Publication: Mail and Guardian Issued: Date: 2003-09-26 Reporter: Helene Passtoors Wepion

ANC Must End Apartheid Habits



Mail and Guardian

Date 2003-09-26


Hélène Passtoors Wépion

Web Link


Rumour-mongering was a highly successful tactic of the security forces of the apartheid regime to get rid of dedicated comrades.

Comrade Thami Zulu died after a murky internal "investigation" and the case was never properly solved. Other prominent comrades paid with their lives for witch-hunts inside the movement, often because of a lack of verification and common sense. Some leaders bear responsibility, and the most honest ones have admitted it, fortunately.

Yes, some of these were due to the spirit of the times. But please, let those things be of the past and no longer muddle our dignity and wisdom.

In my opinion it was irresponsible of City Press to publish allegations that National Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka was a spy. I was happy to learn that the Sunday Times editor did not want anything to do with them, and that the Mail and Guardian carried articles by Mondli Makhanya ("Trial by rumour", September 19) and John Daniel ("Spies, suspicions and accountability", September 12).

I don't know what the story of Ngcuka's passport is. But I do know ex-detainees and prisoners had to be debriefed extensively because in detention many strange things happened. People were pushed to insanity, ending up in psychiatric wards and inadvertently saying or doing things they had never stood for.

Some policemen did not shred all our files, but put some things in their pockets for possible later use for smearing, blackmailing or saving their own skins.

In 1996, Rapport published two "letters" I wrote in detention, during a nervous breakdown, to an imaginary civilian victim of a high-profile Umkhonto weSizwe attack I was involved in that came off badly, resulting in unwanted civilian casualties.

I don't need to tell you how the interrogators worked on me to get me to write these letters. They contained an indirect confession of my involvement, but even in those dark times such "evidence" was not admitted in court because it followed months of solitary confinement.

Despite this, in the 1990s a shadowy policeman almost got another trial going. Fortunately, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) gave us all amnesty. But now there is no TRC and the "charges" against Ngcuka are different.

What a mess and what a bad image all this creates abroad! Yes, the impression is that Ngcuka has mixed politics with normal legal procedures. But Deputy President Jacob Zuma will simply have to give decent explanations.

South Africa and the African National Congress cannot afford to have people in high office facing "prima facie evidence" of profiteering.

There is still a lot of cleaning up to do inside the ANC. People are in positions where they shouldn't be, and I am not only talking about possible former impimpis.

In those cases dirty linen should be hung out to dry, for all to see. For the sake of democracy, accountability and openness, there should be no more whispering and lingering doubts.

The ANC should put an end to the bad habits of difficult times.

With acknowledgements to Hélène Passtoors Wépion and the Mail and Guardian.