De Kock quietly leaves prison

2015-02-01 15:00

Eugene de Kock (66) is already a free man.

A source at the Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Pretoria told City Press’ sister newspaper Rapport that De Kock was taken out of prison earlier this week before his parole was announced.

“He is definitely not in the prison any more,” the source said.

His current whereabouts are unknown.

Political analyst Dr Piet Croucamp, who has been campaigning for De Kock’s release over the years, did not want to elaborate on where De Kock was.

He said he had already found a job for the apartheid-era killer.

“We planned everything thoroughly. He is coming in for a soft landing,” Croucamp said.

He said De Kock now wanted to lead the normal life he had never had.

“For the first 20 years of his (adult) life, he killed people. The next 20 years were spent in prison. He is an adult, but he doesn’t know a normal life. It is his intention to move on.”

It was a secret meeting two years ago between De Kock and Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) veterans looking for a missing comrade that paved the way for De Kock’s successful parole application.

During this meeting, De Kock provided valuable information that led the veterans to the door of a former police official who had been involved with the disappearance. In doing so, the mystery was resolved after decades.

Croucamp said that meeting – and many similar ones that followed – were “absolutely crucial” in securing De Kock’s release.

“The empathy the MK guys have for De Kock exists on an incomprehensible level.”

Within two weeks of the first meeting, De Kock made good on his promise to help find information that would bring peace to the

86-year-old mother who had been searching for answers for decades.

“She sat at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission day after day, listening to evidence in the hope that she would hear her child’s name, but without any success.

“Two weeks [after De Kock became involved] we could say to her: ‘We don’t have a body or bones, but we can tell you what happened with your child – the story of his last hours.”

Croucamp said De Kock didn’t have first-hand information in all cases, but could help by contacting former colleagues and convincing them to give the information that would provide closure to the victims’ families.

He said former security police officials had not wanted to apply for amnesty at the time, because they did not trust the system; they were “afraid of ending up like De Kock”.

“They are now prepared to help when you explain to them you are not interested in prosecution but only want to tell an auntie what happened to her child.”

Hours after De Kock’s parole was announced, Beeld visited Vlakplaas.

The department of public works, which owns the site, is in the process of turning Vlakplaas – the scene of some of the apartheid police’s most brutal crimes – near Erasmia, southwest of Pretoria, into an apartheid museum.

The farmyard was deserted, apart from security officers Jonas Mmokela and Vutomi Siweya – who let Beeld in through high steel gates leading into an untidy yard.

“It’s not all bad here,” Mmokela said as he showed the Beeld team around.

“After five in the afternoon, we listen to birds. When we patrol at night, it’s dead quiet.”

“De Kock was not the only [killer],” Mmokela said as he pointed out the cells where anti-apartheid victims, uncertain of their fate, were locked up inside four bare walls.

Siweya had a “phablet” (tablet phone) in his hand and was aware of the news about De Kock’s parole.

“We may not have forgotten, but we must forgive. It’s a good thing De Kock left. He is an old man. Let’s hope he’s a changed man,” said the 24-year-old Siweya.

He was surprised to hear it had been De Kock’s 66th birthday on Thursday.

“Well, isn’t that a nice birthday present?”

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