As South Africans marked National Day of Reconciliation on 16 December 2011, and members of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) Military Veterans' Association commemorated the 50th anniversary of their founding on 16 December 1961, Khulumani called for the day to be set aside to mark the beginning of a new struggle – a struggle for ending the artificial divisions created by government between veterans who received military training and veterans who did not carry arms while they fought and sacrificed for freedom.
After 50 years, it is time to take up the struggle to end discrimination against community activists who suffered serious harm in their stands for justice and liberation in South Africa. These individuals comprise the broad membership of Khulumani Support Group.
Khulumani vowed this National Day for Reconciliation to commit to the rejection of the false divisions created by government between individuals who were trained to carry arms and individuals who stood on the frontlines, like the Amabutho and others, who faced the might of the apartheid security agencies in order to protect their families and communities from violent attacks. The sacrifices made by these visionary and inspired ordinary individuals towards the achievement of a democratic order in South Africa can never be allowed to be forgotten.
Khulumani echoes the words of former MK soldier, Trevor Ngengemane when he says he has a growing sense that South Africa's ruling party leaders have forgotten about the sacrifices he and his comrades made to defeat apartheid. His actions mean that he, like thousands of other survivors of the violent oppression, still suffer from flashbacks and nightmares linked to combat experiences. Most survivors continue to live with both physical and mental disabilities; many suffer the daily symptoms of major traumatic stress; many are thwarted in their attempts to form loving human relationships as a result of their experiences; few completed high school; and some 70% remain unemployed. The unarmed combatants who served as the protectors of their communities “on the ground inside South Africa, manning barricades when the townships burned”, are also still unrecognised and unsupported, with almost half of these individuals claiming they have deep concerns that they may have “wasted their time” getting involved in the struggle.
The new struggle cannot be an armed struggle, but it is a struggle that survivors will sustain on their long walk to justice. In Khulumani's advocacy planning meeting, held on 15 December 2011, the contradictions arising from government policies that recognise some and overlook others, were named with members expressing their sense of being victimised and oppressed by government.
Khulumani's membership asserts that it is on the walk to justice and redress, and that this walk will not be concluded until every sacrifice has been recognised and remembered. They assert: “We are like the people of Israel, oppressed by King Herod.” Khulumani commits to reporting every National Day for Reconciliation on the status of this new struggle and its progress in achieving justice for survivors who sacrificed for liberation.
For comment, please call Dr Marjorie Jobson 082 268 0223, or Ms Nomarussia Bonase 082 751 9903.
Khulumani Support Group
Non-profit organisation: NPO 008-135
National contact centre: 2nd Floor, Khotso House
62 Marshall Street, Marshalltown
PO Box 31958, Braamfontein, 2017, South Africa
Tel: (+27) 11 833 2044 Fax: (+27) 11 833 2048
email@example.com | www.khulumani.net
'From victims to active citizens'