PORT ELIZABETH September 10 1997- SAPA
POLICEMAN TELLS TRUTH COMMISSION HOW HE BEAT BIKO
Convicted killer and former security policeman Gideon Nieuwoudt has
admitted to beating black
consciousness leader Steve Biko with a piece of hosepipe during a
scuffle which apparently resulted in Biko's
death six days later.
In his application for amnesty submitted to the Truth and
Reconciliation Commission and made public on
Wednesday, Nieuwoudt said he went to the aid of colleagues after Biko
became embroiled in a "full-scale
fight" with his security police interrogators.
The incident occurred in an interrogation room at security police
headquarters in Port Elizabeth on September
6, 1977, following Biko's arrest at a roadblock ouside Grahamstown
with friend Peter Jones on August 18.
Nieuwoudt is seeking amnesty for Biko's death in detention along with
former colleagues Major Harold
Snyman, Rubin Marx, Daantjie Siebert and Johan Beneke.
The former police colonel said Biko refused to co-operate with the
interrogation team questioning him about
When Siebert pulled him off a chair, Biko lost his temper and shoved
the chair at the policeman and tried to
"A full-scale fight ensued in which blows were traded and people were
pushed around. Everything happened
very fast. I saw the situation was starting to get out of hand so I
grabbed a piece of hosepipe.
"I hit him across the back several times to try and subdue him and I
eventually managed to get hold of him,"
Beneke and Siebert helped him restrain Biko as they pushed him into a
corner of the room.
"During the struggle he landed against the wall. His head hit the wall
first, following which he collapsed to the
"There was no intention to hit his head against the wall. It was just
necessary to bring him under control."
After banging his head, Biko continued to refuse to answer questions,
and regional security police chief
Colonel Piet Goosen ordered that he be handcuffed, standing up, to a
security gate in the office.
"During the course of the day it became clear to me that something was
wrong with Biko. His speech became
incoherent and he started to slur his words. He seemed to be
confused," Nieuwoudt said.
Biko also lost control of his bladder and soiled his clothes. When
district surgeon Dr Ivor Lang visited him the
following day, he instructed that his clothes and hand***be
Biko was given a blanket to cover himself while his clothes were
Nieuwoudt also described Biko's last hours before his death on
September 12, 1977.
On September 11, the policeman said he went to St Albans prison in
Port Elizabeth, where Biko was taken
for medical treatment.
"He walked with support. It was still clear that he was ill."
On the same day, Nieuwoudt said he received instructions to transport
the prisoner to Pretoria Central prison.
Biko was placed in the back of a Land Rover on five cell mats and
covered with four blankets. Another
blanket was placed under his head.
"He was not unconscious, but his speech was incoherent. At that stage
he was clothed only in his underpants."
They arrived at Pretoria Central at 9am on September 12 and handed
Biko over to prison authorities. The
activist died several hours later.
Nieuwoudt is serving a jail sentence for ***.