Magazine article The Christian Century

Botha Implicated in SACC Bombing

Magazine article The Christian Century

Botha Implicated in SACC Bombing

Article excerpt

A convicted assassin for the now-defunct South African apartheid regime has told a court that former state president P. W. Botha ordered the destruction by bombing of the headquarters of the South African Council of Churches in Johannesburg in 1988. Eugene de Kock, who headed a death squad that targeted antiapartheid activists, testified June 3 against Botha, 82, in the regional court in the coastal town of George, about 250 miles from Cape Town. De Kock is currently serving a 212-year prison term for, among other charges, murders sanctioned by the former regime.

Botha is charged with contempt for refusing to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission--which is investigating gross human rights violations during the apartheid era--to explain his role as head of the State Security Council. The SSC coordinated the crackdown against opponents of apartheid. The TRC is chaired by Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a former SACC general secretary.

The contempt hearing has turned into an investigation of Botha's possible complicity in state-sanctioned killings and violence. Botha denies he ordered the bombing of SACC headquarters. Apartheid-era government leaders claim that such actions were the work of rogue elements. But De Kock, a former police colonel, told the court that the orders to bomb Khotso House, the SACC headquarters, had come from "the highest sources." Botha, who now lives in retirement in George, was also implicated last year in the Khotso House bombing by his former law and order minister, Adrian Vlok. …

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