Former apartheid-era security police colonel Gideon Nieuwoudt died in Port Elizabeth on Friday after a battle with cancer, his lawyer Jan Wagener said.
Wagener said Nieuwoudt, who was in his mid-fifties, had cancer of the lungs which had spread to other organs, and there had also been worrying tumours on his brain.
”It was inevitable, we all knew that,” he said.
Nieuwoudt was waiting for the outcome of his application for amnesty for the 1989 car bomb killing of three policemen and an askari in Motherwell.
Though the ruling has not been handed down, it has been widely reported in the media that the panel has decided to refuse him amnesty.
He was facing a 20 year jail term after being convicted of the killings in 1996.
Nieuwoudt had been denied amnesty in 1999 for his role in the death of Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko, but had not been prosecuted for it.
He told the panel hearing his application that he hit the ”arrogant” activist with a rubber hose when Biko was being interrogated in the security police offices in Port Elizabeth.
Nieuwoudt was also facing murder charges for the 1985 deaths of the anti-apartheid activists known as the Pebco Three, for which he had been denied amnesty. Their bodies were burned and thrown into the Fish River.
Nieuwoudt’s gaunt face became familiar to television viewers when footage was shown of a 1998 encounter in which he, accompanied by a camera crew, went to the family of slain student leader Siphiwo Mtimkhulu to ask forgiveness for his role in the killing — for which he had been granted amnesty.
Mtimkhulu’s teenage put an end to the reconciliation attempt by hitting Nieuwoudt on the head with a heavy vase, fracturing his skull.
A psychiatrist testified at the Motherwell amnesty hearing last year that Nieuwoudt suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, brought on by a 1987 incident in which he drove a Casspir over a shack, killing an armed guerrilla and his girlfriend inside.
”I think Mr Nieuwoudt just killed too many people and it just became too much for him,” the psychiatrist, Dr Peter Crafford, said.
Nieuwoudt is survived by his wife Colleen and three sons and a daughter, all adults. – Sapa