2009-03-23 : In SA not all murders are equal

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2009-03-23 : In SA not all murders are equal

Postby GOSA » Wed, 2009-04-15 13:35

Published: 3/23/2009 19:27:34
In SA not all murders are equal

Andrew Kenny's column appears in The Citizen every Tuesday.

When should murderers go free and when should they stay in prison?
Last week the Pretoria High Court dismissed parole for Clive
Derby-Lewis. To get a perspective, let me list four famous slaughters
in our recent past.

n June 1986. Robert McBride, of the ANC's armed wing, MK, planted a
bomb at Magoo's restaurant in Durban. It killed three innocent women
and injured 69 people. This was a month after the National Party
government had published a white paper to abolish the Pass Laws,
perhaps the most hated of all apartheid laws, and the cause of the
Sharpeville massacre in 1960.

n November 1988. Barend Strydom, claiming to lead the "Wit Wolwe",
shot dead seven innocent people and injured 15 more in Strijdom Square
in Pretoria.

n April 1993. Derby-Lewis conspired with Janusz Walus, who did the
killing, to murder Chris Hani, head of the South African Communist

n July 1993. Letlapa Mphahlele, a commander of the PAC's armed wing,
Apla, ordered the massacre at St James Church in Cape Town. Apla men
with guns and grenades invaded a church at prayer, killed 11 innocent
people and wounded 57 more, including a Russian visitor who lost both
legs and an arm.

Strydom and McBride were imprisoned but released in 1992. Both
received amnesty from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Derby-Lewis was refused amnesty. Mphahlele did not apply for it.

All four committed despicable, cowardly attacks on unarmed civilians
(except that in the St James Church, one of the congregation pulled
out his gun and returned fire, which made the cowardly attackers run
away). Three of the four killed innocent people at random. Only one,
Derby-Lewis, targeted a specific political figure. Only Derby-Lewis is
in prison. The other three walk free.

Derby-Lewis and Mphahlele killed in 1993, after apartheid had
effectively ended, when talks were in progress to bring about majority
rule in South Africa and everyone could participate.

Mphahlele has written a book, Child of the Soil, telling how he
ordered the slaughter of the innocents in the church.

So the man who killed a selected politician in 1993 has spent 15 years
in prison and now has been refused parole. The man who killed 11
innocent people in the same year has not spent a day in prison and is

Such is justice in South Africa. Murdering powerful politicians is
wrong; murdering ordinary people is fine.
What have YOU done for YOUR rights today?
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