On his 80th birthday, Khulumani Support Group honours Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu with a lifetime membership of the group.
In his role of Chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the Archbishop showed special empathy for the victims and survivors of apartheid-era gross human rights violations and abuses, often being moved to tears by their testimonies.
He also recognised that the formal ending of the TRC was not the end of the process of “truth and reconciliation” in South Africa, but that the experiences and stories of victims would continue to be uncovered, that the consequences of the damage done to victims and survivors of apartheid-era gross human rights abuses would persist for generations to come, and that reconciliation would have to be an ongoing process for many years into the future.
In celebrating the eight decades of his life, Khulumani Support Group calls on the archbishop to not stop being “the voice of the voiceless” and to advocate on behalf of those victims and survivors of the apartheid-era whose lives have been irreparably damaged by gross human rights violations. To this end, we call on the Archbishop to intervene with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, and with the Presidency, to advocate for an inclusive and comprehensive resolution of the unfinished reparations agenda that continues to tarnish the proud record of the negotiated transition in South Africa.
South Africans who carried the heaviest cost of the struggle for freedom and democracy have regrettably not been valued for these contributions as the government has adhered to a “closed list of victims” as beneficiaries of reparations, contrary to purpose and intention of the Act that established the TRC. This continuing failure undermines the duty of South Africans to “recognise the injustices of our past; to honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land; and to respect those who have worked to build and develop our country”, as we are directed by the Preamble to our Constitution.
As we join the people of the world in celebrating your 80th birthday, we remember in particular the reparative role that you played at a crucial time in our history, and we call on you not to stop speaking truth to power. Too many have been relegated to the sidelines in our country, forgotten and abandoned while the struggle for social justice has been made a secondary focus, as many clamber for wealth accumulation in forgetfulness of what it took for ordinary people to build a new democracy in South Africa.
So dear Arch, while we celebrate your birthday with the rest of the world, we're also reminding you that the work is not over. The members of Khulumani Support Group need your help in reminding the new elites in government that many of us are still dealing with the harm caused by the cruel and vicious apartheid regime.
We wish you a happy birthday today. May you continue to serve as a conscience in our world that is so much in need of healing.
For comment, please call: Nomarussia Bonase 082 751 9903 or Dr Marjorie Jobson 082 268 0223.