‘Biko’s death leaves me cold’
WHEN he was buried in late September 1977, Steve Biko was remembered by speakers as a man whose “spirit lived on as a source of inspiration to the black liberation Struggle”.
This was no less true for the more than 18 000 mourners at the Victoria Sports Ground in King William’s Town.
Biko was arrested at a roadblock outside Grahamstown in mid-August, and held in various cells in Port Elizabeth. He sustained a brain injury from being rammed against a wall during interrogation. When his condition worsened, he was dumped in the back of a police van and driven 1 600km to Pretoria, where, on September 12, he died in a prison cell.
It was plain enough to most that his was not an accidental death, but government indifference was staggering, the most egregious instance being the reaction of police minister Jimmy Kruger, the subject of the following report, who was content to say: “I’m not pleased, nor am I sorry. Biko’s death leaves me cold.” September 14, 1977 Laughter ripples as Kruger explains
The Minister of Police, Mr JT Kruger, hit out today at the way in which the death of Mr Steve Biko was being exploited by Government critics.
Addressing the Transvaal congress of the National Party, he explained through ripples of laughter the steps taken following Mr Biko’s arrest last month.
He claimed everything that should have been done for Mr Biko had been done for him.
Mr Kruger commented after a delegate, Mr Chris Venter of Springs, had congratulated him on being “so democratic” that those who wanted to starve themselves to death were allowed by him to do so as their democratic right.
Mr Kruger said his reaction to Mr Biko’s death was: “I’m not pleased, nor am I sorry. Biko’s death leaves me cold.”
Attacking the American Ambassador of the United Nations, Mr Andrew Young, for comparing Mr Biko with the assassinated former US President, Mr John Kennedy, Mr Kruger said that Mr Biko had claimed in 1970: “There will be no change through evolution. It is only through revolution. The time and the people have never been so ready as now.”