"I hugged the man who murdered my father."

Wednesday 21st October 2020


"You can experience incredible trauma and it is not your fault, and a lot of people will say, 'Well why is it on me to forgive when I didn't do anything?  

“But I would say to that, every time you give that incident or that person power, you are inflicting more damage on yourself, so you are re-traumatising yourself, and in many ways you are giving that person continued power over your life."

Candice Mama’s father, Glenack Masilo Mama, died when she was just 8 months old. He was murdered. She had always known that her father had been murdered, and that the murderer was called Eugene de Kock, a notorious commander of the Vlakplaas police unit which was responsible for torturing and murdering black anti-apartheid activists.

Glenack was a black member of the Pan Africanist Congress and his murder was documented in a book kept my Candice’s mother: Confessions of Apartheid’s Assassins.

Candice said: "Every time people would come over to the house she would ask me to go get this book, and people would cry and I'd hear screaming. 

"I'd hear all these odd reactions, or at least what I considered odd at the time, and I just thought to myself, 'I know my dad is in this book, but I want to know, why is he inciting these reactions?'"

After she overheard the page her mother and her friends were going to, she decided she’d look when you got a chance. That chance happened to be the next week, when her mother went out shopping, and she saw a traumatising photograph of her father’s burnt body, clutching the steering wheel of a car.

"In my mind, immediately I connected the fact that this was my father, this was how he died and he [Eugene de Kock] is the person who did it. And because I knew what I did was wrong, that I wasn't allowed to open that book, I held it within myself."

In 2014, the National Prosecuting Authority contacted Candice’s mother to ask if the family would like to take part in a victim-perpetrator dialogue and meet Eugene de Kock.

Read more about Candice’s story and how Restorative Justice (RJ) helped her by clicking here.

 Candice has since written a book entitled Forgiveness Redefined and you can buy it here.

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