Amy Biehl

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Amy Biehl
Born Amy Elizabeth Biehl
(1967-04-26)April 26, 1967
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Died August 25, 1993(1993-08-25) (aged 26)
Gugulethu, Western Cape, South Africa
Cause of death Stabbing, stoning
Alma mater Stanford University
Occupation Scholar
Parent(s) Linda Biehl
Peter Biehl

Amy Elizabeth Biehl (April 26, 1967 – August 25, 1993) was a white American graduate of Stanford University and an Anti-Apartheid activist in South Africa who was murdered by black Cape Town residents while a black mob shouted anti-white slurs. The four men convicted of her murder were released by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Death and trial

Biehl was a student at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town as a scholar in the Fulbright Program.[1]:71

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.[2][3] The attack on the car driven by her was one of many incidents of general lawlessness on the NY1 road that afternoon. Bands of toyi-toying black youths threw stones at delivery vehicles and cars driven by white people. One delivery vehicle was toppled over and set alight, and only the arrival of the police prevented more damage. There was evidence that some of the possessions of her and the passengers were stolen.[4] According to Rex van Schalkwyk, in his 1998 book One Miracle Is Not Enough, "Supporters of the three men accused of murdering [her]… burst out laughing in the public gallery of the Supreme Court today when a witness told how the battered woman groaned in pain." (pp. 188–89.) Four people were convicted of killing her.[5]:17–18 In 1998, all were pardoned by South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission when they stated that their actions had been politically motivated.[1]:71

Biehl's family supported the release of the men.[1]:71 Her father shook their hands, stating,


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.[5]:17–18 Two of the men who had been convicted of her murder worked for the foundation as part of its programs.[5]:17–18 In 1999, Biehl's parents were honored with the Aline and Norman Felton Humanitarian Award.[7]

In his speech accepting the Congressional Gold Medal on 23 September 1998, Nelson Mandela said:

On August 25, 2010, on the 17th anniversary of Biehl's death, a bronze plaque mounted on a stone was unveiled by the U.S. Ambassador, Donald Gips, and Biehl's mother, Linda Biehl, at the Cape Town site where she was killed.[9]

August 25, 2013, marked the 20th anniversary of Amy Biehl's death and an emotional ceremony was held at the Cape Town site where she was killed in Gugulethu.

Amy Biehl High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico is named in her honour. Amy Biehl Community School at Rancho Viejo in Santa Fe, New Mexico is also named after her.[10]

Biehl's uncle was prominent teacher Dale Shewalter.[11]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Graybill, Lyn S. (2002). Truth and reconciliation in South Africa : miracle or model?. Boulder [u.a.]: Rienner. ISBN 158826081X. 
  2. "Amy Biehl Was a Casualty of the System". Los Angeles Times. 27 January 1994. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  3. "Parents of slain Fulbright scholar embrace her cause in South Africa". The Chronicle of Higher Education. 19 January 2001. Retrieved 13 June 2013. 
  4. "Statement By The Truth And Reconciliation Commission On Amnesty Arising From Killing Of Amy Biehl". Archived from the original on October 24, 2013. Retrieved 27 May 2015. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 R. Pressler; J.S. Saner; I Wasserfall (2009). FCS Criminal Justice Structures and Mandates L3. Cape Town: Pearson Education. ISBN 978-1-77025-354-4. 
  6. Peacemaker Hero: Amy Biehl
  7. "Annual Awards Dinner". Death Penalty Focus. 
  8. Nelson Mandela. "Speech Accepting the Congressional Gold Medal"
  9. "Memorial to Amy Biehl unveiled in South Africa" 16, 2011/ Archived July 16, 2011 at the Wayback Machine, United States Diplomatic Mission to South Africa.
  10. "Amy Biehl High School: Our History" Retrieved 27 May 2015.

External links

Template:Truth and Reconciliation Commission (South Africa)