South Africa and Ghosts From the Past

To ignore the ghosts of the past is engrave their suffering deeper into the national consciousness.  It is a mewling cry that falls from the lips of those who would benefit if the blood spilled in their name stayed dry and rusty.  Such words have no value.

Adriaan Vlok has gotten away with murder, attempted murder, torture, and a host of other crimes committed under his command.  He had this to say (Celean Jacobson, AP, via ABC News):

“To that end I was involved in a cruel, bloody revolutionary war for years. I have to accept responsibility for that. I have already done that and do so again in this case,” he said.

Vlok called on others who have not disclosed their activities to come forward with information to help resolve any unsolved cases. He said he did not believe there should be further prosecutions.

“I am concerned about forgiveness and reconciliation if we carry on bringing up ghosts from the past,” he said.

Forgiveness and reconciliation.  He is concerned about be called to account for this:

Vlok was minister of law and order from 1986-1989, when an estimated 30,000 people were detained. He ruled over the security forces, who were known for their particularly vicious torture methods and elaborate cover-ups of their killings and abuses that they carried out with impunity.

South Africa had their gestapo, and Vlok ran it.  His punishment amounts to a paper slap.  In a way the pretense of justice is worse than its absence.  People thirsty for resolution are given mud and told to be glad and drink up.  While the Church leader targeted is happy with the result, the families of his other victims are not:

While Chikane said he forgave Vlok, the Khulumani Group, a support network for 55,000 victims of apartheid and their families, called Vlok’s trial a “charade” and that the awarding of suspended sentences to Vlok and his co-accused “has done nothing to build the faith of ordinary South Africans in its justice system.”

The passage of time should not have the power to grant clemency.  The idea that one must simply wait out responsibility for one’s crimes is diametrically opposed to a valid system of law and justice.

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3 Responses

  1. I was doing research for my next special on the hidden history of Puerto Rico and I can tell you that the secrets of the past, if not unearth and dealt with just end up encouraging the next generation of tyrants.

  2. amen!

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