Eugene de Kock: What’s the story?

BY MATTHEW COLLINS - JANUARY 30, 2015

In response to the recent news of former South African death-squad commander, Eugene de Kock, having been granted parole, a brief dose of context is always relevant in refreshing the mind.

Behind a cold frame of glasses existed what many perceived to be the purest personification of malevolence. Trapped within a seemingly confused stare, lay the memories of crimes so terrible that the nickname “Prime Evil” would become a household name with which to refer to Eugene de Kock.

In 1996, de Kock sat before a judge in a room which seemed to ice over with the spine chilling sensations his mere presence sparked.

Being tried and convicted of 89 charges, many of them gross violations of human rights, he was sentenced to 212 years imprisonment in light of the judge remarking that he represented the epitome of what apartheid stood for.

Despite an application for amnesty, and with some of his actions having been recognised and accepted through such an application, he was ultimately sent to prison to serve out a sentence which would outlive his own soul.

In what the ANC would coin during the transition phase to democracy, the notorious and almost ghost-like “Third Force” was established in 1979; with de Kock becoming a part of its activities. It was a painfully elusive and controversial entity whose sole objective was to eliminate anti-apartheid activists and destabilise any attempts of the “enemy” to gather any momentum towards attaining their political goals.

In 1985, Eugene de Kock, having been recognised by the authorities that were, was placed in command of a government-owned farm just outside of Pretoria, namely “Vlakplass”; a name whose infamy has endured well into democracy.

Vlakplaas housed the C1 counter-insurgency unit; a unit whose reputation would turn the farm into the closest physical example of hell itself.

On this piece of land, various anti-apartheid activists were tortured or executed at the hands of the primal death squad.

In the wake of the fact that while the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recognised only some of his actions as being politically motivated, it has been argued that his inhumane actions were actually built upon a foundation of nefarious orders that were parcelled down the ladder of authority and ultimately manifested themselves on the blood-stained hands of de Kock. In other words, he has been seen by some as a “scapegoat”, though guilty, in that his claims to others’ involvement were blatantly denied, thus shielding the involvement of many others alongside their heinous crimes against humanity; crimes that were committed during a terrible period of South Africa’s past.

 

Image courtesy of: article.wn.com