National Geographic : 2010 Jun
• voracious appetite for reading novels, and we read together a lot." Madlingozi finished his schooling in Welkom, a gold-mining town laid out in the late 1940s by the Anglo American Corporation. e mines in and around the town are very deep. Each morning, brackish water is pumped from them into pans on the surface. Flocks of amingos, Egyptian geese, and sacred ibises congregate on the pans. e air is stung with the scents of salt and bird droppings. Madlingozi leans forward. "Meeting Stefaans has reignited my faith in the future of South Africa," he says. "My worldview is black con- sciousness, and that hasn't changed as a result of knowing Stefaans. But it has made me appre- ciate that even the most ardent racists---even murderers---can change and be humble. Yes, Stefaans's intelligence, humility, acute apprecia- tion of the consequences of his actions and the system of apartheid, as well as his appreciation that reconciliation is not merely about showing goodwill, have greatly inspired me." Madlingozi has both hands under his chin now. "I can see how there might be people criticizing me for selling out. How can I visit this man? How can I have empathy? But this isn't just about winning. It can't be about winning. If we only want to win, then there will always be losers, and how is that so di erent from the way things were? This has always been about the big picture, about moving on together." en he laughs and looks at me, almost challengingly. "Mmm, it's complicated, messy---it can be very personal and always in shades of gray. But that's where reality is. at's where we are. at's what we have to work with." THE VICTIM From Worcester to Pretoria is a two-day drive---16 hours, more or less. Marjo- rie Jobson has arranged for Olga Ma- cingwane and three other residents of Zwelethemba to rent a car and drive up for the constitutional court hearing on No- vember 10, 2009. e four of them agree to meet Stefaans Coetzee the day before the hearing, but only on the condition that they are not doing so to forgive him. "I am not there to forgive him," Macingwane says rmly. "I am there to face the man in my head. I want to hear what he has to say for himself. But no, I am not there to forgive him." Life became di cult for Olga Macingwane a er the bombing, and not only for all the ob- vious reasons. Cadres of the ANC used the fu- nerals for political posturing, racing disabled survivors of the attack through the streets in their wheelchairs, all the while chanting songs made popular during the struggle. Then in 2003 Macingwane's husband died, and without his support, she could no longer a ord to raise their three children. They were sent away to live with relatives. A laminated photograph of Macingwane's husband reveals the exact match you would pick for Olga. He stands before a 1970s polished yellow Datsun in a three-piece suit exuding an aura of conservative reserve. e yellow car is still parked outside Macingwane's house, dormant under a thick gray blanket. November 9 is a hot day. Macingwane and the other three residents of Zwelethemba--- including Harris Sibeko, husband of the deputy mayor at the time of the attack---walk into the social worker's o ce at Pretoria Central and see Coetzee standing in the corner in his orange jumpsuit stamped with the word "prisoner." "I was shocked," Macingwane says later. "What I seeisaboy.NotthemanIhavehadinmymind all these years, but a boy. What is this boy doing here? How did it happen? at is what is inside my head all of a sudden." Macingwane asks to begin with a prayer. In the ensuing silence she gets to her knees--- laboriously, because two days in a rental car have done nothing to help the pain in her legs---and begins to pray in Xhosa. She praises God for his hallowedness. She thanks God for bring- ing South Africa another day. She asks God to forgive her trespasses, as she will forgive others their trespasses against her. She asks God to see that his will be done in this room today. en she takes her seat. While her colleagues mop their brows and fan themselves against the heat, Macingwane maintains her composure. The meeting takes place in a mixture of Xhosa, Afrikaans, and English. Macingwane is mostly silent. "He must explain himself before I speak," she says at the outset. Coetzee does not talk about his childhood. He speaks about the planning that went into the bombing, how he was chosen for his excellent military skills, the years he has spent in prison. He asks for their questions, and the group re- sponds. How did he learn to hate black people?