Adriaan Vlok: South Africa, Please Forgive Me
ADRIAAN VLOK, PREVIOUSLY THE Apartheid Law and Order minister, met in private with Rev. Frank Chikane to offer an extraordinary gesture of reconciliation.
He presented the minister with a Bible, where he inscribed the words, “I have sinned against the Lord, and against you. Please forgive me.”
Mr Vlok grew up in an Afrikaner society and upheld apartheid through the National Party until 1991. Apartheid had devastating consequences for millions of people in South Africa and Mr Vlok, now a devout Christian, felt deep remorse for his actions all those years ago. He decided to meet Rev. Frank Chikane to wash his feet, as a symbol of repentance for the wrongs in the past. He also proceeded to wash the feet of 10 widows and mothers of the “Mamelodi 10”, who were lured to their deaths, burned and buried by the Apartheid regime. He had been involved with them for two years and had visited them previously to try and help them in any way that he could. Mr Vlok says that he is eternally grateful to the widows, mothers and Frank Chikane for forgiving him.
Mr Vlok said that he had lived a life that he wasn’t proud of and that he had set a bad example. He hoped that through the symbolic action of washing Rev. Frank Chikane’s feet that the change that had taken place in his heart would be evident.
Adriaan Vlok was born into a Christian home and attended church his whole life. He didn’t have a relationship with the Lord, however, until his first wife died in 1994. His heartache drew him closer to God and the Holy Spirit started working in his heart. He started spending time with the Lord every day, reading his Bible and hearing what God had to tell him.
Over the past 12 years Adriaan has been actively dealing with the sin in his life and has repented for all the wrongs he committed in the past. He says that he strives to make himself smaller and less significant every day, and to make Christ all the bigger and more important in his life. He earnestly seeks the Lord’s will every day, down to the smallest detail. His greatest heart’s desire is complete obedience to the Lord. He acknowledges that he cannot live without God and that each day is only possible because of His grace. He is thankful for all the Lord has done in his life and hopes that the lives of others will be blessed by his life. This humble and obedient spirit is what drove him to wash Rev. Frank Chikane’s feet.
President Thabo Mbeki commented on the event: “I was deeply moved that an elderly Afrikaaner, with Adriaan Vlok’s history and pedigree, could speak as he did and break with his past in the manner he has. What his words and actions said to me was that our society, which includes those who matured under circumstances very different from today’s, is gradually growing out of its traumatic past...the gesture was from a committed Christian, who said that if Jesus Christ could do it, he could also.”
Patricia de Lille said, “As the only apartheid minister who acknowledged his sins before the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, he is apparently more honest with himself than others about the immoral nature of his previous deeds.”
Adriaan Vlok ends by saying: “I’m deeply grateful that, through the grace of God, I received the opportunity to follow the example of my Saviour, Jesus Christ, to set a better example for others. My daily life is based on this: To abandon myself, to let go of my own sense of honour and pride above other people; To rid myself of my own superiority, egoism and selfishness and be prepared to put myself last and not first anymore, and to get rid of hatred for my fellow human beings.