Rusty Wright on Changing Racist Hearts: Police Brutality

Adriaan Vlok helps children in his charity work. Photo:

George Floyd’s hideous death under a white policeman’s knee ignited worldwide protests against racism and police brutality.  The ongoing conflict prompted me to reflect on South Africa’s once-state-enforced racial oppression.  That apartheid regime’s top cop participated in the racist brutality, including bombings and attempted murder.  Yet his contrition and reconciliation efforts have been remarkable.  Lessons for today’s turmoil?

Bombing campaign

Former apartheid minister of law and order, Adriaan Vlok. Photo: Deaan Vivier, Netwerk24;

During the 1980s, conflict raged between South Africa’s white minority Afrikaner government and the black majority opposition.  From 1986 to 1991, Adriaan Vlok served as Law and Order Minister.  In 1998, Vlok confessed to South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission that in 1988 he had engineered the bombing of the headquarters of the South African Council of Churches, a prominent opposition group.  The bombing campaign included movie theaters showing Cry Freedom, an anti-apartheid film.

I had opening-night tickets to see Cry Freedom in Pretoria, but the screening was cancelled.  The next morning, a bomb was discovered in that theater.

You may imagine my interest when BBC television told of Vlok’s 2006 attempt to reconcile personally with Rev. Frank Chikane, former head of the South African Council of Churches, the group whose headquarters Vlok had bombed.  Chikane said Vlok visited his office and gave him a Bible with this inscription:  “I have sinned against the Lord and against you, please forgive me (John 13:15).”

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SOURCE: Assist News