South Africa Grants Parole To Apartheid Death Squad Leader
The South African government has granted parole to Eugene de Kock, the head of an apartheid state covert unit responsible for dozens of deaths, saying his freedom is in the interest of national reconciliation.
But those who knew de Kock’s victims are struggling to accept the release of the man known as “Prime Evil.”
“It’s mixed feelings, which is something we’ve gotten used to as South Africans,” said Eddie Makue, of his ambivalence. Makue worked for the South African Council of Churches when de Kock bombed its headquarters in 1988 injuring 19 people.
Makue, now a member of South Africa’s parliament, said he accepted Justice Minister Michael Masutha’s reasons for granting de Kock parole but struggled to accept the harm de Kock and his unit had inflicted on their prisoners.
“We have seen what devastation it has caused to them and we find it difficult to understand that he got off,” he said. Makue, who helped some of the young activists targeted by de Kock, believes that the former police colonel “has not told the whole truth, yet.”
De Kock, now 66, was arrested in 1994, when apartheid ended, and in 1996 was sentenced to two life terms and an additional 212 years in prison.
In his testimony to the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which recommended amnesty to those who admitted to wrongdoing during apartheid, de Kock told how he and the C10 police unit tortured and killed anti-apartheid activists at Vlakplaas, a farm outside Pretoria, South Africa’s capital.
Reportedly nicknamed “Prime Evil” by his own officers, de Kock matter-of-factly described the group’s torture methods, in some cases acting in groups of two, torturing their naked victims for hours, in a nightmarish relay that included beatings and strangling.