Remembering The Church Street Bomb, Pretoria

The Church Street attack on May 20, 1983 killed 19 and injured more than 200 people when a car with 40kg of explosives was detonated outside the SAAF headquarters. Two MK cadres, who were in the car at the time, were also killed because the bomb exploded two minutes early. A huge pall of smoke rose hundreds of feet into the air as debris and bodies were strewn around the scene of the explosion. It exploded at the height of the city's rush-hour as hundreds of people were leaving work for the weekend. Glass and metal were catapulted into the air as shop-fronts and windows were blown out. Many passers-by had limbs amputated by the flying debris. Others bled to death.

 



In his book "Long Walk to Freedom", Nelson Mandela wrote that as a leading member of the ANC’s executive committee, he had “personally signed off” in approving these acts of terrorism, the pictures and details of which follow below. This is the horror which Mandela had “signed off” for while he was in prison – convicted for other acts of terrorism after the Rivonia trial. The late SA president PW Botha told Mandela in 1985 that he could be a free man as long as he did just one thing : ‘publicly renounce violence’. Mandela refused. That is why Mandela remained in prison until the appeaser Pres FW de Klerk freed him unconditionally. The bottom line ? Nelson Mandela never publicly renounced the use of violence to further the ‘cause of freedom’. On 11 July 1963 the police raided the home of Arthur Goldreich in Rivonia near Johannesburg, where it captured, by surprise, the leadership cadre of the Umkonto we Sizwe underground. Seventeen people were arrested. Five of those arrested were Jews. They were : Arthur Goldreich, Lionel Bernstein, Hilliard Festenstein, Dennis Goldberg and Bob Hepple.



   


South Africa Project - Post Office Box 9166 Mandeville, Louisiana 70448