South African Human Rights Commissioner and former National Party MP Leon Wessels has arrived at the Pretoria High Court ahead of the start of proceedings against apartheid-era police minister Adriaan Vlok, ex-police chief Johan van der Merwe and three other former high-ranking policemen. Vlok, Van der Merwe, former Major-General Christoffel Smith and colonels Gert Otto and Johannes Van Staden are accused of attempting to murder then anti-apartheid activist Rev Frank Chikane, now director-general of the presidency, by poison in 1989.
Against a backdrop of peak morning traffic a large contingent of journalists were gathered. Many were entering the building to get seats in a courtroom which was expected to be packed. Earlier a court official dressed in a Blue Bulls fleece jacket allowed photographers into the courtroom to take pictures before proceedings began later in the morning.
The Khulumani Support Group and Afriforum were scheduled to be demonstrating outside the court later on but at around 8am there were only school children and bus commuters passing by. One grade 12 student said, “We are now oppressing the people who oppressed us in the past. We are taking vengeance. They must let the past be. We all have skeletons in the closet.” Another 16-year-old girl said, “I would say because I don’t really know what is going on, I can’t say anything.”
Another man in his fifties said he did not think the trial was a good idea. “I thought it was over and done with with the TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission). Why are they going through it again.” – Sapa