SACC calls on De Klerk to retract his apartheid remarks and apologise

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The South African Council of Churches has called on FW de Klerk to retract his recent statement that apartheid was not a crime against humanity and apologise.

SACC secretary general Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana said a statement by the FW de Klerk Foundation that apartheid was not a crime against humanity, but a Soviet propaganda ploy, cannot go unchallenged by the SACC.

Mpumlwana said apartheid was not only a crime, but was more than that.

“It was a gross sin against the image of God in the humanity of black South Africans, generally called non-whites, who were legally treated as sub-human, and without the basic rights due to normal human beings.

“Apartheid made all South African whites and their future generations, its beneficiaries in superabundance. Even so, the victims of apartheid accepted a magnanimous approach that does not pursue retribution and wholesale racial blame.

“But for the De Klerk Foundation, representing as it does, the last leader of that apartheid regime, to tell us, in blind acquiescence to its patron De Klerk, that apartheid was no crime against humanity, but a Soviet propaganda ploy, is an insult to the millions of South Africans who suffered apartheid, and a slap in the face of those who seek justice, peace and universal progress for all,” Mpumlwana said.

He said both De Klerk and his foundation are at odds with the spirit of the Nobel Peace Prize of which De Klerk is a recipient.

Categorisation of apartheid

Mpumlwana continued that if the De Klerk Foundation suggests that the international categorisation of apartheid as a crime against humanity was a false propaganda by the Soviet Union, then it means that the De Klerk Foundation is saying the SACC, that campaigned under God to humanise South Africa against apartheid, was a Soviet propaganda pawn.

“It suggests that the apartheid government’s charges through the Schlebusch and Eloff Commissions, that the work of Dr Beyers Naude’s Christian Institute and the Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s South African Council of Churches for social justice and national reconciliation against apartheid was not Christian work.

“Their position would justify the 1988 bombing of both the SACC’s Khotso House and Khanya House of the Catholic Bishops Conference.

“It justifies the banning and banishment of the more than 2 000 citizens of all races between 1950 and 1990 through the provisions of the wholly unjust Suppression of Communism Act; the detentions without trial for torture, often in extremity, resulting as it often did, in brain damage and death, such as was suffered by Steve Biko, shackled, naked and stripped of all dignity - indeed reminiscent of the very death of Christ, naked and stripped of his dignity, for the sake of the truth,” he said.

READ | EFF wants forensic inquiry to probe De Klerk's role in apartheid killings

Mpumlwana said De Klerk’s utterances reminded them of the murders of anti-apartheid activists by the brutal apartheid security system of Ahmed Timol, Neil Aggett, Onkgopotse Tiro, Steve Biko, Griffiths and Victoria Mxenge, Mapetla Mohapi and countless others.

“Let them ask the maimed like Judge Albie Sachs, and Father Michael Lapsley. And the De Klerk Foundation has the temerity to say this was not a crime against humanity. Are they naive, blind, or simply malicious and just unable to fathom the grave impact of apartheid, just because we don’t make big of it today?” he asked.

Forceful removals

Mpumlwana asked if apartheid was not a crime against humanity, then either the De Klerk Foundation is suggesting that it is no crime to forcibly remove helpless people under the barrel of a gun, the threat of vicious dogs, and the might of bulldozers, from the homes where they had invested all they could.

“Or maybe the De Klerk Foundation is suggesting that these people were no human beings, for how else could this be no crime against humanity? If anybody doubts that apartheid was a crime against humanity, read Father Cosmos Desmond’s The Discarded People; and take time to watch the non-Soviet documentary Last Grave at Dimbaza.

“Let them raise Bishop David Russell from his grave and ask him for the cause of his extended fast on the steps of St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town. Let them ask the people of District Six who were uprooted 54 years ago almost to the day, and of Sophiatown whose settled homes and thriving businesses were broken up by apartheid, which sadistically renamed Sophiatown Triomf - the triumph of a moral crime! Think of other sites of discarded people - Limehill, Kuruman, Morsgat, Itsoseng, Stinkwater, Sada, Linge, and many more,” Mpumlwana said.

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