May 7, 1996 Sapa


Former African National Congress bomber Robert McBride was a cold-blooded murderer who should be removed from his post as a deputy director in the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was told on Tuesday.

The two sisters of commercial artist Marchelle Gerrard, 28, who died in the 1986 bombing of Magoo's Bar on Durban's beachfront, were testifying before the commission on the opening day of its Durban hearings.

"We would like Robert McBride to be removed from public office and our parents to be compensated for their loss," they said in a joint statement to the commission.

Cher and Sharon Gerrard said the ANC and National Party should share responsibility for their sister's death.

"The ANC must take accountability for McBride's actions and the NP should be made accountable for imposing apartheid on millions of people," Sharon Gerrard said.

Cher Gerrard said her sister had been "brutally murdered in a callous and atrocious act".

McBride, sentenced to death three times for his part in the bombing which left three people dead and 69 injured, had never shown remorse for his actions, she said.

"If we are all to forgive and forget he should have shown regret," she said.

McBride received amnesty for the attack and was released from prison in 1992. He was subsequently elected to parliament as an ANC representative. However, he recently gave up his seat to pursue a career in the Department of Foreign Affairs.

A Foreign Affairs spokeswoman told Sapa on Tuesday McBride had completed a training course for diplomatic service abroad and was working in the department's Far East and Asian directorate.

"He has no right to be in public office. He is a convicted murderer," Cher Gerrard told commission chairman Archbishop Desmond Tutu and fellow commissioners.

"Mr McBride cannot justify his position in the government of national unity as he is a cold-blooded murderer who can never wipe away the pain, sorrow, anguish and destruction he caused.

"My mother is a very sad woman. My father has tried to be strong but he is emotionally distraught because he believes justice has not been done."

Tutu told a media briefing the issue of people being rewarded for human rights abuses was being looked at by the commission. Witnesses had expressed the view that perpetrators "should not benefit from evil deeds", he said.

Earlier on Tuesday a former United Democratic Front activist told the commission security policemen had tied cords to his genitals and tortured every part of his body in 1986.

Mandla Cele was arrested by security police and detained in solitary confinement shortly after he reported to police an alleged Inkatha attack on his house in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal.

"They connected a cord to my private parts. I don't wish to go through the pain that I felt on that day," Cele said.

He had remained in custody for almost a year before being formally charged with terrorism. He was acquitted in 1990.

Earlier on Tuesday, a woman who lost her sight while trying to rescue a relative during a political attack at Umlazi in Durban in 1992 told the commission her son had been stoned to death after he refused to join the KwaZulu Police.

Adelaide Ngcobo wiped tears from her eyes as she described how her long-time neighbours in Umlazi had victimised her family for years after learning that her son Zenzele had joined the South African Police instead of the KwaZulu force.

Lamontville resident Joyce Msizazwe told the commission Inkatha supporting KwaZulu Police members and soldiers had systematically intimidated and assaulted her three sons atn KwaMakutha near Durban between 1987 and 1992.

Her sons, accused of being UDF supporters, had been abducted and beaten close to their home on numerous occassions.

"After beating them up they used to dump them in Inkatha areas," Msizazwe said.

On the afternoon of April 7 1990 she had been informed one of her sons, 17-year-old Khumbulani Dlamini, had been shot dead by "white police".

The commission also heard a Newcastle trade unionist, a Prof Sibankulu, whose charred and limbless body was found in the burnt-out wreck of his car in November 1992 had been shot at by KwaZulu Police in a chase on the day before his death.

Sibankulu's family had been informed of his death only on November 12, eight hours after the discovery of his body was broadcast by Radio Zulu, the commission was told.

South African Press Association, 1996
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