President Cyril Ramaphosa has denied opposition claims that he worked with apartheid authorities against his “fellow comrades” in the African National Congress at the height of white minority rule in the early 1970s.
Ramaphosa was forced to defend himself on Thursday, 14 February 2019, after shocking allegations made by opposition Congress of the People (Cope) leader Mosiuoa Lekota in parliament the previous day that the South African leader had “sold out” his comrades when he was incarcerated as a young anti-apartheid activist.
Ramaphosa dismissed the allegations, insisting that while indeed the apartheid police had tried to get him to betray his colleagues, he refused to do so.
“My arrest was quite dramatic. They (apartheid police) started interrogating me viciously and the issue was that they wanted me to give evidence against accused number one, Seth Cooper, accused number two, Muntu Myeza, and Terror Lekota, accused number three, (among) many others.
“I refused. They thought they would use my Dad to put pressure on me to agree to become a state witness and I said I will not do it”, Ramaphosa, whose father was a police sergeant at the time, said.
Realising that they were not making any progress, the president said that the apartheid police used his father to try to convince him to become a state witness, but he refused.
“(I said) ‘Dad, I am not going to do it. I will never betray the comrades that I was working with. And if I did, where will I go and live thereafter?’ So I refused”, Ramaphosa said to a round of applause in the House.
However, the Cope leader, whose apartheid-era nickname was Terror Lekota, said he stood by his claims despite Ramaphosa’s denial.