Jimmy Kruger

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James Thomas "Jimmy" Kruger (1917 – 9 May 1987[1]) was a South African politician who rose to the position of Minister of Justice and the Police in the cabinet of Prime Minister John Vorster from 1974 to 1979. He was also President of the Senate from 1979 until 1980, when it was abolished.

Kruger was born in Wales and was adopted by Afrikaner parents; he was part of the conservative National Party government which championed apartheid. He was responsible for the banning of Black Consciousness Movement leader Steve Biko; when Biko died in police custody, the police claimed that Biko had died during a hunger strike.[2] This account was challenged by the liberal white South African journalist Donald Woods, a personal friend of Biko.[3] Kruger's response to Biko's death was: "Dit laat my koud." ("It leaves me cold.").[4] Kruger later began to recant his earlier statements, while claiming that Biko had authored pamphlets calling for "blood and body in the streets."[5] Woods came under increasing scrutiny for his articles, and finally, following the publication of an article calling on Kruger to resign,[6] he was banned under direct orders from Kruger.[7] Not long afterwards, Woods and his family fled the country for a life of exile in England.[8]

In response to international pressure, the South African government ordered an inquest to investigate the cause of Biko's death; the presiding magistrate concluded that Biko had died of brain damage caused by head injury; however, no one was held responsible for, or prosecuted for, Biko's death.[9] Even so, it was the end of Kruger's career. Having decided that his performance had severely compromised the country's credibility abroad, the government ordered him to resign, and he lost not only his cabinet post, but his membership in the ruling party, as well.[9] Kruger spent the rest of his life in political obscurity.[10]

In the film Cry Freedom (1987), which was based on Woods's role in the anti-apartheid struggle, Kruger was portrayed by English actor John Thaw.

In the film Goodbye Bafana (2007), Kruger was portrayed by Norman Anstey.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Donald Woods, Biko, p. 404
  2. ^ Biko, p. 213
  3. ^ Donald Woods, South African Dispatches, pp. 167-168
  4. ^ Harold Scheub, Tere was no lightning, p. 56
  5. ^ South African Dispatches, p. 179
  6. ^ South African Dispatches, pp. 185-188
  7. ^ South African Dispatches, p. 189
  8. ^ South African Dispatches, pp. xiii-xvi
  9. ^ a b South African Dispatches, p. 190
  10. ^ Biko, p. 404