The late former state president FW de Klerk. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA
The late former state president FW de Klerk. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

FW de Klerk never apologised for the murder of the five Transkei teens including my twins - father Sigqibo Mpendulo

By Baldwin Ndaba Time of article published Nov 14, 2021

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THE families of the five former Transkei teenagers - who were brutally murdered in a South African Defence Force (SADF) raid, authorised by former president FW de Klerk 28 years ago - are still wondering why former president Nelson Mandela accepted a Nobel Peace Prize with a murderer.

Yesterday Sigqibo Mpendulo, the father of twins Samora and Sadat Mpendulo, 16, who were killed in the deadly raid, recounted the pain he suffered after he witnessed the bodies of his own children and relatives Mzwandile Mfeya, Sandiso Yose, both aged 12, and Thando Mthembu, 17, riddled with bullets in one of his bedrooms in his Northcrest home in Mthatha in 1993.

Mpendulo was reacting to the death of De Klerk, who succumbed to cancer at his Cape Town home this past week.

On the night of October 8, 1993, SADF members stormed the house in the dead of the night and killed the five, under the pretext that the house was the base of the PAC’s military wing, the Azanian People’s Liberation Army (Apla).

After the gruesome murder, De Klerk admitted that he had authorised the raid but described the murder of the children as a “tragic accident”.

Despite the admission, Mpendulo said he was still saddened that De Klerk should go to his grave without him knowing what De Klerk had meant by a “tragic accident”.

“If De Klerk had assumed the high moral ground, he would have seen fit to talk to me as the father of the kids and explain what had happened on that day.

“Now I carry the burden of having to explain to the parents of the children what happened, and for them to accept things as they are.

“What I failed to understand is why did Nelson Mandela accept a Nobel Peace Prize with De Klerk knowing that he was dripping with the blood of the five children,” Mpendulo said.

He also questioned the Oslo Peace Committee for awarding De Klerk the prize, asking “Were they not following the news in South Africa?”

Mpendulo said the committee should have withdrawn the award to De Klerk, even prior to his death, saying that would have encouraged him to support some of the decisions made by the committee to award such accolades to deserving people.

“De Klerk was not one of them, certainly,” he said.

He added: “If they had withdrawn the award, it would have gone a long way to pacify me and other family members and to reconcile (us) with the events which led to the killing of the children.”

Reacting to De Klerk's apology made public by the De Klerk Foundation, Mpendulo said: “He is going to his grave without being apologetic nor remorseful. He was just playing to the gallery.”

Mpendulo recounted how the killing had wrecked his own family. He had lost his wife 10 years later - she had been unable to cope with the murder of her twins and other relatives.

“My wife died believing that she was not raising her kids to be Apla members but kids. For me, what was hurting more was that my other children never received any counselling since then,” Mpendulo said.

One of the families in pain is that of Nokuthula Simelane, who was abducted by the apartheid Security Branch in September 1983 in the parking lot of the Carlton Centre. Simelane was never seen alive again.

On August 21, 2019, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria issued an authorisation of a death certificate for her following a court application by the family in June 2019.

Now, following the death, Simelane’s outspoken sister and Deputy Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Thembi Nkadimeng, is of the view that De Klerk does not deserve a state funeral.

“To those who think he deserves a state funeral, to me he doesn’t. He qualifies. If he gets it, it will be by qualification. Deserving is something you earn,” Nkadimeng said.

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