‘My whiteness saved my life that day’ – Bradley Steyn, author of Undercover with Mandela’s Spies, describes the massacre that changed his life
More about the book!
Bradley D Steyn spoke to Polity SA recently about his book Undercover with Mandela’s Spies: The Story of The Boy Who Crossed the Square.
This astonishing true-life thriller describes the day a teenage Steyn witnessed white supremacist Barend Strydom, the Wit Wolf, killing eight and injuring 16 black people on Pretoria’s Strijdom Square, today Lilian Ngoyi Square.
‘My whiteness saved my life that day,’ Steyn tells interviewer Sane Dhlamini. He remembers a black man with ‘kind eyes’ who tried to help him hide from Strydom and was shot later that same day.
‘On 15 November 1988, I was a 17-year-old boy, I’d just finished rugby practice at a school in Centurion. I was on my way to go and see my mother who was working at the State Theatre, and as I was walking across the square, out of the corner of my eye I saw this guy wearing camouflage fatigues. He was older than I was – another white guy – I saw that people were very uneasy when they saw him and then I noticed that he had a 9 mm pistol in his hand.
‘I walked a little further across the square to observe him and I saw him going into a garden with a little pathway … and there were benches on the side and people were just sitting, just relaxing. I saw him walk up to somebody and just shoot him – a black person.’
Watch the spellbinding interview as Steyn describes one of the defining moments of his life and the central narrative of his book: