Apartheid cops’ change of heart

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The end of apartheid turned South Africa upside down: Heads of the anti-apartheid groups that were once considered terrorists now govern South African and Namibia. And the Johannesburg DAILY MAIL & GUARDIAN reports that many former members of the Koetvoet, the apartheid-era police unit that specialized in killing anti-apartheid activists, are torn with remorse on realizing, too late, they were fighting for the wrong side.

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It’s true that the elite unit known for cutting off the ears of its victims still retains a certain perverse pride in the group’s effectiveness (“We did good work. We were described by many an international journalist as the best anti-terrorist unit in the world.”)

But, looking back, many Koetvoet veterans feel they were lied to by the apartheid regime. “They told us we were fighting the swart gevaar (black danger) and communism. But now SWAPO and the ANC have the most democratic constitutions in the world,” lamented one former member. Guilt and public condemnation have taken a heavy toll, leading to nervous breakdowns and suicides.

The retired apartheid flunkies feel a certain comradeship with castoffs from an American conflict: “It is the Vietnam syndrome. You are not being acknowledged for who you are, that you fought as a soldier for your country.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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