Friday, June 20, 2014

Pain, Pain, Go Away …I Wonder How Much You Care !!

Pain, Pain Go Away!
When you lie to me, you are not protecting me

You are creating a dark cave in my soul

Pain, pain, go away … Don’t come back another day!

When you don’t protect me, you are not letting me fight my own battles

You are showing me that I am not worthy of protection

Pain, pain, go away … Don’t come back another day!

When you are dishonest with me, you are not getting yourself out of trouble
You are digging a grave in my heart

Pain, pain, go away … Don’t come back another day!

When you lie to me

I have to wonder how much you care

When the TV and websites are more important than me

I have to wonder how much you care

When you procrastinate about little things I ask of you

I have to wonder how much you care

When you drink coffee with your friends while I work to pay the rent

I have to wonder how much you care

When your virtual relationship with another gets more attention than I do

I have to wonder how much you care

When I ask you to be open and you cover your tracks

I have to wonder how much you care

Pain, pain, go away … Don’t come back another day!

When you feel you need to tell me lies when I only want the truth

I have to wonder how much you care

When you allow your children to treat me like a leper

I have to wonder how much you care

Pain, pain, go away …Don’t come back another day!

It is only with truth, honesty and respect that I can live freely

Pain, pain, go away … Don’t come back another day!            © Dianne Lang

To those anonymous Blood Donors - Thank You for giving me Life!

My six medical specialists at my bedside in the UCH in London, UK 
Blood donors save lives!

I was walking in a 16th century market place in a little village north of London, called Hitchen, when a woman with a blood drop badge walked past me.   I stopped, turned around and hurried after her.  In those minutes it took for me to reach her and tap her on the shoulder, I remembered how unfriendly and private English people are as well as the number of rebuffs I had received from just saying good morning to another.  “Do I know you?” was the usual response to a simple greeting.
This time, I felt compelled to speak to the woman.  I had something very important to tell her.  I tapped her on the shoulder and she turned around.
“I hope you do not mind”, I said.  “But I have to speak to you.  Is that badge on your lapel because you donate blood?” I asked.
“Yes, it is”, she responded.
“I have never donated blood”, I said.  “I am the one who has received the gift of blood from others.  I just wanted to say thank you”.
She took a step back and looked at me for what seemed the longest time.  Her eyes welled up and a single tear started running down her cheek.
“Do you know that I have been donating blood for 20 years and no one has ever thanked me.  I have often wondered if my blood had ever saved anyone and who those people would be.  This is the first time I have met anyone who has received blood and thanked me for a donation”.
I fumbled in my bag to find a tissue, handing it too her so that she could wipe away her tears.  She took the tissue but did not bother to use it.  Instead, she started thanking me for making an ordinary day into a memorable experience.  I was humbled by her delight at what I had thought would be another “Do I know you?” experience.
I had been diagnosed, after many hospitalisations and blood transfusions, with a rare form of leukaemia which only affects 2 – 3 out of every 1 million people.   The twelve units of blood that I had received over the months when no one knew what was depleting my red blood cells, had given the medical profession time to find out what was wrong with me, and had given me life, over and over again. 
“This is the nicest form of cancer to have”, said the consultant.  “Just one round of chemotherapy and you will be better.  There is no cure, but we know how to manage this one”.
It was not one, not even two, but three cycles of chemotherapy and numerous blood transfusions again, only this time it was irradiated blood because I was on chemotherapy.  Still, I only managed to achieve partial remission which really just meant that there was still residual disease left in my bone marrow. Irradiated blood is required after chemotherapy to reduce graft vs host disease which is a substantial risk, especially after numerous blood transfusions.  I decided to come home to South Africa where I thought I would get the support that I needed from my family.
There are many stories that can be taken out of the bigger story, many dreams and hopes along the way on the journey with cancer that leave you alternating between hope and despair.  This story is one of many, and it is only about the importance of having blood donors who donate their blood so unselfishly and most of the time, without any recognition for their contribution, to save other people’s lives.
That first consultant, who said that this was the nicest cancer to have, certainly did not know what it is like to live with a rare disease that no one understands, and that ninety-nine percent of all haematologists and oncologists will probably never see in their lifetime of medicine.
After many, many months of looking for a cure in the pot of gold on the other side of every rainbow – only to find that the pot of gold was not there – I found a physician, in Bloemfontein, who was prepared to go the extra mile to find something that would give me quality of life.  With fourteen ampules of blood sent to the research laboratory in Pretoria, we had another answer.  I had an absent immune system.  Because I have no building blocks in my immune system, there is no cure.  I would probably not die from the leukaemia, but from an opportunistic disease as simple as the common cold.
The good news was that there was something that could be done to improve and lengthen my life.  Stabilized human serum, containing the immune system of other people, could be extracted from donated blood and infused into me.  This has to be done every two weeks, because within two weeks the immune system of others will have become depleted again.   For the rest of my life, however long that may or may not be, I am totally reliant on blood donors.
There are no words to convey the gratitude I have for every blood donor.  Thank you for giving me life!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Open Letter to Eugene de Kock

Dear Eugene

I don’t know for sure how long it has been that I have been yelling for you from your corner.  I have not even met you, but I have done an enormous amount of research and reading about the events and circumstances that put you in prison.   I have also heard many good stories about you from people who have met you, who have worked with you, and who know you.  There are also many comments that have been written by members of our group which show me the kind of man you are.  You certainly are a dignified man who has integrity and I envy those who have had the honour of meeting you in person.  
There are also a lot of stories that I have been told in private about the conditions and the situations that surrounded the events that led up to your imprisonment.  These stories will remain a secret in my heart until the day I die.   It is from all of these sources that I have got to know the kind of person you are.  It is from these sources that I keep motivated and determined to see that you get, not only a parole, but a Presidential Pardon.  A Presidential Pardon is the only fitting thing that should happen for you.
Eugene, do you know that you have given me many, many hours of reflection and many times, the sole reason why I force myself out of bed to get to my computer is you.  You have often given me the reason to keep fighting my own battle.  I want to see you free, even if it is only on television.  You see, Eugene,  my bucket list is not very long anymore, as I have done them all, but your name is still there and under your name is the attendance at the MFP (Moerse fokken party) when you get out of that prison.
I often feel discouraged, disappointed and impatient that your release is being hampered by red tape and reasons that seem to be political.  And when I feel like that, I can only imagine how you must feel…a thousand times worse.  That is when I pull myself together and begin to fight again and that fight gives me life and another reason to live.
I write this letter to you so that you know how much I care.  There are also hundreds of other people, of all skin colours, all creeds and all cultures that also want to see you released, so we can finally put the lid on the old South Africa.  It is my opinion that the only right thing that our government and our President can do, is to release you.
I also am in a kind of prison – I am trapped in the prison of a sick body and that stops me from having the freedom of choice to do what I want.  However, my spirit and my mind are not in prison and therefore I also soar free in my soul, heart, mind and spirit.   All I can offer you in way of comfort; is that no one, not one person, can take away the freedom of your mind and your spirit.
Be comforted by the fact that you are not forgotten.  You never will be, as long as there are the few stalwarts on our group who will champion your cause until their dying breath.   You are also in our prayers constantly.
May God surround you in His love.  May He give your heart contentment, your mind hope and your spirit freedom.

Have courage, my friend.  With love, Dianne 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

I can't write fiction...story not raunchy enough. I came last in the competition.

I see there is a competition for a short fiction story about sex and sensuality.  I love writing and can write screeds of things about human rights, psychology and philosophy, but have never written anything that lived only in my imagination.  In fact, I have only ever read three or four fiction novels, preferring to read non-fiction.   But the lure of the prize money for the “Adults Only” short sharp stories as one of the events at the National Arts Festival for next year is too tantalising to ignore.
I have been sitting for days, thinking about how to even begin a story that incorporates the requirements of sex/sensuality/culture and South Africa.  I really want to write a good story, but am stuck on how to make this story one that will not only win the competition, but will also turn the reader on; one that will make the reader feel horny.
I have asked all my friends for ideas, I put a request onto Facebook to ask what my Facebook friend’s sexual fantasies are, but was bitterly disappointed that the only responses I got are different words and variations of the same activity…cunnilingus.  Bearing in mind that I have always thought that the perfect man has a ten inch tongue, and can breathe through his ears, I don’t find that any of my friends can assist me in this writing task.   I have to find a plot, and then I have to have some raunchy sex thrown in with a good sprinkling of cross-cultural South Africa.   Here goes:

She looked across the room at him and felt a flutter in her stomach.  How many times had she looked at him when she was sure he was otherwise occupied, and she could continue with her secret life with him?   The sun was catching the silver strands of grey around his ears, as he stood at the podium, delivering another one of his political discourses.   He was the sole reason she had changed from psychology to political science as a major.   In every way he was wrong for her.   He was clearly an atheist, an older man, married, her professor, and with different cultural roots.   The oddest thing about him was his impeccable English, as though he has been to Public School in England, with surname like Malan.   She had been brought up to believe that anything vaguely white was the enemy.  Surnames like Botha, Malan or Van der Merwe were to be more feared than others with a more English sounding surname.  An Afrikaans surname depicted the worst brutality of the enemy.
Her mind drifted to the stories she had been told of the sacrifice of her parents, and their friends, made during the struggle for freedom for South Africa.    The very thought of telling her mother of her complete fascination with one of the enemy, sent shivers down her spine. But those shivers only enhanced the desire to be held in his arms.   What was the saying about forbidden fruit being more enticing than that which you could have?  Was the yearning for this professor only because he was forbidden fruit?  It could not be.  Most of the girls spoke about him between lectures, many speaking of his charisma, and his undeniable sexiness.  Were they also only interested because he was “forbidden fruit”?
How often had she fantasised that he was making love to her, gently and urgently; every moment of the love-making deliciously imagined.   She watches her day dreams that take her from the hunger that drives her to jump into his arms, her legs wrapped around his waist; to the soft nibble of his teeth on her lips until she responds to the hunger by her pushing her tongue into his mouth.  Their tongues collide in a never-ending feeling of exquisite delight; the desire to consume one another bordering on pain. 
Would he even notice her, one of almost 500 students sitting in the lecture hall?   How would she be able to satiate her hunger and lust for this man who represents everything that she cannot, and should not have?   If thoughts are behind everything created, as she had heard in philosophy class, then he would make contact with her.  She held the desire in her mind and used affirmations all day.   “He wants me…he wants me…he wants me…”, she repeated to herself quietly.   She was sure that he would deliberately pick her out of the students sitting in front of him and speak directly to her.  She would make a special effort to see if he would smile at her, if she smiled at him.  That would be the moment that she would know for certain that there was ‘something’ between the two of them.  Before she could start on her experiment the lecture was over, and the students were walking out.  He was still at his desk, packing away the overhead projector and rolling up the electrical cord, putting each piece of equipment into the space provided by the sculptured Styrofoam.
She squirmed in her seat, rubbing the tops of her legs together.  The delicious feeling between her legs was becoming a wanton craving to feel ‘his’ hands on her.  Her vagina started tingling as she felt herself get wet.  Heavens, she had never been so horny in her life!     
She watched the last few students leave the lecture hall.   His bags were packed, and he was starting to walk out when he turned his head.  His eyes fell upon her and he smiled. As their eyes met, her heart started to race.
 “Did you want to see me?” he asked.   “Come on down here”, he invited, beckoning to her.
“Um…yes…I was just thinking…”, she stammered as she tried to hastily pack her books and pen into her shoulder bag, all the time watching him.  One book slid down the outside of the shoulder bag, and she bent down to pick it up, fumbling and dropping it a few more times on the floor.   Her pen slipped out her hand and rolled down the aisle.   She could feel the heat moving from her chest to her face, her ears ringing from the furious beating of her heart.   Embarrassed by her awkwardness, she wondered what on earth she could say to him.   After months of dreaming of him, she was suddenly confronted not only by his smile, but by the invitation to come towards him.  In her haste to get to him, she tripped against the chair leg, dropping her books for the umpteenth time.   The pen is left to continue its roll towards the front of the hall.
She stumbled and then with super-human effort, picked up all her belongings, and walked sedately down the aisle, swinging her hips; towards her the object of her day and night dreams. 

Now how do I get from here in the story to the sex part? I sit staring at the computer screen while visualising different options and nothing I can think of makes the story real.  A friend pops in for a cuppa and I tell her my problem. 
She points to my book shelf and says, “There is a book that will give you some ideas”, as she gets up and fetches the book.  She opens it. “The New Sexuality, written by Dr BJ Cox”, she squeals with laughter, repeating the word ‘cox’ over and over.
“That isn’t going to help me”, I respond.  “That book must be about fifty years old”.  I am right.  It was printed in 1968.  I flip through the pages and see some pencil drawings of various postures that can be used during sex.  All the drawings are of fat females but the men are drawn with well-defined muscles and bodies.   It is a medical book that covers anatomy and the female/male sexual response.  There are more strange chapters such as incontinence during sex and the ideal coital positions for couples during pregnancy.   I mean honestly, do people still use words like coital, like copulating, and suffusing.   Not much help from that book.   I also don’t want to hear the Bible’s definition of marital sex, which my friend wants to tell me about.  “That Bible stuff will never make the reader horny”, I tell her.    But even before I get to the sex part of the story, I have got to get her and the professor to actually touch one another and it must be plausible.   Who on earth gets turned on by reading about vaginas and penis’s?   Perhaps I should use the words common to all or at least the words that are used in my family.   Would anyone know what an umthondo or an ibenze is?  Family words that every African would understand.   Or should I use words such as dick and pussy?  Dirty talk turns people on, so I guess I will be using the latter terminology.  I try again.

She walked up to him, completely flustered. 
“How can I help you?” he asked again.
And before she can gather her thoughts into a coherent whole, she hears herself telling him, “I can’t get you out of my head”.   With that one sentence, it all comes tumbling out.  “I can’t study.  I can’t eat.  I can’t sleep.  I can think of nothing but you.  I dream about you at night.  I fantasise about you during the day.  I want to feel your arms around me.  I want to kiss you and I want you to kiss me back … and I…” 
She stops to catch her breath as he walked around and behind her towards the door.  She stood still, shocked at what she had just confessed.  He reached the door and pulled it shut.  The Yale locks clicked loudly into place.  Slowly he turned to look at her, smiling and opening his arms to receive her.   She walked towards him, and suddenly she was in his arms.  She inhaled his aftershave as she put her face into his neck, her arms reaching up as she clung on for dear life.   There was no way she was going to let him get away from her now.  She wanted him, and she wanted him badly.  She wanted to feel his dick sliding into her pussy.  He started kissing her, his lips playing gently over hers; his tongue pushing her teeth apart and entering her mouth.  The delicious sensation in her lower belly intensified.    She responded with uninhibited movement of her tongue winding around his; nibbling, tasting, and feeling until he pulled away, and started licking and biting gently from her neck to her ear and back down again.   The shivers ran up and down her spine.  She wanted more, much…much more.  She pulled him down towards her so that she could reciprocate with her own tongue on his neck, breathing in the musky smell of his aftershave, sticking her tongue into his ear.  Their breathing become faster and more ragged…their movements more frantic.  Their hands moved wildly up and down one another’s body.  Not a word was spoken, although there were sounds of lust, heavy breathing and little sighs of contentment.
The clothing was inhibiting their need to be closer.    He pulled at her t-shirt and lifted it over her head.  In less than ten seconds he had her bra unhooked and was pulling the straps down her arms.  At the same time, she was attempting to loosen the buttons of his shirt, but her fingers where clumsy. 

Oh, fuck!  I have just seen that this competition has to be in by next week.  I do not have, what I thought was months, to enter.  The pressure is on to get to the sex part now.  How I wish I had had a varied and interesting sex life so that I could fill the pages with the how it feels and what I did and what he did.

He stepped back smiling, and started removing his own shirt.  She was by now standing naked from the waist up.  With a great deal of urgency, she started undoing the buttons on his Levi jeans, the belt already loosened.  She pulled his jeans down where they fell loosely around his ankles.  Grabbing his boxer shorts, she pulled them down where they folded upon the jeans that were still around his ankles.  She dropped to her knees.  Her face was level of his penis. 

No, ‘penis’ does not sound right, and ‘umthondo’ sounds even more foreign.  I will have to change that last sentence with a different description of that part of his anatomy.

Her face was now level with his cock.  She attentively and gently cupped his scrotum in her left hand, slowly moving the skin between her thumb and forefinger.  With her right hand, she took his shaft (now that is another description – maybe I could have used “trophy”) in her hand, and was stunned and flabbergasted at how flaccid it was.    This had never happened to her before.  All her previous partners had hard-on’s by the time she had got to this part of the process.  Somewhat shocked, but undaunted, she slowly took his flaccid dick into her mouth and started sucking gently, alternating by moving her tongue around the glans; (that is another word that won’t make someone horny) flicking the underside of his dick with her tongue.   With equal slowness, she took the whole of his dick in her mouth and sucked first gently and then with some vigour.  There was no corresponding response to her ministrations.  She sucked harder and changed tack with her free hand by rolling each ball, one over the other, between her fingers.  There was just no response.  She was shocked that his dick was not behaving as it should.   She did not have that much experience in oral sex, but the three men she had been with were already erect by the time she got her mouth anywhere near their  ‘umthondo’s’.   His dick was so soft and floppy that she could suck the entire thing right up to his belly, and hold it all in her mouth.  Her cheeks started getting painful from the amount of sucking she was doing.  Instead of being focused on the sexual act, she could feel the hard surface of the floor on her knees.  It was too distracting for her to continue.   So in desperation, she stood up and pulled her panties off.  
She grabbed his hand and directed it towards her wet pussy.   He opened the pussy lips with his fingers.  With shock, she realized that he had slid not one, but two fingers into her vaginal canal.  She squirmed, trying to move back and away from his hand, extracting his fingers with her own hand.    Quick as a flash, his hand moved back to her pussy and again he opened up the pussy lips.  He started rubbing her clit roughly with a back and forward movement.  She enjoyed soft, rhythmic and circular movements on her clip but what he was doing was bringing her down from horny heaven.    To make matters worse, he was shaking with excitement or fear.  She could not be sure why he was fumbling and shaking.   In this dream come true, she remembered an old joke.  Why do women love old gynaecologists? Because their hands shake!   No, it was not funny.  She did not find it funny at all.  She would never tell that joke again.  His continual rough scouring of her clit, in-between the shakes and trembling only served to make her clitoris over-sensitive and painful.   It did not feel good nor did it remotely turn her on.  With some irritation she moved away from his probing fingers, and again knelt down to take his member into her hands.  She started sucking his dick, alternating between soft and hard sucks, moving her mouth up the outside and then the underside of his dick. There was just no response.  Even her jaw was starting to ache.   
He reached down and put his hands under her arm, and lifted her up to her feet.  He carried her over to the desk and put her down so that she is sitting with her legs hanging over the side of the desk.  He spread her legs, lifting her skirt up around her waist.   Fumbling, he took his dick into his hand, masturbating himself rapidly while at the same time sucking hard on her nipples.   There was nothing gentle or tender in his attention to her nipples or the fumbling between her legs with his unoccupied hand.   She tried to move her hips further back on the desk in an attempt to protect herself from his uncouth treatment of her clitoris.   Suddenly, he grabbed her and pulled her closer to the end of the desk.  He lifted her legs and balanced them on his shoulders, her ankles looking like over-sided earrings on his ears.   There was much grunting while he attempted to stimulate himself by rubbing his dick up and down between her pussy lips.  Only now and again did his dick even touch her clitoris.  By this stage, she was so not into him, that she started counting the number of times he rubbed his dick against her.  She was wondering what on earth made her want him in the first place.  Her previous lovers were attentive, loving and they always had a hard-on.  Every six rubs, he attempted to push his penis into her.  Since her pussy was still wet, the situation became rather a slippery affair.   With all the huffing, puffing and pushing, trying to get his dick into her, she started sliding back on the smooth wooden desk, making contact between their sexual organs even more difficult to achieve.

Oh, fuck sake…where to from here?   And don’t tell me that if I can say “fuck” that this should be an easy story to write.  Fornication under the consent of the King!  That is where the word “fuck” comes from.    So far, I have the South African culture, the sex and the plot in the story.  All I have to do now is to find a suitable ending.  One of the things I hate the most about sex is when the man is either too drunk or too old to get, or even maintain, an erection.  It is definitely like trying to push marshmallows into a piggy bank.  I tell my friends that it is very frustrating when the clock is pointing to six o’clock and not 12 o’clock.  It is not funny to a white person, but it is very funny to a black; and only in South Africa.   Black South African’s have an amazing sense of humour when it comes to double meanings when talking about sex.   “Please use your pencil on my slate…show me your trophy…let me take your temperature”, are sentences all about sex.  Back to the story: 

Her one leg kept sliding off his shoulder, causing her to slide further and further towards the side of the desk.  He tried to hold her ankle with his shoulder bent towards his ear, which made her angry with herself for putting herself in this position.  While all the puffing and pushing, and trying to hold her legs up in the air, she got to the point where she has had enough.  “Stop please”, she said to him.  He did not hear and continued with his crazy monkey-like behaviour.   “Stop it”, she shouted louder, pushing him away from her with her hands and her legs.  She got her foot onto his chest, and gave him a mighty shove backwards.   With that, she slid off the desk onto the floor.  He could not maintain his balance with his pants around his ankles, and fell on top of her.  At that precise moment, the loud click of the Yale lock, and the banging of the bucket and mop against the door, sounded a warning that someone was coming.  It was the janitor using his master key.   
He saw a white arse between a pair of ebony legs.  “Hehake”, he said aloud.  The Professor tried to scramble to his feet while pulling up his trousers.  She gathered her clothes and dressed as fast as she could.  Without a word, she grabbed her bag of books and walked rapidly out the lecture hall.   The embarrassment, the sheer stupidity, the anger, and the disgust she felt for her lecturer and his stupid, horrid love-making, replaced every horny thought she had ever had about her lecturer.  How would she be able to continue going to his lectures after what had just happened?
It was time to change from political science to law.  Now that lecturer was definitely worth a try.

At last, it is finished.  I have reached three thousand five hundred and eighteen words.  The story has to be between three and five thousand words.  All I have to do now is to clean it up, check the grammar and punctuation, and submit it.  And then I will dream about what I will spend the prize money on.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Should Eugene de Kock be pardoned? I say YES !!!!!

Should the apartheid regime’s “Prime Evil” be released?

Ten years ago psychologist Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela wrote a book about the encounters she had with Eugene de Kock, head of apartheid South Africa’s death squad, when in Pretoria prison. She thinks he should be pardoned. 

New face of justice: along with many black South Africans, Pumla Godobo-Madikizela thinks Eugene de Kock should be freed. Photo: Bloomberg
New face of justice: along with many black South Africans, Pumla Godobo-Madikizela thinks Eugene de Kock should be freed. Photo: Bloomberg
Two South African men. Both white. Each played a significant role in upholding apartheid. Each intimately involved in killing other human beings in support of white supremacy. One I knew. One I didn’t.
Craig Williamson was a high-ranking officer of the much-feared Bureau of State Security (“Boss”). In 1977, in the guise of an anti-apartheid activist, he led me across the border from South Africa to Botswana when I escaped from house arrest. He then became one of the most successful double agents in history and badly undermined the assassinated Swedish prime minister Olof Palme’s efforts to assist anti-apartheid activity.
In 1980, after Williamson had been unmasked as an apartheid spy, he returned home a hero and went on to even higher office in South Africa as a member of the State President’s Council. He was also the hands-on architect of the killing by parcel bomb of two people I knew. Two heroes of the apartheid struggle. Both white. Both women.
One, a best friend, Jeanette Schoon (and her six-year-old daughter), splattered against the walls of their home in exile in Angola. The other, Ruth First, blown up in Mozambique. There were many others whose blood is on his hands who I didn’t know.
Williamson went before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 2000 and confessed to his role in these killings but little else, claiming that they were “legitimate acts of war”. He offered no remorse. He offered no information that could ease the pain of those whose loved ones he’d killed. He received a full amnesty and resumed a normal life in South Africa as a security consultant. In his case, the TRC achieved neither truth nor justice for the victims and their families.
The other man is Eugene de Kock, alias “Prime Evil”, who was the head of the apartheid regime’s death squad, which tortured and killed opponents with impunity. In 1996 he was sentenced to 212 years in jail for crimes against humanity. He went before the TRC, said he was truly sorry and offered comprehensive information on his victims to the families, how they died and where they were buried. He was granted amnesty for some crimes but his prison sentence stood. He was set to rot in prison for ever.
The two men are connected. In 1996 de Kock testified that Williamson had been involved in the assassination of Olof Palme. In his testimony, de Kock said that the murder, by a lone gunman who shot Palme in the back of the head, had been the work of Operation Long Reach – a secret apartheid-era programme, set up to harass, silence and gather information about opponents of the South African government abroad.
Ten years ago Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, a psychologist, wrote a book about the encounters she had with de Kock when, at the personal invitation of Nelson Mandela, she served on the TRC. Their meetings happened in the maximum-security section of Pretoria Central Prison. She is elegant, highly intelligent and black. He a baby-faced white killer. He in orange prison overalls, feet chained. She seated in a chair with wheels so she could scoot out of danger should the need arise. Her subject is the nature and origins of evil, the power forgiveness bestows on the victims and their relatives and the conditions for perpetrators’ readmission to the human community. It serves no former repressive society well to ring-fence evil in a few individuals and absolve the rest. The capacity for evil and good resides in us all.
Gobodo-Madikizela firmly believes that de Kock should be pardoned and allowed back into society. He accepts full responsibility for what he did and has asked forgiveness from his victims’ families. De Kock is the only apartheid police official still imprisoned and his latest application for parole is pending. None of his colleagues or superiors was imprisoned.
I read Gobodo-Madikizela’s book, A Human Being Died That Night, and optioned the rights to produce a play. Shortly afterwards, her 40 hours of taped interviews with de Kock were stolen from her assistant on a Cape Town train while en route to make copies for me. The professor was understandably distraught. I arranged for a reward for their return to be offered through radio announcements and posters at railway stations.
If the tapes had been taken by South African intelligence agents or ex-agents we stood no chance of getting them back. But the reward would be attractive to a petty criminal. Three months later Professor Madikizela received a telephone call. A priest in a black township said a local gangster had some audiotapes. Victory? Kind of. He had only four tapes out of 40.
I commissioned the South African-born Nicholas Wright to write a play based on her book and the remaining tapes. When the production opened at the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town in February (it’s now running in London at the Hampstead Theatre Downstairs until 21 June) the reaction was profound. Most black people who saw it felt de Kock should be released: Archbishop Tutu voiced the same opinion. White viewers were less certain.
The play deals with horrific officially sanctioned apartheid-era murders and the physical and emotional pain of victims and survivors, but it is bathed in the overwhelming humanity and intelligence of the black character, Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela.
Eric Abraham was a foreign correspondent in South Africa in the mid-1970s
Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela’s “A Human Being Died That Night” is published by Portobello Books (£3.99)