Reconciliation in its purist form

Amy Biehl was a white American graduate who came to South Africa during its transition to democracy as a Fulbright scholar in 1993. As she drove a friend home to the township of Gugulethu, outside Cape Town, on August 25, 1993, a black mob pulled her from the car and stabbed and stoned her to death.

The attack on the car driven by her was one of many incidents of general lawlessness on the N1 Freeway that afternoon. Bands of toyi-toying black youths threw stones at delivery vehicles and cars driven by white people.

Four people were convicted of killing her. In 1998, all were pardoned by South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission when they stated that their actions had been politically motivated. Biehl’s family supported the release of the men. Her father shook their hands, stating, “The most important vehicle of reconciliation is open and honest dialogue… we are here to reconcile a human life [that] was taken without an opportunity for dialogue.

When we are finished with this process we must move forward with linked arms.” In 1994, Biehl’s parents, Linda and Peter, founded the Amy Biehl Foundation Trust to develop and empower youth in the townships, in order to discourage further violence. Two of the men who had been convicted of her murder worked for the foundation as part of its programs. (Source ) While Amy Biehl found herself in the wrong place at the wrong time, the gift of her life has been the ongoing inspiration this young individual continues to provide across the world.

The story and the subsequent brave journey undertaken by Amy’s parents and those who took her life continues to inspire and serve as an example of what can be accomplished, even in the face of great tragedy, when anger and rage do not drive human interaction – see article by Marianne Tham