Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Vlok: The Rebuttal of Forgiveness
After the much publicised feet-washing of Rev. Frank Chikane last year, Adriaan Vlok will face prosecution for an alleged plot to kill Chikane in 1989. There was much debate about the concept of forgiveness at the time, but the basic premise remains, forgiveness is an intrinsic process of personal redemption, and does not exempt one from facing the consequences of the original actions. In fact, true forgiveness is an open request, with the acceptance of the possible retribution.

Vlok finds himself in this position today, as the NPA announced that they would prosecute him, along with other Apartheid police chiefs. Whilst it is odd that the decision was taken now, a full 13 years after freedom, it's important to note that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's work only concluded 4 years ago. It does smack of a timeous rebuttal to Vlok's request for forgiveness, but one has to say, it is about time Vlok was prosecuted. This was a man who oversaw the police during some of the worst stages of Apartheid; he should have his day in court. He was given amnesty under the TRC for his role in the bombings of Khotso House and the Cosatu headquarters amongst others, but he did not previously admit to the poisoning of Rev. Chikane, until last year.

There should be no time limit for the prosecution of oppressors, and as Rev Chikane states, "there is a difference between forgiveness and the legal process."