Apartheid culprits must be forgiven, says former spy boss Moe Shaik
Johannesburg - Former spy boss and anti-apartheid activist Moe Shaik says those who were responsible for torturing political detainees have to be forgiven if the country is to heal.
Shaik recently addressed the Johannesburg launch of his new book, The ANC Spy Bible, which details his journey from his optometrist job during apartheid in Durban to being an underground ANC operative who led a hi-tech intelligence operation.
The book details his trauma of detention and torture during the 1980s and recounts the role of former president Jacob Zuma during the Struggle.
Shaik said the apartheid system itself had to be held responsible as its functionaries were also victims of the system.
“They, too, no matter what they have done to us, have been deeply brutalised by the apartheid system. Please do not hold them individually responsible and bring out that they must be prosecuted.
“It is the apartheid system that brutalised all of us,” Shaik said.
He said that he also understood why some detainees succumbed to brutality and blew the covers of other political activists.
“I can understand betrayal and the reasons people did what they did.”
Shaik said apartheid’s humiliations remained in the minds of black people who were brutalised by the system.
In the book, Shaik relates how his detention as an ANC operative brought him into contact with a Security Branch officer who revealed secrets about Security Branch activities, leading him into the world of espionage.
At the book launch, he said he was initially sceptical of the security police officer, who is dubbed the “Nightingale” in the book.
“In detention, there was this one guy who was showing me incredible kindness. I was taught that you must never trust the other side because they always have a trick, but I started to see that this human being was starting to tell me things that helped navigate the story through my detention,” he said.
The security officer would later supply Shaik with secret files, which he said would later be called by OR Tambo “the Bible” due to their accuracy, including information about spies who had infiltrated the ANC.
“The things that I started to read in those files told me what none of us had ever seen before.
“The ANC was infiltrated. We also got to know the structure of the Security Branch and a method of working I had no understanding of before.
“I was hooked from day one,” the author said.