New York Times interview about A Human Being Died that Night – New York Times

Pumla Gobodo-MadikizelaInterviews, Print

By Rachel L. Swarns May 10, 2003

The black woman saw him whenever she thumbed through her newspapers or switched on the television: the tall white man with thick glasses.

He was Eugene de Kock, a former colonel in the South African police force, who led a counterterrorism unit that tortured and killed black activists during the apartheid years. He confessed to more than 100 acts of torture and murder, and his men called him Prime Evil.

She was Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, a black psychologist appointed to South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was created to expose the crimes committed during white rule. She had watched apartheid shatter the lives of black people, so she understood when they called him a monster.

But when she looked into his eyes as he testified she thought she saw something else: remorse. And that was how she ended up driving to Pretoria Central Prison one day in 1997 to meet Mr. de Kock, one of the country’s most notorious inmates.