'I forgive you' – Worcester bomb survivor

2016-09-26 08:08
Worcester bombing victim Olga Macingwane. (Lerato Sejake, News24)

Worcester bombing victim Olga Macingwane. (Lerato Sejake, News24)

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Johannesburg - One of the 67 people who survived the 1996 Worcester bombing says forgiving the man who nearly killed her was one of the most difficult things she has done.

"Forgiving is a process. I am not perfect, I am also a sinner," Olga Macingwane said at the Oase Gemeente church in Klerksdorp, North West, on Friday.

Stefaans Coetzee handed his Comrade’s Marathon medal to her during a church service. He ran the race this year to honour the 67 people injured and four killed by his bomb.

After the medal handover, the two held each other and sobbed on one another’s shoulders. 

Coetzee walked back to his seat, fighting to hold back his tears. 

Macingwane said the day she forgave Coetzee, she never expected anything in return.

"It is a huge shock to receive the medal. I never expected Stefaans to do this for me. I am happy and lost for words," she said. 

She said she had healed and could finally move on after forgiving Coetzee.

Nearly 20 years later, the 57-year-old is still reminded of the bomb blast at the Worcester mall, on December 24, 1996, whenever she goes to Shoprite. Both her legs were badly injured.

She needs to see a doctor monthly and cannot stand for a long time.

Macingwane first met Coetzee at the Pretoria prison in 2009. 

Coetzee, Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) members Mark Hammond and Jan "Voetbol" van der Westhuizen, with whom he had formed the group Boere Aanvals Troepe, planted three bombs in the shopping centre. Coetzee was just a few months shy of his 17th birthday at the time.

Coetzee's bomb was placed near a pharmacy. Another was planted in a Christmas tree. Coetzee said two of the three bombs went off. The trio did not remain to witness the devastation left behind. Bodies were strewn across the centre.

Nothing to offer

The soft-spoken woman said when she met Coetzee, she asked him what he would do if she forgave him.  

"I was touched when he responded, 'Olga I don't want to lie but I've got nothing to offer you'," she recalled him saying in reply. 

In order to move on and find peace, Macingwane decided to forgive him.

Speaking to News24 after the service, 38-year-old Coetzee said her forgiveness was one of the most treasured gifts he had received. 

"As a young boy the most special words were 'I love you'. But when Olga forgave me, I realised that the most beautiful words were 'I forgive you'," he said.

He said he deserved the death penalty. Macingwane's gesture encouraged him to seek forgiveness from the rest of his victims.

He is currently involved in a project called "Feed a child", which provides meals for more than 10 000 children a day.

"I want to spread the love of God wherever I go and continue to walk this journey with Him," he said.

Worcester bomb-planter, Stefaans Coetzee, running the 2016 Comrades Marathon (Supplied to News24)

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