Streaming issues? Report here
volume_up
volume_mute

Up Next: Early Breakfast with Abongile Nzelenzele
See full line-up
Home
arrow_forward
Politics

Zille recounts exposing cover-up around Steve Biko's death - "I was terrified"

12 September 2019 12:00 PM
Tags:
Police Brutality
Helen Zille
Steve Biko
Death
Journalism
Rand Daily Mail
anti-apartheid activist
Former journo and anti-apartheid activist Helen Zille recalls how she got to the bottom of Steve Biko's death in police detention.

Retired politician Helen Zille has remembered how she helped uncover the truth behind Steve Biko's death in 1977.

South Africans have been paying tribute to the anti-apartheid veteran and Black Consciousness Movement leader, who was killed 42 years ago today.

Also read: My father's memory lives on, says Biko's son

As a young activist and journalist for the Rand Daily Mail in the late 1970s, Zille was instrumental in exposing the cover-up around Biko's death.

When apartheid minister of justice Jimmy Kruger released a statement claiming that Biko had died while on hunger strike, she was assigned to the story.

I was a very young journalist and I remember a statement came 'on the wire', as we used to call it then.

Helen Zille, former DA leader and Western Cape premier

He [Steve Biko] had only been arrested the week before and it was frankly impossible for a grown man of his size and stature to have died within a week. We knew that there was something deeply suspicious about that.

Helen Zille, former DA leader and Western Cape premier

Zille says she was sent by her editor to Port Elizabeth, where she found various leads from sources including doctors, police and others who had made contact with Biko before his death.

I was absolutely terrified. I had to speak to everyone who had contact with Steve Biko in his last days.

Helen Zille, former DA leader and Western Cape premier

She learned that a pathology report, which police tried to bury, found that Biko's death was caused by brain injuries.

Zille knew for certain that Biko did not die of a hunger strike and she published her story in a bid to force police to open an inquest.

If he died of unnatural causes there would have to be an inquest, by law. When the inquest came, it was all on the table.

Helen Zille, former DA leader and Western Cape premier

Listen to her reflect on how she helped uncover the story and the role of journalism today:


12 September 2019 12:00 PM
Tags:
Police Brutality
Helen Zille
Steve Biko
Death
Journalism
Rand Daily Mail
anti-apartheid activist

More from Politics

Condolences pour in for deputy minerals minister Bavelile Hlongwa

14 September 2019 9:34 AM

The Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources died in a car crash on Friday. The details surrounding the crash remain unclear.

Read More arrow_forward

Teacher gives girl pupils a lesson on basic car maintenance

13 September 2019 6:08 PM

A Facebook post has put the Wykeham Collegiate private school for girls in Pietermaritzburg in the limelight.

Read More arrow_forward

[LISTEN] I intend to go back to work, my name must be cleared - Peter Moyo

13 September 2019 5:30 PM

The fired Old Mutual CEO has responded to board chair Trevor Manuel's claims made in a media briefing on Friday.

Read More arrow_forward

Gauteng residents asked to be mindful of depleting dam levels

13 September 2019 4:24 PM

Residents have been urged to adapt accordingly as the Integrated Vaal River System is also negatively impacted by the decline.

Read More arrow_forward

Nelson Chamisa calls on Zimbabweans to forgive Mugabe

13 September 2019 4:07 PM

The MDC president says this is not the time to score 'cheap' political points and that due regard must be given to the statesmen.

Read More arrow_forward

'A day like today indicates how fractured we are as a country' #SandtonShutdown

13 September 2019 1:38 PM

JSE CEO Nicky Newton-King received a memorandum from demonstrators on Friday and says women's demands will not fall on deaf ears.

Read More arrow_forward

'Queer bodies are falling through the cracks in this conversation'

13 September 2019 12:15 PM

Activist Nolwazi Tusini gives her critique of the #SandtonShutdown and the conversation around gender-based violence.

Read More arrow_forward

SA justice system was not weakened by chance, it was systematic - Cele

13 September 2019 9:10 AM

Police Minister says the country needs to move away form moral degeneration and put families first.

Read More arrow_forward

Fact-checking Robert Mugabe's legacy

13 September 2019 8:36 AM

ZimFacts head Cris Chinaka weighs in on the impact of the former Zimbabwean president on the country and its people.

Read More arrow_forward

City of Joburg to extend pointsmen contract for another month

12 September 2019 7:03 PM

MMC Michael Sun says the municipality has to comply with the rules and regulations when giving private operators such a tender.

Read More arrow_forward