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October 27, 2006

The ebb and flow of life

susan kruger 10 06 001.jpg
Susan Kruger has ferried food, water, materials and human cargo to Robben Island for decades.

Susan Kruger was the amiable wife of apartheid Justice and Police minister Jimmy Kruger, a Welsh orphan sent to South Africa during World War 11 and brought up (and renamed) by Afrikaans adoptive parents.
The Kruger’s names would by now have been long forgotten but for two memorials;
Susan’s boat and the death of Steve Biko, Jimmy’s personal nemesis.
Steve Biko, the leader of the Black Consciousness movement, was murdered by police while in custody and the erstwhile Welsh waif replied to a question in Parliament with “…his death leaves me cold”, cementing his place in South African history for generations to come.
Fortunately, many of the other political targets of Jimmy Kruger’s Police and Justice system survived to play out their jail terms on Robben Island. To get there, they had to be transported across the often stormy waters of Table Bay.
In 1979, Jimmy named a new harbour workboat after his wife and in 1980, this became a prison boat, carrying political prisoners and warders backwards and forwards between the island prison and Cape Town.
When Mandela was moved from Robben Island to Pollsmor Prison in 1982, Susan Kruger carried him in chains and leg irons in her damp belly to the mainland.
In over 10 years, several thousand dissidents made the trip to the Island, manacled in Mrs Kruger’s hold.
With the change of government in 1994, the prison was closed. However, Susan Kruger has continued to carry people to and from the island. Many of these are ex-residents of the prison. But today, as administrative staff and tourist guides, they now ride on the ferry’s upper decks.

Posted by graham knox at October 27, 2006 11:51 AM

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