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CLIP 11541

The death of anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko (audio)

The death of anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko (audio)

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Key Info
  • The death of anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko (audio)
  • Duration: 09:00
  • The South African government claimed Steve Biko had been on hunger strike but young reporter Helen Zille wanted to uncover the truth. Helen explains why she did not believe the government line and the report includes archive recordings of reports at the time, questioning the official version of events. There is also a recording of Steve Biko speaking about his beliefs. Allister Sparks, editor of Helen's newspaper the Rand Daily Mail, had evidence that Biko had died from head injuries. He assigned Helen to collecting more evidence, she describes tracking down the police surgeons who had dealt with Steve Biko. Her interviews with them helped to confirm that Steve Biko had not died as a result of a hunger strike. Publication of the story was dangerous for both Helen and Allister, they were found guilty by the Press Council of 'misleading and tendentious reporting'. Helen describes the terrible injuries that were inflicted on Steve Biko by the police which were finally revealed at the inquest into his death some weeks later. This clip from ‘Witness’ is published on the World Service website: and was first broadcast on 7 October 2010. Please note this is an audio clip and only available in Flash.
  • Subject:

    Citizenship and Modern Studies


    Rights: Human Legal Consumer

  • Keywords: apartheid, racism, South Africa, human rights, violence, journalism, press freedom, Black History Month, censorship, Witness
Ideas for use in class
  • Can be used as part of a human rights topic. Can be used in conjunction with Hotel Rwanda clips. Can be used to explore anti apartheid situation and human rights and justice – the right to a fair trial and to be free from torture. Can be used to look at bias and reliability of data sources. Why were the true facts not reported? Further resources about Steve Biko can be found on the links from the programme page:
Background details
  • Clip language : English
  • Aspect ratio : 16x9

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