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Kotze is no monster, says Tutu

Cape Town - 1100603 - Archbishop Emraritus Desmond Tutu speaks about the passing of his dear friend and ANC Stalwart Albertina Sisulu at St George's Cathedral in Cape Town. Photo: Matthew Jordaan

Cape Town - 1100603 - Archbishop Emraritus Desmond Tutu speaks about the passing of his dear friend and ANC Stalwart Albertina Sisulu at St George's Cathedral in Cape Town. Photo: Matthew Jordaan

Published Jan 18, 2012

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Johan Kotze remains a child of God with the capacity to become a saint and shouldn’t be labelled the “Modimolle monster”.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu feels so strongly about this, he wrote a special article to The Star, appealing to society to stop calling Kotze a monster.

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Kotze has appeared in court on charges of having had his ex-wife gang-raped and mutilated, and shooting her son, killing him.

“What is disturbing, however, is when our outrage leads us to dub the alleged perpetrator ‘the monster from Modimolle’, as the media has been doing,” he writes. His plea has created controversy.

“Decent people are rightly appalled by what happened to Ms Ina Bonnette in Modimolle…” Tutu wrote. “He may indeed be guilty of inhuman, ghastly and monstrous deeds, but he is not a monster. We are actually letting him off lightly by calling him a monster because monsters have no moral sense of right and wrong.”

Tutu in his article draws on his experiences at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, saying that while “bloodcurdling” stories were heard, there were still extraordinary scenes of magnanimity “when perpetrator and victim or a relative of a victim embraced publicly”. “But we believed then, and I hope we still do, that it was possible for people to change for the better, that the worst criminal could become a good and virtuous person,” Tutu said.

However, criminologist Dr Jackie de Wet, from the University of Fort Hare, feels that research and history are against Kotze becoming a good and virtuous person – that is if he did indeed commit the crimes he is charged with.

“What has been shown in the past is that for someone with that level of violence, the chances of rehabilitation are very, very slim, almost minuscule.”

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History had shown that offenders who committed acts as violent as the ones Kotze is alleged to have committed, offended again if released, he added.

The Limpopo branch of the ANC’s Women’s League protested outside the Modimolle Magistrate’s Court during Kotze’s appearance. “In our view he is a monster – no human being can do such a thing,” said ANCWL Waterberg treasurer Joy Matshoge.

“He even said to his wife that she must listen to her son beg for his life.” Matshoge said she understood Tutu’s point of view.

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In his article, Tutu mentions Bible stories in which sinners see the light. “No, Mr Johan Kotze remains a child of God with the capacity to become a saint. This may shock some of us. But have we forgotten, those who are Christians, the story of the repentant thief on the cross?

“Have we forgotten Peter, who denied his Master not once, but three times, but nonetheless becomes the chief of the apostles, or Mary Magdalene, the prostitute, who became the Queen of Penitents as St Mary Magdalene?”- The Star

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