Cape Town – “There was a slogan he used – freedom or death, victory is certain. He was going to fight until the end.”
Michel Assure said on Wednesday this was the way she would remember her brother, slain liberation hero Ashley Kriel.
Kriel’s story has been documented in a new film called Action Kommandant which tells of how he became the symbol of 1980s youth resistance. It opens with the voice of Kriel’s mother, Ivy.
Her voice takes the viewer through the film as it introduces various chapters of his life. The documentary is in post production and has been selected as one of 11 projects to participate in a workshop called Takmil at the 26th Carthage Film Festival in Tunisia. The project with the most potential wins a grant from the festival on Friday.
Kriel was 20 when he was killed in Athlone in 1987, a few months after he returned from military training in Angola.
Police officer Jeffrey Benzien admitted to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that he had shot a handcuffed Kriel in the back.
Benzien was granted amnesty in 1999.
While Assure said the TRC did not bring closure to the family, the documentary had somewhat accomplished that.
She said when growing up she looked after Ashley in Bonteheuwel when their father died and their mother worked to support the family.
Assure said he developed his strong beliefs as a young boy. He was still in primary school when he organised a protest march.
He joined the Bonteheuwel Youth Movement where he was introduced to the ideology of the then-banned ANC.
“My mom would sit with us and they would debate and discuss things. She reprimanded him because she was scared that he would be detained,” Assure said.
“In the eyes of the regime, he was branded a terrorist. He felt it was a good cause he was fighting and we were supportive because of that.
“We’ve seen a preview of the movie. It took courage and it was painful… Ashley’s death was traumatic for us as a family, especially the way he died,” she said.
Film-maker Nadine Cloete said funds were needed to complete the film as well as pay for rights to the music and archive material.
“I have been working on the film for almost five years now and it has had a profound impact on me. I had a private viewing of it for the Kriel family and some of the characters in the film,” Cloete said.
“I realise it is not easy for the Kriel family to see some of the images in the film, but their support has been continuous and they have not stopped me from including any visuals in the film because they are determined that the truth about Ashley must be revealed.”
This week, screenings of the film were cancelled after Tunisia declared a nationwide state of emergency and a curfew in the capital after a bomb attack on a presidential guard bus killed 12 people on Tuesday.