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Special Report Transcript Episode 57, Section 1, Time 00:22

Hello. The focus tonight is on the torturer who was confronted by the tortured. We also bring you a report of two young victims of the 1993 St. James Church massacre who met with one of the attackers inside Pollsmoor Prison this week. We start with the Amnesty Hearings of the Truth Commission in Cape Town. Jeffrey Benzien started his police career in 1976, but it was when he became part of an elite security branch, anti-terrorist unit in 1986 that the Benzien reputation took off. The anti-terrorist unit tracked down Umkhonto we Sizwe and APLA cadres and when they were captured the man they were handed to first was Jeffrey Benzien. It was his job to make them talk, what were the structures, who did they work with, where were their arms? He had a repertoire of torture mechanisms to crack his opponents, but the favourite and the one that made him notorious amongst activists in the Western Cape was the wet-bag method, a form of torture that repeatedly took detainees to the edge of death and almost always got them to talk. From 1986 three major terrorism trials in Cape Town saw scores of cadres sentenced to decades of imprisonment based on information that Benzien had extracted from them. But this week was witness to an interrogation of a different kind. Jeffrey Benzien had come to ask for amnesty for the torture and for the murder of MK cadre Ashley Kriel. It turned out to be an amnesty hearing with a twist. Former MK prisoners and survivors of Benzien’s torture grilled him on how his command structures worked, who gave the orders and most importantly why he employed the methods he did. This is what the Truth Commission is really about.

Notes: Max du Preez

References: there are no references for this transcript

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