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Statement on misrepresentation over release of Barend Strydom

29 September 1992

There has been a blurring of information and a deliberate presentation by sections of the mass media that the release of Barend Strydom was part of the agreement on release of political prisoners reached between the ANC and the government.

The ANC has painstakingly, in co-operation with bodies such as the Human Rights Commission as well as local structures, compiled a list of prisoners sentenced for actions in opposition to apartheid.

Barend Strydom was not on that list. His crime was cold-blooded, premeditated murder founded on racial hatred. Black people were "the enemy", and in the run-up to his Pretoria killing spree, he had a "trial run" in which one woman was murdered. Rehabilitation was considered impossible by the presiding judge. Therefore the government must be held accountable for any future atrocities Strydom might commit.

Strydom is most certainly a product of apartheid policies. The ANC was not party to the decision to release Strydom. The responsibility for this rests squarely on the shoulders of the government. It is their decision to accept that such heinous crimes were committed in defence of apartheid, and fall within their definition of a legitimate political act.

The continual comparison made between Strydom and Robert McBride is not only without foundation, but is also an insult to those who have steadfastly opposed racism. The millions of people who have lived their whole lives under the yoke of apartheid reject with contempt this odious comparison.

Issued by:
Department of Information and Publicity