The smell of death still disgusts me - Eugene de Kock

2015-07-15 14:49
Annemarie Jansen (Dirk Lotriet, News24)

Annemarie Jansen (Dirk Lotriet, News24)

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Bloemfontein - The author of a biography on Eugene de Kock on Tuesday described the notorious apartheid era killer as "a perfect gentleman" who was "still disgusted by the smell of death".

Annemarie Jansen, author of Eugene de Kock: Assassin for the State, was speaking at the Vryfees arts festival in Bloemfontein.

“Some people told me he enjoyed killing," she said. When she asked De Kock about this, he told her that people give off a distinctive scent when you are about to kill them.

"To this day, that scent, which oozes from every pore of the victim’s body, disgusts me,” he told her.

'Perfect gentleman'

She said the former Vlakplaas commander, who was recently released on parole after 22 years behind bars, "made a completely different impression than what one would expect from an apartheid era police torturer and assassin".

De Kock was an intelligent person, "someone totally different from the personality of Prime Evil which we have met in the media", Jansen said.

“He is the perfect gentleman. Soft spoken, but always in charge,” she told News24.

“Women, particularly, were mesmerised by him. Women tend to develop a fascination with men in prison. Over the years, he has received literally hundreds of marriage proposals.

“Myself? I believe if you write a biography you have to like the person you are writing about. De Kock is a person with good and bad in him, just like anybody else. In his case, these elements of good and bad are in the extreme.

“He is very well informed person and an excellent conversationalist.”

She believes he became the notorious killer who was sent to prison because he was a "psychological product of his time".

"Several things contributed. Each of these on its own can’t make a man a deadly killer, but in combination they certainly contributed. He grew up in a patriarchal society. He stuttered from the age of four and was left-handed, but was forced to use his right hand.

“In 1968, as a very young man, he was thrown into a full-scale warfare situation as a member of Koevoet, the paramilitary police unit that fought in the bush war. And from there he was immediately transferred to Vlakplaas, the headquarters of the South African Police counterinsurgency unit.

"When he became the commander of Vlakplaas in 1995, the damage was already done. But while others become killing machines, De Kock has never been a psychopath," she said.

Still bitter

According to Jansen, De Kock is still very bitter about what he describes as "treachery".

“He believes he was made a scapegoat, while others got off scot-free. He is still very bitter about the treachery. There are people who were in high places who still dodge acknowledging their part in the past and who protect each other.

“There was no chance that the command structure of the SA Police did not know what was going on, what all the money spent at Vlakplaas was used for. There were functions at Vlakplaas and these high-ranking officers attended. There was a lot of drinking and braaiing. I can’t believe that they could not realise what was going on.”

She said that De Kock is emotionally the strongest person that she knows. “He was in solitary confinement for 31 months, where he was locked up with only his own thoughts for 23 hours a day. He did get suicidal thoughts, but he didn’t break. Today he is still a reasonably balanced person.”

She says in jail he was a loner with no gang affiliation. “He only made three or four good friends in jail. He told me he gave himself five minutes every day to ponder over the things that could not be changed, and then he switched off.”

She says that while today De Kock has more freedom than he had in C-Max, his movement is still very limited. “He is subject to extremely strict parole conditions for the next two years. He is guarded and kept under wraps.

“His relationship with his two sons is difficult. Michael was four-months-old and Eugene seven when he held them in his arms for the last time. He does not know how to be a parent.

“He has a job and is trying to go on with his life. But he must still know a lot about people he once worked with. I don’t know how much, but there must be unresolved issues.”

Read more on:    eugene de kock
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