Skip to main content

View Diary: Healing, truth and reconciliation in South Africa (163 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  TRC Report-on Vlakplaas, brilliant investigation (16+ / 0-)

    I read it when it came out -- all five volumes. I think people tend to think of the very public face of the TRC, which Bishop Tutu consoling people and letting them tell their story.

    At the same time, Tutu was also heading a massive investigative commission that was taking detailed depositions and collecting a massive number of documents, and piecing together what happened.

    My experience of living in SA during the last years of apartheid was that most people were just caught up in a ridiculous system that had a momentum of its own. I was amazed at how many people involved most closely in "running" the core of apartheid, the homelands system and the "Department of Cooperation and Development" (formerly, Bantu Affairs or Native Affairs) actually were idealistic and thought they were really building separate, independent black nations. In fact right after the elections, the former white head of Cooperation and Development announced that he had a second black family he had had to keep secret for many years, divorced his white wife and married his black wife.

    But there were parts of the system that were so truly evil that it created human monsters, and the TRC's material on Vlakplaas was riveting and read like a spy thriller.

    Vlakplaas (flat farm) was a secret base of the Security Police and elements of the most violent death squads of the military. It had white officers and many black members who were recruited from the border wars, and the war in Namibia and even some "turned" ANC soldiers.

    I remember reading how one of the white officers had abducted and killed an activist and figured out how to dispose of the body at Vlakplaas. Since they had lots of explosives, he had the body placed on explosives and blown up. Then he forced his black subordinates to gather the body parts and place them on explosives again to be blown up again, and repeated the process until the body parts were too small to be identified. These people became completely desensitized to killing.

    Almost no one outside the security police knew just how much murder was taking place. These people also masqueraded as rival black political factions inside SA to carry out senseless massacres of innocent bystanders in squatter camps and even at train stations.

    The TRC Report contains long passages of real cloak and dagger stuff.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site