Veterans commemorate Kriel death

Members of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) and ANC Athlone Constituency Office are planning to mark the 30th anniversary of the death of activist Ashley Kriel next month.

They met in Hazendal last week at the house where Ashley was killed on July 9, 1987, in an attack by apartheid policeman Jeffrey Benzien, who received amnesty at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

The then 20-year-old Ashley had returned home after receiving military training in exile.

Last week Friday, June 23, Ashley’s family raised concerns about the poor state of the house in which he was killed.

“My concern is that this house is falling apart and nothing is being done. The family’s wish is for the property to be purchased by the government and be turned into a heritage site,” said Michel Assure, Ashley’s sister.

In his submissions to the TRC, police captain Benzien said Ashley had produced a pistol during his arrest.

He told the TRC he had tried to take the gun away from Ashley but a scuffle ensued, during which Ashley was shot in the back.

Benzien said the shot was fired from Ashley’s own pistol.

Last year, forensic scientist David Klatzow, who had worked on the case for 29 years, suggested that Ashley had been shot from a distance and could not have shot himself in the back.

Michel told the Athlone News of the shock she felt when she went to the house after Ashley was killed.

Michel said her brother had been brutally beaten and neighbours told her that the way Ashley screamed it sounded like a sheep was being slaughtered.

Michel was the one who went to identify his body at the mortuary and that is where she saw on file the address of the house Ashley was killed in.

At the house, she saw blood everywhere. “I saw cloths of blood where Ashley was lying. As I entered the house I discovered more trails of blood even on the walls. Outside the house I saw a spade with blood and while I was identifying Ashley’s body there was a big gash on his forehead. After seeing all of that I thought maybe they must’ve beaten him with that spade,” said Michel.

The commemoration of Ashley’s death will include the screening of the documentary Action Kommandant about Ashley’s activism in various communities.

The official commemoration will take place on Sunday July 9 starting with the wreath-laying at the house where he was killed and a memorial lecture at the Belgravia High School hall.