search

THE KILLING OF STEVE BIKO

24 years ago today, four apartheid-era police officers, appearing before the court, admitted to the 1977 murder of the activist Bantu Stephen Biko.
Facebook
Twitter
WhatsApp
Email
Print
Bantu Stephen Biko in 1977 | The Conversation

On this day in 1997, in South Africa, four apartheid-era police officers, appearing before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, admitted to the 1977 killing of Bantu Stephen Biko, a leader of the grassroots anti-apartheid campaign known as the Black Consciousness Movement.

In 1969, Biko, a medical student, founded an organisation for South Africa’s Black students to combat the minority government’s racist apartheid policies and promote Black identity. In 1972, he helped organise the Black People’s Convention, and in the next year, he was banned from politics by the Afrikaner government. Four years later, in September 1977, he was arrested for subversion. While in police custody in Port Elizabeth, Biko was brutally beaten and then driven 700 miles to Pretoria, where he was thrown into a cell. On 12 September 1977, he died naked and shackled on the filthy floor of a police hospital. News of the political killing, denied by the country’s white minority government, led to international protests and a U.N.-imposed arms embargo.

Biko (far left) in Durban for the annual conference of the South African Students’ Organisation, 1971 | New Frame
A clenched black fist, the informal symbol of Biko’s Black Consciousness Movement | Social Shorthand

In 1995, after the peaceful transfer to majority rule in South Africa, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established to examine decades of apartheid policy and to address the widespread call for justice for those who abused their authority under the system. However, as a condition of the transfer of power, the outgoing white minority government requested that the commission be obligated to grant amnesty to people making full confessions of politically motivated crimes during apartheid. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu was appointed to head the commission.

In early 1997, four former police officers, including Police Colonel Gideon Nieuwoudt, appeared before the commission and admitted to killing Steve Biko two decades earlier. The commission agreed to hear their request for political amnesty but, in 1999, refused to grant amnesty because the men failed to establish a political motive for the brutal killing.

Biko, holding a birthday cake, April 1969 | Lindiwe Edith Gumede Baloyi

Peter Gabriel wrote the song “Biko” in 1980 as a result of Steve Biko’s passing.

💧 You might also like THE RAINBOW FLAG: THE STORY BEHIND.

⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯

Featured image via The Collector.

Facebook
Twitter
WhatsApp
Email
Print
Rudolf Dethu

Rudolf Dethu

Music journalist, writer, radio DJ, socio-political activist, creative industry leader, and a qualified librarian, Rudolf Dethu is heavily under the influence of the punk rock philosophy. Often tagged as this country’s version of Malcolm McLaren—or as Rolling Stone Indonesia put it ‘the grand master of music propaganda’—a name based on his successes when managing Bali’s two favourite bands, Superman Is Dead and Navicula, both who have become two of the nation’s biggest rock bands.
Rudolf Dethu

Rudolf Dethu

Music journalist, writer, radio DJ, socio-political activist, creative industry leader, and a qualified librarian, Rudolf Dethu is heavily under the influence of the punk rock philosophy. Often tagged as this country’s version of Malcolm McLaren—or as Rolling Stone Indonesia put it ‘the grand master of music propaganda’—a name based on his successes when managing Bali’s two favourite bands, Superman Is Dead and Navicula, both who have become two of the nation’s biggest rock bands.

Related

RUDOLF DETHU

Scroll to Top