‘Biko’s death leaves me cold’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.”

Steve Biko

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