Sentletse Diakanyo
Sentletse Diakanyo

FW de Klerk: Did he betray national reconciliation?

In 1992 the New York Times reported: “When he was still a policeman and not yet a mass murderer, Barend Strydom once stole a black man’s head from the scene of a highway wreck and posed for a snapshot of himself, the white avenger, holding the grisly prop aloft in one hand and a butcher’s knife in the other.”

Barend Hendrik Strydom, inspired by his intense hatred of black people — a character flaw that appeared equally distributed in the Strydom household and his right-wing fanaticism — in 1988 went on a murderous spree in Pretoria, killing eight innocent black people; whose crime was nothing but the colour of their skin.

It was reported at the time that Strydom, after being arrested and told that he had killed five or six people, replied: “I shot badly.” It is clear that his sinister intentions were to perhaps wipe out the entire black race; a feat he could not achieve on his own, but something that resonated loudly among the extreme right-wing nutheads — the same nutheads who planned to drive black people out of the country.

Barend Strydom’s father, Nic Strydom, had prided himself in corrupting his son’s young mind by implanting the seed of racial hatred in him. The older Strydom said: “Blacks are not human beings according to the Bible, and many books I have read, and in my eyes they are animals. Many books Hendrik and I have read state, among other things, that Jews of today are not whites, blacks are animals and all whites stem from the Israelites.”

This is the same racist nonsense that Strydom repeated when testifying recently at the Boeremag trial. He was asked by the prosecutor if he still believed that black people were not human, and the racist nuthead replied: “My view is the same.”

It was evident in 1992 when FW de Klerk released this murderous thug, during the release of political prisoners, that he was acting in bad faith and going against everything that had been agreed between the Nationalist government and the ANC. The ANC at the time condemned such moves by De Klerk that sought to equate Barend Strydom’s premeditated criminal acts with Robert McBride’s political misdemeanours. De Klerk owes the nation an explanation to the reasons that informed his ill-advised decision.

At the time most black people accepted De Klerk’s political indiscretion in the interest of national reconciliation. However, their tolerance and forgiveness were ridiculed by right-wing imbeciles like Strydom, the Boeremag and those who continue to harbour nonsensical notions of white supremacy.

It is puzzling how there has not been widespread condemnation of Strydom’s racist remarks that black people are animals, as there was when Julius Malema vowed to take up arms and kill for Zuma. On one hand, this lack of condemnation, particularly by the media, may perhaps be indicative of a concerted effort not to give credence to such moronic beliefs and waste valuable media space; on the other hand, it may suggest widespread acceptance of such views about black people. The manner in which the media and ordinary people have responded to such offensive and racist utterances, born of extreme right-wing beliefs, is not consistent with how everyone rallied together to condemn Malema and Vavi. This leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

It is a demonstration of sheer arrogance on the part of Barend Strydom to continue to maintain links with extreme right-wing groups, in possible breach of his amnesty provisions. Even when it is quiet clear that in 2008 there still exist pockets of right-wing extremism, there are those who have the audacity to ask of those who had been traumatised by the remorseless brutality of apartheid to “just move on”.

When such beliefs about black people still exist, it presents an ever-greater task for those who stand on the side of non-racialism, non-sexism and equality to bring our wounded society back to normality. If as a nation we are to progress towards non-racialism, we must unreservedly condemn and ostracise these extremists from society. Our actions today leave a heritage for future generations; it is therefore essential that we, all of us, black, white, coloured, Indian and Chinese, promote those ideals for which Nelson Mandela was prepared to die.