How to be Brave

April 01, 2024 Bradley Steyn Season 1 Episode 1
How to be Brave
More Info
How to be Brave
Apr 01, 2024 Season 1 Episode 1
Bradley Steyn

Bradley Steyn and Janet Smith talk to ANC veteran Dr Khulu Mbatha, advisor to South Africa’s post-democracy presidents. Khulu is blunt and compassionate, showing how bravery happens when we have nothing to lose.

Support the Show.

Thank You to our Sponsors :

  • FNB
  • BiB Africa's Library (My Bib)

End Music Provided by :

Contact Information :

Let's work together :

Grab a copy of the Book :

Undercover with Mandela’s Spies (audiobook version) available at BiB Africa's Library :

Download - App search for Mandela’s Spies

Become a supporter of the show!
Starting at $3/month
Show Notes Transcript

Bradley Steyn and Janet Smith talk to ANC veteran Dr Khulu Mbatha, advisor to South Africa’s post-democracy presidents. Khulu is blunt and compassionate, showing how bravery happens when we have nothing to lose.

Support the Show.

Thank You to our Sponsors :

  • FNB
  • BiB Africa's Library (My Bib)

End Music Provided by :

Contact Information :

Let's work together :

Grab a copy of the Book :

Undercover with Mandela’s Spies (audiobook version) available at BiB Africa's Library :

Download - App search for Mandela’s Spies

[Bradley Steyn]

My name is Bradley Steyn. I was born in Pretoria, South Africa. Growing up, I witnessed firsthand the brutality of hate and apartheid.

And as a teenager in 1988, I survived a massacre that would change the course of my life forever. And that's why I decided to take a stand and join the intelligence unit of Nelson Mandela's spy network. In the course of our dedicated efforts during that time, we successfully unearthed a sinister plot to assassinate Nelson Mandela at his 1994 inauguration.

This was a pivotal moment in South African history. Would we go into civil war? Would there be peace?

But it also marked a significant stride towards advancing human rights for all South Africans. Little did I know, a hit was placed on us. And I just managed to escape South Africa and find refuge abroad.

I used my experiences and my expertise and teamed up with leading security professionals, where I was fortunate enough to work with some of the most fascinating people in the world. Now I'm back in South Africa, ready to take on the rising tide of crime, murder, and corruption that has tainted South Africa's journey towards liberation and our democracy. Join me, Bradley Steyn, your co-host, along with journalist and author Janet Smith, and our special lineup of guests as we go undercover.

In this series, we will be declassifying our past, while we bring you the untold stories of our silent warriors, activists, and patriots. We'll also get a different perspective from our youth, where our democracy is today, 30 years later. Through these conversations together, we can shape the future we aspire to.

[Janet Smith]

Barend Strydom's racist massacre on a public square in Pretoria was one of the defining events of the last years of apartheid. It was November 1988. Global condemnation and international boycotts were finally grinding the world's last supremacist outpost to a halt.


But even as expectations grew that there could be a peaceful transition to democracy, some, like Strydom, believed whites were being betrayed. The former policeman and army conscript set out to make his statement in the most horrifying way possible. In total, eight black people were the victims of his rage.


The blood that covered the piazza outside the state theatre also came to mark the boundary between freedom and a form of captivity for Bradley Steyn, who was a teenager when he walked into the mass shooting. Bradley's life was spared by the killer because he was white. Yet that bloodied boundary was so destructive to his mental health that Bradley eventually put down those experiences and the astonishing true life events which followed into a non-fiction thriller undercover with Mandela's spies.


This podcast takes you on a journey with Bradley and a number of extraordinary guests to examine the toll South Africa's battlefields has taken on our minds and how we can continue to work on our shared recovery. I am Janet Smith and in this episode we welcome struggle stalwart and author Dr. Kulu Mbatha to a conversation about what it means to show courage at the podium and in your own everyday life when living in a violent and traumatized society. Please join us for How to be Brave which is created in honor of Strydom's first victim, 25-year-old Martha Mosekili


Martha was shot twice in the back while she was running away from Strydom in her neighborhood of Wheeler's Farm near Johannesburg. The date was 8 November 1988. Strydom killed Martha to test his resolve for the massacre he would carry out a week later.


Thank you for joining us. I'll hand over to Bradley now to welcome our guest.


[Bradley Steyn]

Khulu, thank you very very much for joining us here today. I'd like to also just mention that Khulu is a mentor of mine, somebody who is very dear, very close to me, my Tata, Dr Khulu Mbatha. Joined the liberation movement at a very young age, was very active, very present in the movement, eventually going into exile in Europe where he earned a Ph.D. in philosophy.


He has served at the permanent mission of South Africa to the United Nations in New York and was an advisor under three South African presidents. He's also the author of Unmasked, Why the ANC Failed to Govern, a critique on the governing party, and Perched on Hope which is about his early life in Soweto and his years in exile from 1976 to 1991. The reason I wanted to bring Kulu into this conversation is so that we could have some words of wisdom about bravery and what it takes to advise our country's leaders.


[Janet Smith]

It's great to have the two of you in conversation together. Khulu, I'm sure you also share my admiration for Bradley. I think it's 30-plus years of him trying to make sense of the hate-fuelled murders he witnessed as a teenager and that really is what brought us together today.


I know you and Bradley have other reasons for your relationship that I hope we'll expand on. The Bradley I know, or I've got to know through writing and through work together in terms of research, this mental health journey that he's been taking his entire adult life really struck me and so I hope that as you talk to each other you'll discover those points of commonality.


[Bradley Steyn]

So Tata, and for those of you that don't know, in South African culture we address our elders with respect, Tata meaning father. Please could you paint for us what the world was like in the dying days of apartheid from your point of view and tell us where there were times when you had to find superhuman strength just to deal with the challenges with which we were faced?


[Khulu Mbatha]

Thank you, Brad. First, let me start by saying when I went through your book I was really moved, I was touched, and I asked myself many, many, many questions about you, about your upbringing, but about our society. Then I discovered that there was another brother with a different skin doing something that if you did not write about it would not have been known. That's why I'm so thankful you had the strength and the courage to reflect back on what happened on that day, but again your book is about your whole life. The first chapter of your book, which is the massacre, only that chapter alone describes the whole history of South Africa, where from 1652 to 1988 everything that happened is summarized there and we can dissect it in many ways, but let me say it's November 1988. So many things happened that year. The Delmas treason trial was on that involved Bopomlefo, Terralikota, and Moschikane. There were 22 of them UDF members who were accused of collaborating, assisting the African National Congress wanting to bring down the government of South Africa. It started in 1985 and of course, it continued until 1989, but there were other things that were happening in their country.

There were Valli Moosa and Mephu Murube who were hiding in the consulate, U.S. consulate in Johannesburg. The police wanted to arrest them. There was a state of emergency. Let me start earlier on.


The COSATU, the National Education Council, and so many organizations were banned. The regime was feeling very threatened, not only by sanctions, isolation, and so on, and they were trying to build up relations even with China and other countries in Latin America, Paraguay, and so on, because the isolation from European countries and the U.S. and so on was eating into the economy. But there were other initiatives in the country taken by whites.


First, in 1987, the delegation of Afrikaners that went to meet the ANC in Senegal. But in 1988 we had prominent people like Denis Worrall, we had Slabert, and so on, who were coming out. Slabert even resigned from parliament and established IDASA and said he wants to work for a future South Africa that will involve all people of South Africa, and therefore he was no longer prepared to work in the South African parliament.

 But there were other whites like that.


[Bradley Steyn]

And Albie Sachs, Khulu, as well, right? That happened in 1988. 


[Khulu Mbatha]


It happened in April, he was bombed in Mozambique.


I was coming to that. I was first defining what was happening among the white population because these were signals that the trust of—remember, the system is supposed to protect and create privileges for all whites.


Now, here we had reached a point where many prominent whites were coming out and speaking against the government to say, we are prepared to live in a different South Africa than the one we're living under. So the regime, its infiltration, and the killings, and massacres, it was following in Namibia. Remember, the war in Namibia, it's reaching its apex.


And then we had the bombings of Albie Sachs in Mozambique.


[News Insert]

Two years ago, the exiled South African lawyer Albie Sachs opened his car door and received the full impact of a planted bomb. When he was taken to hospital, doctors gave him little chance of survival. The explosion was heard throughout the Mozambique capital, Maputo.


The booby trap was suspected to be the work of South African agents. His car was meant to be his grave. Miraculously, he did survive, shattered.


He'd lost the sight in one eye, one arm was amputated. Nevertheless, two months later, the ANC leader remained optimistic about his homeland's future.


[Khulu Mbatha]

We had three security spies who were arrested in Zimbabwe, who were on trial. And South Africa tried to send commandos to Zimbabwe to go and release those three because they were facing trial for having bombed houses of the ANC in Zimbabwe. So there was all this happening.


At the same time, the regime was trying to come with new ideas on how to protect itself or make apartheid sellable to the international community. In that year, there was what we called, for the first time, multiracial local government elections, which means Indians, Coloureds, Whites, and Blacks were supposed to elect their own people to serve in local municipalities. Of course, the majority of blacks did not participate, but we had a number in the Coloured areas and in the communities who participated.


But the results thereof were not recognized by the international community. In fact, the United Nations came out to condemn what the apartheid regime was trying to sell to the international community, that it is trying to make people elect their own structures. I want to quote you, because you put it so beautifully in your foreword.


You say we lost a mystical. The bells of their branches and chimes of leaves brushing the ground at our feet frame those pictures in my mind. As we played, fed, housed, protected, nurtured, we were chosen ones.


We were white, but most of us didn't know that as white children, we're particularly special. That describes the whole system of South Africa. So, Strydom becomes a victim of propaganda.


I don't think Strydom was following everything that was happening around South Africa, but the propaganda of the apartheid regime to the white community was so strong. Besides the existence of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging AWB, there were individuals, young people, who were fascinated and who had also, we can say, angs, fear that South Africa is being attacked from all sides by communists. They want to come and take over their country, because growing up as a white child, as you correctly say, you are not aware that the system has afforded you so many privileges as a white, and you are not also aware of the fact that the people who work in your house, who do your garden, and so on, are not doing that willingly.


They are doing that because they are prevented from entering other spheres of work because of the color of their skin. You take it as normal. And, you know, when you walk there, right, in the Pretoria streets, you see everything around yourself.


You see black people and so on, and you correctly say, you see, the blacks that you see around, they've got jobs, they are working, and so on. Those who don't have jobs will remain poor, but you take that as normal, you see. So, Steydom.


I wish we could have done more post-apartheid, post-1994, because I think he's a phenomenon, but he represents all those people who didn't have the best education, all those people who just took it as normal that South Africa should remain and should be protected to be what it is. So, by taking that gun, going to the streets, he, I think, thinks he is contributing to the threat that South Africa is facing, and it's brought about by these black people who deserve to be shot at like that. So, it's very, very, very much fascinating, working into his psyche and so on.


And I say, I say, it is what, it's what made, projected our image, but the regime, the regime wanted to protect this in order to keep the apartheid system intact for years and years to come.


[Janet Smith]

Well, I think what you've been capturing here is very important, because that part of Bradley's book, I imagine, was quite harrowing to write, because what he was leading into there was that happy boy, unaware of the events that were really surrounding most people in South Africa, who was about to walk into a life-changing event, and not only a life-changing event, but one which would harm him on a very fundamental level, and would, in fact, continue to harm him up until the age he is today.


And I like the question that Bradley asked you around whether there were events in your life where you had to find a sort of a superhuman courage to move forward. I'm hoping that, you know, in terms of Bradley and your knowledge of each other, there'll be a way that, you know, as a listener, I can sort of feel that understanding between you. I know Bradley admires you so much, and I suppose what I'm really asking is for you to pinpoint one instance, there were many, where you had to be brave.


[Khulu Mbatha]

First, I say in my new book that to take a decision to leave the country after the Soweto massacre in 1976, for us as youth, as children, who had not experienced or seen for our eyes bullets piercing through the bodies of young children, it was a big, big, big, big shock. So, the anger and the radicalism it instilled in us, it told us there is only one thing to do now, to get to leave the country and get military training and come back and face the system, the boers in the street, and shoot our way through. So, in this situation, when we rebel against the system, we take a very, very, very, very, very difficult decision.


But we are telling ourselves that we're going outside, do military training, and come back with guns and mow down the boers that were shooting other students. This rebellion is not only directed against the system, it's against all types of authority over us. It is also against the authority of our parents, because until then, we were listening to what our parents were saying, we must go to school, we must do this, and so on.


But when June 16 happened, we decided, no, no, no, no, no. We have reached the end now. We must fight against the system.


Our parents tried to speak to us, but we wouldn't listen. That's why I always say, if we had seen a picture of what exile looks like, we would never have left the country. But we were so bold and so radical that we left the country.


Nobody spoke about exile. But – and many of us had not used that word in our normal conversation. But we only realized when we had crossed the borders that, actually, this is a point of no return.


And a point of return, it makes you think differently. It makes you understand that you've taken such a big step. It has consequences.


You might never return. But we were convinced that we were on the right course, we wanted to fight, and we thought we were going out for 6 months. We ended up staying outside for 15 years.


What kept us going? The hope and the conviction that we were fighting for a right and just cause, that's what gave us, kept us going. Because there were moments after 3 years, after 5 years, when you thought it looks like we're no longer going to go back home.


[Bradley Steyn]

Wow, Kulu, that is massively inspiring and courageous, really courageous. So many people in the liberation movement had to be so brave. And we've very seldom heard those stories.


It's just the bigger stories, the more notable people, etc. But thank you very, very much for sharing that with us.


[Janet Smith]

Khulu, it also occurs to me that there was just so much, it occurs to me often, but I think when I'm listening to you talking about that decision to leave, that complete separation between people at that time. So white people mostly had no understanding, no sense, no will to understand what was happening in terms of people from your community, of Rockville in Soweto, for example. And perhaps, as you said, there wasn't always that knowledge of the level of privilege and the impact of that, bizarrely, on a person like Bradley.


There were other things that we didn't know. For example, that, I guess, historical fact, the Black Consciousness movement was behind the 1976 uprising, has become much more accepted now as fact. But for a long time, I think white people thought that that was the prevail of the ANC.


Also, in terms of you, you've written in a highly perceptive way about when you were growing up, that you didn't necessarily have a clear knowledge of the differences between the ANC and the PAC of Nelson Mandela versus, say, somebody like Robert Sobukwe. And I think that impact on bravery bears reference here. You had to make a decision that was based sometimes not on the complete picture.


[Khulu Mbatha]

Yes. Let me explain that. We will say the oil that influenced the ideology was brought about by Black Consciousness thinking, which became a movement.


At that point in time, it was not organized like we have now bodies or structures that represent the Black Consciousness movement. No. In 1976, it was the ideology that gave, that inspired us to say, Black men, you can also do something.


You can stand up and fight for your right. And that's the influence. And then when we went out, we went out with the understanding that we come back with our guns and shoot, and shoot anything that will be in front of us.


And of course, this was a white system. It was Black. It was white soldiers.


It was a white army. Everything was white. And thanks, and thanks for leaving the country, and thanks to having landed in the hands of the African National Congress, because for some time, or the first weeks, months, we arrived, and we found that there were so many South African Black Africans who were in exile, who were in Tanzania, who were in Swaziland, who were in Zambia.


And then we got more angry. What are you doing here? Children are being mowed down in South Africa.


We are just sitting here and doing nothing, and so on. And many leaders of the African National Congress, they looked at us. They started engaging with us.


And we tried to explain ourselves. The system that we know that is oppressing and killing Black people, with time, the leaders of the African National Congress taught us that you are fighting a system. You are not fighting white people.


We said, no, we are fighting white people. They said, no, you are not fighting white people. You are fighting a system. 


And they tried—they then explained to us the political economy, what makes South Africa, what other—what makes South Africa, the economy, the labour, the trade union movement, the struggle where it originates from, the arrival of colonists in Africa and also in South Africa. Then it became clear to us that while we were very angry and radicalized, it is a system.


It is a system that is oppressing, that is directed at African people. But this system, this system, it can be changed, and it can only be changed by us. And how can we change it?


Because we could see for ourselves that, actually, in the African National Congress, there were whites, there were Indians, there were Coloured, there was the face of South Africa. 


[Bradley Steyn]

That's really inspiring, Khulu, because, you know, there was so much education in the camps during that time, and with the people that were, you know, in exile, trying to figure out how to make a difference in the struggle, because white people were entirely ignorant in their bliss. And, you know, white power was being drummed into us, for instance, at school, you know, us going to school, going to all-white schools where we had to wear our cadet uniforms.


They were grooming us for how to fight against the Swart Gevaar (black danger) and the Rooi Gevaar (red/communist danger) . But, Khulu, I wanted to ask you, the Freedom Charter and what it stood for. What you've just spoken about reminds me a lot of the foundation of what the Freedom Charter stood for and that it was for all South Africans, no matter what their race was. And that, you know, the challenge was the system and bringing down the white supremacy system.



[Khulu Mbatha]

I wanted to come to that, because as we were being politicized now in the correct way, now the main document of the African National Congress was the Freedom Charter. And to understand the Freedom Charter in its context, you had to be—they had to explain to us how South Africa became a prosperous country, to be what it is. They had to explain to us how a working class came into existence in South Africa, compared to other African countries.


They had to compare to us how the founders of the ANC, when the ANC was founded, they did not say, we don't want to be ruled by these colonizers. The African National Congress was founded to mobilize Africans so that they become part and parcel of a parliament. The leaders felt that the African people had not been incorporated into the union of South Africa that wanted to have exercise governance over the African people.


And the aim, right from the beginning, was to negotiate with the powers that be. But the Freedom Charter, adopted in 1955, made it clear to us that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, and that no government can claim authority unless it is based on the will of all its citizens, of all the people of South Africa. Now, the confrontation that we, as members of the ANC and that of the PAC, had to face the world, because as a student in Europe, you were with students from then the Soviet Union, from the different parts of the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and so on, Kazakhstan, then from Bulgaria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, then from the Middle East, Iraq, Syrian students, then we had students from Africa, Senegal, Nigeria, and so on. Now, they would ask us, what are you fighting against? How many people are oppressing you?


Then we say, whites. How many are they? Then we say, no, whites are three to four million.


And then they say, blacks, how many Africans are you? Then we say, about 24, 30 million. They say, no, but you can't be oppressed by three million.


Then it was our task to explain that we were not fighting against whites, because white people are found all over the world, and black people are the majority in Africa. But our struggle is directed against the system that is oppressing us, and this system is called apartheid. And this system is not fought—is not only being fought by African people.


We have whites, we've got Indians, we've got Coloureds in the organization. And in explaining ourselves in this way and explaining the clauses of the Freedom Charter, the ANC became the only movement originating from South Africa that became popular in Europe. And one support from the working people in Western Europe, the anti-apartheid organization in Britain, in Germany, in the Netherlands, became the strongest movement, whereas I'm comparing here with the PAC, which had not a single office in Europe, because in explaining themselves, they were anti-white.


They were anti-white to an extent that they lost support from all over. At the end, they were only supported by the United Nations and, we say today, African Union. It was the Organization of African Unity.


[Janet Smith]

Khulu, can I jump in at this point to express really a profound pride, I think, as a South African and as, you know, compatriots, that there wasn't that kind of bloodshed wrought in revenge from the side of black people, such as that Barend Strydom, you know, he took out all of his anger against you, against a system which he ironically thought was oppressing him too, by allowing the views of the ANC, the views of the PAC into the space.


And yet, after that massacre, there wasn't the kind of response which might have been completely natural, which was for black people to do what you've described early on, that wish to go out into the streets with weapons and, you know, I guess take vengeance on white people. So that for me, for Bradley, I think, in his book was an extreme level of bravery to not do that, to contain that. Where did that come from?


That knowledge that we cannot afford to fight back in the way that Stradum, to match what Strydom did?


[Khulu Mbatha]

Yeah, in fact, Mandela puts it very well. He says, if you can learn to hate, then you can learn to love. And, you know, things like hope, things like courage.


You see when Brad is holding that man who is dying, it's not black and white. It's not black and white. When he's holding that man who's dying, trying to save his life, it's not black and white.


It's human beings showing the most—it's instinctive. It's natural. And this is how we are.


But political systems, you see, when you look at a young child, today you could go to any school, you look at young children, black and white, playing. There is no discrimination. There is no racism.


Racism comes in once the children leave school, they go to university, once they grow up in families and so on. That's where they experience a culture, attitude that then informs them how to behave outside to other human beings. And that's why we correctly say apartheid was a system, because like Brad also says, you don't realize your privilege.


In fact, we can reverse it today and say, you know, in order to bring about social cohesion, in order to bring about a better understanding, we have to speak about this, because in the discourse, in the discussion, in the debates, even in parliament today, there is an understanding that whites were doing this because they were white. And there is always a cry that says, no, they were not doing that because they were white. They were doing that because the system was favouring, was creating, was affording them privileges that naturally they would not have deserved, because if we had a democratic South Africa, we would have had a system that serves all the people of South Africa without any discrimination.


So what I'm trying to say, there would not have been such revenge against whites, mainly also because of the leadership that tried, did its best to instill that when Mandela at his inauguration says, we are here to bury the past. We want to leave this podium, this place of inauguration, the union building, not as Indians, not as whites, not as black, but as South African citizens. He is trying to address what he knows lies deep in the psyche and the hearts of people that whites oppressed us.


Whites did this and this and this. The damage that has been done needed to be attended to post-1994. And we can see today that because some of the recommendations that came out from the TRC were not followed, people easily forget and revert back to the thinking that prevailed prior to 1994.


It is important to remind ourselves that we needed to have conversations. We needed to talk about this, because it is difficult to extend a hand, especially for some of the experiences that both black and white have gone through. So if we remained in special spaces that separate us, if we remain in working conditions that separate us, people are bound to think back and are bound to think that things can never change.


[Bradley Steyn]

Khulu, you know that conversations and talking about these things and addressing these things, that's the first step towards healing and growing stronger and helping uplift our people. I just also wanted to say there's this very famous quote and it parallels exactly what you said. We're not born racists, we are raised racists.


A lot of that reflects off our families and our parents, etc. Janet?


[Janet Smith]

Khulu, also talking about the things that we did not know, and maybe that is what these conversations are about. Generally, these conversations take us to places that open up our minds. And of course, I can't but think about that aspect of Bradley's book and your knowledge too of this, that something people did not know was that on the day of the inauguration, there was a whole lot of courage and bravery going on behind the scenes to not have that event explode in the most horrific way possible.


How did you, from your side, help to keep that beautiful, meaningful, significant event that it was without that explosion, without that bloodshed, which could have happened that day? And Bradley, of course, was involved in that too. There was so much happening to keep that together.


[Khulu Mbatha]

I think we know that before that inauguration, we had a real war situation in the country. There were so many massacres that took place between 1991 and 1994, the Boipatong massacre, the Ciskei massacre, and so on. There were killings in KwaZulu-Natal and housing hostel dwellers and so on.


And thanks to the leadership that we had, the presence of leadership that was far, far-sighted, while knowing this is happening, and while knowing that this is being instigated by forces that want the negotiations to fail, forces that wanted that we don't reach such an agreement that we can settle and live together peacefully. So that leadership was able to speak to some of us who had responsibilities, who had the responsibility to make sure that people don't lose hope, don't lose hope in the fact that these negotiations can deliver something that all of us, all of us, black and white, can benefit from. And this hope brought about faith and trust to this leadership.


And it brought people to say, do whatever you can. You know, we had self-defense units in the townships. We had this and this, knowing that once the negotiations are over, we are going to have a transition where we will have a government of our own, chosen by us, and that will serve our interests.


I think that kept us going, despite the fact that there was war in the streets, in the trains of South Africa.


[Bradley Steyn]

And Khulu, you know, the proxies that were being used by the National Apartheid Government, STRATCOM, et cetera, all the mis-messaging, et cetera, and, you know, undercovering and discovering the plot to assassinate Mandela. This was still a very dirty war that was happening, and a lot of people think that, you know, it was just kumbaya after that. But, you know, there's been this underlying tension still for a lot of times, because a lot of people are still very unhappy with the fact that, you know, power changed.


[Khulu Mbatha]

Yeah. No, I think it was good for the leadership, whilst it was aware of the dirty tricks that were taking place behind the scenes, not to diverge this to the general population, because if people knew that there were forces that were against the negotiations, against us reaching an ultimate goal that will bring about a democratic government, if people knew, I wonder what would have taken place. In fact, there would be massacres and massacres, because just take the death of Chris Hani, you know?


The death of Chris Hani, it would have moved people to walk to the Union Building. It could have emotionally moved people to take whatever they had in their hands to fight back. And we knew that it wouldn't bring the type of results that would come out of Kempton Park and the negotiations.


If we had reckless leaders, they would have attempted, because that was a temptation that the people are so angry, and their leaders are here. The people can do whatever, but the leadership understood that results coming that way don't bear fruit. Results coming that way, they can only result in death.


They can only result in the forces that are negotiating to hold back and not want to go further. And that would all lose, all of us.


[Janet Smith]

That is completely key. The discussion that we've had today, that is completely at the heart of it, at the core of it. And that comes back to our theme of how to be brave, because as you've been speaking, it makes complete sense that without that level of personal bravery on the part of the leadership, on the part of individual caters, we wouldn't have been able to make this happen.


Yes, 30 years later, we have controversies. Yes, it's difficult, but we are here. And then just to sort of frame it as we come to an end, Khulu, I'm thinking that Bradley returning to his book, the threads are starting to tie up in a very powerful way.


And I have a memory of walking with Bradley on Strijdom Square where the massacre happened when he was still working on his book in 2018. And that was on the 30th anniversary of the mass shootings. And it really struck me that day how strong Bradley had had to be, not just the coming to those horrifying events he had seen.


[Bradley Steyn]

Yeah, I had, well, you know, I had to eventually try and find a voice to start dealing with this mental pain and stress. I didn't talk about it for many years, witnessing the massacre and what I saw. It was too painful, too hard.


Because the problem with me is I see things visually when I write, when I tell stories, when people tell me stories, I see it like a film playing out in front of me. So it was incredibly hard and I would constantly break down. I had to find strength to try and tell these stories.


But after some years, I realized that talking about it would actually be more productive than just letting it fester inside me. I felt it was making me angry and it was counterproductive. So I had to be brave eventually.


Yeah, but it, you know, it took me a long time to put it aside, the shame and the stigma of mental health and deciding to go and actually speak to somebody. I had to find the right therapist. It took me a long time.


Also, I had to find the right medication to go on, which was a whole other thing. And then they eventually diagnosed me with PTSD, Janet. So, you know, I had to work hard.


[Janet Smith]


[Khulu Mbatha]

Yeah. You see, Brad, what we have done, in fact, to overcome that and then be able to reflect through a book, you are not only healing yourself, you are healing the nation. You are healing all those who experience similar happenings.


You look at yourself as white, but it could have happened to anyone, you know. For example, you know, if you take all those people who were tortured in prison, who were tortured in detention, who were, you know, you take Winnie Mandela's situation, you know, to be kept in detention for 18 months without changing clothes, but being tortured and 


[Bradley Steyn]

Solitary confinement. Yeah.


[Khulu Mbatha]

Yeah. All those things. A person coming out of that, his psyche has been crushed.


His image, his inside, his soul or her soul has been damaged. It's not different from what happened to you, because that experience, as I say, as you are holding that dying man, you were a human being. You had feelings.


You had eyes. You came from a family. You know what that meant.


When those bullets were sounding in the streets of Pretoria, they were not bullets saying, these are targeting whites and these are targeting blacks. It was danger to you, too. And then you realize, when you look at this man, and this man said to you, these are not people, and he left you.


And, you know, it's more torture to you into your psyche that this man did not kill you because he was seeing another white person. And for you to live with that, to live, to go to these far places, to try and live with other people, those things come back. They come back in the sleep.


They come back when you start to make friendships. Those things come back. And my life in exile, when I think—I lived in Germany, in a separate—in a divided Germany.


And this—the Cold War divided Germany in such a way that there were Pershing II and there were SS-20s on both sides facing each other. These were nuclear-carrying weapons. When I think of that today and when I dream of it, I wake up sometimes in my sleep and say, man, you know, if any mistake had happened during my stay in Germany, I would have been gone.


That part of the earth, of the world, would have disappeared. Yes. So it's—I truly understand your situation, Brad, and I'm saying I'm happy that you're able to talk about it.


[Janet Smith]

Right. So, Khulu, I think, you know, your hard work has also come through trying to honor the 1976 generation by linking those mighty events of that time to today. And we have to move forward with that chain, understanding what happened before, talking as often and as much and as deeply as we can to each other about what we didn't know.


And that, for me, feels like an enormous act of bravery in itself, that we are able to do that. And Bradley, I believe, would agree with me.


[Bradley Steyn]

Yeah, no, absolutely. I totally agree with you. Khulu, so, you know, how do we move forward responsibly as citizens of our country?


You know, one thing I did want to say is that ever since I've moved back, I've just seen actually how united we are when political agendas aren't stuffed in front of us and trying to divide us. You know, I've noticed that and I've always known that about the resolve of our South African people, about how brave and how incredibly strong they can be, and things like rugby that just brings us together. And, you know, how do we do better?


How do we, as South Africans, push through all this ugliness and rise above and be the true patriots that we are?


[Khulu Mbatha]

Yeah, I'm happy you say that, Brad. You know, we are a great nation. We are people who are looked at by the international community as people who say things, who can do things, and who can produce miracles.


And we have produced, this country has produced many, many, many miracles. In the miracles, you know, many South Africans don't know the story of John Smuts. They now know the story of Nelson Mandela.


But we have many South Africans who have contributed in many, many, many ways in science, in sports, in all other categories. Yes. The only way, and as you correctly say, when something disturbs us, we come together.


We are united. The thing is, there is little that has been done to hold on, you know, to keep us going. It just comes and breaks away because the politics in the country don't match whatever is said and proposed that we should do.


Because underground, people are united. People want to see good. People want to see better schools.


People want to see better hospitals. People want to see better transport and all that, you see. And when that is not happening, then they have to find a reason.


Why is this happening? And then you will venture into divisions because what we are aspire.


This better life, this better life is not happening, and let me just end by saying that, you know, we are aware that there is still a lot to be done. And I'm happy that we have in all our demographics, we have people from all sides who are prepared to raise their hand to say, this is a way we can contribute going to the future.


[Bradley Steyn]

Khulu, Andre Lincoln, Jeremy Vearey , Neil DeBeer, what do you know of these guys?

[Khulu Mbatha]
Without these guys, there'd be no inauguration.

[News Insert]
This plot was to assassinate the first president of a democratically elected state of South Africa, President Nelson Mandela.


[Khulu Mbatha]

And because of the manner in which it was handled, correctly handled, these guys, they've just disappeared. And it's part of life. You know, there are many people who have contributed to the success of our good story in South Africa, people who laid down their lives, people who did things behind the scenes, who are not recognized.


And, you know, one of the challenges we had was that how are we going to single out people who have contributed to the liberation of this country. You see, some have found an easier way to do that, by changing names of streets, by changing names of this and that house, and so on. I was one of those who said, no, some of the statues that we have in the museums, in the streets, in the squares, like Strijdom Square and so on, we must not change them.


Let's keep them. Let's build new ones so that the children who grow up can know this is Strijdom  Square. This is a smart square because once we remove that, it does not mean—once we remove it and we give it another name, we are removing history.


And because I grew up in—I mean, I experienced part of my life in other nations, in Germany, for example, where they've kept the buildings that were there from the 18th, 17th, 19th century, and one is able to trace the history. And I think the contribution of you and the three other colleagues or comrades is so tremendous. And that's why I like telling the story that, you know, there is one thing that made this inauguration possible.


It was the four of you, but people, because they were not informed, they say, no, but we did not know about this thing. I say, no, you must read, and I hope sometime when we correct our history and our literature in schools and so on, we'll talk about this so that we learn lessons from our past. Thank you.