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Alexandra Fuller writing about Apartheid in National Geographic Magazine June 2010 – 448,804 (Jan 2020) views and still going

Alexandra Fuller writing about Apartheid in National Geographic Magazine  June 2010 -  448,804 (Jan 2020)  views and still going…

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Taken from National Geographic magazine June 2010

Mandela’s Children
South Africa is a vibrant, multiethnic democracy striving, with mixed success, to fulfill its promise. Photojournalist James Nachtwey offers a vision of contemporary life, and Alexandra Fuller tells an intimate story about the long shadow of apartheid.

The Minister
It turns out there is no shortcut, bolt-of-inspiration way to transform a person from layman to minister in the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa. It takes seven years of rigorous training—seven years of Deon Snyman’s youth—which made it all the more distressing when, toward the end of his studies at the University of Pretoria in 1990, Snyman realized he had all the theology a person could possibly need to function in the old South Africa but almost no skills to guide him in the country that had just released Nelson Mandela.
Snyman,- who was born and raised in "a traditional Afrikaans family, in a typical Afrikaans town north of Johannesburg," says that back then he knew no black people, had no black friends, had never even had a meaningful conversation with a black person. "The church was divided into white congregations, Coloured congregations, Indian congregations, and black congregations," he says. He decided that the best way he could avoid waking up one morning a foreigner in his own country was to become the minister of a rural, black congregation.
On the day in February 1992 that Deon Snyman was installed as a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church in Africa—the church’s black branch—in Nongoma, in the heart of the KwaZulu homeland, his 54-year-old father stood up in front of the congregation, all of whom were Zulus, and said this: "Well, it is clear that South Africa is going to change. But I am an Afrikaner. I do not know if I have the capacity to change. Also, I am an old man. I do not know if I have the skills to change." Then the father indicated his 26-year-old son. "So today, I give you my son. If you can teach him the rules of the new South Africa, he can teach us those rules. If you can give him the skills to live in this new country, he can show us those skills."
In the dozen years Snyman lived among the Zulus as a minister, it became clear that the lesson he had to take back to his own people was this: "Those who supported the system of apartheid need to apologize in a way that will feel sincere. Then they need to make amends in a way that restores some of the dignity and some of the material opportunities that had been eroded under that system." Snyman started to think about the idea of community-led restitution—the creation, he says, of such emblems of remorse as a school, a clinic, or a skills training center. "Something everyone could point to and say, Here is our symbol of true sorryness, here is a symbol of our decision to build a new way to work together. It was a very deep idea in me."
But it would be years before Snyman’s imagination was captured by a small Afrikaans farming town in the Western Cape, a community unable to deny that the effects of apartheid had spilled on beyond 1994, when white rule ended and Nelson Mandela became the reborn nation’s first president.

The Town
Worcester is a somnolent, gingerbread town prickled with white church spires an hour and a half northeast of Cape Town. In winter, the surrounding mountains are snowcapped. In summer, heat holds like hell’s breath in the valley and melts the tarmac. The streets are wide and orderly. The houses are gabled and picturesque; lawns are cajoled into neat pockets; there are steroidal roses and trellises hanging grapevines off verandas. It’s the sort of town that makes you wish you’d worn a longer skirt and a higher collar.
In the mid-1990s the lines drawn deep in the geography and psyche of the place by apartheid were still evident, but no more so than elsewhere in the country. It is true that blacks still lived mainly in Zwelethemba township—Worcester’s undernourished twin across the Hex River—while whites still lived on the dappled streets of the town itself or on farms laid at the feet of the mountains. On the other hand, Worcester had elected its first Coloured (mixed race) mayor and its first black deputy mayor. Also, in June 1996 the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)—a courtlike body assembled after the abolition of apartheid—had held a hearing in the town. Victims and perpetrators of torture and abuse under apartheid had stepped forward and testified. The violent past was over, surely.
So it came as a shock when, on a sweltering Christmas Eve afternoon in 1996, two bombs ripped through a shopping area just down the street from the police station and the Dutch Reformed Church. The blasts killed four people—three of them children. Nearly 70 people were injured. All the victims were blacks and Coloureds. The first bomb to go off, around 1:20, hit Olga Macingwane in such a way that her legs swelled instantly to the size of tractor tires. Minutes later, the second bomb went off, and she was blown unconscious.
"For 13 years I never saw the person who did this to me," Macingwane says, speaking from her sitting room in Zwelethemba on a very warm Sunday morning in late November 2009. Macingwane is a profoundly proper woman of a certain age. She is wearing a pink, ankle-length pencil skirt and matching jacket. Outside her home the township is in the midst of open-air church services, and Macingwane has to raise her voice to be heard. She gets up stiffly—it is obviously painful for her to walk—and closes the door to the yard and to the world at large. The singing reaches into her home unabated. "In my head," she continues, as the choirs of at least three churches compete on the torrid air, "I pictured him. In my head he is a man of 50 years old, very big, with a long beard and a very severe face. That is the man who did this thing. That is the person I see in my nightmares."

A Turning Point
South Africa’s selection to host the 2010 World Cup gave people a surge of confidence. Their nation could now be remembered for bringing the world soccer rather than apartheid. South Africa’s modern infrastructure, enviably chic airports, cosmopolitan restaurants—its public face—all support the suggestion that its tragic history is just that, history. Much of Soweto, Johannesburg’s infamous township in which apartheid-era violence visible to the foreign media occurred, is now a series of bucolic suburbs: Florida-lite architecture behind smooth lawns, sleek foreign cars in driveways. (Squatter camps encroaching, it is true.) South Africa has a burgeoning black middle class, and since 1994 the government has built almost three million houses. In Johannesburg, just across the road from a casino and an amusement park, tourists can visit the impressive Apartheid Museum.
But scratch the surface of any community, and one way or another there it is, the A-word. In May 2008 more than 60 people were killed and tens of thousands displaced in xenophobic riots targeting mainly Mozambicans and Zimbabweans. Apartheid ensured a deep mistrust of "other" and a sense of resource entitlement—based as much, if not more, on who you were as on what you did—that carries over to this day.
It is impossible to overestimate the reach and brutality of apartheid. Between 1948 and 1994, when the system was dismantled, the Afrikaans National Party applied hyper-segregation of races to every possible facet of life. "Apartheid so effectively enriched a few at the utter debasement of the majority—to say nothing of the imprisonment of so many, the exile, the disappearances, the violent deaths—that a mere end to the system could not begin to repair the damage," Tshepo Madlingozi says. Madlingozi is a 31-year-old senior lecturer of law at the University of Pretoria and an advocacy coordinator for the Khulumani Support Group, an organization of 58,000 victims of political violence, mainly during the apartheid era. "You can say, Everybody is equal now; let’s get on with it. That suits those who benefited from the system—but it does nothing to institute restorative justice, and it can’t undo generations of habitual racism, palpable hate, or feelings of inadequacy."

The Prisoner
Less than a month after the Worcester bombing, 19-year-old Daniel Stephanus "Stefaans" Coetzee phoned the police from his hideout on a farm in the heart of the Great Karoo highlands—a sparsely populated, semiarid region in the central west of the country—and claimed responsibility for his part in the atrocity. Coetzee addressed the police officer in charge with respectful deference: "Oom," he called him. "Uncle." He said he had heard that there were children among the dead, and for that reason he had no choice but to turn himself in. The boy had reserved country manners and a country person’s way of keeping himself contained, catlike.
At the time he was taken into custody, and for some years after, Coetzee was a member of nearly every extreme right-wing, white supremacist group in South Africa, including one or two so secret and obscure that not even the people in them seem capable of explaining exactly what they are: Wit Wolwe, Israel Visie, Boere Aanvals Troepe. From prison Coetzee continued to communicate with members of the Ku Klux Klan in the United States and neo-Nazi groups in Germany, encouraging them in their endeavors. He rose up the ranks of the national groups’ pseudo-military structures. As white supremacists go, Coetzee was a poster boy. In the pecking order of the Helderstroom Maximum Security Prison in Western Cape Province, however, he was pond life. "I was 19 years old and white. Everyone wanted to rape me," Coetzee says of those first years in overcrowded general cells holding between 60 and 120 men. "I couldn’t get a bottom bunk. I couldn’t even get a top bunk. I couldn’t get any bunk at all." Coetzee slept on the floor. Where he has been held for over a decade, Coetzee has just turned 32. Having not felt the sun for so long, his skin has leached gray, and although he is strikingly young looking, there is a cluster of fine lines around his eyes such as are usually seen only on a much older man. His hair is dark, very short, and downy. The leather belt he uses to hold up his prison-issue orange overalls is pulled to its last hole. It is not a surprise to learn that before his incarceration he was able to run far and fast in blistering heat with very little fuel or water. "I loved to run," he says, as if the words might set his legs free again. "Ja, I could run."
Coetzee – and I sit facing each other, knee to knee, in a large, nondescript, yellow room designed for prison visits. Five or six windows along one wall let in a sluggish light that does nothing to enhance the greenish glow from the fluorescents. It is late morning and raining hard, and has been since early last night. As a result, it is cold, and we’re both shivering.
Coetzee tells me he was born in 1977 to a careless mother and a drunken father. He has no memory of his parents being together. At first he lived with his father in the Orange Free State (now the Free State). When he was eight or nine his father burned out. After spending time in an orphanage, Coetzee was sent to live with his mother in Upington in the Northern Cape. For the next six or seven years Coetzee fell through one crack after another and was in and out of welfare homes, until at the age of 15 or 16 he was taken under the wing of a man named Johannes van der Westhuizen. A leader in the ultraright-wing, white supremacist cult Israel Visie, van der Westhuizen was a strict vegetarian, took no drugs, drank no alcohol, and studied a Bible that had been rewritten to bolster the idea that anyone who was not white was an animal of the field. In Coetzee’s eyes, van der Westhuizen was roughly the size and age of a father.
If you were to walk more or less 300 miles northeast of Cape Town until the night sky grew so black you could see all the way back to whatever might be the beginning of time, the odds are good that you would be in the Great Karoo highlands. In the early 1800s this is where outlaws, cattle rustlers, and gunrunners hid, in the vast plains below the bruised Nuweveld Range. Even today so few people are tough or crazy enough to coax a living from this flinty, pepper-scented earth that it’s considered a perfect destination for stargazers—and those who do not wish the modern world to find them. Its remote secretiveness appealed to van der Westhuizen, a man in deep denial about the reality of post-transition South Africa, and it was on his leased farm in this redoubt that the bombing was planned.
"When I was first in prison, I asked for a Bible," Coetzee says, explaining how he began to dismantle the hatred that had landed him on the floor of a crowded cell in a maximum-security prison. "But the Bible they gave me was not the same Bible I studied when I was with van der Westhuizen. I realized that the Bible I had been reading with him was skewed. That was the first thing." Then Coetzee was transferred to Pretoria Central Prison, where he took classes on anger management and restorative justice. He wrote a letter to the prison authorities asking if they would allow him to apologize to the people and the families he had hurt. (They advised against it.) But although he felt remorse for what he had done, Coetzee was still a racist.
In early 2002, five years after his arrest, he was assigned to a work detail with an older prisoner, Eugene de Kock. Now in his early 60s, de Kock is serving two life sentences plus 212 years for crimes against humanity committed while he was a colonel heading the notorious secret security unit of the South African Police. (His men dubbed him "prime evil," a name adopted by the media.) For hours at a time the two men would be together mopping floors. "Eugene was always telling me, ‘Look Stefaans, you have to stop believing you are superior just because of the color of your skin,’ " Coetzee says. "He said, ‘Take it from me, I’ve learned the hard way.’ I told Eugene, ‘Please stop pestering me.’ But he never shut up about it. He told me that until I stopped being a racist I’d be in two prisons—one around my body, and another one around my heart."

The Conversation
It is true that if every child from a difficult home in South Africa were to grow up and perform an act of brutality, there would be nothing and no one left in the country. As it is, there are 50 murders every day, and 140 reported rapes, although the actual number is believed to be in the hundreds. "Yes, the habit of violence is very deep in this culture," Marjorie Jobson, national director of the Khulumani Support Group, says. "You have to remember, the children who grew up in the atmosphere of apartheid—with all the lessons of that era—those children are now adults."
I have caught a lift with Jobson—a disarmingly mild-mannered doctor in her 50s—from Johannesburg, and we’re driving through the outskirts of Pretoria on a blameless summer afternoon in late 2009. From here, South Africa’s administrative capital seems all flowering impatience—50,000 jacarandas lend the city a mildly campy glamour, and the streets are lined with beds of agapanthus. Advertisements for the World Cup are everywhere; a high-speed-train track is being built parallel to the road.
"Everyone was exhausted by 1994. I think they just wanted apartheid to go away and the government to fix everything. But that didn’t happen," Jobson says. "It’s up to each individual South African to participate actively in restitution. You know, the power of one. The power one person has to perpetuate our violent past, or the power one person has to contribute to a just, peaceful society."
In this way our conversation comes back to Coetzee. Sometime in 2004 Jobson received a phone call from Eugene de Kock. Over the years de Kock has tried to help Khulumani locate people who disappeared during the struggle, describing in some detail the manner in which they vanished, mostly because he was responsible for what happened to them. De Kock told Jobson that he had become acquainted over the previous couple of years with a young man called Stefaans Coetzee. "Stefaans wanted to meet with his victims and apologize for what he had done," she says. Jobson wasn’t opposed to being helpful. The only problem was that Coet¬zee had no idea who his victims were. He could give no names and—beyond the fact that three of the dead had been children—no identifying characteristics.

The Presidents
In 2005 Thabo Mbeki, in his second term as South Africa’s president, fired Jacob Zuma, the deputy president. Zuma had been implicated in a corruption scandal involving a five-billion-dollar arms deal. (Charges were dropped in April 2009.) Mbeki must have thought ridding himself of this troublesome high priest of populism was a safe bet. But it turned out to be the political kiss of death, causing a deep split within the ruling party, the African National Congress, or ANC. By the end of the year Zuma’s supporters were burning T-shirts with Mbeki’s face on them.
Zuma and Mbeki, although both longtime ANC activists, could not be more unalike. Mbeki is a Xhosa from the Eastern Cape, highly educated and emotionally remote. Zuma is a Zulu from KwaZulu-Natal with no formal education who served a decade-long sentence on Robben Island for opposing apartheid. A charismatic man of action, he has three wives and a rape allegation to his name. (He was acquitted in 2006.)
In 2007 Mbeki announced to both houses of parliament that he had authorized a special dispensation for pardon applications for politically motivated crimes that had taken place between 1994 and 1999. Mbeki’s official explanation was that he wished to finish the business of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Unofficially the move was seen by some as an effort to gain much needed support for the flagging president. The next year a group with a representative from each of the 15 official political parties recommended 120 prisoners for presidential pardon.
"It was an attempt to reach out politically," Tshepo Madlingozi of the University of Pretoria says. But the process ignored something that had been at the moral, emotional, and political heart of the TRC—the victims would not be consulted before prisoners were granted amnesty. To human rights groups, this special dispensation was not about reconciliation; it was about political expediency, about closing the door and moving on. Eight organizations, including the Khulumani Support Group, filed a lawsuit, which eventually found itself at the Constitutional Court of South Africa, the highest court in the land, on November 10, 2009. By then Mbeki had resigned, and Zuma—JZ as he is popularly known—was president.

The Go-Between
On the list of political prisoners identified for possible pardon, one name jumped out at Marjorie Jobson: the man Eugene de Kock had telephoned her about from prison, Stefaans Coetzee. Meanwhile, Khulumani had reached out to the victims, including Olga Macingwane, of those on the list.
A glance through Jobson’s modest home in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape reveals books everywhere, piled on furniture in the sitting room, in stacks on the floor, across the dining room table. "On the one hand, the Khulumani group was part of a lawsuit to ensure that the rights of victims were taken into account in this pardoning process," Jobson says, clearing books off the kitchen table so we can eat lunch. "On the other hand, I was getting more calls all the time from Stefaans’s social worker and his minister, begging me to see if I could get him together with his victims. Not surprisingly, the victims of the Worcester bombing were skeptical. They had questions. Why does he want to meet us now? How is it going to benefit us? Is he feeling guilty now? Has he really had a change of heart?" Jobson sets a bowl of chicken noodle soup in front of me. In her distraction, she fails to eat at all. "I was interested in justice," she continues, "but I was most interested in the process of reconciliation. It was a conundrum." In the end Jobson appealed for help to a trusted colleague: Tshepo Madlingozi.
On the day I meet him in his law faculty office, Madlingozi is wearing black jeans, a long-sleeved, blue dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and casual leather sneakers. Our conversation is accompanied by the customary cup of tea. "Rooibos or normal?" Madlingozi had asked, offering either South Africa’s native herbal tea or ordinary black tea. Now he blows into his cup and looks at me over the rim. "We made a decision that I should go and see Coetzee and see if he was for real. I was very nervous, very skeptical. I didn’t know how I was going to react."

A day in mid-April 2009 was set for a meeting between Madlingozi and Coetzee in the social worker’s office at Pretoria Central. "I was expecting someone in my imagination that looked very racist, you know, not this guy who walks into the office. I see a boy the same age as me. He’s somehow handsome, very diffident. He was surprised too. He was expecting to see an old, radical, militant ANC activist."
Madlingozi shook hands with Coetzee and introduced himself. Coetzee shook Madlingozi’s hand and thanked him for coming. The two men sat for a couple of hours and talked. "Mostly about ourselves," Madlingozi says. "What does he miss in prison? How did I become a lawyer? How did he become a prisoner? What do we hope for ourselves? What do we hope for our country?"
Madlingozi is a few months younger than Coetzee. He was born in Mangaung township, the area set aside for blacks outside Bloemfontein in the former Orange Free State—geographically not far from where Coetzee was born but a world away in terms of culture. "It was semidesolate and very violent," he says. Madlingozi’s father was a migrant worker in the gold mines. "Migrant labor was one of the most devastating aspects of the system of apartheid," Madlingozi says. "It destroyed families. It destroyed communities. It was a way for the apartheid government to get capitalization, but it emasculated men who couldn’t be at home to provide for their families. The fathers couldn’t pass on folklore, culture, values. For the families left behind, it meant the father came back after three months and didn’t know his place in the family. A lot of men asserted their position through violence."
Madlingozi’s father died of a heart attack when his son was 14. "My mom and I had just relocated to a mining town to be near him. We were just becoming friends again. He had a voracious appetite for reading novels, and we read together a lot." Madlingozi finished his schooling in Welkom, a gold-mining town laid out in the late 1940s by the Anglo American Corporation. The mines in and around the town are very deep. Each morning, brackish water is pumped from them into pans on the surface. Flocks of flamingos, Egyptian geese, and sacred ibises congregate on the pans. The air is stung with the scents of salt and bird droppings.
Madlingozi leans forward. "Meeting Stefaans has reignited my faith in the future of South Africa," he says. "My worldview is black consciousness, and that hasn’t changed as a result of knowing Stefaans. But it has made me appreciate that even the most ardent racists—even murderers—can change and be humble. Yes, Stefaans’s intelligence, humility, acute appreciation of the consequences of his actions and the system of apartheid, as well as his appreciation that reconciliation is not merely about showing goodwill, have greatly inspired me." Madlingozi has both hands under his chin now. "I can see how there might be people criticizing me for selling out. How can I visit this man? How can I have empathy? But this isn’t just about winning. It can’t be about winning. If we only want to win, then there will always be losers, and how is that so different from the way things were? This has always been about the big picture, about moving on together." Then he laughs and looks at me, almost challengingly. "Mmm, it’s complicated, messy—it can be very personal and always in shades of gray. But that’s where reality is. That’s where we are. That’s what we have to work with.

The Victim
From Worcester to Pretoria is a two-day drive—16 hours, more or less. Marjorie Jobson has arranged for Olga Ma¬cingwane and three other residents of Zwelethemba to rent a car and drive up for the constitutional court hearing on November 10, 2009. The four of them agree to meet Stefaans Coetzee the day before the hearing, but only on the condition that they are not doing so to forgive him. "I am not there to forgive him," Macingwane says firmly. "I am there to face the man in my head. I want to hear what he has to say for himself. But no, I am not there to forgive him.
Life became difficult for Olga Macingwane after the bombing, and not only for all the obvious reasons. Cadres of the ANC used the funerals for political posturing, racing disabled survivors of the attack through the streets in their wheelchairs, all the while chanting songs made popular during the struggle. Then in 2003 Macingwane’s husband died, and without his support, she could no longer afford to raise their three children. They were sent away to live with relatives. A laminated photograph of Ma¬cingwane’s husband reveals the exact match you would pick for Olga. He stands before a 1970s polished yellow Datsun in a three-piece suit exuding an aura of conservative reserve. The yellow car is still parked outside Macingwane’s house, dormant under a thick gray blanket.
November 9 is a hot day. Macingwane and the other three residents of Zwelethemba—including Harris Sibeko, husband of the deputy mayor at the time of the attack—walk into the social worker’s office at Pretoria Central and see Coetzee standing in the corner in his orange jumpsuit stamped with the word "prisoner." "I was shocked," Macingwane says later. "What I see is a boy. Not the man I have had in my mind all these years, but a boy. What is this boy doing here? How did it happen? That is what is inside my head all of a sudden."
Macingwane asks to begin with a prayer. In the ensuing silence she gets to her knees—laboriously, because two days in a rental car have done nothing to help the pain in her legs—and begins to pray in Xhosa. She praises God for his hallowedness. She thanks God for bringing South Africa another day. She asks God to forgive her trespasses, as she will forgive others their trespasses against her. She asks God to see that his will be done in this room today. Then she takes her seat. While her colleagues mop their brows and fan themselves against the heat, Macingwane maintains her composure.
The meeting takes place in a mixture of Xhosa, Afrikaans, and English. Macingwane is mostly silent. "He must explain himself before I speak," she says at the outset.
Coetzee does not talk about his childhood. He speaks about the planning that went into the bombing, how he was chosen for his excellent military skills, the years he has spent in prison. He asks for their questions, and the group responds. How did he learn to hate black people? How did he unlearn this hatred? How does he spend his days now? Is he sorry? And if he is so sorry, what can he give them? Coetzee admits he has nothing material to give the world except the leather belt that holds up his overalls. But, he says, God willing, if he gets out of jail, he can begin to attempt to compensate for what he has done. "There are children now in South Africa," he says, "children without parents. They might be tempted to get into violent gangs, to follow anger instead of love." He says, "I can show them that the first life you have to change is your own."
When Coetzee is asked about the dreams he has for his future, he says he would like to get married. He says he will have to tell his future wife and any children he may have that he is a murderer.
Now Harris Sibeko intervenes. "Listen here, chief, you must wait until a child is old enough to understand what you are telling them, otherwise the child will hate you." Sibeko turns to the group and asks, "Do you really think we can call this young man a murderer? What do you think is a better name for him?" Then Sibeko answers his own question. "I think you should be called a military operative. Yes, that would be better."
The group agrees with Sibeko. Then Sibeko asks Coetzee whether he receives any visitors in jail. Coetzee replies that one former prisoner comes sometimes. Sibeko is shocked. "None of your family visit you?" Coetzee replies, "No."
The interview goes on for two hours. Finally, Olga Macingwane gets to her feet. Unusually, she is fighting with her emotions. She says, "Stefaans, when I see you, I see my sister’s son in you, and I cannot hate you." She extends her arms. "Come here, boy," she says in Xhosa. Coetzee walks into her embrace. "I forgive you," Macingwane says softly. "I have heard what you said, and I forgive you."

The Law
On that day Daniel Stephanus Coetzee became the only one of the 120 political prisoners eligible for presidential pardon to meet with his victims. The next day, November 10, the Constitutional Court of South Africa, with four new judges appointed by President Zuma, convenes. The first order of business is to hear arguments about whether or not the president should be allowed to pardon any of the political prisoners without a hearing for their victims. Zuma’s attorney argues for unfettered pardoning powers. The attorney representing one of the prisoners also argues for such powers. But an attorney for the human rights groups urges that no political criminals be pardoned without the victims of those crimes being heard. (On February 23, 2010, the constitutional court ruled in favor of the victims.)
Present in the court are some three dozen victims of political crimes involving any number of perpetrators. Several of the victims are wearing T-shirts that read, "No reconciliation without truth, reparation, redress." Among them is Olga Macingwane.
"I forgive him, but that does not mean I pardon him," Macingwane tells me afterward. "We are a country of laws now. We are a country who respects the voices of all people. It is up to the laws of my country to decide whether or not to pardon Stefaans."
For too long, separation and suspicion were mandated by South African law. Now the country’s constitution upholds the dignity and equality of all people, but its power is only as potent as the people’s willingness to live by it. On January 23, 2010—as long envisioned by minister Deon Snyman—representatives of Worcester and of Zwelethemba township gather in Worcester’s Dutch Reformed Church. Across the road in a wide, shady park lies a tiny memorial to the four people killed in the 1996 bombing. The proceedings begin with a prayer. Then Macingwane and Sibeko talk about their journey to Pretoria, their meeting with Coetzee, their forgiveness of him. Restitution is discussed—a youth center and a job-creation center are two ideas. The group agrees to invite Coetzee to a church service in Worcester if the prison authorities will allow it. The date for another meeting is set. Olga Macingwane is elected to the steering committee, which will oversee the restitution process in the months and years to come.
"When I forgave Stefaans," Macingwane says, "that label of ‘victim’ no longer had such power for me. Physically, of course, the pain will always be there. Mentally, I have at last found some peace. I am not Olga the victim. Now I am  Olga. I am Mrs. Olga Macingwane."

Posted by Martina Morris ( Ireland) Thanks for your visit on 2014-07-02 16:50:02

Tagged: , Alexandra Fuller , National Geographic Magazine June 2010 , Apartheid , Mandela’s Children , Nelson Mandela , Nelson Mandela R.I.P. 05/12/2013

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