October 18, 2020: Benjamin Moloise Hangs
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Listener discretion is advised extreme caution is advised for listeners under thirteen. Today recovering the tragedy and controversy that came with the hanging of South African poet and activist. Benjamin Mo- Luiz. Let's go back to October eighteenth nineteen eighty five to a prison in Pretoria South Africa. At six Am Mommy K. Malawi Louise's pushed through a throng of journalists as she raced to the entry of pretorious central prison. It's rare that someone begs to be led into prison but Mommy K. pleaded with authorities for permission to enter her thirty year old son Benjamin was scheduled to be hanged at seven am and the inconsolable mother just wanted to say goodbye Benjamin work doesn't upholster and was talented poet, but he was also allegedly a killer. Three years earlier in nineteen eighty two Benjamin was arrested for murdering a pretorious security officer named Filipa Saliba. It wasn't just a random killing in fact, celebres death was a political act planned by the African National Congress a group dedicated to fighting for black South Africans rights both Benjamin and Selecta were black but they were on two sides of a massive sociopolitical political divide to understand the situation me found himself in we must I consider the fraud struggle for civil rights in South Africa South Africa Games sovereignty from the British in nineteen ten. But a minority of white South Africans were dead set on keeping colonial racism alive. The nineteen thirteen land act made it illegal for black South Africans to be sharecroppers and divided residents of the country into racially segregated zones. The country's structural and systemic racism solidified in nineteen, forty eight with the election of the offering Connor National Party. Their Credo was apartheid, which is offering cons for the term apartments. Now, we're familiar with unjust segregation laws in the US and across the world but apartheid era systemic racism was truly vicious. South Africans were split into four categories black white, Asian, and coloured. The color distinction was applied to those who are mixed race and eventually interracial marriage was banned altogether eighty percent of South African land was reserved for the white minority while people of color were forced to carry legal passes if they entered white territory black South Africans were also effectively banned from participating in local government so they had to rely on their own political party to fight back. The African. National Congress was founded in nineteen twelve to lobby for the interests of non white. South. Africans. But the group took a revolutionary bent in the nineteen fifties and sixties by then the white government was actively slaughtering black protesters and ANC members like Nelson Mandela, knew they had to double down on their efforts in nineteen fifty five, they declared South Africa belongs to all who live in it black or white. Nineteen, fifty five was also the year that Benjamin me she was born in the minority township of Alexandra not much is known about Benjamin's childhood or his adult life other than his job as an upholster and his predilection for writing poetry. Like many others of his generation, he was outraged by the white government's cruelty and joined the ANC to fight against them by the early nineteen eighties. The ANC conducted regular guerilla attacks on local police stations. In November nineteen eighty, two, fifty, two year, old police officer Filipa celebre testified against three ANC members for their role in a series of police station attacks. The men were sentenced to death and the ANC knew they had to retaliate against SELECTA. Late One night celebre was ambushed outside his Pretoria home and murdered with an automatic weapon. Benjamin me was arrested for the murder though it's not fully clear why he was suspected other than the fact that he may have been in the area at the time of the crime and was known to support the ANC. Benjamin was placed in solitary confinement for months. During that time, he confessed to killing celebre, but he later recanted saying he'd felt pressured to confess since he had no access to legal counsel during confinement his lawyer later argued that his admission was made under duress the African. National. Congress also vouched for Benjamin's innocence they admitted to ordering celebres murder, but they insisted that it was carried out by someone else however, they did not offer an alternative suspect for authorities to investigate. According to his defenders Benjamin was not a killer, but he wasn't completely innocent either he admitted that he'd helped plan celebres death, but only because he was coerced into doing. So despite the defense's efforts Benjamin was found guilty of murder in September of nineteen eighty three, he was sentenced to death and his family knew that if they wanted to fight the sentence, they would have to look for help outside of South Africa. Next will learn about the international fight for Benjamin Malawi. Says Life. Listeners who doesn't love a good ghost story rattling chains mysteriously moving objects unfinished business I am ready for all things spooky and so is podcast network starting October. First, we're bringing you the scariest most hair raising ghost stories ever imagined every Thursday on the new original series, haunted places, ghost stories, Alistair Murdoch Summons, a new spine, tingling tale of rates, phantoms, and chilling apparitions. 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In nineteen eighty three South African Civil Rights Activists Benjamin Mole Louise was found guilty of murdering a police officer, his lawyer and representatives of the African National Congress insisted that while Benjamin helped plan the murder, he wasn't the actual killer, but authorities sentenced him to death anyway. Benjamin was a black man in a racist country and it seemed he had no chance of appealing his sentence. The legal system was simply too prejudiced. However, the case attracted worldwide attention and soon, some of the most powerful countries on the planet came to Benjamin's aid. Starting in the nineteen seventies, the international community had grown critical of South Africa's apartheid. They could no longer ignore the country's vicious attacks on its black community like teargassing students and murdering protesters. The United Nations formerly denounced apartheid in nineteen, sixty two and put embargoes on weapons sold to South Africa in nineteen seventy seven by the mid nineteen eighties, superpowers like the US and the UK imposed economic sanctions on south. Africa Benjamin Melissa's unfair death sentence became yet another symbol of the South African governments cruelty and the world couldn't stand idly by leaders from across the world implored South African President P W, Bua, Ta to give Benjamin Clemency. But sadly, the appeals fell on deaf ears. That's how Benjamin's mother Mommy K. found herself racing to enter the pretorious central prism on October? Eighteenth nineteen, eighty five. It was just after six am and Benjamin was going to be executed that morning. Mommy I just wanted to make sure her son felt her presence by his side in the final few moments of his life she was forced to show her passbook to the prison guards after all she was a black woman in white territory. The guard stalled as the crowd outside the prison grew journalists were there to capture the outcome of this controversial sentencing while ANC, members showed up to provide a Meka with support. But by the time prison officials led mummy K. inside it was seven fifteen am and Benjamin was already dead. All McKay got to see was a closed coffin. When she left the prison, she gathered the strength to face the media. She made her thoughts clear with a simple statement. This government is cruel. It is really really cruel. Thirty year old Benjamin's deaf galvanized the ANC and South Africa's black community and just hours after his execution protests broke out across the Pretoria and Johannesburg regions. One police officer was stabbed several pedestrians were injured and many stores were looted, but the anger filling the South African streets was righteous fury for the way the government had callously killed a young activist despite worldwide appeals for clemency police made no efforts to be conciliatory. In fact, they even dispersed a vigil outside Benjamin's family home by firing tear gas into the crowd of mourners. No matter what they did. They couldn't change the fact that Benjamin Moore Lois would be remembered as a hero and a martyr. Benjamin was a poet and while imprisoned, he wrote the following passage. The storm of oppression will be followed by the reign of my blood. I. Am Proud to give my life my solitary life. It appears Benjamin new his death would help a greater movement and in the years that followed South Africa's non white community. Finally saw incremental changes to the systemic racism that permeated their lives. By the late nineteen, eighty s people of color no longer needed passbooks to travel between different regions and interracial marriage was made legal again in nineteen eighty nine President Bua Tower was replaced by FW declerk who seemed dedicated to undoing the evils of apartheid between nineteen, eighty, nine and nineteen ninety-four radical change swept across South Africa racist laws were repealed and ANC. Political prisoners like Nelson Mandela were freed and given a voice in government in Nineteen ninety-four Mandela was elected president and for the first time, the country's government was led by a non white majority none of this made up for the decades of pain caused by apartheid. But for the first time, South Africans of color could hope for a better more equal future. Benjamin, me arrest and execution and the protests that followed helped turn the tide against apartheid while these events occurred in nineteen eighty five, they're stunningly similar incidents of police brutality, anti-racist protests happening in America today. The fight for equality is a never ending one, but the only right thing to do is to keep fighting. Thanks for listening to today in true crime I'm Vanessa Richardson today true crime is a spotify original from podcast. You can find more episodes of today in true crime and all other originals from podcast for free on spotify. We'll be back with a brand new episode tomorrow in True Crime Today and true crime was created by Max Cutler and is podcast studios original. It is executive produced by Max Cutler sound design by John Boorda with production assistance by Ron Shapiro Carleen Madden, and Freddie Beckley. This episode of today and true crime was written by a mean Osman with writing assistance by Abigail cannon I'm Vanessa Richardson. Remember to join Alistair murden every Thursday for the all new series haunted places. Go stories don't miss the most chilling spirits ever imagined by authors from around the world follow haunted places, go stories free on spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.