Steve Biko Early Life
|Stephen (Steve) Bantu Biko|
Biko and Black Consciousness
Banned by the Apartheid Regime
Biko Dies in Detention
By September 11th Biko had slipped into a continual, semi-conscious state and the police physician recommended a transfer to hospital. Biko was, however, transported 1,200 km to Pretoria – a 12-hour journey which he made lying naked in the back of a Land Rover. A few hours later, on 12 September, alone and still naked, lying on the floor of a cell in the Pretoria Central Prison, Biko died from brain damage.
The Apartheid Government's Response
The three doctors connected with Biko's case were initially exonerated by the South African Medical Disciplinary Committee. It was not until a second inquiry in 1985, eight years after Biko's death, that any action was taken against them. The police officers responsible for Biko's death applied for amnesty during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings which sat in Port Elizabeth in 1997. The Biko family did not ask the Commission to make a finding on his death.
"The Commission finds that the death in detention of Mr. Stephen Bantu Biko on September 12, 1977, was a gross human rights violation. Magistrate Marthinus Prins found that the members of the SAP were not implicated in his death. The magistrate's finding contributed to the creation of a culture of impunity in the SAP. Despite the inquest finding no person responsible for his death, the Commission finds that, in view of the fact that Biko died in the custody of law enforcement officials, the probabilities are that he died as a result of injuries sustained during his detention."