Worcester bomber now 'a beacon of hope'

2015-06-30 21:13
(File, Khulumani.net)

(File, Khulumani.net)

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Cape Town - The transformation that Worcester bomber Daniel Stephanus “Stefaans” Coetzee has undergone in prison acts a beacon of hope for living harmoniously in a democratic South Africa, the Restitution Foundation said on Tuesday.

Coetzee, 18 at the time, was part of a group of far rightwingers that planted bombs around a supermarket in Worcester on Christmas Eve in 1996. Two of the bombs went off, killing four people and injuring 67.

According to Beeld, he is serving a 40-year-jail term and is set to be released on parole in July.

Foundation COO Deon Snyman told News24 that Coetzee had benefited greatly from restorative justice processes and believed he had undergone a “very significant” transformation.

“I think he became sort of a white South African who really is a beacon of hope of transformation and somebody who is prepared and ready to engage with the huge complexities of living in the new South Africa, and developing a non-racial view,” he said.

“In that sense, he is an inspiration of somebody who came from a very racist background and [who shows it] is possible to take full responsibility for what he has done and doesn’t put blame on somebody else.”


Coetzee was interacting with prisoners of all races and it sounded as though he wanted to identify with the new South Africa, Snyman said.

The bombing was a catalyst that brought residents together and led to the establishment of the Worcester Hope and Reconciliation Process. Snyman stressed that the Khulumani Support Group had been instrumental in the restorative work between Coetzee and his victims.

“We appreciate it is a very complex thing and we can never press people to forgive. Some people lost children and other people really suffered a lot. They are not necessarily in the same space as people who had lesser injuries.”

Snyman believed some positive developments had resulted from the suffering, pain, and human rights abuse.

“It got us to a point where we said we don’t want to be proponents of division and hate because we see what that led to and how people are suffering,” he said.

Spreading a message

The foundation and its partners were working with residents to take responsibility and focus on the national development plan (NDP), with regards to housing, education, substance abuse, and employment.

It was excited to consult with an NDP official in August.

“We are tired of being demoralised by people focusing on all the negative things in our society. We as a community want to spread the message that if we want a better Worcester, we need to make it happen.”

Read more on:    cape town  |  crime

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