Political deal that saved McBride's life

On November 15 1988 Afrikaner extremist and self-styled Wit Wolf, Barend Strydom, went on a shooting spree killing eight blacks in what was to be known as the Strijdom Square massacre of Pretoria.

On November 15 1988 Afrikaner extremist and self-styled Wit Wolf, Barend Strydom, went on a shooting spree killing eight blacks in what was to be known as the Strijdom Square massacre of Pretoria.

He was convicted of eight murders and sentenced to death.

On death row, ANC cadre Robert McBride was also waiting for the hangman for his role in the Durban bombings of 1986.

Both men were to play a significant part in the unfolding talks about democracy and the new South Africa.

Strydom and McBride were released from jail after a deal between the National Party government and the ANC in 1992.

McBride was later granted amnesty at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in return for complete disclosure of acts of politically motivated violence.

The road had begun for McBride outside prison. This also included what could be described as a love story for McBride.

It's a story of the women who touched his heart.

They are Greta Apelgren and Paula Leyden.

Apelgren was also McBride's comrade-in-arms as they both took part in a number of operations.

The romantic relationship would, however, not last, at least not like the affair that blossomed between McBride and Leyden.

It was an unlikely romance, described by Gomolemo Mokae as "an unlikely affair on death row between Robert - the coloured 'terrorist' white South Africa loved to hate - and Paula Leyden, the white daughter to one of the directors of Anglo-American and De Beers".

Paula and Robert later married but are now divorced.

McBride's political career saw him become a top-ranking official in the Department of Foreign Affairs.

On March 9 1998, McBride, while working for the department, was arrested by Mozambican police in Ressano Garcia, outside Maputo, for alleged gun-smuggling between Mozambique and South Africa.

He maintained he was working with the South African National Intelligence Agency and was later released by Mozambican authorities after six months in a Maputo jail.

McBride was appointed chief of the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan police in 2003 - much to the consternation of white opposition parties which claimed he was unfit for the job, and that he had served a jail term for the Durban bombing.

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