’We will get the truth on who ended Ashley Kriel’s life’
Cape Town - The family of slain Struggle hero and Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) guerrilla Ashley Kriel are hopeful that the inquest that has been opened will bring to light the true circumstances of his death.
Kriel was killed on July 9, 1987 in Hazendal, Athlone, aged 20. He had returned home after receiving military training in exile.
Apartheid security police officer Jeffrey Benzien received amnesty at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1999 for Kriel’s murder.
Benzien’s version was that he shot him by accident during a scuffle in the house.
However, Kriel’s family, who have been calling for justice for the past 33 years, believe he was murdered rather than accidentally shot, as he was “shot from behind, while his wrists were handcuffed behind his back”.
Police spokesperson FC van Wyk said the provincial detectives had reopened the inquest case for investigation.
In a family statement shared by Kriel’s sister Michel Assure with the Cape Times, the family said: “We, the family of Ashley Kriel, welcome the reopening of the investigation into his death … We hope this time we will get the truth and that those who ended his life will be charged and convicted.”
They said the family felt that a conviction would not take their pain away, but it would bring closure and justice.
“We are on record as stating that our brother was killed in Athlone in 1987. Ashley was executed by apartheid killers. We demand that these murderers must answer for their crimes. We will not surrender our fighting spirit.”
The ANC Youth League in the Western Cape said the inquest was a step in the right direction.
“We also insist that the deaths of other youth activists murdered by the apartheid police be investigated as well. Ashley Kriel epitomised the brave resistance of the youth of the Western Cape against apartheid.
“We never gave up the fight for justice. In 2018, the Western Cape Youth League, while holding a commemoration at Comrade Kriel’s graveside, called on the National Prosecuting Authority to reopen the investigation into his death. Last year we wrote to Justice Minister Ronald Lamola, urging him to act.
“We are happy with the news. It’s time for the truth to be uncovered. It’s time for the Kriel family to be vindicated because they have maintained, as did many of us, that Ashley was murdered and that the truth about his death was not brought before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”