South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) have charged the apartheid era Minister of Law and Order, Adriaan Vlok, and his Police Commissioner, Johann van der Merwe, with the attempted murder of Reverend Frank Chikane.
The attempted assassination (by poison) took place in the closing years of the apartheid regime in the late 80s.
Now Vlok, along with a host of other apartheid security chiefs (Van der Merwe reportedly is not included), are pointing accusatory fingers at apartheid's last President and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, FW de Klerk.
Revealing submissions made to the NPA in recent days apparently highlight the feeling that Vlok and company are tired of shouldering the blame for a host of "dirty tricks" aimed at securing apartheid rule.
The accused claim that FW de Klerk, and his cabinet, knew about the attempt to murder Chikane.
This is not a new claim. During the proceedings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), Vlok and others refused to apply for a blanket amnesty from prosecution. Vlok argued that he was merely carrying our state-orders.
De Klerk's response was that he did not know about many of the horrendous crimes that were revealed. In essence, De Klerk was arguing against the view that the apartheid buck stopped at his door.
Instead, he found refuge in the negotiated dishonesty that he did not know and, therefore, could not have ordered many of the crimes against humanity that took place under his leadership.
But life is an unavoidable balance. And the herrenvolk are turning on one another in a manner that Kierkegaard would have foretold.
Vlok washed Chikane's feet last year. The act is supposed to be one of contrition.
To be more theologically exact, it was a Christian plea for forgiveness.
Chikane, who is currently the Director-General in the office of President Thabo Mbeki, may have even been moved to forgive Vlok. But that won't be enough for the NPA who must uphold the rule of law.
This is going to be an interesting case because it re-opens the debate about apartheid, confrontation, the rule of law, reconciliation, and of course, forgiveness.
The contentous thread that ties all of these together is the politics of race in post-apartheid South Africa.
Already some white South Africans have been venting their agitated opinions in varying forums. I just read an article by Marianne Thamm, a white columnist, entitled "Owning History".
In the article Thamm correctly points out that whites have to deal with the past and confront those who, in ther names, carried out vile attacks on Black South African.
To be fair, several whites did take time out to comment that there is a need to do this and, thereby, "Own History". But, as you will see below, the usual denial-default, a universal feature of whiteness, is the dominant reaction.
Here are a few selected snippets from the comments section of Thamms article:
I beg for no forgiveness (19/07/2007 09:44)
I refuse to become a second class citizen for something that finished when I left primary school,I wont sit around feeling guilty for someone elses sins, I have better things to do.Vlok and co never did the TRC and therefore should go to prison, they had their chance and they refused it, bring back the death penalty for them and all the "New" crimes that now take place in the "New" South Africa.Reconciliation is a thing of the past revenge is the new order of the day. - me
The past (19/07/2007 09:52)
So, how far back do you want to go? 50, 100, 150 years ago? 350? Let us contrast black vs white 350 years ago, to now: Think about scietific knowledge, building technology, seafaring ability, living standards, writing, Take a minute, and compare 350 years ago, to now. Not for a minute do I suggest that nothing bad has come out of colonisation, but I do insist that the good also be acknowledged. - KoosS
Owning history (19/07/2007 09:55)
Let them be prosecuted, even though its taken so long. But the government should not forget to prosecute all the other rapists, murderers & criminals currently in SA today. Blacks and whites fought for their own beliefs during apartheid, who is to say which side is right!! Black people now feel the world owes everything to them. Througout history black people have always been poor slaves, the white people have always been so called masters. Things have changed all over the world, not just in SA. - dev
While Rome burns (19/07/2007 11:48)
It just amazes me how emotions can get carried away so easily from logic. It is easier to deflect the attention of the public away from critical issues in South Africa. More people have been murdered in SA over 10 years than over the entire Apartheid era!! And where is the balance? I seriously doubt anyone in this country actually understands what went on at Quattro Camp etc. Marianne, please read some books on the Breshnev doctrine and what plans they had in store for Africa!! You will puke - JP
History repeat itself (19/07/2007 12:18)
'History is written by the victorious'. Not like we had a revolution of sort, but the ANC government is writing a history for the whites, once again as the 'bad guys', shame and guilt. Black people noble and nice. History will repeat itself. Racism will be discovered by the black population...in due course. Minorities will feel it... - Henri
Should we really apologise for Apartheid? (19/07/2007 12:49)
I was still a teenager when apartheid ended. Should I apologise for something I had no control over? If your parent killed some one else, should you be punished for their actions? Should you be held responsible and should you be made to feel guilty? I dont think so, we are not our parents! - proudly white
**The last comment is my favorite. It says to me:"I am white but had nothing to do with all the stuff and privileges I inherited. My parents are to be blamed. They were the violent and brutal theives. But I am still proud to be white!"
What a turn from the Christian ethic of "honor thy parents" hey. Where is all that religious zeal and defense of the volk and its Christian values?
Instead, the inheritors are turning on their parents and denying their religious dictum that "the sins of the father fall on the children."
It seems that post-apartheid white redemption is found not in confessing and "owning" sins but rather in flat-out denial.
And all that stolen wealth, structural privilege, and brutal whiteness, is similarly redeemed in calculated denial.