Eugene de Kock
|Eugene de Kock|
|South African Police (SAP)|
|Born29 January 1949|
|Service branch||South Africa|
|Other work||Convicted of atrocities committed under apartheid|
|Part of a series on|
|Apartheid in South Africa|
Eugene Alexander de Kock (born 29 January 1949) is a former South African police colonel and assassin, active under the apartheid government. Considered one of the darkest figures of the apartheid period and nicknamed "Prime Evil" by the press, de Kock was the commanding officer of C1, a counter-insurgency unit of the South African Police that kidnapped, tortured, and murdered hundreds of anti-apartheid activists from the 1980s to the early-90s. C1's victims included members of the African National Congress.
Following South Africa's transition to democracy in 1994, de Kock disclosed the full scope of C1's crimes while testifying before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In 1996, he was tried and convicted on eighty-nine charges and sentenced to 212 years in prison. Since beginning his sentence, de Kock has accused several members of the apartheid government, including former state president F. W. de Klerk, of permitting C1's activities.
Early life and service
Eugene Alexander de Kock was born to Lawrence de Kock, a magistrate and personal friend to former prime minister John Vorster. Vossie de Kock, Eugene's brother, later described him as a "quiet" boy who "wasn't a violent person." He also recounted how their father, a member of the Afrikaner Broederbond, indoctrinated the boys in Afrikaner nationalist ideology and taught them "strict Afrikaans" as they grew up.
De Kock developed a long-time ambition of becoming an officer. After finishing school, he attempted to join the South African Defence Force, but was disqualified from enlistment because of a stutter. De Kock then joined his brother as a member of the South African Police, where he applied to join the organisation's elite Special Task Force. He was rejected again because of poor eyesight.
During the latter stages of the Rhodesian Bush War, de Kock was deployed to Rhodesia to defend its white population against the black nationalist forces of Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo. In 1979, de Kock co-founded Koevoet, an SAP counter insurgency unit tasked with combating SWAPO guerillas in South-West Africa during the Namibian War of Independence. Koevoet became notorious for its high enemy kill rate and for its alleged atrocities against local Namibian peoples.
In 1983, the SAP transferred de Kock to C10, a counter-insurgency unit headquartered at a farm called Vlakplaas, located 20 kilometres west of Pretoria. De Kock, who had established a reputation for bravery and commitment during his tours in Rhodesia and Namibia, was promoted as the unit's commanding officer two years later. Under de Kock's leadership, C10—later known as C1—became a death squad which hunted down and killed opponents of the National Party and the apartheid system.
De Kock has been interviewed a number of times by Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, who ended up releasing a book, A Human Being Died That Night, about her interviews with De Kock, her time on the TRC, and what causes a moral person to become a killer.
Trial, conviction, and sentencing
Upon being convicted, Eugene de Kock was sentenced to 212 years in prison for crimes against humanity. The eighty-nine charges included six counts of murder, as well as conspiracy to murder, attempted murder, assault, kidnapping, illegal possession of firearms, and fraud. De Kock is serving his sentence in the C Max section of the Pretoria Central Prison, eligible for parole.
In a local radio interview in July 2007, De Kock claimed that former president FW de Klerk had hands "soaked in blood" and had ordered political killings and other crimes during the anti-apartheid conflict. This was in response to De Klerk's recent statements that he had a "clear conscience" regarding his time in office.
The Sunday Independent reported in January 2010 that de Kock was seeking a presidential pardon from President Jacob Zuma in exchange for more information about the apartheid government's death squads, and that a three-hour meeting between Zuma and the incarcerated de Kock took place in April 2009. A spokesman for Zuma denied the claims.
In 2012, de Kock made several pleas for forgiveness to the relatives of his victims. In January, he wrote a letter to the family of Bheki Mlangeni, apologising for killing the ANC attorney in a 1991 bomb attack; Mlangeni's mother, Catherine, doubted de Kock's sentiments due to his prior lack of remorse. In February, de Kock had a meeting in prison with Marcia Khoza, confessing that he had personally executed her mother, Portia Shabangu, in an ambush in 1989. Khoza publicly forgave de Kock.
- The voice of 'Prime Evil', BBC News, 28 October 1998
- 'De Kock must rot in jail', Times Live, 29 January 2012
- Let Prime Evil go, Mail & Guardian, 11 January 2010
- "Prime Evil", Journeyman Pictures, 2008 [Retrieved 18 March 2012]
- Pauw, Jacques (2007). Dances with Devils. Zebra Press. ISBN 978-1-77007-330-2.
- http://web.uct.ac.za/depts/psychology/pgobodo/sundaytimes.html. Missing or empty
- "ANC, PAC welcomes De Kock's sentence". SAPA. 29 October 1996.
- "De Kock up for parole – department". News24. 14 December 2011. Retrieved 2012-01-05.
- Allie, Mohammed (27 July 2007). "Jailed policeman accuses De Klerk". BBC.
- Eugene de Kock 'looking for a presidential pardon', The Week, 6 January 2010 [Retrieved 18 March 2012]
- Eugene de Kock seeks forgiveness, News24.com, 24 January 2012 [Retrieved 18 March 2012]
- Daughter of victim forgives De Kock, IOL News, 13 February 2012 [Retrieved 18 March 2012]