Simplistic critics have no right to assume moral superiority
SEVERAL respondents to my article accused me of neglecting research regarding the ECC. Perhaps I need reiterate that I spent 1985 to 1989 as a full-time UCT student, during which I studied history to honours level, as well as languages and biblical studies.
I was able to discuss contemporary politics with many fellow students, including those involved in the ECC. And I served in the SADF as a conscript, an important extra reference.
My recollections of the attitudes and opinions of those who embraced the ECC’s ideals are entirely legitimate sources for a newspaper article, appropriately during the civil conflict.
Regarding “research”, I point Dr Gavin Evans to verifiable sources where he will read that during the 1994 election, citizen force soldiers (ex-conscripts) formed the backbone of the SADF presence. His article included a surprisingly large historical error considering he is a doctoral graduate and experienced journalist.
I cannot see how any ex-ECC members can deny that they attributed the violence sweeping the country to the state security agencies alone and never publicly implicated the ANC or criminal “comrades”.
Excitable, illogical Steven Schmidt implies I shot at children (evidence?). I moaned like most troopies about army demands, but shoot anyone? No.
I recall virtually no friction between the army and township communities, but there was clearly a poor relationship with police riot components. Soldiers’ presence often restrained police.
Dr Steele says he was placed in detention barracks for refusing to do military service and I have the deepest respect for his courage. But he does not have the right to assume moral superiority above white men who complied with the law.
My article pointed towards how complex the violence was during the 1980s and how once this period is his- toricised, it can show the necessity for the SADF’s presence in the townships. My critics were silent on this point.
Whites, blacks and coloureds formed the old SADF, pushed by forces beyond individual human agency. How simplistic and unreasonable De Gruchy, Steele, Evans and Schmidt are to ascribe such judgemental demands upon their fellow citizens. Dr Rodney Warwick