Eugene de Kock a changed man?

Eight years after being jailed for life for an array of apartheid-era crimes, former policeman Eugene de Kock comes across as a man committed to the South African ideal he formerly fought to suppress.

Appearing before a commission probing prison malpractices, he told on Thursday of his efforts from jail to help improve the country and its people.

Through his statements, a picture emerged of a loner committed to non-racialism, helping investigators tie up the loose ends of many unsolved apartheid crimes.

They also revealed much suffering behind the prison bars. His distinctive heavy-rimmed glasses replaced by light-weight reading spectacles, De Kock told how he helped convert a fellow prisoner who used to be known as Hitler for his racist and fundamentalist views.

“I got him to break away from those things and to start regarding black people as human beings.”

He said he convinced the man to meet the families of children killed in a pre-democracy bombing he (Hitler) planned, and to take part in a restorative justice programme.

De Kock’s statements were made while cross-examining fellow inmate Hendrik Slippers, who accused him of colluding to fabricate evidence for submission to the Jali Commission of Inquiry into prison maladministration.

He denied all the claims, saying to Slippers: “Your creativity lies in your destructivity. That is the credo of the anarchist”.

The former Vlakplaas hit squad commander described several clashes with rightwing fellow prisoners and underlined his disdain for Boer prophet “Siener” van Rensburg—whose predictions are highly regarded by Afrikaner extremists.

“Siener van Rensburg had too much dagga in his tobacco,” he said.

He named various instances in which he was co-operating with investigators probing apartheid-era crimes for which the perpetrators never applied for amnesty, or were refused it.

“I am not doing this for payment—that was my condition,” he told the commission.

De Kock said he would testify in several such cases, including some involving former security force generals.

He described how he helped a family find the remains of a former Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) cadre, who had been missing for some 18 years.
MK was the armed wing of the African National Congress.

De Kock also told of supporting a fellow inmate who washed clothes for money “rather than prostituting himself”. “I have respect for that.”

He stood up for Pretoria Local Prison head Nico Baloyi, who Slippers also implicated in the alleged plot to fabricate evidence.

“By right, Mr Baloyi and the black warders should be damaging me every day over what happened in the past, but they don’t do it. He is an honest man. I am willing to place my integrity and my life on the line for that.”

De Kock unveiled some of his suffering, including being locked up all alone for several days in a prison which can house nearly 500 people.

He claimed he received a message during that period from former Correctional Services Commissioner Khulekani Sithole asking, “How are you enjoying it there?”

Dismissing Slippers’ testimony that he received special treatment in jail, De Kock said he was once locked up in a small, dirty room while suffering a serious colon ailment that required special medical care.

Another time, he said, he tore a retina and was refused treatment—nearly losing an eye. A healthy-looking De Kock was wearing light green slacks and an informal shirt of the same colour, with brown takkies. He had a chain around his belt.

De Kock is serving a life term after his conviction in 1996 on 89 criminal charges including fraud, conspiracy to murder and murder.

He received amnesty on some of the counts, but two life sentences still stand.

He was initially held in Pretoria’s C-Max maximum security prison, but has since been upgraded to the local prison. - Sapa

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