Issued by: Truth and Reconciliation Commission
STATEMENT BY ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU, CHAIRPERSON OF THE TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION
In an exciting and historic day for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, our staff today sent out notices to the first 700 people who have been officially declared victims of gross human rights violations, and informing them that they are eligible to apply for reparation.
Most of the 700 will receive notices in the mail informing them of the finding by the TRC, as well as a reparations application form. The TRC is using the Post Office's special "Securemail" service to minimise the possibility of difficulties with the post.
Where the TRC does not have proper addresses for delivery of findings' notices and reparations application forms, it will use trained fieldworkers and NGOs to locate persons declared to be victims.
The notification of the finding and the sending out of the reparation application form is historic because it finally allows deponents to apply for reparation. The Commission has spent two years collecting statements, hearing public testimony from a cross-section of those who gave statements, and individually corroborating each of the more than 20,000 statements we have received.
We have made findings on more than half the statements, but it will take some weeks to process them and send the findings to the deponents.
Findings declaring people officially to have suffered a gross human rights violation are ready to be sent out to more than 2,000 people within the coming days. At this stage, less than 10 percent of those who made statements have not been found to be a victim in terms of the definition provided in the law which Parliament passed to set up the Commission.
In the coming two months, we will be carrying out two operations simultaneously:
- We aim to complete the process of making findings on each individual statement; and
- We plan to send out more than 2,000 official findings and reparation application forms each week.
We appeal to those who made statements to the TRC to be patient with us for a little longer while they wait for findings to arrive. Those with inquiries can call our inquiries secretaries: in Johannesburg, Dudu Chili and Mbongeni Shabangu at 011- 333-6330; in Cape Town, Shireen Brown at 021- 24-5161; in Durban, Bontle Ledimo and Moses Pitso at 031- 307-6767; and in East London, Tantaswa Gubevu at 0431- 43-2885.
In most communities, findings on different people in the same community will arrive at different times.
Those found to be victims, as defined in the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act, will be immediately eligible to apply for interim reparations.
Interim reparations are once-off payments, normally a maximum of R2,000, for those victims or their dependants who have suffered hardship and are in need. They are aimed at helping victims to gain access to services such as medical care. They are designed to provide only limited assistance while the Government and Parliament are discussing their final decision on reparations, which is likely to be taken only after the TRC has handed in its final report.
Applications for reparation will be considered by the TRC's Reparation and Rehabilitation Committee. If a victim has suffered hardship and is in particular need, the committee will forward the applications to the President's Fund, the body set up to make reparations payments.
Findings in the minority of cases where people have been found not to be victims of gross violations of human rights will begin to be sent out soon. These people will be able to appeal against the decision.