TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION
FOLLOW UP WORKSHOP
DATE: 28 JUNE 1997
HELD AT: CIVIC CENTRE, BRAAMFONTEIN
NAME: BISHOP PAUL VERRYNE
SOPHIE-MARIE VAN GARDEREN
JAKOB VAN GARDEREN
MS BRUINERS: ... to the Orlando North Choir for the beautiful singing. We now call upon the representative from the Mayor's office to do the welcome. It seems he is not here. We will call upon Mr Tom Manthata to do the welcome.
MR MANTHATA: I thank you Madam Chair. On behalf of the regional office of the Gauteng Truth and Reconciliation Commission I would love to take this opportunity to thank each one of you here present. The humble welcome arises out of the immense work that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has to do within a spectacularly short period of time and this has happened in such a manner that quite a number of people were really highly committed to the welfare of this country have even felt being neglected and/or that our consultative machinery have not been fully effective to make each one of you to realise how valued he is for the creation of a stable, peaceful country that observes and respects and protects human rights. It is for this reason that we are highly appreciative of your presence here and expect optimum contribution in this direction. Please feel at home, you are welcome. We are all going to do the best within our abilities to make this occasion a success. I thank each one of you. Thank you Madam Chair.
MS BRUINERS: Thank you Mr Manthata for your welcome. Before we proceed to business may we just ascertain if everybodies equipment is in good order. Is everybody okay. Sorted out. We proceed. We now call upon Mr Piet Meiring who would share with us the purpose of our gathering here this morning.
PROF MEIRING: Thank you very much Madam Chair. You have been welcomed. May I introduce the people at the table in front to you all. You know already the name of our caretaker Chair, Ms Heidi Bruiners, who is a Minister of Religion and we are very happy to have her with us. Thank you for standing in today. Right on my left-hand you have Dr Fazel Randera. You will find his name on the programme. He is the head of our office in Gauteng, in Johannesburg. He is with the Committee for Human Rights Violations and he will be the person to report back on what has been done in terms of the humans rights violations in this part of the country. Then next to him sits my colleague, my blood brother, as I like to call him, Mr Tom Manthata, who is with, together with me, members of the Committee for Reparation and Rehabilitation. My name is Piet Meiring. You find my name also on the programme.
Just in a few minutes, what is the purpose of this morning. Why have you all come here today. Nobody in the country has been left untouched by the Truth Commission. I think it is true to say that after the Truth Commission train has passed right through the country, right through South Africa everybody will be different in a sense. Some people will be much different, others maybe a little less, but nobody in the country, no community in the country has been left untouched by the Truth Commission. That especially applies to different communities where there were hearings. Throughout the country a number of hearings were held, Dr Randera will tell about that, but we decided that we, if at all possible, and in the venue and in the localities where we can manage to do that, we would like to have a return visit after so many weeks. After there had been a number of hearings in a certain locality that the Truth Commission returns to speak to the people on a number of issues, to say to them, look, we were here, the train passed, in a sense the community was disturbed by the things that were brought out into the open by the Truth Commission. What has happened now to the community? Tell us. We need some information. We need to see whether there are strings that are still untied, if there are things we need to give our attention to. So the first purpose of this morning is just to say to you there have been a number of hearings in this area, we are coming back, we are coming to reach out to the communities, we want to listen to you.
We also want to report back. The next few, the two next two items on the programme will be to report back on the work that has been done by the Truth Commission. We can well imagine that many of you have come with questions in the heart. Is the Truth Commission succeeding or not? Where are we going? What has happened to all the many submissions made in this area and we would like to report back about that. Dr Randera will report back on the human rights violations hearings. I will give a brief report on what has been happening with the reparations policy that is developed, but we want to give some input to you, but then we would like to sit back and listen to the community and that is the third purpose of our meeting, to have the different focus groups telling us the things they heard.
Each of the people who are coming who will be sitting at the table in the half a hour or three quarters of a hours time, they are briefed. We asked all of them, we need advice, we need from you two things. Tell us what have you heard in the community around you. How do people perceive the work of the Truth Commission, how do they experience the past months the work of the Truth Commission and, secondly, give us advice. The coming months in the life of the Truth Commission will be primarily on discussing the whole issue of reconciliation. We are a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the issue of reconciliation, especially after the life of the Truth Commission has ended, is becoming very important to us. So the second question put to all of the focus groups, all the individuals who will be coming is tell us what is your advice on reconciliation. Is it possible? What does your community say about that?
Afterwards or during the course of the meeting we will have tea together, we will have lunch together. The whole idea is that we also, in a sense, should celebrate the process of unity, the process of healing while we are here today, but those are the reasons you are here. Thank you once again for coming and maybe it is time now that the Chair ask Dr Randera to give his report.
DR RANDERA: Thank you Piet. Good morning everybody. I am, my apologies for being a little late. Before I go into explaining where we are as from the Human Rights Violations Committee goes let me just take us back on this journey that we started on about 18 months ago. I remember in January of last year coming to a church service, first a church service in Cape Town and then one in Johannesburg and I am sure, as we all know, we had many services throughout the country in those early, early days. The church having yield such incredible support and spirit for the process of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Many of us started feeling a little uncertain. Yes, we had this wonderful Act that Parliament had debated for 166 hours. Many of our Parliamentarians had travelled the world looking at other Truth Commissions and it was clear that we were anxious, uncertain, but within a few months of our coming into existence the Commission held its first hearing in the Eastern Cape, in East London and many of us listened carefully as person after person came forward, the victims came forward and told their stories. Now again the first hearing also generated criticism, because in some way that first hearing was the introduction of the Truth Commission to the nation and, yes, we chose many stories which people had heard before, the Patco Three, the Mtimkulus, and again people were saying is this going to be a repetition of what the last 15 years, particularly, the 1980's had shown. The high profile stories of political leaders like Steve Biko, Goniwe, et al, but I think in the last, from that time on from every office of the Truth Commission we have travelled throughout the length and breadth of the country.
Yes, we have not touched every town and every village in the country, but if we look at any other Truth Commission in the world there has never been as unique an experience as we within the Commission and I hope the people who have come forward to the Commission have experienced. Every other Commission has held its hearings behind closed doors and then a report has come as a form of acknowledgement and I would like to say that one of the lessons that we have learnt in these last 15 months is the importance of this acknowledgement that has taken place. Is the importance of, hopefully, this common memory that is now with all of us, because, of course, many people have said we really did not know that all this was happening in our country. Yes, we were supportive of a system of apartheid, but we did not know what was going on in the name of a Parliament that we supported and, yes, hopefully we will hear from you this morning in terms of where we are with reconciliation and share our ideas with you in terms of reconciliation, but I have no doubt in my own mind that what has taken place is this enormous body of knowledge that has accumulated.
We have taken 10800 statements. Again, if we look at the predictions that were being put forward by the media, in particular at the start of the Commission's life, you know some people were predicting that there was going to be, there were going to be 300000 statements that would come in. Others were saying 150000 and, yes, we have not come anywhere close to those figures, but the opportunity has been there and at the present time the debate within the Commission is how do we now go and integrate all the secondary sources that are available in terms of the work that was done by a host of human rights organisations, a host of NGO's and that is part of the discussion that is going on.
There is also the discussion in terms of finding for victims, whether there should be a recommendation to Government that there should be an open list for some time, because clearly as the reparations policy comes into existence and that is being implemented, many people are going to say, but we did not have the opportunity to make a statement. So why is my neighbour getting reparation and not me. So I think those are the debates that are taking place within the Commission.
We have also taken 7000 amnesty statements. Now, we have, most of the hearings that we have heard in regard to amnesty have been people who are, who have been in prison. Some of those are now, of course, walking free. Others still continue to be in prison where amnesty has been refused, because that was part of the mandate of the Commission. There were two Indemnity Acts that were passed by the old Government in 1990 and 1992 and clearly Parliament felt from the feedback that they had received through various structures, political party structures, that many people were not covered by those two Indemnity Acts and so the opportunity has been given once more to people who were in prison, who felt that they were in prison, because of political actions and activities to make their statements so that those stories could be heard.
Now, that is the biggest task in front of the Amnesty Committee. Are we actually going to be able, in the next six months, to listen to all the stories of perpetrators who are not in prison who have committed gross human rights violations and, in terms of the Act, remember that is when a public hearing has to be held and as we have seen often these public hearings have taken a week, two weeks. The Coetzee at our hearing took almost three weeks. If we look at the de Kock application there is over 1000 pages in that application. He has applied for 60 different acts, I think. Sorry. And that is the issue, because remember one of the objectives of the Commission is to develop as complete a picture as possible of what happened in this 34 year period that we are talking about and, yes, we could have gone to, we can still go to secondary sources and write up this complete picture, but within the Commission and in terms of the mandate of the Act we are to record from the real experiences in terms of this complete history.
We have also taken statements from all the major political parties. Some of them have had a second bite at the apple and that is, that is again is a vast amount of body information that is coming to the Commission. The last few hearings that we have left have been the specialist hearings that, the first one of which was the health sector hearing that was, that took place a week ago in Cape Town. We have a media hearing that is being planned for August. The prisons hearing will be taking place in the second week in July and then a hearing on the judiciary, that takes place also in August and that actually brings to an end all the specialist hearings that the Human Rights Violations Committee has heard.
What has happened to the 10500 statements that we are talking about? Certainly the first step for the Committee has been to keep communication open between the victim and us and I hope all of the victims have received a letter from us saying that the statement is in the structure of the Commission and that statement is going through a process of investigation, research and then a pre-finding is being made. Now that is where, as Commissioners, Committee members, that is where we are spending a great deal of time now. As the statements are within our database they then come back to us after some research and investigative work has been done and we are making, as regional Commissioners Committee members, pre-findings, because we are not, as far as the Act goes, we are, we have to actually make a finding, we cannot just go by the statement itself and once the pre-finding is made that statement then goes to the national organisation and the full Commission makes the final finding.
So once that is done we can come back to individuals and say this is what we have determined and we have made a finding in support of your statement. We will not be able to still come back to people and say, because remember the Act also says where possible we need to be able to find out who did it, why it was done and where it was done. Now, until all the amnesty statements are dealt with, because there is an enormous amount of information there and we are still having, what we call, the Section 29 hearings where we subpoena people to the Commission and that will continue until about October of this year. Now until all that information is, we, has come through we cannot actually come back to individuals and say, look, this is the information we have in terms of the disappearance or the killing or even the torture that took place against you.
I want to, if I may Piet, I do not think I have any, much more to add, but just to end by quoting something from a Chilean writer who is actually in our country at the moment. I am sure many people have heard him on radio or read about him in the newspapers. Somebody called Arial Dorfmann and Arial says,
"How do we keep the past alive without becoming its prisoner, how do we forget it without risking its repetition in the future?".
And I think that is the challenge to the Commission and to the nation really having heard all these stories, having come forward with this common memory, how do we prevent that from happening again? Thank you very much.
MS BRUINERS: We thank Dr Randera for his report back. We now ask Prof Piet Meiring to do an overview of the progress on the rehabilitation and reparation work.
PROF MEIRING: Thank you Madam Chair. Just before I start it may be that there are individuals in the audience who still want to make a statement, who still want to use this opportunity today to fill in the special protocol form, the statement form we have. We have people available, statement takers at the back of the hall. Zina is standing there, right, maybe you should just indicate, Zina, where you are. If anybody needs to quietly slip out to use this opportunity this morning to make yet another statement please go to Zina and she will help you with that.
Linking onto what Fazel has being saying about the HRV, the Human Rights Violations Committee's work, may I add a few bits of information about the work of the Committee for Reparation and Rehabilitation. It is very important to the whole process of the Truth Commission that the victims and the survivors, the families of the victims, that they should realise that this process is primarily for them to help them to redress, as far as we can, the injustices of the past, to help them regain their dignity, to make them feel that this was really a healing process to the nation as a whole, but especially to the victims and also to the family, the families, the survivors of the gross human rights violations.
The R and R Committee had a twofold task in the past and still in the months to come. Firstly, to help support the whole process of the Truth Commission. Whenever you, we, let me start saying this, at the, at each of the hearings when the many victims came to the fore to tell their stories for the majority of them it had been a very difficult, even a traumatic experience reliving everything that happened to them. We realised very soon that weeks before a hearing start, there should be a support system in place of NGO's, of Ministers of Religion, of Baroetie, of family members, people who can rally behind the victims, the men and the women, the children that had to come and to be there for them, to support them. It was the work of the R and R Committee to help put this system in place of our support for the victims. Many times you have seen on the television screen at night when the Truth Commission was report on, somebody sitting in front of a microphone like this one and somebody, we call them briefers, sitting alongside them. Sometimes with a tissue, sometimes with a glass of water, just to be there for the person to help to support. That was the first task or the R and R Committee, the Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee to see to it that there is support for the victims and for the families.
That goes for the human rights violation hearings, but also for the amnesty hearings. In the next weeks more and more you will be aware of the amnesty process. At night on the TV screens you will see the faces of the perpetrators asking for amnesty. You will see the many victims, the family members who have come to listen what happened to their beloved ones, what are the truths that come out from the amnesty process. You can just imagine the emotion in the hall, the thoughts in the hearts of the many people who sit and listen to hear what has happened to their people. The R and R Committee has to be there for the people to help, to support, but that is only point one.
In a sense the most important part of the R and R Committee's work is to listen to what the needs of the people are and then taking that needs into consideration to start drafting proposals on reparation and rehabilitation that can be presented to the Truth Commission as a whole who hopefully will adopt those proposals. Those proposals then have to go to Government who have to adopt them and then, hopefully, at the beginning of next year when the Truth Commission report is published by the President, given to the nation, that all the proposals on reparation should have gone through the process so that the first people in line, the first victim standing in the queue should be already receiving their reparations.
Now what form of reparation will it be? Many people ask about that. Will it be money, will it be reparation in terms of services rendered? There is a long debate on that. We are very grateful for the support and for the insight we get from our friends in the different NGO's who have much more knowledge on these matters than many of us do. We have a very sophisticated data system and each of the victims, when they come, when they bring their statements, part of the statement has to do with their circumstances, their most immediate needs. All those date, all the information on the needs of the people and the circumstances of the people are fed into our data system and there we have all the material available.
It has become evident that there are a number of needs that we need to address. You may have guessed it, but many people who come to the Truth Commission when we ask them what do you really need, speak of medical needs. At many of the Truth Commission hearings people arrived in wheelchairs, some on crutches, some still bear the marks of the terrible things that happened to them. They still need medical attention and some of our reparation proposals will have to do with that.
Secondly, many people still need psychological, emotional help, pastoral help from the side of the church. We have come to the conclusion that many, many thousands who suffered many of these ordeals never had counselling afterwards. They still have nightmares, they still suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome and a number of proposals will have to be to take care of the emotional and psychological needs of people.
A third need is the need of education. Many people, older people and younger people said to us, but we missed out on education. There was a time when the cry was in the townships, no education before liberation, but those young people are now missing out. Some of their peers are moving ahead in society and they still are missing out. Many people asked can you arrange for us for bridging facilities, can you arrange for us to have specially opportunities for tertiary education. So you can well think that at the end when the proposals are on the table, many proposals will have to do with opening doors to educational possibilities for the victims.
Fourthly, some people do ask for money. Many people ask for money. If we ask them what do you need the money for nearly everyone says we need it for shelter, we need it for shelter. So money will be also on the table. We have to discuss the possibility of money in our proposals and it seems that people will need it for shelter mostly.
The last one which has become a very interesting part of our policy proposals is the category of, what we call, symbolic reparation. Those are things that you cannot really weigh in terms of money. Those are symbolic things that need to be done to help people regain their dignity, to put them in a position where they should be, to help really to ease the hurt and the pain in their hurts, to make life easier for them. Sometimes one really got a lump in the throat when an old mother or a younger person said to the Truth Commission what I really need, what we really want is only a tombstone for our father or a tombstone for our son who was killed, can you help us with that?
Some people talk about exhumation and reburial. Last Saturday this time in Soweto there was a big ceremony where three young heroes that were killed in Lesotho who were buried in a secret grave in the Free State somewhere were exhumed after so many years and with the proper ceremonies, with the proper things that needed to be remembered, they were reburied last week. It has become very important for many people that the family, the missing family members should be brought back home to be buried where the family are.
Some people speak about street names that need to be changed or even suburbs that need to receive new names in order to remember the heroes by or to remember events by. Other people talk about the expunging of criminal records. Some people dream beautiful dreams about memorials and monuments that need to be erected in South Africa or the proclamation of a national day of remembrance and of reconciliation. All those needs are under the umbrella of reparation measures, symbolic reparation measures and a number of our policy proposals will pertain to them.
So are, there are a number of things that need to be done. We have come to realise that some people are in urgent need of reparation. Some people are infirm, some people are very old already, very sick and, in a sense, they should be given the opportunity to come into the front of the queue. We will have proposals on urgent interim reparation for the people who are in urgent need and then a number of policy proposals for the people who need permanent redress of the things that happened to them, but who may wait a month or two longer than the very urgent cases. There are many, many, a number of issues that need still to be settled and in the press I can guarantee that in the next months there will be a debate on all the different sides of reparation, but we really, from our side want to see to it that the victims in South Africa, at the end of the process, really feel that it was worth their while telling their stories, bringing out the truth in, of the past, being healed by telling the stories, but also that there will be measures of redress and of, of reparation and of rehabilitation that will really help the people of South Africa, help the many victims. Thank you so much.
MS BRUINERS: Before we move on we would just like to extend a warm welcome to the Bethany Children's Home Choir. We trust that your presence here would be a learning experience for you too. Before we move on to the focus groups I would just like to ascertain if there are any questions. Yes Sir. I have taken note.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Dr Randera ...
MS BRUINERS: Just a moment.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Did you say, Dr Randera, that there were 70000 amnesty statements?
DR RANDERA: 7000.
MS BRUINERS: 7000.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: 7000 Thank you.
MS BRUINERS: The gentleman on my left, you wanted to ask a question.
MAROETIE: (Indistinct) two (indistinct).
MS BRUINERS: Just give us, just give us a moment. Dr Randera, the question is...
DR RANDERA: Sorry.
MS BRUINERS: ... is directed at you. He is still posing it.
MAROETIE: My question has to do with Dirk Coetzee case and the church. (Indistinct) go to court and then (indistinct) jail (indistinct) amnesty and I just want to (indistinct) that (indistinct) like to clarify that.
MS BRUINERS: You take over now.
PROF MEIRING: Ask maybe after the questions, just before we start with the focus groups one of the choirs to do their bit. Maybe you should (indistinct).
MS BRUINERS: Okay.
MAROETIE: Secondly, I am still the Minister, I am still the (indistinct) of the, the imbalances with the Black church and the White church and (indistinct) the President. I wonder that the Truth Commission (indistinct) an idea to look into the work of the church (indistinct).
DR RANDERA: Is it possible that if people, especially with such a long question, (indistinct) should be translated (indistinct) translated.
MAROETIE: How did they finance (indistinct). We are (indistinct) as (indistinct) be called to answer the question, the press (indistinct) being asked to answer (indistinct) the question. Is it not necessary for the Commission to call a church to come and to (indistinct). At the moment we are (indistinct) that church. It must confess, it must (indistinct). We do not put into context the riches they have achieved, not only them and other people within the church family (indistinct) the church only (indistinct) development (indistinct) must be asked is it not necessary that the TRC look into the old (indistinct) the church?
MS BRUINERS: Just before Dr Randera answers the question could I just ask that those asking questions comes forward please and use one of these mikes. It was unable for other people, especially for those that needs to be translated, to hear what the question is. Dr Randera, would you just clarify, if you have heard correctly what he was asking and so on.
DR RANDERA: As I understand it there are two questions. The first one is related to, relating to the amnesty process and the money that is being spent on that.
MR MANTHATA: Dirk Coetzee.
DR RANDERA: Well, the example of Dirk Coetzee has been brought up, because not only did we have an amnesty hearing, but then the justice system went ahead and had a legal hearing and the, those people have been found guilty and how much money has been spent in that whole process. That is the first question. The second one is to do with ...
PROF MEIRING: Churches.
DR RANDERA: ... the inequality, if you like, the richness and the poorness of churches throughout our land and I am going to leave that part to the, to our church representatives on the panel. I think you are raising a very important question Maroetie. First of all, let me say as a general statement in terms of the amnesty process, from the Commission's side we have made it explicit right from the beginning that this Commission is victim friendly and the emphasis is on victims and not on perpetrators, but, yes, the perception that goes out into the community is the enormous amount of money that is being spent, because remember this process of applying for amnesty requires, besides the Committee that listens to the statements, the individuals who apply are allowed to have legal representation and it is Government that is paying that at the end of the day.
Victims are also allowed to be present at these hearings and they are allowed to have their own legal representatives who can oppose amnesty applications. So there is enormous cost involved, but let us just on the other side also look at what the General Malan trial cost the country. That trial in itself cost R8,0m. That is going through the normal legal process. The de Kock trial almost cost a similar amount. So I think there is, financially there is a cost involved whichever way we go. Let me say for myself I think this debate about amnesty and justice will go on way beyond the life of the Commission. It has been the controversial issue pre the Commission coming into existence. It has been a controversial issue in the life of the Commission and it will continue for many, many years to come, but let us, I know you are not asking this question, but I think I will deal with it anyway.
Let us just remember where the amnesty process has come from. The amnesty process has come from the political compromise that took place in our country. There was no clear victor in our political negotiations that took place. That if we remember talks almost broke down at Kempton Park around this very issue. The Human Rights Committee submission to the Truth Commission three weeks ago made us aware once more about that period between 1990 and 1994. 14000 People lost their lives. As many people in the previous 30 years so I think it is within that background that we need to look at the whole amnesty process.
I think, yes, we, I cannot really comment on the justice system, but the question is a very pertinent one, the Amnesty Committee having heard the applications of these three individuals. The decision is pending at the present time. Clearly there were discussions already before the amnesty hearings took place between the Attorney-General and the Truth Commission. Was it really necessary to then go ahead and have another hearing where a guilty verdict has come through and there is a possibility, I do not know what the decision of the Amnesty Committee is as yet, but there is a real possibility that they will be granted amnesty. So I think, yes, that question is very pertinent and we need to ask that of our justice system and our politicians. Thank you.
MS BRUINERS: Does that answer your question Sir?
PROF MEIRING: The church one.
DR RANDERA: The church one.
PROF MEIRING: May I add the ...
MAROETIE: (Indistinct) come back (indistinct).
MS BRUINERS: Certainly.
PROF MEIRING: The question on the churches and on the contribution of the churches. The speaker said should we not call upon the different churches also to make contributions. Looking back at the past it seems to him that there were rich churches and there were very poor churches, there were churches on the side of the regime, there were churches on the other side. What is the role that the churches are going to play to redress the injustices and the imbalances of the past? That is the question.
The answer is of course the churches need to play a role as each section of society has to own the process of the Truth Commission. It also applies to the churches that they would with enthusiasm come behind the Truth Commission's process and say this is our process, we want to contribute to that. Dr Randera told you of all the different communities on which were called to make statements, the press and the health sectors, the prison community. We had a long debate on how could we get all the information we need from the churches, because it is evident that in the past years the churches played a major role in society on both sides of the struggle, so to speak.
Some time ago the Truth Commission sent letters of invitations to every major and minor denomination in the country. A large number of letters were sent out to the Christian churches, but also to the other faith communities, the Jewish and the Hindu and the Moslem and the Buddhist and the Bahai community, to all the different faith communities to invite them to make submissions. They were asked to submit their opinions on a number of things, to reflect on the past, on their own past, also on the past of the country to help us to understand what really happened in the past years. We were interested to hear from the churches how they saw the context in which all the violations took place, what the motives were of the people, some of them members of the churches who were involved in this.
So, firstly, we asked of the churches to help us understand what had been happening. We also asked of the churches at a stage that they should reach out to their congregants who were part of the process either on the receiving end or on the giving end, either being victims or perpetrators that they take up the responsibility towards these people, but we also asked of the churches and that becomes very important and I am eagerly awaiting the submissions from the churches especially on this point, we asked from the churches help us think about the future, help us think about reconciliation and redress. What opinions can you offer to us, what are the sources that the church can make available for the future. Can you help us with processes of reconciliation, how can you enthuse your own congregants to be part of the whole process and we are really awaiting the, with eagerness, the submissions of the different churches.
It has not yet been decided whether there will be a special hearing for the churches. Up till the 18th of August the churches have the opportunity to send in their submissions. All the submissions will be then taken onto the table, summarised and depending upon the number of submissions and the content and the different proposals in the submissions, the Truth Commission will then have to decide whether there will be a day set aside for a hearing on the churches and the role that the churches could play, but I, being trained as a Minister of Religion, as a Minister of the NG Kerk is very, very enthusiastic about the role that the churches should play in the Truth Commission process.
MS BRUINERS: Thank you Prof Piet. The gentleman to my right.
MR THOMPSON: You want me to come up there?
MS BRUINERS: Please do. Just press the red on button.
MR THOMPSON: My name is Rob Thompson. I am an Actuary and I am concerned about the issue of reparation. What I did not hear was the issue of compensation for loss of support and loss of earnings. Loss of support in the case of people who have lost breadwinners, dependents, and loss of earnings in the case of people who have been injured. Normally in, when the quantum of damages is assessed in the case, in a law suite and actuaries are called in to assess the quantum, the two major items are either loss of support or loss of earnings and the future medical costs. Now, you did mention the need for shelter. What concerns me is that, perhaps, we are asking people what they need money ... concern that we should not be just dishing out money, but on the other hand people have lost earnings, people have lost support and we, if we are serious about reparation we need to put those people back in the situation that they would have been, but for the incident.
I have raised this matter with the President of the Actuarial Society of South Africa and he said he would approach the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I am not sure whether anything in that context has taken place, but I think the matter should be pursued both by the Actuarial Society and by the TRC. It concerns me in a sense that we, if we do not take that approach we are, perhaps, being patronising to people by saying that we must decide what people need money for. In a sense they have lost support or they have lost earnings and we should be putting them back in the position that they would have been.
Whether the amount is paid in the form of an income or in the form of a lump sum that can be used to replace that income is a matter that needs, would need to be discussed. I think the amounts involved in this would be quite substantial. The typical sums that you see being paid in terms of loss of earnings and loss of support are very substantial, but I think if we are serious we need to face that fact. Part of the problem is that when these things are determined it is based on peoples' actual earnings abilities and that might be problematic for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, because we may be recompensing people, richer people with bigger amounts than poorer people. So that matter will also need to be addressed, but I think the principle of the matter needs to be recognised and dealt with adequately. Thank you.
MR MANTHATA: Thank you Rob. I think if Piet Meiring has not stated that very clearly in his account of the processes of reparation that we are already working on it is just, you know, an oversight on his part. We have very strong recommendations along that line. That where breadwinners are missing and children are growing up needing education this must be gone into. Where breadwinners are missing and people still need, not still, but they are in need of financial assistance, this is very important. It features high in our recommendations. The same applies to the issue of how do we determine whatever compensation that shall be given to the people. This has been a very, it is a central question that we are faced with. That is why in our last conference here we talked about the difficulty for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to determine the means test.
You have said it already, you know, how are we going to say who deserves how much, who deserves more, who deserves less, how do we determine that less. More so, realising too when it comes to other problems like emotional disturbances, psychological stresses which sometimes can be discovered long time after these whole things have happened. How do we keep those people within the bracket of people to be assisted, people to be attended to. It is quite a complex issue. We are grappling with it. That is why we are saying let there be as many submissions to the TRC as possible which can shed the light on how these things can be implemented and on where and how can we reach other people. For example, we know that in the end we shall not have reached everybody. What we mean is not everybody shall have submitted a statement. Not because of his own doing, but because in certain areas the turmoil, the violence in those areas like KwaZulu Natal literally makes it difficult for people to access the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the purposes of making statements.
So we have all those complex problems that we are saying these are national problems, but we are attending to them. You know, the issues of support, issues of how to reach the people and how to restore them the losses they have sustained be it emotional, physical and material. These are our core concerns and in the meetings we have had with the inter-Ministerial delegates or representative this was highlighted where to a point where the State was even saying to us let, we should not raise the expectations of the people and we are saying we are not raising the expectations of anybody, but these are the expectations of the people in the position in which they find themselves after the conflicts of the past.
PROF MEIRING: If I can just add to that. I should have told you about the President's Fund when we talked about reparation and rehabilitation. Where will the money come from for the work that needs to be done. The Act says that a President's Fund must be established. This fund will have different sources. Firstly, Government will have to budget for the fund. We also have already received information that overseas donors, overseas agencies want to contribute to that fund. We also hope that by the end of the year when the work of the Truth Commission comes to a close that civil society, the churches, the nation of South Africa would identify with the work of the Truth Commission by also contributing to the fund.
From that fund, hopefully, money will be made available for the reparation and, as Tom said, we hope that reparation will be in money where money is needed, but especially in terms of services where services are needed for medical care of for emotional or psychiatric care or educational care, etc. One of the things that the Truth Commission is tasked to do by the Act is to make a list, a sort of an actuarial list, of all the available services already in place and that we can direct people who maybe not even know about the services which are there for them, that they could make use of that.
We need all the help we can get from the actuaries. By coming to the fore I hope you have committed yourself to help us think and help us work and help us prepare the best possible document with all the necessary information. Maybe we should during the tea break have a talk about how we can get all the actuaries in South help us with this process. Thank you so much.
MS BRUINERS: Thank you for your contributions. We now move on to our focus groups and whilst we invite the first focus group, the Ministers of Religion to come forward, we ask the Salvation Army to please render a very short song before the presentation. Is the Salvation Army here?
PROF MEIRING: No, not the Salvation Army, the ...
MS BRUINERS: They are not here. Will the Bethany Children's, they are here.
PROF MEIRING: The Bethany is here.
MS BRUINERS: Could you please come forward and render a very short item for us in song.
PROF MEIRING: While they are coming may I just remind the Ministers who they are. It is Bishop Paul Verryne and then the representative of the Alex Ministers Fraternal and the Dobsonville Ministers Fraternal. These three individuals must please come to the table in front while the choir is singing.
MS BRUINERS: Mr Tom Manthata and Piet Meiring will now facilitate the presentation of the focus groups.
PROF MEIRING: Do I understand that those other Ministers are not here yet? Okay. Let us understand the purpose of the submissions. We would want to highlight what groups would deem necessary to recommend to the State for the implementation of what the TRC is going to submit finally to the State and, where possible, throw ideas of how you see that being implemented. Whilst there is the need for the background information, how we reach, we came to this, but we are largely interested in the recommendations that the groups deem very important and essential for the future promotion and protection of human rights in this country. So with that in mind we shall request Bishop Paul Verryne to go on.
BISHOP VERRYNE: Thank you Mr Chairperson. Can I just say, first of all, I have understood my brief in two broad categories. The first is a response from some church people that I have spoken to on the work that has been done so far by the Commission and then to speak briefly on some ideas that have been given in terms of reconciliation.
The church is a complex body, because it operates, I think, on many levels. There are parts of the church that represent almost exactly what is going on in the rest of society and I think the expectation sometimes is that the church is unique and holy and pure and has not got many problems to deal with which is not true. Even in terms of the way in which the church has responded to the situation in the past. There has been an official voice which seems reasonably clean, but there is the large mass of people involved in the church, of which I include myself, who are not so clean.
Just some words in response to the Commission and first of all to say that many of the people that I have spoken to have responded very warmly to the work that has been done by the Commission. They, the legislation that they have, I think, is historical. It is unique in the world scene and I think that the work that has been done has been monumental, has been exacting, has been enormous, has been done in a proficient and excellent way on many levels recognising the enormity of the task that they have. I think one of the frustrations from the churches perspective is that in some respects reconciliation and truth lie at the very heart of the church. However, to organise church and religious bodies is exceedingly difficult and so the overtures that are constantly being made, it would be good if the church carried on the process, it would be good if the church was involved is not going to happen unless that is done quite intentionally and unless at many levels of the churches life, that expectation is addressed.
If the Truth and Reconciliation Commission are wanting to enter into relationship with the churches that needs to be specifically spelt out and it needs to, obviously, have a budget and it must not simply, in my opinion, be something that deals only with church leadership, because the likelihood is that it will simply remain in the higher echelons of the church. It needs to take seriously that the church is a very diffuse body and sometimes the church leadership even struggle to get things down to where this Commission's work really should happen, which is at the grass roots.
One critique and I bring it as a critique that I have received is a critique on the finances of the Commission and the impression that in some respects the Commission, in some of its quarters, have been on the same gravy train as many other people. We bring that as a church and would ask you to look at that. Reconciliation, our church bodies have suggested that a Council for Reconciliation be set up. Reconciliation is a lengthy process and I do not think it comes at the beginning of the process. It comes, I think, after a period of time. We would want that council specifically to include all faiths and be a proper representation of all religious groupings.
As far as most of the religious bodies are concerned, reconciliation does involve something which, I think, is not part of the Commission's mandate at the moment and that is an element, as it were, of confession and repentance. That having made the submission to the Truth Commission there needs to be a recognition by perpetrator that something wrong was done. We would see that as an integral part of the process of reconciliation.
The other thing is that we have receive an impression that because of the size of the task a lot of the work of the Commission has not been able to be done with, in a sense, due process to the level of pain that some of the people are suffering from and we think that if the religious bodies are specifically involved in this process we are looking at something that could take us up to ten years and we would need that council to take that into account that the stories that people need to tell and retell and have heard is going to take a very, very much longer time than the time that is being given to this Commission.
In some work that is being done by some church groupings throughout the country what has happened is that some people have needed to tell their stories not once, not twice, but many, many times, because pain seems to be layered and as people begin to unfold more and more of the consequences of what the violations to their person and their family and their economic situation and the effects on their children and their, all the dimensions of their life, it takes a long period for people to understand the full implications of being victims and perpetrators.
An important dimension of the, of reconciliation is that, I think, connections need to be made between perpetrators and victims. Some excellent work has been done in this regard and in many of the communities that I have worked the communities have found one of the most outstanding results of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission happening when a perpetrator has an opportunity to come into a community and speak directly to the people that have been effected and hurt by his or her actions and so the churches are in a unique place, churches and religious bodies are in a unique place to make those connections.
We are conscious, as churches, of the fact that to a large extent the White community has been thunderously silent and absent in many of the, in many of the hearings. Sometimes we do not understand that. We understand that as sometimes being apathy which was part of what we struggled during the time of repression. Some of it could be from a sense of fear, not knowing where this thing is going to be leading us and some of it could be from bad communication and ignorance.
We would, finally, want to recommend very strongly to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that, two more things, that a religious bodies hearing be given. So if you need any strength to your arm in securing a position in the work that you are doing from us we would want to support that very, very strongly.
The last thing is that we think that in terms of reparation of and healing different models need to be explored, not simply the model of one on one counselling model, but very often good work can be done in terms of group therapy and there is a great deal of international material that is available to us to be able to use in bringing healing to people on a much wider basis and less time consuming thing, but far more effective way where communities come together and are given an opportunity to listen to stories and to care for one another and to empower one another in that process. Thank you.
MR MANTHATA: I do not know whether any of the Commissioners here would like to raise a question to follow.
PROF MEIRING: I know that the questions are supposed to be directed at the speaker in front. May I ask for your patience, Mr Chairman, the representatives from Dobsonville and Alex are not here, but we have a very special person in the meeting and that is Dr Auerbach. Is he still here?
DR AUERBACH: (Indistinct) from Alex.
PROF MEIRING: You are not from Alex, but I was, there is somebody coming to the front, but Dr Auerbach, will it be improper if I ask you in five minutes also to come to the front and tell us a little bit about the input from the other faith communities, because you were involved in the WCRP in that. Please come and sit at the table and tell us about that. Tom, is it okay with you?
MR MANTHATA: Yes, no problem.
PROF MEIRING: Thanks.
MR MANTHATA: Okay, we shall give Reverend Rampatie chance to give us his own observations. Rampatie is going to speak in Sotho so adjust your earphones to, is that channel two, three?
DR RANDERA: Two, English is two.
PROF MEIRING: Afrikaans one, English two.
MR MANTHATA: English two, channel two. Carry on Sir.
REV RAMPATIE: I come from Dobsonville. Dobsonville area was so affected by the riots, because the hostel just dividing the location and just being divided by the street there. At the times of the riots many, many people lost their houses, their goods and some of them lost their lives and some of them, up to now, they are not working. Today many people from Dobsonville would have been here to come and...
MR MANTHATA: Sorry, sorry.
REV RAMPATIE: ... many of them should have been here today, but they could not be in a position to come. They did not manage to come to this hearing.
MS BRUINERS: Just a minute. Before you proceed could we just give the other people some earphones. Is that why your hand is up? You are needing some earphones. Please keep your hands up so that they can see. If you do not need it please do not put your hand up. If you do understand the language please do not put your hand up. Only those who do not understand the language please leave your hand up.
REV RAMPATIE: Can I continue? Okay. Many people from Dobsonville would have liked to be here, but the City Council set a D-day for them that if they do not pay their services they are going to be cut, they should go and report at the office and many of these people were affected by the riots which took place in that area. Now the TRC is quiet about these people. I do not know what is it saying. We have many people in our congregations who were effected by these riots and some of them got injured and I do not want to be very long in my speech.
I just want to bring forward the issue of Magnus Malan and other perpetrators. Today they get pension funds and the people who were affected by their actions are not getting anything and this is not good for the Black people. Why are we so poor because of their actions? Why do we have to pay for their pension funds with our taxes? We are really against this issue. The last point I want to bring forward is that all the people who were injured and those whose houses were taken because they could not afford anymore, the Commission should look to the plight of such people. They should be helped not to be evicted from their houses. This is winter, it is terribly cold. Their electricity should not be cut. Can such people be given attention so that they can survive. I thank you.
MR MANTHATA: We shall now request Dr Auerbach to give us ...
MR MANTHATA: Just the red button Sir.
MS BRUINERS: The red button.
MR MANTHATA: The red button.
DR AUERBACH: Thank you Madam Chairperson. Just a background. The South African Chapter of the World Conference on Religion and Peace requested me as one of its Vice-Presidents to put together a group of people from different faiths to see whether there were common elements on reconciliation in the different faiths. Now, we restricted ourselves to Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Christianity to make the thing manageable although we also had some submissions from some of the other faiths, but what was quite, we asked them basically a single question and then we set up structures to debate the responses we received and the single question was, "How does your faith look at the issue of reconciliation in general?" Not particularly in the South African case, but in general and what is quite amazing is that there is an enormous commonality in different religions when that question is answered in detail. Not to waste time permit me to read a section of something that we put together after a lot of discussion in various groups.
"All our faiths share the same basic understanding that human beings are in a moral universe and have a conscience and thus an intrinsic understanding of good and evil. Any person who harms another damages the relationship between them. This harm affects not only the immediate victim, but all of us, because all are connected.
Thus Islam speaks of the need to develop a community sharing commonly accepted moral and social elements of justice ..."
and we have just heard how difficult that might be in particular instances
"... and Judaism reminds us that harming a fellow human being is a sin against that person and against God. For harmony to be restored between people, our faiths all teach that the perpetrator must acknowledge his or her wrongdoing, express remorse for their actions, seek and ask forgiveness and earnestly commit themselves not to repeat such wrongs in the future.".
This highlights the steps involved in achieving reconciliation and we found there are seven and the Truth Commission is only tasked with addressing some of them and the message to everybody here and to society out there and to the congregations is, at least, to pick up the others.
One, becoming aware of having done wrong and you have heard in some of the amnesty hearings that there are some people who apply for amnesty, but do not actually admit that what they did was wrong, because they have not been brought to see it. Secondly, publicly acknowledging the wrongdoing. Thirdly, expressing remorse for their action or lack of action. Fourth, making restitution for the harm caused. All the religions say do not talk about reconciliation if you do not make good. Obviously, this cannot be done totally. Prof Meiring has given a very interesting perspective on what can be done and, obviously, even everything in that field may be beyond our capacity as a society. Fourthly, requesting forgiveness from the harmed person. Fifthly, sixthly, making a sincere commitment not to repeat the wrongdoing and finally accepting forgiveness where it is offered. That too is sometimes difficult.
The public acknowledgement what happened to individuals and some attempt to make restitution for what was done to these persons. Now, I want to emphasise, and not to take too long, those seven steps, becoming aware, publicly acknowledging, expressing remorse, making restitution, requesting forgiveness, making a commitment not to repeat the wrong and accepting forgiveness where it is offered, I think it would be fair to say that all the religions would say that is what reconciliation is about and if you leave out bits of it then you are not going to get reconciliation.
Madam Chairperson, let me just make a personal remark, because of where I personally come from and that is that because I was, myself, born in Germany I have some knowledge as a Jewish person of the long process of reconciliation that has been happening between Germany and Jewish people and wider context and let me just say those who say it is going to take a long time are quite right. 50 Years, 52 years after the end of World War Two, as you see in newspapers, new things are coming out, new pain is being uncovered, new acknowledgements are being made. Now if we think South Africa is going to be any different then we are wrong. We are making a special effort.
Germany after the war made a different kind of effort, because the circumstances were different of a country being defeated and the victors being able to dictate the conditions at the time, but essentially the idea of reconciliation is a long and difficult process and the more people apply their minds and their hearts to it in our country in all faiths, in all communities, the better chance we have of making a reasonable success of reconciliation in the future of the country. Thank you.
MR MANTHATA: Sorry. There seems to be no question from the panel, but I do not know whether there could be one or two questions from the floor directed to the Men of the Cloth on the whole issue of reconciliation. Okay.
DR RANDERA: The lady on the right.
MR MANTHATA: Can you help me.
DR RANDERA: Do you want to come forward? Sorry, the two people who have their hands up could you go ...
MR MANTHATA: Yes, just two questions, two people asking questions please. Let them be questions please, not two lengthy comments.
MS BRUINERS: Due to time constraints we cannot entertain more. Please bear with us.
MR MANTHATA: Just two.
MS BRUINERS: Thanks Doug. You may proceed Sir.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I believe what Paul has said and the other gentleman said, Doctor, are, I personally feel that it would be for the benefit of the church and the Commission not to put time limit on how long it is going to take the process to complete. What else we should do, I believe what Paul has said, I would recommend very strongly that the church becoming partnership with the Commission in seeing to it that the whole process is when achieve. At the same time I personally consider about the whole second Commission, at second places towards the church. It needs to be rectified and anchor the whole thing of saying we are partners in this, but we need your hand, we need your support. See us not as turbulence in your submission, but see us as your partners that you will partner together, achieve what you want to achieve. Thank you.
MS BRUINERS: Doug.
MR TORE: I am Douglas Tore and I am an Anglican Minister from St Lukes which is in Bosmont. I want to gain, also support the idea of not just a church, but an interfaith submission, particularly emphasising the role that the English speaking churches have to make in terms of actually acknowledging the fact that they were not always there and often did not make substantial contributions to fight against apartheid. There is a myth that the English speaking churches were a bastion of liberalism and I think that is an erroneous view and we have to acknowledge that if we need to deal with our past as churches. So the churches need to deal with what is right and wrong in their own life before they can actually even help the healing of other people.
If we do not do that as churches we continue to perpetuate the myth that apartheid also sustained that we were doing something. Particularly, I think, that is a way in which you might need to incorporate English speaking South Africans into the acknowledgement. I noticed that the Afrikaans churches have been more readily available in coming forward to say we are wrong, all that kind of thing. That is the part of the history of the church which led to the Christian institute in other organisations and I just think that I want to support us actually doing something about acknowledging the role we played in the past, but also broadening it to interface communities, because it is an interfaith aspect that we have all, in one way or another, as religious communities, been caught up in the system of apartheid and the hurts of and pain of that.
MR MANTHATA: As it has been said, because of time constraints, perhaps this brings us towards tea, but I should repeat, please, to Dr Auerbach and ...
MS BRUINERS: Frank.
MR MANTHATA: ... from Dobsonville and Paul Verryne, can you please present us those papers that you have read. You still have time to write them fully, you know, put a great deal of thought into it, because we came to you at a very short notice, but we are going to expect that we submit something fairly comprehensive and lucid to the State. These things are to be submitted to the Government. As I have said already, the whole process of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is to enable the present South African Government and the future South African Governments to come out with processes that will ensure respect, protection and promotion of human rights. Thank you. Over to the Chair.
I thank we have, we thank you so much, we have come to the end for your focus group. We thank you so much, thank you, thank you, sorry.
MS BRUINERS: We are not ready for tea yet.
MR MANTHATA: Sorry.
MS BRUINERS: We are not ready yet. Can we go for the second focus group?
MR MANTHATA: Yes, please. Call the second group.
MS BRUINERS: We will continue our process. We will call upon the second focus group to come forward. These are three women from Johannesburg. Lesley Morgan, Zerilda Nel and Judy Stockill. Could you please come forward and take in your positions.
PROF MEIRING: While they are coming to the fore may I just make an announcement. Focus group three, womens' organisations, we have Black Sash and the YWCA there and you can add a third name, that of St Annes Womens' Group. St Annes representative will be in the next focus group.
MS BRUINERS: Start with Zerilda Nel, she is, Zerilda Nel.
MR MANTHATA: Okay. All three of you, you are very welcome, you are truly welcome and relax and let us enjoy your submission, contribution and so on. Can you go on?
MRS NEL: Chairperson, Commission members and the public, thank you for the honour to be here this morning, speak to you. I followed the workings of the Commission very carefully in the newspapers, on the radio, speaking to other people and it gave me an opportunity a bit to speak to people from my own community. I am from the Afrikaans White community and I am speaking not from a political background at all, I have not used a political platform, but I am a citizen of South Africa and I am very proud of being a citizen of South Africa.
I had the opportunity to grow up in a very religious Afrikaans family from the Cape. My grandfather was a Dutch Reformed Minister and we grew up with a strong principle in our family of fairness to others, but in my family I had the opportunity that many other Afrikaans speaking people did not have and that was to be able to grow up in a multi-racial family. We had connections with many of our communities around us. Langa, Mitchells Plain, Bishops Court, those were the areas of people that we communicated with, that we grew up with, but I think for the history of our country, that was not the opportunity that other people had and in my work as a welfare worker I also had the opportunity to teach my children to get to know the other communities and to get to know other people, especially working with the aged, especially working with alcohol and drugs and in the cancer field.
If we look at South Africa over many years there has been a wonderful, wonderful project and building bridges that have taken place in this community. We must not only look at the negative things that have happened. This is our baggage, the negative things that have happened and, you know, it has taken a lot of the press, if you look at the pages, a lot of the pages in the press and on the radio has been taken up by this and, unfortunately, the hands that have always been working across the different barriers have found it, in the last couple of years, very difficult to reach out to each other. It is as if there has been a hardness that has come within the different communities and the reaching out to each other has been stored, I hope, for the time. These are perceptions that I am giving through to you that has come through from the different communities.
It was not necessary for a lot of us to become political activists to bring change. I think change has come from a lot of individuals that have had goodwill in their hearts and fairness in their hearts. It has not been just a political platform and I think these are the strengths that we have got to build on for the future if we really want to bring reconciliation, is the goodwill in peoples' hearts and the fact that we can reach out to each other.
Where are we going now, what are we going to do now? The past is painful for all of us. The White community specifically is sitting with enormous guilt and how are we going to rid ourselves of these guilts. There has been different processes and, as Dr Auerbach has said, it takes years and it takes years, not only for the person who has been through the pain, but for the person who has brought that pain onto other people, to get over that barrier and it is very interesting, I have looked at the process, and there has been one of rejection of the Commission. People that do not want to accept the work that the Commission has done. They have rejected the Commission's work. They say, ag, it is a lot of stories, nothing has been tested, is it the truth.
There has also been, as we have heard one of the previous gentleman say, indifference. Communities that have closed themselves off, they have not really come forward, they have not really brought their points of view, but there has been a lot of positive sides as well and I think this is where we have got to build and where your part of the Commission can build and that is the bridges that we have got to build between the different groups, that we become one nation. The skills we have got, that we are able to share those skills with each other, that experiences we have had through life, that we can share those experiences and build on them on the positive sides of it and this is where it has come out that the churches, I think, have a very, very important role.
That we can through, my church for instance, build up bridges with our other congregations. That the rich congregation can adopt the less rich congregation and that they can then become partners in building up both congregations, sharing on the one hand all the pain that has, they have gone through. On the other hand sharing with each other the riches that they have, not only as religion but in their finances as well. That we look at the non-Government organisations. They are going through a very difficult time, because with the new Government a lot of their funding has been cut off and the non-Government organisations in this country was very instrumental in the changes that have taken place in Government and I think we need to support them and put it to the Government that the, a nation that really cares for their people, for the poor, for the disabled, for the sick are people that are really giving from each other to each other, but that you need your Government to support those organisations and not break the structures down. That we look at each other, because we are dependent on each other. We cannot live without each other. Thank you. And I think the last important word is love each other. Thank you.
MS STOCKILL: Thank you Mr Chairperson. I am in my fifties now. I, just, I need to tell you a little about myself, because I am speaking as a Johannesburg mother. I, in fact, did not grow up in Johannesburg, I grew up in the country and in the 80's I was in Kimberley. At the moment I live in Johannesburg and my community is not a cohesive one. I move in three different circles, as it were. The church circle, then I move in political circles and I move in golf playing circles. So, when I make my submission on behalf of the community, my community I am talking about a whole range of experiences and opinions. I have also kept my submission onto the point of the impact and effects of gross human rights violations on my Committee. The executions and tortures. Although, if the Commission so wishes, I can go into the effects of apartheid in general as an injustice and the effects of change on my community, but for now I am just talking about the impact of gross human rights on my community and I have done it in this way, then and now, and I have taken the 80's as the then and the 90's as the now. So I hope that puts into perspective what I want to say.
The impact then in the 90's on my community of those gross human rights violations, in general we only heard about the high profile cases and in my community there was a reaction of shock and horror and even, in some cases, did not want to know and I would get rid of those few people right now in the now, they still do not want to know, but they really are in the minority, but those of us, that we heard of those gross human rights violations, the incidents thereof and most people had the feeling that these were isolated incidents. They wanted to believe that they were mistakes. Then there were those in the community who suspected that this was, could not be, you know, just the odd maverick committing these human rights violations and then there were those of us who knew or thought we knew, I mean we were almost certain, put it that way, that this was a co-ordinated campaign of planned gross human rights violations against our fellow countrymen. It is kind of difficult to say that in a small community apartheid was not as effective as it has been in big cities and so when I say our fellow countrymen I am really not paying lip service to the modern parlance. I really mean that in small communities we were much closer than I find it is possible to be in Johannesburg now and those people who knew then that this was a or thought, suspected that this was a campaign, an organised campaign, they were fearful and, perhaps, accepted what was going on through fear and there were others who did what they could.
Now those that did not know, well none of us knew the extent, we are only beginning to learn it now thanks to your work, as the revelations, I am talking about the present now and the impact of what we have learnt, those revelations on my community have been, in the main, their reaction has been that people are appalled and horrified. Even those who suspected that what these, what was going on had no idea of the extent and those people who actually did something about it in one degree or another, to oppose these human rights violations, they feel really regretful now that they did not do more and those who knew and, perhaps, through fear and self-interest did nothing, they feel ashamed, but on the whole we are appalled and horrified. We, there is a kind of shame about having been so naive. Are you watching the time for me? Thank you. Also those who worked against the regime at the time feel slightly resentful now, because I am talking as a White liberal and, as you will know, White liberals have come in for quite a lot of bad press, for want of a better word. So along with the and also there is a sort of sense of guilt, you know, we should have known, we should have done more.
Now, I just want to talk now on the consequences of these gross human rights violations on my community. Often they were in, then, in the old days, fear was one of the consequences. People feared a kind of breaking out of a civil war or retribution or something of that nature, not very clearly defined. The worst one was withdrawal. My community in the 80's withdrew almost entirely from civil society. It was impossible to be an activist in civil society without becoming an agent of apartheid, because you could not have a normal life. As soon as you tried to draw or were drawn together across the race barriers it, you, it became an, it became impossible. You could not go to a cafe together and so by trying to keep a civil society going you actually became an agent of the apartheid. Sorry, that was a bit of a digression. I am trying to address myself to the gross human rights violations.
Then, of course, the other consequence was immigration. Nearly every family I know has somebody living overseas who left in the 80's, the early 80's when it became obvious that this was going to get worse and not better, because in the 70's, you remember, we were quite hopeful. Anyway, the impact now is, in my community, is a feeling of, there is a, people feel threatened, but they are not quite sure by what. Of course the impact of crime, now I do not know how, I am not expressing an opinion on whether this is related in any way to the gross human rights violations of the past, but there is certainly gross violations of human dignity at the moment and somehow my community equates the two and then, of course, an ongoing consequence of it still is immigration. Have I got time to move on to the suggestions or ...
MS BRUINERS: No, a minute.
MS STOCKILL: ... do you want me to wind up? A minute. I just wanted to say that I share those processes for reconciliation, admission, absolution, reparation, those come from my church background, but what my community seeks in this regard is somebody on which to lay the blame or somebody who will take the blame and whether that will come out of the work of the TRC at the end, I do not know, but that would be a really useful thing for my community, to have somebody else to blame. Yes. I think, too, and I am sorry, I have spent so much time on the first part, that there are other ways that this blame could be spread, but I think the agents of truth and reconciliation, of reconciliation is the Government and although we will have to do it ourselves as individuals, we will have to accept the blame, we can do it best in an era of, in an arena of peace and prosperity and, I am rushing now to get this finished.
I wanted to say the Government has done a good job in the, in being an agent of reconciliation through the TRC and in time when the President's Fund is established, if that could, that is another way of being an agent. Of course the change of Laws and the Constitution and all those things, Government has been an agent there for change and I would like, more attention needs to be given, actually, to spacial planning. Apartheid was so effective in dividing communities. We need to find ways to do, to try and redress that imbalance city planning and town planning and do it as quickly as possible before new divides set in. Yes, thank you, that is my submission for now.
MS BRUINERS: Thank you Judy. Lesley.
MRS MORGAN: I am 47 years old. I am a middle-aged, middle classed South African housewife, an elder in my congregation, a wife, a mother, a nursing sister. However, I do not come before you as a representative of any of these groups. I cannot speak for middle-aged White housewives, nor for the medical community, nor for my denomination, nor for my congregation, nor, indeed, for my family. I am here in my personal capacity as Lesley, stripped of all my titles and my relationships.
I grew up with all the advantages and opportunities afforded me, because I was White. I was oblivious of the fact that there were so many people around me who were not as privileged as I was. Not because I was unfeeling, but because I was unaware. I became more aware by the time I reached high school and can remember heated discussions in classrooms because of the inequalities I was gradually beginning to notice. In hindsight, I realised the gross distortions I was taught, but it is only looking back that I can see what, that our education system prepared me for accepting the totally unacceptable. In learning things without questioning, in obeying authority without challenge I came to accept as normal the totally and grossly abnormal. When I was in my 20's I had many friends at university including young people who were arrested and harassed by Security Policemen. It filled me with anger, but also with a sense of helplessness. We tried so hard with no result. The feeling of uselessness was quite overpowering. The State just carried on and things just got more and more difficult.
By the late 70's and early 80's I was married with a young family. Although I was fully aware of the dreadful things that were happening all around me, fear paralysed me. I was no activist. I was afraid of being arrested, afraid of being detained without trial, afraid of being tortured or killed. I do not even have the excuse of not knowing. I was well aware of what was happening. I read the Black Sash publications. I knew the terrible consequences of the Group Areas Act, the Mixed Marriages Act, the Land Appropriation Act, the Separate Development Act, the Bantu Education Act. God forgive me, I did nothing to speak out against these obscene Laws.
The TRC hearings on gross human rights violations have devastated me. I have watched them on television and read about them in the press and in magazines and they have made me weep with anger and horror. There is a strong feeling of denial not because I do not believe what has been said and not because I do not want to believe that such cruelty and systematic destruction happened so close to me. There is a sense of complicity, a terrible feeling of failure. I remember a quotation I read many years ago. It disturbed me then and it haunts me now.
"It is sufficient for evil to prosper that people did nothing.".
MR MANTHATA: Take your time Lesley.
MRS MORGAN: I have taken 47 years to get here. In April of this year I attended the first of several meetings on the churches response to the TRC hearings. One of the things discussed was the fact that so few White people attend the hearings and make submissions. I have been thinking of nothing else since then. I started talking about it in my community and discussing it with my friends. I started asking myself why I have not attended. I know it is causing great pain amongst the Black community. I cannot imagine how it must feel to bear your pain and suffering so openly and publicly. I can imagine what it must feel like to stretch out your hands in an attempt to forgive and reconcile and have no one there to take it. The hurt must be enormous and there must be anger and frustration too.
So why have I not been there. I am a Christian and I want with all my heart to make amends and start again. Why do I turn away from your outstretched hand? It is not indifference to your suffering, it is not a rejection of your testimony, it is not a denial of what has happened over so many decades, indeed, so many centuries. It is shame, it is a deep and overwhelming sense of shame. Even now as I speak to you I find it almost impossible to look you in the face. When I read of the reparation that people who have made submissions are requesting it compounds the deep shame I am feeling. A tombstone, a bursary for a child's education, a proper burial for a loved one. Such simple requests, no vengeance, no desire to get even. It somehow makes it harder to face you. Given the same circumstances I am not sure I would be so willing to forgive.
Last week after a meeting at the TRC offices I was speaking to the Chairman of the meeting and one of the Commissioners relating to them how I was feeling. They asked me if I would speak today. My immediate reaction was, no, I could not possibly. I shall never forget the look on their faces. It was not a look of judgement or anger, rather a look of sadness and resignation. It broke my heart. I spent the rest of the afternoon agonizing over this decision. I kept saying, God please do not ask me to do this. I will make reparation in some other way. I could not swallow and I could not stop crying. At about 04:30 that afternoon I telephoned the TRC office and asked to speak to the Commissioner. He had left for home and I was so relieved. I thought that I was off the hook, but God had other plans for me and he placed the Commissioner's cell phone number in my path and so here I am.
I have been thinking since then about what I would submit today. I thought about saying how apartheid has violated us all, as it has, but in the face of the submissions that have preceded mine and the millions that have not been heard, what could I say to them. I thought I could say I am sorry and that would somehow make it all right, but God kept nudging me, pulling me at my arm. I was at a loss to explain how I feel and how our past has somehow diminished me. We are so separated, you and I, our experience so vastly different. How do we bridge that gap. I am a Christian, how do I reconcile what I believe with what I practised. If you had asked me a week ago about my faith I would have said to you that I was of strong faith, that I believe in God as Creator and in his son, Jesus Christ, as my Saviour, who died on the cross for my sins and that through Him my sins are forgiven and that through Him I shall receive eternal life. That because of my faith I have tried to do the best I can, that I have treated all people as human beings, that I have tried to follow the teachings of the Scriptures. I would have said that I have always loved God with all my heart and with all my strength and with all my mind. I would have admitted quite freely that I have not always been successful with loving one another, but that God would have known that I loved Him and have always tried to discern his will for me. I am of the reformed tradition. We are not given to pentecostal or charismatic experiences.
On Wednesday I was driving to a conference on the eradication of poverty. I drove eight kilometres past my turn-off on the highway. For the first time in my life I truly heard the voice of Christ. In all the years I ignored the cries of the oppressed, I ignored him, in my fear and concern for my own safety. Like Peter before me I denied my Lord and that is just unbearable. Like Peter, the realisation of that denial has filled me with unbearable sorrow, the realisation that my faith that I was so proud of is so small, so selfish and so empty. It has made me understand why I feel such shame. I profess to be a follower of Christ, but have been unwilling to go where He has led me. I have realised that sins of commission, omission are still sins.
I cannot change our past and it would be so much easier, really so much easier, to blame apartheid for all of it. The truth is I made my own choices. I know of so many people who chose differently. I have read the letters submitted to the TRC by Dr Beyers Naude. So many people have said of all people why should he need to make a submission? I have been greatly humbled by it. I am no Beyers Naude, but I am grateful to him for his example of humility and courage. He helped me to find my way here. The choices I made in the past avoid what I perceived in my fear and cowardice as having consequences too dangerous to deal with have resulted in consequences worse than ever I feared.
Poverty has moved into my street, crime has moved in next door, unemployment is knocking at my gate. The result of systemic human rights violations have left us all with a legacy of mistrust, suspicion, anger. I will not run away from what is happening. I acknowledge my part in the creation of our present. I pray that together we will secure our future.
In conclusion, there are two things I should like to say. Firstly, to thank my family for supporting me today. This has not been easy for them, especially my husband and our eldest child. They are very private people and to watch and listen to their wife and mother make so public an acknowledgement of responsibility will have been very difficult for them, but they came anyway.
Finally, I need to say one last thing. While making submission today has been very painful for me, the hardest part is here at the end. It is so hopelessly inadequate to make right what has happened, so puny in the face of such suffering and I am overwhelmed at my temerity in even offering it, but it is all I have to give. I am sorry.
MS BRUINERS: Thank you.
MR MANTHATA: ... there will be any need for questions. I do not think so. We thank you so much Mrs Nel and ...
MS BRUINERS: Stockill.
MR MANTHATA: ... Stockill. Lesley, we thank you. We thank you together with your families that supported you to come here. It is true this is a hearing of some kind, it is a post hearing. We would, as I have said, you know, in the end we take whatever submission, whatever feelings of the people are. I think we are going to adjourn for tea. Over to you.
MS BRUINERS: We would now break for tea and we take 15 minutes for the tea break. We would reconvene at exactly ten to 12. We would reconvene at ten to 12. Tea served in the foyer and whilst we enjoy tea we ask the Bethany Children's Home Choir to please entertain us with a number of items. We thank you so much. CHAIRPERSON: I am Reverend Calvin Harris from the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa. I am a Minister in the UCCSA and I am resident in Bosmont. Before we proceed I just want to thank the Bethany Children's Home Choir for the music ...
MS BRUINERS: And Orlando North.
CHAIRPERSON: And the ...
MS BRUINERS: Orlando North.
CHAIRPERSON: And Orlando North for the music which they have presented us with and it is much appreciated. On the stand we are having focus group three. From the Black Sash we are having Sheina Duncan and then we are having a lady from St Annes, Laurel Masinga from St Annes, St Annes Woman Group. YWCA, are they present? YWCA, are they present? No, they are not present. I am not going to allow each of these ladies to speak for five minutes and then thereafter if there is any questions, I will entertain only two questions due to time constraints. Tom, will you welcome the ladies?
MR MANTHATA: Yes, okay.
PROF MEIRING: Sheina, thank you for coming to us, Sheina Duncan from the Black Sash.
MS DUNCAN: Black Sash.
PROF MEIRING: Black Sash, how can I forget. Sheina, we are very grateful to have you and we listen with great joy to what you want to say to us.
MS DUNCAN: Thanks Piet. I do not think it is going to be too much a matter for joy. One of the things, I was coerced into coming here by Tom Manthata, because one of the things that I have regretted very much about the Truth Commission's mandate is that its definition of gross violations of human rights has excluded some of the things that pretty well destroyed whole communities in this country. The Black Sash focus during the years before 1986 was on the Pass Laws, migrant labour, forced removals, three and a half million people forcibly removed from where they were living to somewhere else, the demolition of shelters as people built them and the Black Sash consistently over the years stressed that these things were destroying both families and community, because the people that are here today, some of them, I should perhaps say I am 64 years old, in the interests of transparency, but I am find there are a whole lot of people who either know nothing about those terrible things that happened or else have forgotten all about them. And my purpose in agreeing to come today was to stress one of the things that, I think, reparations needs to take into account and that is the young people of this country. Not so much those are children beginning school now, because things are going to get better for them, but it is the young people who, as we all know, have grown up in smashed up communities, broken homes without parents, on the streets have been part of the relocation of whole communities to another place. And one of the distressing things to me at the moment is that Government is not, apparently, making a particular focus on young people as such. They are focusing on education, of course, but there is a whole generation of young people who are not in school, who cannot find jobs, because they have not got the skills.
I am on the Board of something called the Joint Enrichment Project which, amongst many other NGO's who work with young people, have developed a whole lot of pilot schemes which have been tested, have been successful, but Government drags its heals on taking them over and the NGO community cannot take on that huge task by itself. It has got to be an official programme and I would hope that when the TRC does produce its final recommendations on reparations that one of the things we have to recognise is it is too late to make restitution to the older people for what they suffered through those things through the years. There is, nothing can restore those years to them and undo what was done to them, but the best way that one can think about reparation for them is that they will have the knowledge that their children will be a special focus for this country in the future, because unless we do that we are not going to get at the root of the problems.
I know the Youth Commission is feeling the same thing as well. That it has been established, but it is finding it very hard to get Government to really focus on this question of young people as they should be doing. Thank you.
PROF MEIRING: Sheina , thank you very much. Please will you continue with your submission.
MRS MASINGA: Thank you. Chairman and members of the Commission, I am Laurel Masinga representative of the St Annes Catholic Womens Sodality and have come here split in the middle, because in as much as I coming here representing women of the sodality, mothers and grandmothers, I also happen to be working with young people and what the previous speaker has said has touched on one of the strings of my heart. I am a school teacher and I am not afraid to say I am 62 years old.
As church women we do find strength and solace in belonging to a group and we have found that spirit of belonging to be of great help, particularly, during the difficult time, but we also live among the community as part of the community and we know, generally, what the feeling is. I think that having been with this young Government and hearing how much or how little money they have, perhaps we might also look into our own selves and think of the things that we can try and do for ourselves. What I understood my brief to be was to come and speak on how we see the process of healing taking place and I believe that in South Africa, South Africa is made up of communities, one of the communities to which I belong.
We, grandmothers and mothers, understand that healing is a process, because even as we speak among our children we would say when one complains about not being quickly healed, then we say that a disease takes longer to leave the body than it has taken to enter the body. Now, I am speaking literally and for it to take place successfully all parties need to be aware that this will, indeed, take time and time in human life terms means generations. So real results of healing having taken place may be visible only decades from now. This knowledge should, however, not make us despondent, but rather make us aware of the quick passage of time and we need to act now.
We, as women of prayer, should join in the therapeutic activities, of course by prayer, but more by identifying the areas of hurt and anger being members of communities that have been hurt and that are angry ourselves. We need therapy, well I will not take the whole spectrum. That is much too much. It is a mammoth thing, but we, I felt that we needed to look at some areas and the areas that quickly came to mind were we need therapy to heal for the purpose of improving our relations with the police as communities, to phase out this them versus us attitude. We need to work on the establishment of unconditional trust between ourselves and the police, to trust them to do their duty and to trust them so much that they will fear to disappoint us, knowing that they are trusted to be responsible and trustworthy.
Now, one area which makes it quite difficult has been the possession of guns or weapons, because they are seen as means of power from the way that they have been used by some members of the police and some of the Black ones who expect protection from daddy Government, especially now that daddy is a Black Government, so to speak. Now, this power feeling has rubbed off onto members of the community, especially the criminal element who happen to be our children and our grandchildren. Even those who are not criminals per se have interpreted gun possession as putting them in a position of power to remove whatever is an obstacle in their way to get what they want, that is perhaps removal of an enemy or to force a have, to hand over what we want and with money in our hands we can buy a way out of prison, because the police belong to the overworked and underpaid group.
Now, the people named above are, as stated, our relatives, both the police and other members of the community. As women in the church we can contribute, I think, in our small way. We might embark on programmes starting in our local parishes where we can hold services of healing for those among us who are in the different areas of work or who have contact with hurt and angry members of the community. In our year plans we might include services for our Ministers to preach the truth and reconciliation and the true meaning of Catholic, especially when it comes to working among the poor and the needy and I am not talking Black and White only here. I am talking of the way we expect our Ministers to preach to us in a comfortable way.
We could include services for our professionals and workers in fields, excuse me, where most, where people are most hurt by the past situation. For example I will again emphasise the police, the prison warders, former prisoners to be present in the same service with the prisoners and with the police and the warders. We might need services for nurses and all health workers. We are all aware of how stressed out they have become. Services for teachers and social workers and specific services for the youth. It is also suggested that these services be held separately for each of the above named groups of people, because they have experiences that are specific to their different calling and work situation. It might also not be possible for individual parishes to conduct all the suggested services in a given period, but they might each choose which they will start on according to greatest need in their particular area. The important thing here is to make a start and to continue tirelessly. The power of the Word should not be underestimated, particularly among us Africans being of the oral tradition and, perhaps, with my tongue in my cheek, being women.
Perhaps, of greatest importance, being family leaders as mothers and grandmothers there is a need to start at home. We need to correct the language that we use when we speak to our children and we insist in the homes that everybody speaks in love and respect to each other in the home and then carrying it out to the neighbours. Our children should be known to be children who speak with respect to the neighbour and, perhaps, they may become role models in the streets. We have streets and we will look after one another in streets. We know one another, we get to become families, like street families.
We also need to revisit our human values attaching value to people rather than to possessions. As we encourage our children in their aspirations and, of course, our aspirations for them, we need to discourage discrimination against certain types of people and tribes and our general attitude towards non-members of our families. I am talking here about remarks that are quite well known to our communities when we talk about the Shangaans that, oh no, he is a Shangaan. What can he know? Anything that is ugly is like that of a Shangaan. That I do not like them, because kimakule, that is does not matter what you have stolen, you have stolen it from a White person. Now I think with determination and the will to make a difference we can move towards healing and this is our humble contribution.
PROF MEIRING: Mrs Masinga, Laurel, thank you very much. Before I ask whether my colleague, Tom, has a question, can I just ask, you have your submission in writing, Sheina can we have yours in writing too.
MS DUNCAN: I will have to write it afterwards.
PROF MEIRING: Thanks, the, yes, what, the things you said are so important. I was thinking about your advice to the R and R Committee that youth should be very specifically included in proposals, in the reparation proposals. We take note of that and we will take it back home and Laurel, thank you so much for what you said about, everything you said. It is so important and we want to include that in our report on todays meeting. I am going to ask Tom Manthata whether he has a question and then with the Chairman's permission we are going to move onto the next group. After the next group we will allow for two or three questions again from the audience, but Tom Manthata first.
MR MANTHATA: This is a very important area of the youth, but my biggest problem is how do we capture that youth, because presently you can only find these youths either in ...
INTERPRETER: The speaker's mike is not activated.
MR MANTHATA: Sorry, either in the church or at schools, but otherwise outside that once they become workers they exit out of that social structure and pitifully we meet the youth, you know, in most cases in very negative or adverse atmosphere and the biggest question is just how can we capture those youth and make them demand, make such demands and come out with such projects that can be of importance and promotion to their quality of life?
MS DUNCAN: Well, in the Joint Enrichment Programme there is only one of our projects that is in schools, the rest of them are all with young people who are neither in work, nor in school and it is possible to find young people who are desperately looking for assistance in various fields, whether it is skills training or whatever, because they will find a programme if the programme is there. You do not just find the young people who are in church or in schools are not the ones who have themselves the major problems, but I am absolutely confident that it can be done, because we have done it and the projects are there, they are tested, they work and it just needs, and there are other organisations who also work successfully with young people, but it just needs that national commitment to what is the majority of our population, after all, the under 25's.
PROF MEIRING: Sheina, Laurel, thank you so much. Please sit tight, because it may be that some questions can be asked of you later, after the next session, but please return to your seats and I am now calling upon the representatives of focus group four to come to the fore. Representatives of Justice and Peace, of the Khulumani Group, of Lenz Community and of Wilgespruit, please do come to the fore. There are four chairs. Yes, please, make yourself at home and, Sir, please do not feel threatened by the three ladies. You are man enough for them. Before we start may I just to have a records ready, have your names and the communities you represent.
MR VADI: Ishmael Vadi.
PROF MEIRING: Sorry.
MR VADI: Ishmael Vadi.
PROF MEIRING: Ishmael Vadi, Lenasia.
MS SHEZI: Sandi Shezi.
PROF MEIRING: Sandi Shezi, Khulumani.
MS MAKOBANE: Hilda Makobane, Justice and Peace.
PROF MEIRING: Linda Makobane.
MS MAKOBANE: Hilda.
PROF MEIRING: Hilda, sorry, Hilda Makobane, Justice and Peace.
MS MARY: And Sheila Mary, Justice and Peace.
PROF MEIRING: And Sheila, also Justice and Peace. Let us give the gentleman the first word. The ladies also have the last word. Ishmael Vadi, we are here to listen to you.
MR VADI: Chairperson, thank you very much. I speak largely as an activist from the Lenasia community. I have been involved in the Transvaal Indian Congress, the United Democratic Front and more recently in the African National Congress. What I would like to give is a perspective on Lenasia which has as its resident population a majority of Indian people in the province of Gauteng and I think I am not using the term "Indian" to emphasise any form of ethnicity, but simply to locate this section of the South African population within the broader process of national reconciliation as expressed through the TRC and its activities.
As people might know that Indian South Africans came as, as labourers late in the last century and since then they have been victims of a systematic process of national oppression as a minority. Many might be familiar with the campaigns of Mahatma Ghandi through the establishment of the Natal Indian Congress and the Transvaal Indian Congress at the turn of the century against the forced imposition of Pass Laws on Indian people and various forms of social and economic discrimination. The police of the State for the better part of the century has been one of encouraging or forcing Indian people to repatriate to India and when that failed they were victims of the policy of forced removals and resettlement through the Group Areas Act, large scale disruption of community life, of economic activity, etc. and then since the 1960's there has been a very active process of co-option by the State through the South African Indian Council, the management committees and, finally, through the Tri Cameral Parliament.
I think as a community there has been a very proud tradition of resistance to these forms of oppression and discrimination. The Indian Congresses through Ghandi, through Dadu and Naiker, right through the 60's and 70's have played a very important role and some of the best sons and daughters of our community have become major figures in the ANC. I do not want to dwell on that today.
What I want to talk about really is alongside this proud tradition of resistance to oppression, there was a minority, a category that actively chose to collaborate with apartheid. These were people who from the 1960's worked in the Management Committees, in the Tri Cameral system, they were informers of the Security Police, they constituted a distinct network in the community, they spied on people, they would harass people. Some of them were members of gangs, criminal formations. There were also certain religious leaders who conspired with the apartheid State against their own people. What is most disturbing through this whole process is not a single one of those persons have come forward to say we are sorry. Not one person from the House of Delegates or from the Management Committees or any of these informers that have worked with the Security Police and have done such untold harm to many prominent leaders in our community, some of them have died in detention. Not a single person has come forward to say I was responsible and I was guilty and, perhaps, that is a weakness of the TRC process. I think I am truly inspired by the confessions, by the regret and the remorse that so many people have expressed, but very few have come from our community and I think that is something that needs serious attention.
Today, I think, Indian people see reconciliation as a process between White people and African people. They see reconciliation largely in the political domain. We have not heard a single Indian person coming to this forum talking in the way that the lady spoke who spoke earlier on and saying I feel guilty, because I did not do enough, although I was part of an oppressed community. We also had our own forms of oppression against African people. When Africans worked for us as domestic workers or as workers in businesses or in our social relationships, nobody confessed, nobody said we are sorry for that and that was a mistake. It was another form of oppression, another evil in society which needs to be eliminated.
So this layered form of oppression is what I think the more textured form of oppression has not truly come out through the TRC process. I think very many Indian people in seeing reconciliation as a White, Black issue, a White, African issue are sitting, at the moment, in a comfort zone. There is not the kind of sense of guilt and remorse amongst the people. Many of them have projected the leaders who have suffered in the past and said these are our leaders and we share their burden and their pain, but they fail to acknowledge that in some ways they were also part of the problem in this nation.
There is no active involvement from the average Indian person in the process of national reconciliation. I think the attendance at many of the TRC hearings will bear testimony to the very low levels of attendance from Indian people to the proceedings here. It is only when somebody from their own community came that they were there, otherwise even villages' leaders, etc, have not systematically followed and monitored this particular process. There are no personal moral dilemmas that people are facing. They are not grappling with the issues. There is no soul searching taking place. There is no internal reflection in the way that we have seen today and in other hearings and somehow I see that minority religious communities are not actively involved. The leaders are not actively involved in championing the cause of national reconciliation and stating the work of the TRC.
What is the way forward? Earlier on there was a suggestion of a Council for Reconciliation. My own view is that national reconciliation is a long term process. It cannot end with the end of the TRC and its legal responsibilities in terms of the Law, of the Act. My own feeling is that all institutions of the State have to share some responsibility in advocating and promoting national reconciliation for many decades to come. There is the Human Rights Commission, there is the Commission for the Promotion of Culture and Linguistic Minorities, there is a Gender Commission and a whole host of other statutory organisations that the new Constitution has created or is about to give birth to. These structures must take on a central, ongoing responsibility.
There is the schools. One of the most powerful mechanisms for the socialisation of people. Schools have an ongoing responsibility to promote the theme of national reconciliation. Earlier on mention has been made about how local Governments do special planning. We have got to break down apartheid geography, group areas geography. That is the starting point of restructuring the way people live and where they live and how they communicate and interact. So the State has a central responsibility long after the TRC fades away and that responsibility must not be discounted, but then I think there is obviously a central role for civil society, for religious organisations, etc, to continue with this mission of advocating, of promoting national reconciliation and, I think, for me this notion of a Council for Reconciliation should really be located within civil society. Whether the core of that will be the religious forces in this country or other organisations, I do not know, but I think that the Council should be located in civil society and should not be another statutory organisation. The mission and, entire all other agencies of the State must carry this mission forward and civil society must support it. Thank you very much.
PROF MEIRING: Mr Vadi, thank you so much. You will present us with your written submission. It is, the content is very important to us. It is wonderful to have a voice from the Indian community with us today and thank you for the concerns that you put on the table. Thank you so much. Please do not leave, but Ms Shezi, it is your opportunity. Ms Shezi speaks for the Khulumani Group.
MS SHEZI: Yes, I will say I am sorry. My voice is a little bit horrible. I took it to the dry cleaner last night so when I come here they told me that it is not ready yet, but I will use the same one. I hope the message will get across. I am a field worker for Khulumani at Soweto and Khulumani is a victim driven organisation which was formed by the, I cannot call them victims anymore, they are the survivors and they came together to relive their pain, anger and frustration about what happened in the past. So my submission, it is a written one for, I am talking, I talk too much. That is why they have written it down so that they will limit my tongue. Starting with feedback from the TRC hearing.
"In general the victims have been gravely disappointed about the lack of action and the lack of feedback to the victims who have made statements. Victims are feeling that they have been part of process that has compromised them even further. We feel that the TRC has not been accountable to victims.
In Soweto in particular the lack of information about the TRC hearings led to the only session that was held in the area being very poorly attended. The area is very big with a long history of gross human rights violations. There is now disappointment and frustration that there will be no more hearings.
Statement taking. The lack of effective communication from the TRC to communicate has resulted in little information being available, few statements taken and a generally awareness in the communities about why they should make statements when they can make them and how to make them. We believe that the number of statement taken us has absolutely no relationship to the number of gross violation of human rights that have taken place.
We do not see that the statement taking process has speed up significantly and feel that because of the factors mentioned above it is totally unfair to limit the granting of reparation to those who have made statements to the TRC.
Follow up and letters, confirmation. People made statements about the hardship they are suffering. Having made them they receive a complete lack of concern on the part of the TRC, because there has been no follow up. Some people that made statements have not yet received letters of confirmation. They are not sure if their statement has been received by the TRC or not.
Witnesses protection. There has been a lack of ad hoc low level facilities for witnesses protection for people placed in danger by their decision to make submissions. Victims feel that it is unethical for TRC to encourage people to come forward and thus endanger themselves for the sake of the truth where they are offered no protection. This especially applies to cases where the threat comes from police serving in the witnesses community.
Urgent interim reparation.".
That is a very good one.
"There is a great concern about urgent interim reparation. There seems to be no progress. We attempted to set up a procedure for an ad hoc section 16 to the TRC on the advice of some Commissioners, but this has never actually had resulted although we have refer section 16 to them. We do not know whether a procedure has been developed for urgent interim reparation. We do not know if an office has been set up anywhere to implement the recommended policy.
Finding of victims. We understand that one of the tasks of the TRC is to make a finding about whether someone who has made a submission is a victim of gross human rights violations or not. It is disturbing to us that this process has not started or if it has that we do not know about. We expect that and believe that we are entitled to transparency and accountability in this exercise.
Investigation and amnesty hearing. There is a lack of information on progress, if any, or investigation. Victims do not know whether their cases are being investigated or if nothing is happening. There is now some concern about exhumation of bodies for re-examination. Victims want to know how it is decided to an exhumation. There is a perception that it is only for high profile activists. There is a lack of information of who has applied for amnesty, for what and what process is being followed.
To elaborate on this there is an outcry, more specially, when people heard on the TV and on the radios that certain bodies are being exhumed and being reburied whilst their loved ones are not being exhumed. So they are asking themselves is it just because we are at the grassroots. Nobody cares about us. Those who are in the rank and files of a certain organisation are being taken consideration.
Investigation, difficulties experienced by victims.".
I should think this will be my last.
"The main difficulties experienced by the victims are the following areas. Shelters. Some victims had their houses destroyed. Others had illegally occupied by others who continue to occupy them. Some victims have no jobs or are unable to work and are struggling to feed their families.
Disability pensions. Some victims should be getting disability pension, but have not been able to handle the bureaucracy involved.
Medical assistance. Many victims have chronic medical needs and the public medical service makes it difficult or impossible for them to get the access.".
On that note we are saying that as I am working as a field worker in the township, I came across people who have bullet pellets in their bodies, people who have bullets in their head, who need medication, but they cannot get it. For example there is a case of a young boy who stays in Vaal. He has been bleeding for 13 years, going to hospital. They have just given him a salve, our own hospital, Government hospital. That salve did not help until Father Paul Verryne came to, an assistant with Dr Martin Cornell. So we need more Dr Martin Cornell's and Dr Paul Verryne's in our township to help the people for people are suffering. They have got bullets in their bodies, they cannot even afford the money for the doctors. So the TRC must give that message to the Government.
"Death certificates. Some victims cannot claim or insurance policies and have other problems, because they cannot get death certificates for their relatives.
Education. There are children missing out on education, because their parents cannot get them to school.
Counselling. Most victims are in need of some form of psychological counselling.".
And that I should think most of our generation, the youth that took part in the struggle are psychologically effected and I do not see the Government reconciling the nation when people psychologically are effected. I am afraid at the long run we will have the revenge attacks and if we want to curb that revenge attacks we must, the centres must be placed in the township nearer to the people where they can get psychological help.
"Victims cannot begin to heal until the above practical difficulties are being addressed and victims feel that they are being cared for and care about. The perception amongst victims that perpetrators are being handled with more sympathy than them must be countered. More specially when you find that Mr so and so has applied for amnesty and that so and will be heard whilst the victim at the other hand are not given that same chance as the one who has applied for amnesty.
I should think I have touched that one, that centres must be built in the township for the people to be referred to nearer to them than asking an unemployed person to board a taxi to town to the centre where she can get or he can get help. It is better when the centres are in the townships.
"Caring for the victims should involve the resources not only of NGO's, but of the community in the area, eg, medical communities, social welfare community, White community. Whatever is set up must be well publicised in setting up period and once it is all operation. Once victims' immediate needs are being cared for the other devices can promote healing are job creation, commemorative events, erecting memorials, Blacks in public places, naming of buildings, schools, etc, community theatre. When we can take out our youth out of the street and they must do something.".
I find it disturbing here when I say, are talking about community theatre when you find that our honourable Government, the whole State President is giving, is doing something for the street kids, but he is not doing something for the orphans of the people who died in the violence. I wonder our Government is, want to promote the most kids in the street. He wants more kids to come out in the house and be on the street so that they can get tracksuit, soup and whatever.
PROF MEIRING: I think we, maybe we should move on to the next speaker. Can you ...
MS SHEZI: Okay.
PROF MEIRING: ... summarise please.
MS SHEZI: Yes.
PROF MEIRING: Thank you.
MS SHEZI: "We need a practical strategy that can begin
immediately and suitably. The NGO's coalition need to be re-established and no, organise geographically basis rather than a sectoral basis. A local level of CBO's including political organisations, civic organisations and victim support groups should be partners in setting up local structures. They should be assisting in running local committees.".
PROF MEIRING: Ms Shezi, thank you very much.
MS SHEZI: Thank you.
PROF MEIRING: We need your statement. You have said a number of very pertinent things and we would like, we are thinking along the same lines. Thank you for readdressing all those issues. We really appreciate it. Ms Makobane or is it Sheina first, Sheina first.
MS MARY: Maybe I will just start by saying that Justice and Peace is an organisation, a Commission within the Catholic Church. We focus on our own members in trying to inform them about the best kept secret in the church and that is our social teachings. They are not very keen to hear about those and we work, as I said, with our own people, but we also work with community people, with the NGO's as well as people on the ground. I am not going to speak too much, because I want to let Hilda speak. Our people from Soweto wanted to come, but they are involved in a special meeting today. So Hilda has come.
One of the things that I want to say in terms of reparation is to endorse everything that has been said, because we have found that has been the cry, but one of the things that we found right at the beginning when the Truth Commission started, we got all the information and together with other NGO's started giving workshops. We moved amongst people who cannot read and write, who work on farms, people who have no work and they were amazed that somebody wanted to come and tell them about what was happening, that they had the opportunity to ask questions and the fact that they were being informed. This says a lot to me that maybe in our country with everything that is new, why do we not always start with how can we communicate with the most people, if you understand what I mean, and device structures that we can bring more people on board.
We also found that some people were quite angry that they had not been consulted about how the Act was formulated and we had to explain that a number of times. We have been working very closely with the Truth Commission and we want to thank the Truth Commission for this and for bringing us on board. We had plenty of times, many times that we had meetings with them and when we invited them to our meetings, when we could put complaints before them they listened to us and we listened to them and right throughout the country Justice and Peace has been working very closely with them. We have also got some of our members who became statement takers and I would like now for Hilda, who is a statement taker, to tell the story.
PROF MEIRING: Sheila Mary, thank you so much. Hilda, we are looking forward to your story.
MS MAKOBANE: Thank you. My name is Hilda Makobane. I am a member of Justice and Peace and I do voluntary work for them. What I do when the TRC started, we were trained to run some workshops. I did run some workshops in my communities, but the turn up was very poor, but I still continue with my work. What I do when I take statements I usually visit the areas that I know some of the victims were there. Then I went door to door and asked them if they are interested in making their statements and, in fact, I start by explaining what the TRC is all about and fortunately and unfortunately some of them they do agree and then I make their, I take their statements.
Some of them, when I make an appointment, when I go back they have changed their minds, because they see, they think the reparation is very slow. They have not seen anybody getting any help from the TRC. That is all I have got to say.
PROF MEIRING: Hilda, thank you very much. Yes, let us give her a hand. The four of you please stay, remain seated. It may be, Mr Vadi, you need to leave at a certain stage I know. If you feel you have to slip away at some stage feel, please feel free to do that, but thinking back we have one more submission to come. That will be a submission from the youth groups. We, I promised that we can sit back for, just for five minutes now and allow for a few questions and answers. You have listened to the previous group, was, who were they, the, that is right, that was St Annes and the Black Sash and now these and if there are any questions, let us allow for say ten minutes for questions and answers. Then we move on to the youth group.
By then it should be round about quarter past one. Then my friend, Tom Manthata, will summarise, he will wrap up the whole proceedings and by half past one all of you are invited to have lunch with us and then we go home, but firstly now questions and answers from the floor.
CHAIRPERSON: Are there any questions from the floor? Please show your hand. There is one at the back. Please will you come forward, please. Will you come forward. Any other questions? Please show your hand.
MS BRUINERS: Calvin, can he use that mike, because they cannot hear for the interpreters.
CHAIRPERSON: Use this mike for me, microphone for me.
PROF MEIRING: Just push the red button.
BUSI: Good afternoon everybody. My name is Busi from Orlando North. I have got a question for sister from Khulumani Group. How can you explain, sorry, my voice is. Can you clarify for us when you said the Government is not doing anything for the victims of the previous fights and he is doing something for the street kids. I did not understand that.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Is that all?
CHAIRPERSON: You may step down. You ...
MS SHEZI: If I may, I have got a, quickly. I said the Government is not doing that to the orphans of the people who died in violence. I am telling that by the fact, as a field worker I visited, I do the home visit to most of the families and if you watch and see and if you can sit and watch your television you can see that the Government is throwing a party for the street kids. When have you heard that the Government have thrown a party for the orphans of the victims or for the victims. Have the Government thrown any party for the victims? No, but for the street kids they run a lot of parties from the Government and from Mr South, Ms South Africa. CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Okay, mine is not a question, but just an input regarding targeting the young people in the townships. I have heard somebody asking how can we target young people from the townships. We have service organisations in the townships that are really doing work with young people and we have the NICRO's, we have the other organisations that are really dealing with criminals. That can really help us to identify or maybe to sort other problems or to address other issues that are concerning the community at large, but not to look at schools and churches as the only solutions, because not all of us are going to church and I do not think some children from the churches are making harm to their communities. Then maybe we should use our service organisations, really, to try to bring message through to the community and to use our local radio stations since that we have such services. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for that comments. Are there any questions or any other comments? There I see a hand. Will you come forward please. Anybody else that wants to ask a question? Going to one o' clock.
MS MOLAPE: Hello everybody. My name is Carol Molape. I am from Dobsonville. Sis Linda, can I ask you a question. I just want to ask you from whatever you have said I get the feeling that you are blaming someone. I just want to ask are you blaming Mr Mandela for all these violence?
MS SHEZI: I would like to answer that in short. I am not blaming the, Mr Mandela for, what I said, maybe you did not understand me. I said I have not heard in a single day that the Government has thrown the party for the victims, but the Government is throwing the parties for the street kids and the Government, also, my Government that I voted for, has made their resources for all the health sectors, wherever, whatever, but there is no budget for the victims. I am not blaming him, but I said he must take it into consideration. This is a submission. There are going to take it straight to the Government and they are going to present it that Mr President, the community, people need this. It is not a blame, but it is a plea that the Government must consider when making all the budgets that the victim must also be included in the budget.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. This is the last question from the Salvation Army then we are going to call on the last focus group, the youth group to come forward, youth in the region to come forward.
CAPT MABASA: I am Captain Mabasa from the Salvation Army and I was so concerned when I listened to my brother from the Indian community when he said all the facts that he stated here. My question was and is what do you think needs to be done in order to rectify the situation from the Indian community, because personally I was also concerned that we do not hear much from the Indian community and also I was concerned that we know that there has been violation of human rights and all sorts of things that you have mentioned, but what needs to be done? Maybe with us helping you in the Indian community. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
MR VADI: I think that this is a difficult question. It is a question that faces minorities in the process of change, of substantial change in societies and sometimes there is a kind of withdrawal syndrome that people experience. My own sense is that perhaps one needs a two-prong strategy that community organisations themselves need to take on the responsibility of the task of activating the community, on pricking the conscience of the community, on sensitising them, etc, to galvanise them to become much more active participants in the process of national reconciliation, but I think the Truth Commission itself could also play an important role.
If there are going to be any kinds of hearings in future I think it is worthwhile targeting one or two of these communities so that they feel that they are part of the process. That is the important thing. I think the fact that you have this kind of road show and you have a show in a particular community there is an immediate focal point, people come there, there is a sense of interest, involvement, etc. So it is a two way process, but ultimately I think the responsibility lies on the leadership of that community to begin to take, to provide that leadership so people can make the jump and become part of that process.
PROF MEIRING: Mr Chairman, before you let go of Capt Mabasa, please stay where you are, because I want to say something. We spoke about the church submissions just a while ago. The invitation that was extended to all the different denominations to help us with finding the truth, help us making recommendations for the future, discussing what the contribution towards reconciliation could be of the different churches and faith communities, the Salvation Army of whom Capt Mabasa is a representative was the very first of all the churches to respond. We already have their submission at the office and may I use this public opportunity to ask Mr Mabasa, again, to say a word of very special thanks to the leadership of the Salvation Army. They really carried the torch for all the other churches. Thank you for coming to us and please give it through to them.
CHAIRPERSON: Piet, are there any further comments?
PROF MEIRING: No, thanks, you can let them go.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Our next focus group will be the youth in the Gauteng region and I call upon Ms Sophie-Marie van Garderen and YCS. Are there any other organisations?
PROF MEIRING: Bosmont Youth, nobody.
CHAIRPERSON: Piet, any comments?
PROF MEIRING: Thank you. The YCS, we need the name of the organisation and the name of the person who sits in front of us.
MR DICK: Okay, I am Tammy Dick.
PROF MEIRING: Say that again.
MR DICK: I am Tammy Dick.
PROF MEIRING: Tammy Dick. Yes and what does YCS stand for?
MR DICK: It is the Young Christian Students.
PROF MEIRING: Young Christian Students. Thank you so much. So you will be speaking from the Young Christians Students viewpoint, from an African view point and Sophie-Marie van Garderen is a young professional. She studied at the Rand Afrikaans University and she is a young professional. She joined a firm in Johannesburg recently and she will be giving the perspective from her peers, but Tammy, you first please.
MR DICK: From Young Christian Students we wish to say that we appreciate the sitting of this meeting. It is a very historic meeting, it comes immediately after the June 16 declaration at which we presented a declaration to the Chairperson of the Truth Commission, Rev Tutu. Our commitment to the process of transformation and our commitment in view of the TRC, but I just want to reflect on the brief which informs the perspective that YCS presented in Cape Town on the 16th of June, because I am having a problem with regard to the presentations, particularly to the public. I am afraid that I am avoiding to make a thesis, but I will try to limit myself and confine myself to the statement that we presented to the Truth Commission.
As Young Christian Students we wish to reaffirm our commitment and we are convinced that we constitute a relevant societal and communal component to air our conviction and obligation to ensure that the proclamation of the ruling power of God and the fundamental realisation of societal transformation and our society is relieved of apartheid bondage. We derive our natural and historic existence from the real situation and the condition within which man and I want to emphasise that the use of "man" here is sex insensitive. That man found himself. That is global economic exploitation and political oppression of man by another man for purpose of resource monopolisation participated a number of forum and partnering organisations which rejected and continues to reject this phobia. We confirm our outstanding contribution and commitment to the building of our society, with a well built society and moral fibre.
In the context of South Africa the establishment and the consequential productivity of TRC constitute a healing criteria with which nation building and societal transformation shall be built. This is confirmed and continues to be confirmed by the multitudinal support that is observable. More over by the availability of the perpetrators and victims. This also confirms the quantity conception and notion that built and building lasting peace, harmony and justice requires a foundation with which is squarely and directly relevant in the Truth Commission and its process.
The impact of the TRC or the impact of the gross human rights violations. YCS is an international Christian youth organisation and it operates at schools and tertiary institutions of learning, seminaries, convents and committee based across the length and breadth of South Africa. By virtue of its above mentioned historical and natural relevance was also subjected to apartheid brutalities. We saw of its prominent leaders and militants losing their valuable lives and glorious lives as perpetuated by the dark forces of apartheid. Sadist teachers and reports continues to count the heads in classrooms and those said to be responsible South African youth, but deliberately neglected the psychological, mental, spiritual and physical harm that apartheid remains responsible for. They continue to mention and inflate the rate of crime its diverse manifestation.
Gangsterism which remains dangerous particularly when subversively and haphazardly read and heard about. They tend to forget that no man is consciously and logically naturally fond of being relegated and classified into crime, friendly. In the teachings of Karl Marx we learn that man is nurtured by the environment within which he lives and that must begin to inform our conception of life and that must begin to inform our approach particularly when we begin to re-contextualise and re-conceptualise the TRC process.
That, we are having two recommendations which are in view of the organisational or community strategies and the participation. The natural existence of communal or demential organs and its historical significance can be derived from their continued existence and co-existence. It further bears testimony to the fact that there exists a potential to influence strategy formulation which shall be objectively lobbied for and implemented. Particularly and strategically located is the church which proved to have succeeded in rallying people in the struggle against apartheid, denomination and segregation. That can also be implemented in the form of prayer meetings which must emphasise an obligation to reconcile and also promote willingness for either victims and perpetrators directly or indirectly.
Services which are interned at promoting this cause should be broadened in terms of access and input. This should not be exclusive of material help base on the feasibility and affordability and finally we wish to say in view of the participation, there has never succeeded any form of a system and apartheid is an example which assumed that people are lagged in everything. That is in thinking, idea formulation, problem statement making. The review, implementation and monitoring. What failed lot of systems is the negligence and ignorance of the very in power of the democratic variances, but rather opted to confine decision making within class, within boardrooms and conference halls, if not press briefings and media in general.
Democratic centralism is the key to any situation that involves peoples' effective and efficient participation and can be realised through popularisation of the very cause, not only by the TRC personnel only, but the urgent venture to be undertaken individually and collectively by all communal components. Specific references to State, the church, the business, NGO's, private sector and community based structures. Coupled to the structural incorporation shall need to be the issue of infrastructure which shall primarily be addressing the effective and efficient pragmagtisation of the objective in forming the existence of the TRC, let me say the TRC, and which to say this is not a well contained statement which was submitted to the TRC, but it is very preliminary and in the process this is part of the discussion that will be entertained at our coming constitutional meeting, because I have made a declaration and a commitment to the TRC process and we are calling for support. Thank you.
PROF MEIRING: Tammy, Mr Dick, thank you. I, this is good news. Thank you for the comprehensive statement and for the news that we will even get an even more comprehensive statement after you have rewritten it and the committee has looked at it. You will present it to us. Please, we need all the information, all the input you gave us. Thank you. Do not leave. Sophie-Marie, it is your turn.
MS VAN GARDEREN: Thank you. I want to state up front that my name means a very political active or a very good public speaker. I came from a very traditional Afrikaans middle class family and is currently working for a merchant bank in Johannesburg. In talking to the people around me and at work, socially as well, there emerged three distinct groups which could not entirely came as a surprise to me. The first one was a group who had a very apathetic and indifferent view on the ongoings of the TRC. I think that was mostly due to a lack of knowledge and a minority, second group, was, is the minority group who is afraid that the TRC will be a one-sided witch hunt or a Nurenberg trial which will only stir emotions of hatred and unforgiveness and which will make reconciliation very difficult. The last group which was the majority see the TRC as an integral part of reconciliation and the building block for a successful nation. This group has an intense desire to throw out the blanket of apartheid and to understand and recognise what did happen and the full extent of apartheid, to, and to recreate a shared history which will be a victory of the truth for survivors and victims. I think my recollection of what was, what is history is very different from everybody elses recollection of what is history and I think by having the TRC we can create a history which will be acceptable to all of us.
Although there were Afrikaans individuals who led the struggle against apartheid, the majority had been involved in the past regime and it is therefore very important for our community leaders, be it the churches, political leaders of the universities to provide support and leadership. Unfortunately, to a large extent I think we have failed in that. This has been very detrimental and has had a confusing effect on the so called Afrikaner community. I think the Afrikaner youth is feeling at the moment very confused and fragmented and to some degree very isolated from the rest of the youth in this country and I do not think they know exactly how to deal with the current situation and how to make it better.
Regarding reconciliation, I agree with Dr Auerbach, that I do not think it is a process that or something that is going to happen in the next six months. I do think the challenge will be to keep this process alive. My recommendation will be to keep or to try and get business more involved in this process, because I have seen so many people from the different churches here today and from all sorts of other community groups, but I have seen none from the business community. I think they can support, do a lot to support the NGO's and especially on the, and on the education front as well. I think they can help to construct a well thought through and structured approach to get a plan to help and I do not think it should only be a window dressing, sort of, programme with the Black empowerment, sort of, deal and, yes, that is all I want to say. Thank you.
PROF MEIRING: Tammy, Sophie-Marie, do not leave. I have a question to both of you. In a sense the youth submission is to be, is supposed to be the pudding of the meal. We have had a number of very important dishes on the table already, but things in South Africa start with the youth and it ends with the youth. I was thinking Tammy, Sophie-Marie ...
MR DICK: ... are thinking of themselves, are thinking of society. Otherwise they will be relegated to the dustbins of history.
PROF MEIRING: If an Afrikaner says to you Tammy, I feel alien in my own country, I think I should go abroad and find a new future. What would your answer be to him? Can he stay, is it worth his while to stay in South Africa?
MR DICK: It reminds of a comment that was made by one, let me say, ASASCO student who said that in the colours of South Africa in the flag there is no black and the other Afrikaner students said there is no white. I was never conscious of that fact. What I am saying is that South Africa belongs to us all. It is not considerate of colour, race, height, the physical being of a human being and I am saying it belongs to us all. The recommendation and the, the recommendation that I will impose rather than make shall be that South Africa belongs to us and you must take care of. So all of us must be in South Africa and build our own future, because I am also, I am an African by colour and by conscience. I am not suggesting that I am a (indistinct) person, but I am saying is that I lived I an Afrikaner life. I never had a perception that is given in school, what do you call, in our own school that people are being fed today and are having serious, percentile expressions.
PROF MEIRING: Thank you. Sophie-Marie, does what Tammy say give you hope?
MS VAN GARDEREN: It does, because certainly none of my friends want to leave the country. Everybody feels that this is the country they want to work and which they want to make a success of, but if I may I would like to ask my brother to answer the question, because he is very much involved in a lot of student volunteer project. So if I may, Jakob.
PROF MEIRING: So you are calling on your brother in the audience. Jakob, come sit here. That is a very clever thing to do. What are brothers for?
MR VAN GARDEREN: I would rather pay by solidarity with the youth on this side. I think the question of the youth and really the future of the youth in finding a solution in this country is a very important question. I think we have a very major role to play in the reconciliation and reparation process and if you will allow me I would just like to, from my perspective and the organisation I am involved with, maybe just relate a few experiences.
I am currently involved in the Southern African student volunteer organisation and our main aim is to involve tertiary students in reconciliation being physical reconstruction work mainly aimed at schools and clinics all over the Southern Africa region. Specifically, at the moment in South Africa. In the coming July holidays we are going to disperse 300 students to 30 schools in Gauteng, disadvantaged schools where we are going to, together with the different learners from the schools, start a process of rebuilding the schools and with schools I mean not only the physical schools, but also the culture of learning.
In the morning, for instance, they are going to work on physical reconstruction work and then the afternoons they are going to talk about human rights issues and by saying human rights I mean human rights issues that are particularly important to them. I should conclude with that, but on the other hand I would like to say that in, concerning reparation we, I think we can make a very definite contribution. Say for instance in the Boipatong community, we would very much like to be part, as a living legacy of the Truth Commission and its working, be involved in the reconstruction of that community. Say for instance in the building of schools or community centres and get the youth involved in physical, sustainable development work and that will have a very good physical effect, on the one hand, but also a very good psychological effect on the both parties. Thank you.
PROF MEIRING: Thank you very much. Jakob, Tammy, Sophie-Marie, thank you very much for your contributions. That really was the pudding to the meal. Thank you so much. Mr Chairman, I hand it over to you. If you would like you can call upon Mr Tom Manthata to give his concluding remarks.
CHAIRPERSON: Before we call upon Mr Tom Manthata and while he is getting the last parts together I am going to ask the two people from the Bosmont Congregational Youth to come forward and to render two items for us. Are they still here? Yvonne and Prince. Prince, we were speaking about the youth.
MR MANTHATA: ... this country to be healed and as much as possible these things should involve almost the entire nation. It is no longer a situation where we are saying this group can do it better than the other, but let all the groups perform to the optimum of their efforts. What came out very clear, more especially with regard to the final processes of the TRC, is the call for more statements to be made. It has been stressed that in certain communities people are still ignorant of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, that communication structures were not effective. As a result quite a number of people may be left out as it was remarked that let not only those who have made statements to benefit, but let everybody who suffered benefit, but I think it will be understood how difficult that proposition is. So, said and done, all these highlight the need for more statements to be made to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Therefore more statements or more victims to be recommended to the State for compensation, for reparation, for symbolic reparation. All these things are needed and they can only be given to the people once these people have registered their names.
Second, is the need for submissions from all quarters, from all sectors be they of professional sectors, be it from organisations. There is the need for submissions to the TRC for issues or things that need to be recommended to the State. Let it be very clear that until the State shall have been advised and the TRC has been set up to advise the State on issues that can be brought into play to minimise or to do completely away with the violation of human rights, we shall not have achieved anything. So this submission should as much as possible come from all quarters of the South African communities.
What became, another element is this one of reconciliation. As it was said reconciliation lies in the heart of the church and it was further suggested that let not only the Christian churches be involved in reconciliation, but let that kind of reconciliation concern all the faiths in the country and, of course, it should not be only the institutions for faith, but the Government too should be seen to be central to the efforts of reconciliation.
Then there is the need for inter-racial or projects that need to be gone into at inter-racial level. These are the projects that we have sited and we keep talking about that is projects for symbolic reparation. If we have to go into the construction of living memorials, these projects or these memorials stand to convey another negative meaning compared to the meaning that they are purported to portray, namely that of nation building and reconciliation. Monuments, sometimes, keep the hurt alive, they keep the hatred alive, but if they have to do away with all this there must be seen to have been constructed right by people right across the board. They must not be seen to have been constructed by the Africans or by the Asians or by, but as much as possible this should be almost an inter-racial issue.
In this is involved the whole recommendation too of sharing skills. That is it has been recommended that those with skills and those without skills must so inter-relate or inter-relate, yes, that whatever projects they get into must reflect almost, what do you call it, the rainbow colours of this country, but they must not come from, they must not be one-sided and, of course, the skills are better shared when people have a common project. The kind of a projet where we are not even going to find those with sophisticated skills playing a major role as compared to those who are unskilled. There must be of a fashion where whatever effort contributed shall be seen to be equal effort.
Then, I will be repeating where we talk about the Government too having to take initiatives to bring about reconciliation of the groups. I think this is been gone into almost day in, day out where you find the President will be talking, when he addresses himself on issues of affirmative action in the light of real problems like that of the commanders in the army and so on, but that needs to be taken further to the community level.
And then there was that suggestion, I do not know whether I would say it reflects where it is said that it seems from the White communities there is a need to have either a person or an organisation that can symbolise the guilt. It seems without that it becomes very guilty to enable an average White person in the community to understand what is on, because some will individually claim ignorance of what has happened. Some will individually blame themselves on their apathy, but said and done, the blame should be located, be it a here symbol.
And then there was this suggestion too that, yes, we are a nation in the building, not only in terms of communities, but even structurally where we build residential areas. Can we begin to have some of these areas to be inter-special, if I record correctly, where as long as houses can be made affordable let that cater for people right across the board in one or in spaces as they are being given for building. Well, it is not for us to argue that or to debate that, but this, perhaps, would be another way to minimise the whole impression that whilst we are having a flow of the Blacks from their residential areas into the White suburbs we have not begun to have a flow of the Whites into what was initially the townships. Of course, it is understood. Some of these were monstrosities that were so poorly planned that nobody can get into those structures and hope to pursue a high standard or a high quality of life.
Then there is, of course this is written into all that, where we are saying that reparation should as much as possible target the youths of this country. If one has got it right even from the youths, that the youths do not have, they just have differences, they are not antithetical, they are not opposed to one another and if we capture the mood correctly, a majority of the youth were involved in the struggle. It is not a question of going to benefit, perhaps, some of the youth that were not involved. Here we are talking in terms, in national number. So and, of course, understanding too the effect or what the nation will gain should it target the youth in terms of reparation. That is giving them what they have lost.
Finally, there is this that has been said which, of course, we have not heard right through our workshops and consultations, the presence of the business sector. You know, without that it becomes very difficult, because as long as the business does not get it from the communities themselves they will always think that they are being targeted by the TRC or they are being targeted by the Government and in the light of what they consider heavy taxation that they pay, they become a little reluctant to join the mainstream of reconstruction and reconciliation.
So, briefly, these are the issues that I have captured and we would be very happy if people could come forward with those that I might have overlooked. Thank you Madam Chair and the house.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Tom for that concluding remarks. I have just been passed a notice that lunch is not ready yet. It will be ready within the next ten minutes and therefore I am going to call on the Bethany Children's Home Choir to render an anthem.
CHAIRPERSON: Just one comment from Piet Meiring.
PROF MEIRING: You speak first and I will have the last word.
CHAIRPERSON: I should speak first. Okay. Thank you to the Bethany Children's Home Choir. Just two announcements from the Ministers from the, Ministers working with the TRC is that one, is that they are going to call a workshop on healing of memory, healing of memory workshop and that will be conducted by Father Michael Rapsley. We are still working on this workshop, on the date, etc, and as soon as we have finalised it then we will spread the message about it.
Secondly, we know, of course, that there are different interpretations about reconciliation. Each faith group got his or her, its own interpretation about reconciliation, so that is another workshop in the pipeline that we are going to look at all the different interpretations of reconciliation from the different faith groups as well as the faculties of theology or religious departments within the Gauteng area. We are going to call a workshop on that, of course, to reconcile the interpretations of reconciliation. Is that not interesting and, yes, that is also in the pipeline. As soon as we finalise that workshop we will make the dates of the workshops available to the different churches and spread the message.
Of course, a word of thanks to all the groups that have made submissions today, all the focus groups, I am not going to name them, but thank you very much for all your submissions today. Also a word of thanks to all the Commissioners, Piet Meiring, Tom Manthata and Dr Fazel Randera and everybody else, thank you very much. Also a word of thanks to the logistics department and the caterers and the secretaries, Fekile and Zina and everybody else that was involved in setting up this workshop. A word of thanks also to my colleague on my right, Heidi Bruiners, who chaired the first part of the meeting. A word of thanks to the Mayor of Johannesburg as well. To the choirs, thank you for rendering all the items, anthems and, of course, to you. A word of thanks to you that was present today. Thank you for your interest, thank you for your questions, thank you for your time, thank you for your effort and thank you for being here today. Piet, you want to say the last word.
PROF MEIRING: The last word should be a word of thanks to the Chairperson, both Chairpersons. I would really like to say thank you to Heidi Bruiners and to Calvin Harris. We were privileged to have you on our, as our Chairpersons, Chairs today. Thank you very much for that and then can I just underline what Calvin has said. We are so grateful for all of you who came. This was really a rainbow nation meeting. All the different communities were represented and we know that it takes some doing to put apart a whole Saturday morning, there are so many things needed to be done. Thank you for putting aside your Saturday morning and to, being with us.
The things that Calvin mentioned, the Ministers' initiatives, the healing of memories workshop and the others, let us keep, let us let each other know of the different initiatives. It may well that the other groups here today also have projects and initiative, efforts that they want to make. Please let us network with one another and let us do these things together. If you need the list of the people who were here today from the Truth Commission, we can supply you with the list of names of people who were here. Let us do these things together. As was rightfully said, the Truth Commission can do, can only go as far as this, can lay the table, in a sense, for all the other things that needed to be done ... of all your efforts and please take heart, listen to what other people are doing, start with your own efforts and reconciliation in reaching out to others, other people. Let us know about that and let us move into a bright future together. Thank you ever so much for all of you who were here again.
Just a friendly reminder from Peter and Melanie, that if there are still some of you who have some of these magic boxes and stuff with you, do not take them along, leave them on the chairs as you go out for lunch. It seems to me that lunch is ready. Fekile is lunch ready? We can move out and we can wait, the lunch will be there, but I think there is a closing prayer first.
CHAIRPERSON: I am going to call on Rev Calvin Naidoo from the Prespetarian Church of South Africa to lead us with a closing prayer.
REV NAIDOO: Closing prayer.
CHAIRPERSON: This Johannesburg follow up workshop is officially closed.