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Mandela’s children

August 24, 2010

When Coetzee is asked about the dreams he has for his future, he says he would like to get married. He says he will have to tell his future wife and any children he may have that he is a murderer.

Now Harris Sibeko intervenes. “Listen here, chief, you must wait until a child is old enough to understand what you are telling them, otherwise the child will hate you.” Sibeko turns to the group and asks, “Do you really think we can call this young man a murderer? What do you think is a better name for him?” Then Sibeko answers his own question. “I think you should be called a military operative. Yes, that would be better.”

The group agrees with Sibeko. Then Sibeko asks Coetzee whether he receives any visitors in jail. Coetzee replies that one former prisoner comes sometimes. Sibeko is shocked. “None of your family visit you?” Coetzee replies, “No.”

The interview goes on for two hours. Finally, Olga Macingwane gets to her feet. Unusually, she is fighting with her emotions. She says, “Stefaans, when I see you, I see my sister’s son in you, and I cannot hate you.” She extends her arms. “Come here, boy,” she says in Xhosa. Coetzee walks into her embrace. “I forgive you,” Macingwane says softly. “I have heard what you said, and I forgive you.”

….”I forgive him, but that does not mean I pardon him,” Macingwane tells me afterward. “We are a country of laws now. We are a country who respects the voices of all people. It is up to the laws of my country to decide whether or not to pardon Stefaans.”

….”When I forgave Stefaans,” Macingwane says, “that label of ‘victim’ no longer had such power for me. Physically, of course, the pain will always be there. Mentally, I have at last found some peace. I am not Olga the victim. Now I am Olga. I am Mrs. Olga Macingwane.”

Read the whole article.


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