In history: Winnie's house burns and government pays for Biko's death

In history: Winnie's house burns and government pays for Biko's death

- On this day in history, the apartheid government paid R65 000 for Steve Biko's death

- They maintained their denial of being involved in the incident

- On the same day, nine years later, Winnie Mandela's house was burnt down

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On this day in 1979, the apartheid government reportedly paid the family of Steve Biko R65 000 in compensation for his death in custody. The Minister of Police, Louis le Grange, said the state was not admitting liability, and that the file on the 'Biko affair' had been closed.

He was the founder of the the Black Consciousness Movement which was to address the psychological impact of apartheid and to unite all black South Africans under one identity.

Biko was arrested on 8 August 1977 and reportedly kept naked and in chains for 24 days, during which he also underwent severe beatings, torture and starvation.

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In history: Winnie's house burns and government pays for Biko's death

In history: Winnie's house burns and government pays for Biko's death
Source: UGC

The activist later died on arrival at a medical treatment facility. The apartheid police denied their involvement in Biko's death, and stated that it was due to a hunger strike. However, the autopsy revealed that his death had been caused by a number of blows to the head, thought to have been inflicted by the South African Police.

In 1978, a case of prosecution was opened against the police who were reportedly involved in Biko's arrest and detainment. But the presiding judge ruled that a charge of murder could not be laid because there were no witnesses.

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On the very same day, nine years later, the Sowetan reported that the Soweto home of Winnie Mandela was burned down allegedly by a group of schoolchildren. Among the explanations that emerged was one that the attack had been aimed not at the Mandela family but the football club closely associated with Winnie Mandela. Members of the club had allegedly attacked a Soweto schoolgirl. When told about the incident, Nelson Mandela did not make a statement but requested that there should be no charges laid and no prosecution.

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Source: Briefly.co.za

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