Malema is carrying on the work of apartheid's liars
The witch-hunt of two courageous journalists echoes the disinformation and horror of 30 years ago
Our history has taught us and many of our so-called political leaders nothing.
For those of us who remember the unspeakable horrors that happened here just 30 years ago, perhaps it is time to redouble our efforts to stop this country and the many political opportunists who pop up when a political leader dies from forgetting the pain we have gone through.
On July 20 1985 some residents of Duduza on the East Rand accused Maki Skosana of being an apartheid informer. Three young activists from the township had been lied to by the notorious askari (an ANC member under apartheid who turned into a police agent and killer) Joe Mamasela.
Believing they were dealing with a legitimate ANC soldier, they had accepted hand grenades from Mamasela. The grenades were boobytrapped: when the youth activists pulled on their pins to attack their intended targets (local policemen and an electricity substation), the grenades exploded and killed the young men instead.The askari had a connection with a woman called Maki. At the funeral of one of the young activists, the crowd turned on the only Maki present: Maki Skosana.
They beat her, chased her into the bush, and necklaced her in front of television cameras. It was the first of South Africa's horrific necklacings.
In 1996, Mamasela confessed to what he had done. Maki Skosana was not involved at all. She was never a police spy or informer. She was dead, though.
Last week the pioneering journalist, former activist and former detainee in apartheid cells Thandeka Gqubule was forced to respond to allegations by the Economic Freedom Fighters that she had, as alleged by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in a posthumously released video, done the work of the apartheid communications network Stratcom.
She was not the only one: the venerable Anton Harber, co-founder of the anti-apartheid newspaper The Weekly Mail (later the Mail & Guardian) was also accused. Not a single shred of evidence was proffered.
None exists, of course.It is worth noting that Truth and Reconciliation Commission records show that Vic McPherson, the apartheid spy and alleged source of these rumours, never put their names on any list as informers. Ironically, Stratcom was exposed by the Weekly Mail.
But who cares about the truth when you are trying to exploit Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s death for votes?
In the week after this egregious witch-hunt, many other names were touted on social media as so-called informers of the apartheid regime. Not a shred of evidence was proffered.
Amazingly, after Madikizela-Mandela’s and the EFF’s outrageous jibe at Gqubule and Harber, our Twitter peacetime revolutionaries were quick to say: “They must prove they are not guilty!”Wow! Is this the kind of justice we should expect from a future EFF administration? Guilty until you prove yourself innocent?
For those who claim to be blacker than the rest of us, this is the same as accusing Trayvon Martin of “walking while black” – he should prove he is not a thug because he is black. One is guilty until proven otherwise.
Responding to this nonsensical witch-hunt, Gqubule spoke about her own youth, when she was part of a group of youngsters who started a youth formation in the 1980s in KwaZulu-Natal. One of them was Benjamin Langa.
Security police spread a rumour that Langa was “selling out comrades”. Umkhonto weSizwe members were then dispatched to kill him. On May 20 1984 two MK members, Clement Payi and Lucky Xulu, shot and killed him at his door.
The two were subsequently arrested, convicted and hanged by the apartheid government for murder. The ANC later learnt that the allegations against Langa were pure lies planted by apartheid agents.
In the ANC’s submission to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Thabo Mbeki said: “In one of the most painful examples of this nature, a state agent with the name of Fear ordered two cadres to execute Langa. Once the facts were known to the leadership of the ANC, (ANC) president Oliver Tambo met with the family to explain and apologise for this action.
“A triple murder had been achieved by the apartheid regime without firing a single shot themselves.”
So what happened when those who chose to be “tearleaders” at the Madikizela-Mandela funeral went on their witch-hunt over the past two weeks?
First, like the killers of Skosana and Langa, they believed the disinformation sowed by the apartheid security police. The apartheid agent McPherson is now a “truthful” witness. Courageous journalists are now on trial, and found guilty in the court of public opinion “because Winnie said so”.
So here is the thing. Gqubule and Harber and many others have been telling the truth about this country since the 1980s. They are still doing it.Many lies have been told about them in the course of their illustrious careers. Many more lies will be told.
When asked who I stand with, the raging mob that is being led by the nose by apartheid’s professional liars such as Vic McPherson or these courageous journalists, I stand with the reporters. I stand with Gqubule and Harber. I stand with the many others whose names have been dragged through the mud in these past two weeks. South Africa should stand with them too.
Many of our peacetime revolutionaries like to quote Amilcar Cabral, the anti-colonial leader. They would do well to read his famous quotation in full: “Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories ... ”
That is a truth to live by, especially in these days when history teaches us nothing.