The first five volumes of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's (TRC) report were handed to then president Mandela at a specially convened function on 29 October, 1998. This was a significant day for all South Africans.
On that occasion, Mandela stated: “It is for those of us who have the means, to contribute to the efforts to repair the damage wrought by the past. It is for those who have suffered losses of different kinds and magnitudes to be afforded reparation, proceeding from the premise that freedom and dignity are the real prize that our sacrifices were meant to attain.”
Ten years later
On this day, 10 years later, we call on government to:
Recognise that many victims and survivors of apartheid's gross human rights abuses and violations – people whose sacrifices helped bring us our freedom and dignity – are today worse off than under apartheid. Khulumani is willing and able to assist in making this right.
On this day, 10 years later, we call on “those who have the means” to:
Contribute to the efforts to repair the damage wrought by the past, specifically with respect to the victims and survivors of apartheid's gross human rights abuses and violations.
On this day, 10 years later, we call on those who have suffered and sacrificed to:
Continue to build our country and our democracy and also to join us in claiming appropriate reparations and rehabilitation as recommended in the TRC report.
Khulumani Support Group recognises and echoes then president Mandela's statement that the real prize is our freedom and dignity. We celebrate and rejoice in that prize. We are proud that our membership contributed to this prize in such a significant way. Many of the sacrifices were the result of gross human rights abuses suffered at the hands of the apartheid regime. The victims and survivors of these abuses are our members. Our membership did not make these sacrifices in order to be recompensed. But neither did our membership make these sacrifices to be ignored and marginalised by our government.
This marginalising has been Khulumani's experience of interacting with the various components of government who could be said to be responsible for victims and survivors of apartheid's gross human rights abuses. We have tried to obtain information about the President's Fund, and government's reparations and rehabilitation policies, using the Promotion of Access to Information Act. The President's Fund was set up in terms of the TRC Act.
Of six requests for information, only two have been answered. One gave some details of the funds used for reparations to date. The other, in response to our request for details about the TRC Unit's strategic policies and plans for the distribution of the President's Fund, was “denied” because “they [the policies and plans] do not exist”.
We have compiled a report of many other recommendations made by the TRC, which government has seen fit to not implement.