COEN VAN WYK - a brief introduction: I’m a lawyer, journalist, activist, former research scientist and former South African Air Force fighter pilot and transport pilot.
In his column, OUT TO LUNCH, published in the Sunday Times of 23 January 2005, David Bullard stated the following: “The ANC owes Margaret Thatcher no favours. After all, she once described former president Nelson Mandela as a terrorist…”. It appears, from what I have just quoted that Bullard is of the opinion that Mandela was not a terrorist when he went to jail.
The same column, as published in the Sunday Times of 6 March 2005, contains the words,“…is similar to Mrs Thatcher’s stance on SA in the days when Nelson Mandela was still regarded as a terrorist by the British government.”
Now it is indeed a fact that Mandela was a terrorist, and the evidence in support of that fact is contained in his Biography, the book of the late Anthony Sampson, “MANDELA The authorised biography”. I will explain.
Whether Mandela was ever found guilty in terms of the Terrorism Act of 1967, or not, is irrelevant. The Act was enacted by parliament, who was at liberty to define any deed as an act of terrorism. Whether Mandela was a terrorist must therefore be judged against the generally accepted definition of terrorism.
As regards the notion of terrorism, I quote an Oxford Dictionary definition of terrorism being, “Systematic intimidation as a method of governing or securing political or other ends”. I also add the following Microsoft Word synonyms for the word, “terrorist”: radical, fanatic, activist, revolutionary, rebel; and for the word, “terrorism”: violence, intimidation, terror campaign, bombing
It is clear from his Biography (in the chapter with caption, “Violence”) that it was agreed that Mandela should form a new military organisation which came to be called Umkhonto we Siswe (MK) and that he thereafter recruited a small group of experts to embark on a campaign of sabotage. While in jail he was interviewed by two journalists from the Washington Times, and as is clear from his Biography, the resulting Washington Times article proclaimed ‘Mandela Urges “Violent” Revolution’, and began: ‘Nelson Mandela, the South African terrorist and revolutionary, sees “no alternative” to violent revolution.’ It is also a well-known fact that whilst in jail, Mandela refused to renounce violence.
Therefore, it is clear that Nelson Mandela, a convicted criminal for whom I have a lot of respect, and admiration, despite his shortcomings that were not ironed out during his period of rehabilitation in jail, was a terrorist at the time of his incarceration. He was duly convicted after due legal process. He went to jail as a cocky convicted criminal and emerged twenty-seven years later as a rehabilitated criminal.
And why (may you ask) do I respect Mandela? I respect him because he rose above the inequities that the white Afrikaner (which is what I am) brought upon him, and his people (and even that story has two sides to it), and he serves as a pristine example of the reality that our criminal justice system, with all its human flaws, can produce positive results.
In conclusion, I need to deal with Mandela’s shortcomings. I will therefore list some (of many):
On a TV documentary regarding the Anglo-Boer war Mandela came up on the screen at the outset of the documentary and said something to the effect that nobody has the right to kill innocent woman and children. Although he obviously appeared to condemn the slaughter of Afrikaner woman and children in the British concentration camps (which condemnation I find commendable in the extreme), he had no problems with the murder of innocent women in Magoo’s Bar at the hand of the convicted and un-rehabilitated criminal (and now police chief), Robert Mc. Bride. And in that regard I quote the following from the Authorised biography (at page 465) of Mandela (by Anthony Sampsom):
“De Klerk balked at letting out some, including Robert McBride, the maverick saboteur who was still in a death cell for having bombed Magoo’s Bar in Durban in June 1986, killing three white women. The ANC negotiators, including Ramaphosa and Maharaj, were prepared to concede the point, but Mandela felt a special loyalty to McBride…”
Ooooh, Aaaah, Eish, Juggggghhhh. Only in South Africa.
For the benefit of the uninformed I mention that De Klerk was the last apartheid-era president of South Africa and in due course he shared the Nobel Peace price with Mandela. He ever so gleefully participated in the apartheid shenanigans but in due course saw the gap to score some political points by going with the flow of the opinion against apartheid. Being the superb opportunist that he is, he suddenly abhorred apartheid and apologized for the sins of the white Afrikaner. By doing so he ensured for himself a Nobel Peace Price, his place in history as the great benefactor, and caused the murder of thousands of Afrikaner farmers. But hey, that was the price that he was willing to pay for what he got out of the deal.
He remained loyal (or failed to distance himself sufficiently) from the convicted criminal, Winnie Mandela.
When he and Mbeki (our president with the R300 million jet that he never shares with homeless, AIDS infected, hungry, blacks) recently visited a funeral of yet another comrade who died of AIDS, Mandela (by his inaction, as was also the case with our president), condoned the criminal actions of inciting racial hate when the crowd chanted something like “kill the farmer, kill the boer.”