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Special Report
Transcripts for Section 2 of Episode 40

02:36Stanza Bopape was a 27 year old activist from Mamelodi when he was detained on 9 June 1988 and taken to John Vorster Square police station. Then he disappeared without trace. His family started a frantic search for him. A month later the police told the strange story of how Stanza had escaped while in police custody. They said he was in a car with three policemen; that they were on their way to Vereeniging where he was to point out an arms cache. On their way they had a puncture and all three police got out of the car to change the tyre.Full Transcript and References
03:15They claim that Stanza somehow managed to get the keys which were in the jacket on the back seat of one of the policemen. That he managed to free himself to unlock, undo the handcuffs and slip out of the car and run off into the bushes.Full Transcript
03:41This thrilling tale of escape was presented as truth to the highest organs of government. In August 1988 the Minister of Law and Order, Adriaan Vlok told parliament that a certain person, whom he did not identify, had escaped from custody and that the matter was under investigation. Nearly a year later Vlok repeated the escape story. He told parliament that ‘on 12 June 1988 Mr. Bopape escaped from police custody while he was being taken out to indicate to investigating officers certain spots in connection with acts of terror in which he was allegedly involved. … An intensive investigation which was conducted in respect of Mr. Bopape’s movements after his escape has now resulted in the police having tracked down persons who have stated under oath that they have seen Mr. Bopape after his escape.’Full Transcript
04:39But the police cover-up was first challenged by Bheki Nkosi who was detained with Stanza at the Hillbrow flat they shared. He told the Bopape family’s lawyers under oath that during interrogation Warrant Officer van der Syfer had told him that Stanza had been killed. // I thought he was trying to scare me into talking and actually didn’t believe what he was saying. But when one of his colleagues, a certain Mossie came into the interrogation room and spoke in Afrikaans that [he should have seen how his friend died], I think I became convinced that they were meaning business and had actually killed Stanza.Full Transcript
05:29The police version cracked even further when former security policeman, Paul Erasmus spoke out in July 1995. // He was brought through to John Vorster Square and during interrogation, physical interrogation, he died and his body was disposed of down a disused mineshaft.Full Transcript
05:49We now know that the escape story was a lie. Five security policemen have applied for amnesty for killing Bopape during interrogation; two others for disposing of his body; and three generals for covering up the death. // ‘Murder: Lt Col Adriaan Peter van Niekerk, Const Hendrik Albertus Mostert, Const Jacobus Hermanus Engelbrecht, Sgt Johan Ludwig du Preez, Maj Charles Alfred Zeelie. Disposal: Brig Schalk Visser, Capt Leon van Loggerenberg. Cover-up: Gen Gerrit Nicholas Erasmus, Gen Petrus Lodewikus du Toit, Gen Johannes Velde van der Merwe.’Full Transcript
06:08The authorization to cover-up the fact that Stanza Bopape had been killed, while in police custody, was given by Gen van der Merwe.Full Transcript
06:17But why this incredible web of disinformation around Stanza Bopape’s murder. The amnesty applicants will say that their motive for the cover-up was to prevent widespread unrest on the eve of June 16, the date of the Soweto 1976 uprising.Full Transcript and References
06:36I knew when the police knocked on the door with the seriousness with which they demonstrated; I knew that this was not an ordinary detention. It had nothing to do with the state of emergency; it was something much more important. Stanza was not an ordinary member of the Civic Association; he was a General Secretary of the Mamelodi Civic Association. Over and above that he was a senior member of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the Southern Transvaal Regional Command. Police would have taken interest in him at that level and that alone made him an obvious target. I know that he worked closely with Odirile Maponya whom we both met on several occasions. Full Transcript and References
07:36At about the same time Vlakplaas had launched a huge manhunt for Odirile Maponya, a high ranking MK guerrilla. During the search Eugene de Kock killed his younger brother, Japie Maponya with a spade. Stanza’s mother and two brothers, visibly upset by this late confirmation of his death believe that the amnesty applicants are still not being entirely truthful. Full Transcript and References
08:04They state that Mr. Bopape was tied to a chair for the administration of the electric shocks and they’ve alleged that he slumped forward after only two or three shocks had been administered. They state that they tried to revive him with mouth to mouth resuscitation, indeed they allege that the shocks administered to him should not have been fatal and their suspicion is that he suffered from a possible heart ailment.Full Transcript
08:50He was in good health, so he was not having any problem with the heart or any problem whatsoever with his health. They were telling lies and even now the fact that they said they throw him somewhere in a Komatipoort dam, still we don’t even believe the story.Full Transcript
09:06Besides the Komati river and the mineshaft versions of where Stanza’s remains are, a former kitskonstabel, Johnny Mokaleng claimed that he was buried in Phokeng. However the TRC excavation team could not find any evidence.Full Transcript and References
09:25Nine years after his disappearance all the Bopape’s wish is to give Stanza a dignified burial.Full Transcript
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