Eugene de Kock loses court action against book
The Pretoria High Court has reversed a temporary ban on the book White Power: The Rise and Fall of the National Party.
Judge Willie Seriti on Friday discharged an interim court order granted last month to Eugene de Kock to recall the book and stop its further publication, distribution and sale. He will give reasons for his ruling next year.
Apartheid-era police officer De Kock objected to the passage: “Another example would be Eugene de Kock braaiing meat and drinking for hours next to a corpse that they had set on fire.”
De Kock said was devoid of all truth, defamed him and harmed his “good name and reputation”.
He was in 1996 sentenced to two life terms plus 212 years’ imprisonment for offences committed in the apartheid years.
In her application for the initial order to be set aside, author Christi Van der Westhuizen described the interim ruling as “draconian” and an infringement of her rights.
She told the court De Kock’s reputation was already in tatters and he had no good name to protect.
Her counsel argued that De Kock deliberately misled the court by failing to reveal that the alleged offending words were actually attributed to former deputy law and order minister Leon Wessels.
He also failed to mention that both his trial judge and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission had called him a cold-blooded murderer who had tortured his victims callously and handled their remains without compassion.
Van der Westhuizen said afterwards the ruling was a victory for freedom of expression, specifically where someone like De Kock was seeking to silence her on a section of South Africa’s history during which human rights abuses occurred.
In the process, he also wanted to block the public from reading about those parts of history. “It’s a reassertion of our right as South Africans to know what had happened in our past,” she said.
Van der Westhuizen added that her publisher had reached an agreement with De Kock to withdraw the book and replace the particular page without the sentence in question. “But that settlement is now without any effect, because it was based on the interim order. The book is still available.”—Sapa