Gideon Nieuwoudt, 54; Had Role in Biko Death as S. African Policeman

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Gideon Nieuwoudt, 54, a former South African security policeman who confessed to a role in the death of anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko and was convicted of killing several other opponents of white rule, died Friday of cancer in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, SABC radio reported.

Nieuwoudt was convicted of killing three black policemen and an informer who threatened to detail police atrocities in 1989. He also was facing murder charges for the burning deaths of three anti-apartheid activists in 1985.

He admitted his role in one of the country’s most infamous abuses under apartheid, saying he hit the “arrogant” Biko with a rubber hose during an interrogation.

The 30-year-old activist died in September 1977 of severe head trauma and brain damage while in police custody.


After apartheid ended in 1994, Nieuwoudt repeatedly was denied amnesty by South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which pardoned about 1,000 people who had confessed to their crimes.


Rufus Thibodeaux, a Cajun fiddler who performed regularly on the Grand Ole Opry during a career that spanned 50 years, died Aug. 12 in Nashville after a long battle with diabetes. He was 71.