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Eugene de Kock, FW de Klerk and forgiveness – Prof Gobodo-Madikizela’s take on gestures of reconciliation
2015-02-06

What Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Senior Research Professor in Trauma, Forgiveness and Reconciliation Studies at the University of the Free State, found over the years talking to Eugene de Kock, was a man tortured by his past. By the deeds he has committed.

“As a result he was confronting these – not as a cog in a machine – but as a person who actually did the deed himself,” Prof Gobodo-Madikizela said during an interview [https://soundcloud.com/primediabroadcasting/dr-gobodo-on-de-kock-parole] with Pippa Hudson on Cape Talk. A man taking personal responsibility.

Against the backdrop of De Kock recently granted parole, what, then, is the nature of forgiveness?

“Often people think when they forgive, you forgive and forget. That’s not the point,” Prof Gobodo-Madikizela says. “Forgiving, in fact, I found is the wrong word. We are using forgiveness for a range of responses. What I find useful in this kind of work is to think about how people change, how people are transformed. In other words, to think about our empathic connection to people who are our former enemies.” In other words: to reach a place where both parties can see each other as fellow human beings. “Somehow when a person expresses remorse – in the way Eugene de Kock has done – it opens a door for the different kinds of relationships to that traumatic past,” Prof Gobodo-Madikizela says.

In an article for the Sunday Times, Prof Gobodo-Madikizela refers to the motion to immortalise F W de Klerk by renaming Table Bay Boulevard after him. In this piece, she clearly points out that De Klerk is not without blood on his hands. She agrees with Mayor Patricia de Lille’s support of this tribute to De Klerk, though, when De Lille refers to ‘the spirit of reconciliation that Tata Madiba believed in’.

Justice Minister Michael Masutha – who granted De Kock parole – and De Lille “are right in evoking the memory of Nelson Mandela through these important gestures of reconciliation,” Prof Gobodo-Madikizela remarks. The need to return to Nelson Mandela’s vision, she adds, remains urgent.

Read Prof Gobodo-Madikizela’s full article, published in the Sunday Times, here.
For Prof Gobodo-Madikizela’s response to Eugene de Kock, FW de Klerk and reconciliation, read here.

 

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