I felt sorry for him - slain MK soldier's sister after sitting next to Eugene de Kock

2016-05-16 14:51
Eugene de Kock spotted in Franschoek by SABC's Jacques Steenkamp

Eugene de Kock spotted in Franschoek by SABC's Jacques Steenkamp

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Cape Town – A writer, whose underground MK soldier brother was abducted, tortured and killed, said it was a surreal moment when Eugene de Kock ended up sitting next to her at Franschhoek Literary Festival.

Palesa Morudu told News24 that both she and the apartheid-era death squad leader ended up crying quietly during Friday’s discussion on transgressions made in the name of politics.

In that moment, she "felt sorry for him to be singled out for being Prime Evil".

De Kock, former Vlakplaas commander and apartheid assassin, was released from jail just over a year ago.

Radio personality Redi Tlhabi hosted the discussion with Anemari Jansen, author of Eugene de Kock: Assassin for the State, and Stanley Manong, who wrote If We Must Die.

Morudu, who is also managing director of Cover2Cover Books, did not register when Manong told her beforehand that Tlhabi was chatting to De Kock.

"I sat at the back with my friend and in walked Eugene, and he just sat down next to me. What was most surreal was that it was a conversation about him and what he did, he was there and only a few of us knew he was there," she said.

'Two of us crying'

As the talk moved to killings, Morudu said she saw him crying.

"He doesn’t know who I am and he is the man who did terrible things and he is just broken right there. And nobody else in the room can see that," she recounted on Monday.

"I have a history with this, so I am having a quiet cry on my own. There are the two of us crying in this room full of people."

In a bizarre moment, someone in the audience said they did not know his whereabouts and wanted to keep it that way.

De Kock had a slight smile on his face at the weird question, Morudu said.

She had always wondered what she would do when she met him.

Her mother had met him in prison several years earlier, desperate to close the chapter on her missing son Moss Morudu.

De Kock had been assisting the NPA's missing persons’ task team to locate the remains of people who went missing during apartheid.

'I am glad I could help'

The team concluded in 2013 that her brother was abducted, tortured and killed by the Northern Transvaal Security Police in late 1987.

She said her family were brave for spending time with De Kock to get finality.

"They are very sure how they feel about him. They feel he was able to help and therefore, it was good for us to all to move on and not feel any animosity for one individual."

Presented with the opportunity on Friday, she did not know whether to approach him or walk away.

"I went to him and just told him who I was. I told him my mom had come to see him in prison. He remembered the case and said, 'I am glad I could help'. Then we parted ways."

While not forgiving him for the atrocities of the time, she said she felt sorry for him, in a "space between forgiveness and pity".

'He carried the blame for the entire system'

"He is alone and he carried the blame for the entire system and he is the only person who was ready to pay… I felt sorry for him to be singled out for being Prime Evil," she said.

"There were personalities involved in protecting and perpetuating the system. He was their foot soldier and he carried the blame for the entire system."

Having penned her experience of meeting him in a column on Monday, published by Daily Maverick, she said she felt calm and collected.

"If there is anything that Eugene can do, it is to help other people and give closure to families."

The former South African police colonel was spotted at the festival on both Friday and Saturday, prompting outrage and confusion as to who had invited him.

Annie Olivier, of Jonathan Ball publishers, confirmed on Monday that neither she nor Tafelberg publishers had invited de Kock to the Sunday Times award function on Saturday night.

Jansen’s book was longlisted for the Alan Paton award and she got permission from the organisers to attend with her, Olivier said.

Read more on:    franschhoek literary festival  |  eugene de kock  |  cape town

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