[DEBATE] : Fwd: Apartheid killer finds religion but not remorse
tintinyana at gmail.com
Fri Aug 4 16:52:36 BST 2006
> Apartheid killer finds religion but not remorse
> Case of freed racist murderer highlights refusal of whites to take
> responsibility for the past
> Rory Carroll in East London
> Friday August 4, 2006
> The Guardian
> South Africa's most prolific mass murderer takes another sip of
> coffee, eases back in his chair and pauses when asked if it is true he
> shot more than 100 black people. "I can't argue with that," says Louis
> van Schoor. "I never kept count."
> Seated at a restaurant terrace in East London, a seaside town in the
> Eastern Cape, the former security guard is a picture of relaxed
> confidence, soaking up sunshine while reminiscing about his days as an
> apartheid folk hero.
> Hired to protect white-owned businesses in the 1980s, he is thought to
> have shot 101 people, killing 39, in a three-year spree. Some were
> burglars; others were passers-by dragged in from the street. All were
> black or coloured, the term for those of mixed race.
> Convicted of murder but released from jail after 12 years, Van Schoor
> is unrepentant. "I was doing my job - I was paid to protect property.
> I never apologised for what I did."
> He is not the only one. The whites in East London who turned a blind
> eye to his killing spree have not apologised and whites in general,
> according to black clerics and politicians, have not owned up to
> apartheid-era atrocities.
> That reluctance to atone has been laid bare in a book published last
> week, The Colour of Murder, by Heidi Holland, which investigates the
> bloodsoaked trail not only of Van Schoor but also his daughter,
> Sabrina, who hired a hitman to murder her mother.
> The macabre tale is likely to reignite debate about those whites who
> shun the spirit of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and mock
> rainbow nation rhetoric. "The story is of a family but it is also the
> story of a divided country and of the people of that country trying to
> find new ways to live with each other," says Ms Holland.
> Since his release two years ago, after benefiting from a sentence
> reduction for all convicts issued by Nelson Mandela when he was
> president, Van Schoor, 55, has slimmed down, shaved off his beard and
> kept a low profile, working as a cattle farm foreman outside East
> London. During his 1992 trial white residents displayed "I Love Louis"
> stickers decorated with three bullet holes through a bleeding heart.
> Sympathy endures, says Van Schoor. "The reaction is 90% positive.
> Strangers say, 'Hey, it's good to see you.'"
> Magistrates and the police, grateful for the terror instilled in black
> people, covered his tracks until local journalists and human rights
> campaigners exposed the carnage as apartheid crumbled. Van Schoor was
> convicted of seven murders and two attempted murders.
> Upon his release in 2004, Van Schoor said he had found God and, when
> prompted, expressed sorrow to his victims' relatives. "I apologise if
> any of my actions caused them hurt."
> In an interview this week, he tried to clarify his position. "I never
> apologised for what I did. I apologised for any hurt or pain that I
> caused through my actions during the course of my work."
> Thanks to his changed appearance and low profile he has faced no
> backlash. Few black people recognise him, including the bookseller who
> took his order for The Colour of Murder. When Van Schoor gave his name
> the penny dropped. "She nearly fell off her chair," he says, smiling.
> Married four times and now engaged to a local woman, Van Schoor,
> speaking softly and warily, says he is "happy and content". But he
> does not seem to approve of the new South Africa. "Everything has
> changed - people's attitudes, the service in shops, it's not the
> On the contrary, lament black leaders, one crucial thing has stayed
> the same: the refusal of many whites to admit past sins. Archbishop
> Desmond Tutu, a Nobel peace laureate, recently said the privileged
> minority that once feared retribution had not shown enough gratitude
> for peaceful inclusion in a multi-racial democracy. Nkosinathi Biko,
> the son of the murdered anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, noted the
> dearth of white voices during last month's commemorations of the June
> 1976 Soweto uprising, when police slaughtered black schoolchildren. A
> liberal white commentator, Max du Preez, called the silence
> Nowhere is it more deafening than East London. Van Schoor's rampage
> was made possible by a white establishment that made no outcry as his
> victims piled up, many of them impoverished children such as Liefie
> Peters, 13, gunned down while hiding in the toilet of a Wimpy
> restaurant after breaking in to steal cash.
> This week, eating a burger yards from where Van Schoor cornered his
> prey, Jacques Durandt, a 33-year-old white former member of the
> security forces, defended the killer. "I won't say he's a murderer.
> For him it was a job."
> Wannitta Kindness, a 36-year-old white taxi driver parked outside the
> restaurant, says the security guard might have fired even if the
> intruder was white. "But you don't find white people breaking into
> Others echoed the refrain: denied jobs reserved for black people,
> targeted by criminals, harassed in the street, victims in South Africa
> these days have pale skin and they see no reason to apologise. "The
> blacks don't want equality," says Ms Kindness. "They want to be on
> East London does boast at least one white advocate of racial harmony:
> Van Schoor's daughter, Sabrina, 25. While her father was in jail she
> shocked the white community by dating black men and giving birth to a
> mixed-race child.
> In 2002, in a grisly irony, she hired a black man to slit her mother's
> throat, claiming she was a racist bully.
> Convicted of murder and sent to the same prison as her father, Sabrina
> van Schoor is seen as a martyr by some black people. She seems popular
> among fellow inmates at Fort Glamorgan jail. "That girl, she's not
> like the whites outside of here. She's OK," says one inmate.
> Speaking through iron bars, Sabrina van Schoor, powerfully built like
> her father, says she is nervous about her family history coming under
> public scrutiny again because of the book. "I'm afraid it might open
> old wounds."
> Blame game goes on in a society dogged by murder and violence
> Each time someone is murdered in South Africa - which happens about 50
> times more often than it does in Europe - 2010 flashes through the
> minds of football administrators and politicians. That year, when the
> country stages the World Cup, has become as much of a test of South
> Africa's ability to rule itself as the 1994 election which introduced
> majority rule.
> While most World Cup hosts get nervous at some stage of preparations,
> about the capacity of stadiums or transport systems, in South Africa
> the worry is murder. Just as violence threatened to derail the peace
> train heading for majority rule 12 years ago, so there are fears that
> it is about to humiliate the country.
> One of the most puzzling aspects is that the violence, long associated
> with tensions arising from racial divisions, has failed to disappear
> with apartheid. The statistics are unreliable; the police and
> government do not like releasing them because of their impact on
> tourism. But it is believed that the only country to rival South
> Africa in the crime stakes over recent years has been Colombia. The
> issue is intrinsic to life in South Africa.
> Blame tends to be coloured by political perspective. The government
> blames illegal immigrants and organised crime. Farmers who see
> neighbours killed on lonely homesteads blame the ANC, which they claim
> is after their land. The rich blame the poor and, of course, whites
> blame black people. Crime replaces the weather in small talk - until
> an incident of particular savagery, such as the recent case of a white
> farmer who threw a black farmworker into a lions' cage, to be eaten
> The South African author André Brink fell victim to crime when gunmen
> raided a country restaurant where he was having dinner with his
> family, assaulted them and locked them in a storeroom. He said he
> received a flood of letters in response to an article he wrote about
> the experience.
> "Each one of them has encountered, either personally or through family
> and close friends, examples of the violence which has come not only to
> cloud all the laudable achievements of our young democracy but to
> threaten the very likelihood of success for this democracy," Brink
> David Beresford
I've never felt myself to belong to any establishment of any kind,
I'm interested in mainstreams, I'm jealous of them,
I sometimes, occasionally, envy people who belong to them
-- because certainly I don't -- but on the whole I think they're the
I feel that authorities, canons, dogmas, orthodoxies, establishments,
are really what we're up against.
At least what I'm up against, most of the time.
They deaden thought.
-- Edward Said, 1994
More information about the Debate-list