street here was full, you name it, every where was full of people. It was as if, the ground was moving.
Nomonde Calata: Imagine, Communist Party flag flying very high in Cradock. Small places like this. And the ANC flag, of course.
Nyameka Goniwe: It was just in defiance, a statement which was being conveyed to the government that thereís nothing youíre going to be able to control anymore. I canít even explain that kind of spirit. It was a funeral but, it felt like it was a liberation day for many. I think that is what lifted me that day.
FUNERAL SPEECH: When you kill you create more enemies. When you kill me, my family is becoming your enemy, and my friends become your enemy, and my friendsí friends become your enemy. And today, the oppressed people of this country are enemies against the state.
Nyameka Goniwe: And for once, I felt if Matthew could sort of wake up today and just uh, you know, open his eyes and just see this, what?.. Meeting of people, various people, coming to pay their last respects to him, I mean, he would be a happy man.
FUNERAL SPEECH: Viva! Long live, Comrade Goniwe spirit, Long Live..Long Live Comrade Goniweís ideas. Mathew Goniwe is a gallant martyr of our people
BIZOS: Your motive for killing was to restore peace.
TAYLOR: That is correct Mr Chairperson.
BIZOS: Was peace restored?
TAYLOR: No, Mr. Chairman.
BIZOS: And one of the fruits that you reaped was a declaration of a state of emergency in July 1985.
TAYLOR: That was not my consideration. My only consideration was to ensure that I would not be arrested subsequently. In other words, to commit the murders and to get away with it.
Nomonde Calata: Youíll sometimes go sit down with your friends and talk something else, and all of a sudden you just become quiet. I will keep on asking myself, Why did he allow himself to be used, if he was used by somebody else, to kill our husband? Did they have wives and children then or were they just unmarried men or ..... I donít know. Maybe they didnít have wives and children.
DUTCH REFORM CHURCH, girls dance
Eric Taylor: 2 sons, 1 daughter. The eldest one is now 20 and then the younger one, the only daughter is only 4 now. In the end, Iíll have to tell her about it. Sheís been asking me why Iím appearing on television, so, but itís fortunate at this stage she doesnít know what itís all about.
Eric Taylor: You canít live with this all your life. I just want to get it behind me and then, most important, is the fact that I would still like the families to one day forgive me.
Nomonde Calata: I mean I'm a human being. I'm just a person like him. I will also want to overcome this thing. I don't want to live with it my whole life.
Radio Report: Itís now 18 minutes past seven. South Africans are weeping, the raw pain and deep emotion at the Truth Commission hearings have brought tears to many eyes, black and white alike. Victims of Apartheid...
Glenda Wildschut: The decision to make this a public process, meant that the horrors of the past and the possiblities for nation building in the future, can not be ignored by any South African.
Jann Turner: Because of my own story, because my dad was killed here in 1978, I feel that the Truth Commission and the covering the events that are the subject of the Truth Commission is a personal mission of mine. I mean that's what it's about that's what this process is about, Truth Commission. It's about facing it, and itís bloody sore, itís opening up wounds, it entails a hell of a lot of energy, moreso thanI think many people realized, to come back to it ... But in the course of doing that, in the course of facing the past, you get ...you do get healing. Thereís Maya Angelou wrote that poem, what did she write? History despite it's wrenching pain cannot be unlived but if faced with courage, need not be lived again. And that plays out in so many ways, in such a personal sense for me, facing it, I don't have to live through all that painful stuff anymore and it's obviously crucial in the much more, you know, big rhetorical political sense. We have to face this because we can't let it happen again.
Narration: After years of non-violent resistance to apartheid, ANC leaders including Nelson Mandela, established a military wing. Thousands of youths left the country to join what became known as MK - the Spear of the Nation.
Robert McBride: By 1985, I was already in the armed wing of the ANC. It was the most logical thing to do. There was no way non-violent protest would work. I was 22 years old. And all my life Iíd been categorized in racial terms, either Black or Colored or even worse "non-White." But when I joined the ANC I became a South African. No one referred to me by any racial categorization. I was a South African and South African freedom fighter. Joining the MK, ANC the moralizing takes place then, before you enter. Youíre given a week to think about it. That you might kill people and the fact that you will probably get killed yourself. So there was no turning back. I was prepared to give my life for the struggle.
BOTSWANA NEWS STORY: South African government forces carried out another cross border raid today, attacking 10 houses they say were centers for ANC guerillas. If so, many doubled as family homes. Women and children were among the casualties.
Robert McBride: None of the people killed during that raid were ANC military people. That forced the ANC then to take a decision. We should not show the same restraint we have shown in the past. We should go after security force personnel, whever they may be. Whether they are on duty or off-duty, armed or unarmed. There was a need for a change of tactics and there was a need to hit back.
DURBAN JUNE 1985
TRC Hearing, DURBAN, MAY 1996
Helen Kerney: We had the usual Saturday night crowd, very full and very busy and at about ten past ten, this is when all hell broke loose. What I remember is seeing flashing lights, of all colors red, blue, green and a horendous noise that went right down into your body. But there was like a vacumn after that, there was silence . And then all of a sudden there was this shhhhh swooshing sound and everything just went bizerk. Then we saw it, it was a massive blood bath. With flesh and blood drooping from the walls. One minute they were enjoying a beer and laughing to the music and the next minute there was this chaos.
Robert McBride: The enormity of what we had done, really only hit us the next day. When we saw the newspapers. And from that moment, the morning after, I regretted it. And I still regret that I have caused pain and suffering to fellow human beings, fellow South Africans.
Sharon Welgemoed: We never felt, until my sister was killed, any..any sort of fear living in this country whatsoever. We lived in this little coco-coon, because we lived in a Whites only neighborhood. Where everything was supposedly..all right and the whole world went by and nobody took any notice of it. People were suddenly confronted with maybe what other people had been facing for some time already, but suddenly everybody was faced with this because it was now a reality, it had happened. So I think, yeah, maybe it was a bit of an eye-opener for people.
Robert McBride: I became more and more depressed and morose. But I also became more anxious to step up operations. Because I reasoned that Apartheid is the cause of all this tragedy. And therefore, the more I do against Apartheid, to end Apartheid, the quicker these kinds of things would stop. The result was that in the next few weeks before I arrested, I carried out operations almost twice a week. I was acting sort of under compulsion.
OTHER BOMBINGS NEWS STORY: In Natal, three minor bomb explosions were reported. In the first explosion, an explosive device thought to be a mini-limpit mine exploded in a refuse bin. The second explosion occured....
Robert McBride: In my own simplistic way of analyzing, I'd be able to contribute significantly to ending this, apartheid. I was then arrested, charged and sentenced to death.
News Report of Release: Six years ago he was sentenced to death. Today Robert McBride walks free, his release part of negotiations between the liberation movements and the Apartheid government. Some resent his freedom and right-wingers are threatening revenge for the three white women he killed in a car-bomb attack on a bar in Durban. The ANC say McBride was a prisoner of war who had killed in the struggle against Apartheid.
Sharon Welgemoed: He is seen in some circles as being seen as some sort of liberation activist, peopleís hero, but in our opinion all he did was contribute to the violence, hatred, and segregation that we all wanted to disappear.
Sharon Welgemoed: We decided that we were going to testify at the TRC because we felt that it was something we had to do in my sisterís memory.
Sharon Welgemoed: Mr. McBride is a cold blooded murderer who can never wipe away the pain, sorrow and anguish and destruction he caused.
Mary Burton: I remember when the commision was first appointed, I remember saying to somebody I knew in the cabinet, I just hope that Robert McBride applies for amensty. Because although he had, you know, been released from prison and he had no need to apply for amnesty, I felt that it would give a wonderful symbol to the commission and that it would encourage others to do so.
Robert McBride: Thereís a problem we have from the side of the ANC with this even-handed approach. The obsession that the Truth Commission has with it. I mean thereís no person or soldier from the Second World War, who would like, of the allies, who would like to be associated or even compared to Nazis. Nevertheless, I think itís part of the process of healing and, in a sense I need to humble myself and go before the committee. Because, with all its faults, the Truth Commission is really the only institutional vehicle that addresses the issue of reconciliation.
TITLE CARDS: Although Apartheid was upheld and enforced by whites, 80% of those applying for amnesty are black.
TITLE CARDS: Robert McBrideís Amnesty Hearing, October, 1999 Durban
ENTERING AMNESTY HEARING -
Sharon Welgemoed: Has he been searched by the police? Mr Robert McBride. I want to know why he is the only exception to the rule here and he doesnít get searched and everybody else here must be searched. Iíve got no objection to being searched, but he must come outside here and be searched by these SAP the same as everybody else. He is not a celebrity. Heís been searched, I said heís been searched. Heís arrived a long time ago maam. Well I just think heís not a hero heís the same as everybody else. He should be searched by the SAP
McBride Amnesty Statement:
Sharon Welgemoed: The very first day I came, I didnít quite know how I was going to react. When I saw him, I was extremley angry. I think he came across as very arrogant.
Robert McBride X-exam
Lawyer: What persuaded you to start assisting the movement?
Robert McBride : Sir , (laughs) I mean, I think all of us here in this place know what persuaded us to fight against oppression. I mean one doesnít have to be a rocket scientist, excuse my language. I explained to you that I was an oppressed person and that is the reason that I wanted to help the movement.
Sharon Welgemoed: My sister and the other two young ladies that were killed, theyíre the heroes here because they died to further everybody elseís cause, so that this country could be free. Not by choice, I admit, but they did die for their freedom.
Robert McBride: No one has apologized to me yet for either oppressing me directly or indirectly or happily benefitting from my oppression.
Sharon Welgemoed: Just because we happen to have a white color skin we canít be held accountable for all the atrocities and the horrors that Apartheid brought with it. We didnít even support it.
Mary Burton: It is very painful to have to recognize guilt and perhaps not active guilt, but the fact that white people benefited so much from the Apartheid system, and are now realizing what price had to be paid for the Apartheid. But I donít think that the success or failure of the commission is to be measured in the feelings of people at the moment. I think that those feelings are bound to be very strong.
Glenda Wildschut : We all have come through a horrible past. We have all come through a situation where we felt that we needed to do something in a particular way. Whether we were supporters of Apartheid or not. And that we engaged in activities which we might not have engaged in had circumstance been different.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu: Reconciliation is a national project. All of us are meant to be involved in it. The TRC is going to make a contribution. The act says, the promontion of national unity and reconciliation. It doesnít say the achievement.
NARRATION: Eight years before Amy Biehl was killed, another deadly incident took place in the same township. In the early hours of March 3rd, 1986, a group of young men left home for the day. Two hours later they were dead. The truth of why they died for years eluded the mothers of those who became known as the "Guguletu 7." They did not believe the official police version being carried by most of the media at the time.
News Broadcast: Seven Terrorists die in a shootout with police, and Britons shiver through the coldest night in half a century. Good evening. Police have killed seven terrorists in an early morning gun battle in Cape Townís Guguletu township. The shooting started after police foiled ANC plans to ambush a patrol. Weíd like to point out that some of the visuals weíre about to screen may be disturbing to sensitive viewers. This footage was shot by the police video unit at 20 past 7 this morning, minutes after the skirmish occurred. Information was received that the ANC was planning an attack on a police vehicle in Cape Town. A vehicle with Black occupants was stopped near the Guguletu police station. A hand grenade was held at the police. Four of the terrorists were shot dead in the immediate vicinity of their vehicle. Three other terrorists were shot in the dense bush around 200 meters...
Tony Weaver: A lot of journalists claim that they were apolitical, that they were just doing their job, just being reporters reporting what is happening. And, you know, thatís just nonsense. There is no way, unless youíre reporting, even if youíre reporting sport or theater. I guess you could get away with writing a cookery column without being political.
(tv report - the terrorists were heavily armed ...)
Within the anti-apartheid media, you automatically distrusted the police version. I wrote a story in which I quoted one of the mothers as saying that Ďmy son was not a guerilla, he had never left the countryí and I said to her so how do you account for the fact that there were weapons found on him. And she said ĎItís is my belief that the police planted those weapons.í
TITLE CARD: An official inquest looked into the "Guguletu 7" incident in 1986.
TITLE CARD: The inquest found that the "Guguletu 7" were killed during a "legitimate anti-terrorist operation."
Cape Town November 1996
Mary Burton: Three of the mother's came to see me very early on in the process of the Commission. One of the things that astonished me was how alone they seemed. I asked them, how have you coped all of these years, has your church been there for you, you know, if your community helped you and they said no. We have maintained contact with one another, but that's all. The interesting thing really is whether all the kind of support and intervention of the Commission has made things better for them or has made things worse for them, in a way, I think one sometimes asks oneself that.
MARY BURTON: Good morning Ms Mxinwa. It is me talking to you here. can you see me? Here. How are you?
IRENE MXINWA: I am well.
MARY BURTON: Good. I wonder whether you would like to tell us what is on your heart today.
Irene Mxinwa: On that day I was at work. I did not hear anything on that particular day. I just knew that my child had been lost.
Cynthia Ngewu: I heard the people saying that there were people who were shot, but I just ignored that. The news bulletin would be on at six oíclock those days. I switched on the tv. As I was still watching the news I saw Cristopher. He was being pulled with the rope that was tied around his waist. He was being pulled.
Eunice Miya: I saw my child on TV and nobody had come to tell me that Jabulani had passed away.
PUMLA: This is very difficult. Is the question of (What is most difficult, ) bringing you here to talk about your pain and having to watch you re-experience the pain that you felt when you had to deal with the tragedy of your loss.
ARCHBISHOP TUTU: These are the stories that we want our children to remember. We want them to remember that we paid a price in order for us to be free today. We say that we hope that the Lord will support and comfort you and strengthen you, because we donít have any more words to comfort your.
TONY WEAVER: It was very, very emotional, it was very traumatic. But it was also very cathartic. I found it very cathartic to be able to talk about it in public.
TONY WEAVER: The funeral of the so called "Guguletu 7" was one of the biggest funerals seen in the townships of Cape Town. In my coverage of the funeral I estimated the crowd and so did other journalists - at between 30 and 40 thousand. The police issued a statement saying that according to their aerial photographs of the crowd, there were only 5 thousand people there and that I was deliberately distorting the size of the crowd in order to bolster the image of the dead men.
"GUGULETU 7" FUNERAL FOOTAGE
TITLE CARD: 9 members of the local police have been subpoenaed as witnesses to the "Guguletu 7" incident.
TITLE CARD: They will view a police video made at the time of the killings.
NTSEBEZA: I will call for the video to be shown.
WATCHING THE VIDEO
MOTHERS LEAVE UPSET
MARY BURTON: We were much criticized, for having allowed the mothers to be there. But at the end of that day when I saw one of them in the building as she was leaving, she looked very bouncy and cheerful and I said, are you feeling better.. and she said, oh yes, very much better, because now I know so much more. And that for me was one of the illustrations that knowing more can help, even if it is painful, and traumatic.
PUMLA: It is surprising that the police took their own video footage. Now you wonder why. The point is, all of this was done for promotion. Each of the security regions, had to be seen to be doing their work. You know, very often they would be pestered by those in charge. "What are you doing? Thereís a lot of trouble in such and such place, when are you guys going to act?"
ZENZELI XOOISAN: It was shown to senior politicians who then, on the strength of that video bumped up the budget.
Bellingan- "I was in the Datsun police vehicle and I was climbing out of it, when a bullet from the enemyís weapon hit my weapon and I was hit in the face. Then we immediately took action."
Mr. Bellingan, Why did you shoot this man?
MR BELLINGAN: At that stage I thought my life was in danger. I was already injured, there was fighting and shooting going on and I wanted to prevent any other incidents. My life was in danger.
the more than 25 police involved in the "Guguletu 7" incident,
only two applied for amnesty.
MR P WILLIAMS: Mr. Mbelo what were your instructions?
MBELO: The words that were used is that they should be eliminated.
BELLINGAN: That is not correct. I believe that if we knew where they lived and we wanted to kill them or eliminate them, because the word "eliminate" means kill, we would have done so at their homes, at their addresses.
MBELO: A man approached us raising his arms
CHAIRPERSON: Could you please show us how he raised his arms? The applicant stood up holding his arms raised in the manner traditionally assumed when wishing to surrender.
MR P WILLIAMS: And is it correct that this person who approached you at no time attempted to shoot you?
MR MBELO: He never tried to shoot us or even to reach for his firearm. I shot him whilst he was lying on his back, I shot him in the head.
MBELO: I applied for amnesty because I wanted to bring this thing out. Because, actually this "Guguletu 7". Itís not the first time there was a commission on this Guguletu thing. There was the Weaver trial, and there was the inquest, of which we all lied. All those people who took part there, especially we people from Vlakplaas.
& Bellingan were not local police.
Glenda Wildschut: This was a very well planned operation where these young men would be lured into a a trap, as it were.
PUMLA: When you have people from the security being planted into a community, training that community, bringing arms from Vlakplaas to help train those activists, and you can understand that in those circumstance the activists were also very charged very highly charge. They wanted to do something.
Jann Turner: We find out just how callous these police were in that they, you know, identified a bunch of untrained people who were angry about Apartheid, trained them, armed them and then killed them basically.
MR B WILLIAMS: Can you tell the Committee what was the purpose of infiltrating this group? Did you see any weapons in their house or on their persons?
MR MBELO: (translator) I never saw any arms in their possession or in their house.
MOTHERS MEET (subtitles):
Cynthia: Whatever heís been saying, itís just eating me up inside. He was the cause of this whole thing. Heís like a wolf wearing sheepís clothing. The informer was meeting with them and milking them for information. The children poured everything out because they wanted to get the job done. Every time they say something, the informer goes and reports it to the authorities. It makes me so bitter and angry. Why entrap children like that?
MBELO: We didnít have feelings. It felt just like a dayís work had been done. Going back to your place, youíre happy youíre finished, you have been longing for people, you long to go back. Because I remember, I even drove back to Pretoria. So when ..., you felt nothing. The only time when you think something is going to bother you, the nearest place or the nearest thing to do was take booze. Then you stay drunk you remember nothing.
MARY BURTON: His own situation exemplifies that of so many black police personnel who really were caught in a very very difficult situation. They needed the jobs. Many of them also went originally in the police force with high ideals thinking it was a good career and a way to serving the community and then became drawn further and further into being used as the government used the security forces in general to keep down the resistance of the people.
MR B WILLIAMS: If you are found to have committed a delit or an offense, if I understand your documents correctly, then you are applying for amnesty. Am I correct? That is what you say.
MR BELLINGAN: That is correct.
MR B WILLIAMS: Yes, but, Captain Bellingan, that, with the greatest of respect to you, that seems to be hedging your bets, hardly appropriate here.
MR B WILLIAMS: You seem to be hedging your bets. In other words, you are not admitting specifically that you did anything wrong, but you are maintaining that if you have done something wrong, then you are applying for amnesty. That remains your position?
MR BELLINGAN: But I do make it clear in my amnesty application, if, I say I am sorry that I took a life and I am asking for amnesty for it, where I did take a life. It has happened and it is past and I think one should just try and prevent this kind of thing happening again.
PUMLA: The challenge for me now is that Iím a member of the commission. And whatever the findings of the commission are Iím supposed to embrace them. But really, at a personal level, I wouldnít appreciate it if Bellingan was granted amnesty. Itís that element of humanity, isnít it? You want to see that theyíre not monsters after all. Then once they show in a genuine way that they truly look back and regret and theyíre full of remorse and then you feel that at least there is hope with humanity. But when you donít see that, it pulls your heart just so low that you really get worried about these people being granted amnesty.
MBELO: Bellingan is a White man. Iím a Black man. For me, itís more because I had to face my Black brothers and sisters. And thatís a daily thing. So Bellinganís story is another one. Every day, maybe out of this when the commission goes off, when they knock off, he is going to the bar with his White friends. I have to go to my Black brothers and sisters. So we are not on par.
TITLE: Mbelo has requested a meeting with the families.
Mothers meet : (SUBTITLES)
PUMLA: This is the first time you will meet the person who killed your children. The point is that it is your opportunity to simply say whatever you are wanting to say or to ask, with our support.
MRS. MXINWA: Saying sorry is not going to help. It wonít bring our children back. We must simply prepare ourselves to ask what we need to know, thatís all.
Cynthia Ngewu: Whatever he feels about what he did is his business. What he has done he has done. My child is dead. Whatever he says will not alter that.
PUMLA: Itís easy to talk about it, but itís not easy when you look that person in the eye. It changes totally. So I want to say you must expect itís not going to be easy.
Mbelo & Mothers Meet: (subtitles)
MBELO: My name is Thapelo Mbelo. I am ashamed to look you in the face. I know that it is painful for you to be faced with a person who has done you wrong and to talk to him. I know some of you may forgive me. Others may never forgive me. I know that I have done wrong, that I have done evil things here on earth. And I want to say to you as the parents of those children who were there that day, I ask your forgiveness from the bottom of my heart. Forgive me, my parents.
MRS. MJOBO: Those bodies lying in a heap, trampled. And when that child raised his hands and said he was surrendering, you shot him while he was in the act of surrendering! You shot that child. So how do you feel? And the day when you saw it on that video, how did you feel?
MBELO: I feel bad.
MRS. MJOBO: Oh, you feel bad? How much worse do you think the parents of those children feel? Do you see what size I am today? Wait, let me stand up, do you see how thin I am? I used to be fat. Do you see how I look? I used to be fat. Itís clear to me that you have food, because youíre getting money for selling out your own blood. How do you feel about selling out your own blood instead of defending it? And to think you did it just for the money! Selling your blood for money. Iíll stop there.
MBELO: I was forced to do what I did. It was a situation where I didnít know whether I was coming or going because I was under a microscope by the whites. I had to take orders. I was told, I didnít do the telling.
Cynthia: But as far as Iím concerned, it doesnít alter the fact that they were your own people, and this would put them in terrible trouble. I mean, when you hear this, how do you feel? When you look at that day, what does your conscience say to you? When you really look at it, my son?
MBELO: Mama, I donít know what to say. We have hurt you.
Cynthia: It is so painful for me. No matter what he had done, my child was thrown away like a dog. The whites wanted to diminish him, to drag him through the dirt with that rope, to kill my child. They dragged him with that rope, they dragged him! I just cannot bear this thought. And his child who is left fatherless, who must feed him? Who must pay for his education? The ones responsible donít feel our pain. They donít even want to give me a pension! We mothers are just sitting here. We donít have work, we donít have anything. That is our pain.
Mrs Konile: Your face is something I will never forget. I have no forgiveness for you. My child was working for me and he saved himself and his comrades, because he was working for freedom. But you were only working for the Boers, and your parents and your children.
Cynthia: Just a minute, my son. Doesnít the name Thapelo mean "prayer"? I see what your name means, and I donít know whether you follow it or not. Speaking as Christopherís mother, I forgive you, my child. Because you and Christopher are the same age. I forgive you my child, and the reason I say I forgive you is that my child will never wake up again. And itís pointless for me to hold this wound against you. God will be the judge. We must forgive those who sin against us, even as we wish to be forgiven. So I forgive you, Thapelo. I want you to go home knowing the mothers are forgiving the evil you have done, and we feel compassion for you. There is no place for throwing stones at you, even though you did those things. So Jesus told us when he was on the cross, forgive those who sin against you. Because we want to get rid of this burden we are carrying inside, so that we too can feel at peace. So for my part, I forgive you, my child. Yes, I forgive you. Go well my child.
STILLS OF SONS
MBELO HUGS THE FAMILY
Newscaster: Amnesty has been granted to the killers of American Fulbright scholar Amy Biehl. The Truth Commissions Amnesty Committee unanimously found that the four young men had made a full disclosure of all the relevant facts during their public hearing in Cape Town last year.
Newscaster: In reaction to the news Amyís parents, Peter and Linda Biehl, asked that the four men receive the support of their families and communities so that they could live productive lives in a non-violent atmosphere. They hoped that Amyís spirit would be a force in their new lives.
Peter Biehl: Even though I was completely prepared for the outcome and expecting it, I found I really missed Amy a lot that day.
are one thousand amnesty decisions still to be made by the TRC.
END CREDITS (02:43)
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