TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION
MPUMALANGA FOLLOW UP WORKSHOP
DATE: 08 JULY 1997
HELD AT: ERMELO
CHAIRPERSON: We are about to start now, but before we
start, we call upon Bishop Nkosi to come forward and open the proceeding with prayer.
BISHOP NKOSI: Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Before we can start with our proceedings of today, I would like to read only a few verses from the Word of God, the book of Matthew, chapter five - I'm sorry, chapter six, only verse 12. The heading is
"Teaching about prayer.
"Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us."
While we are seated; let us close our eyes so that I can pray.
OPENING PRAYER BY BISHOP NKOSI
Thank you, sir.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Bishop Nkosi. We are now going to start just after this prayer. We are going to start with item number two on our programmes. That is to welcome all of you who are present today.
We are going to start by welcoming the panel in front of you. On my right-hand side, is Mr Tom Manthata. I hope that we all know Tom Manthata. We welcome you. Thank you very much to be here for second or third time; I don't know how many times, but thank you very much.
We also welcome Ms Hlengiwe Mkhize, but she's not on her chair right now, she is still with the crowd, and next to me is Prof Piet Meiring. We welcome you. thank you very much to be here. We also welcome Piet Meiring.
I am Rev Khumalo myself, the Chairperson of today. We would also like to welcome other people, dignitaries and everybody. We welcome you all. We thank you for your presence. It was such a short notice, but thank you for your response.
And now, the earphones channel number two, is English, channel number one will be Afrikaans, channel number three, Zulu and channel number four Sotho. Channel two is English, channel one Afrikaans, channel three Zulu and channel four Sotho.
We move now to item number three which is the purpose of the workshop. We'll ask Prof Meiring to tell us exactly what is happening today.
PROF MEIRING: Rev Khumalo, friends, thank you so much for the kind welcome and for the invitation to come to Ermelo. It is indeed a very great privilege and an honour to be with you all.
Just before I start explaining to you the purpose of the visit; may I just again for the young people explain how this thing works.
Ek gaan dit maar in Afrikaans doen. U moet tog sorg dat u elkeen van die oorfoontjies kry en dan sal u sien dat aan die linkerkant is daar 'n knoppie wat die kanale aandui van een tot vier. Nommer een is 'n vertaling in Afrikaans, nommer twee is in Engels, nommer drie in Zoeloe en nommer vier in Sotho. Die regterkantste knoppie is die - natuurlik die volume, die hard en sag.
If you need these translation facilities, please just see to it that you get them. You've heard that channel one is Afrikaans, two English, three Zulu and four Sotho. You may find that you to play a little bit around with this thing; just to see in which direction it works best, but see to it that you get one of these if you need the translation. There are enough headphones, earphones for all of you available, if you need it.
Now coming to the purpose of this day's workshop. The other day I was in Pretoria at a launch where 300 young students were sent out in the community to work.
The chairman of the launch started off by saying; the Truth Commission is the talk of the town in South Africa and indeed it is. It seems that all over the country people talk about the Truth Commission.
The train of the Truth Commission visited nearly every town, every city, every urban area, many of the rural areas and all over the country, people have been brought into contact with the Truth Commission and the work of the Truth Commission.
In a sense it was an unique experience to all of us; people serving on the Truth Commission, but also for the people in South Africa taking note of the Truth Commission. For the many, many victims that came it meant a lot. For the perpetrators who went to the Truth Commission to ask for amnesty, it meant a lot. For the public of South Africa, all of us who sat at the radio or at the TV at night, who saw the faces of the people who came to ask that their submission may be heard to tell their stories, it meant a lot.
All of us are caught up in this process of the Truth Commission. In a sense it has been a unique experience. Firstly I would like to report a little bit back on what the Truth Commission has done. That is the first purpose of this morning's visit and then I will explain what the rest of the morning will be about.
The Truth Commission started at the beginning of last year. On the 1st of February officially the work started, the wheels started to roll and many, many things happened. You know, that the Truth Commission consists of three committees and each has its work cut out.
Then there are a number of other support services too which I will tell you about. But the three committees of the Truth Commission are the following.
The first one is the Committee for Gross Human Rights Violations. That was the committee that had the task to invite all the victims throughout the country to come and to make statements, to tell their story to the public, because this is the Truth Commission. We want the truth to be heard. The truth of what happened to all the people in the country, because at the end a report must be written on the truth of the experience, of the pain, of the suffering of so many people in the country.
Initially when the Truth Commission started, nobody knew how many victims would come to the fore. In a sense the Truth Commission - the Act that was written by Parliament, passed by Parliament for the Truth Commission, made it a bit difficult, because it was not everybody that suffered harm in the past.
It was not everybody that was forcefully relocated from one place to another place. It was not even all the people that were taken to jail or had a very rough time that were, according to the definition of the Truth Commission, able to come to the Truth Commission, to the TRC.
The Act said it had to do with gross human rights violations. That meant murder or attempted murder or kidnapping or very, very gross violations where people were tortured that left marks, psychological marks or physical marks which they have to carry with them through the years.
So the people who came were really the people who suffered most throughout the country. I told you we didn't know how many would come. By the end of last year, already 10 000 people came in all the different provinces of the country.
Today it is about 12 500. It may be that by the end of the year when the doors of the Truth Commission close, that it will be - it may be 20 000 peopl who came, who suffered gross, very serious human rights violations.
To most of them is has been a very good experience. When people come to make statements, there's a statement-taker present and he helps the person; the father or the mother or the young man or the young lady. They make their statements.
All the statements are gathered together and then from time to time in a specific area, as also happened in Ermelo, there was a public hearing and some of the people are invited to come and tell their stories.
Of course not everybody had the opportunity to tell their story. Usually we selected about one out of every 20 statements that were made. One of the - only one of those were invited to make a statement in public; to come and tell their story.
Usually they were chosen in such a fashion that the one person that brought a statement, represented a whole experience in an area. We also wanted to, at the hearings, to put light onto all the different experiences of all the different communities.
The Act of the Truth Commission says that the process must be even-handed. That all the sides of the struggle, all the different political parties; Whites and Blacks and whoever, should be presented at the Truth Commission.
We need an overall picture of all the work done, of all the suffering in South Africa. In Mpumalanga there were many victims who came to the fore. You've seen - some of you were here when the Truth Commission was here with its hearing. You have seen the face of my colleague, Tom Manthata, who was also a prisoner, who was also somebody who suffered a lot during the past.
But he, together with his colleagues, sat at the table and listened to some of the stories from this area, but you may know that the same process was repeated over and over again throughout the country and thousands of people came.
The experience we had is the experience you probably also had in Ermelo; that to most of the victims it was a healing thing to come to the Truth Commission. When you talk to the victims afterwards; some of them suffered greatly, but when you talk to them afterwards and ask: was it worth your while to come? Then usually they say, yes, we have lived with our story for so long and now we are relieved.
Sometimes the tears that you saw on television at night, were tears of healing, were tears really of reconciliation and of healing, that made people whole again.
But that is the first committee, the Committee for Gross Human Rights Violations.
The second committee is the Committee for Amnesty. When - just before the election, just before the new South Africa came into being, the multi-party conference sat for the last few sessions. They had to decide: what are we going to do to the perpetrators? What are we going to do to the people who have misbehaved; the many people who were guilty of gross human rights violations? What are we going to do with those people? Are we going to take them to jail? No, they said, we don't want to go that way. Are we just going to say let's forgive and forget? No, we don't want to go that way. We want amnesty for the people who are the perpetrators, but we want them to come and bring the truth. We are interested in the truth and if a perpetrator comes and says I need amnesty for the things that I have been involved in he can ask for amnesty, but we want first a full disclosure of every act that he asked amnesty for.
So the Amnesty Committee has been hard at work. Again,. nobody really knew how many people would need amnesty; would it be 500 or maybe 800 or a 1000 people? Nobody knew.
At the end, round about 11 000 people asked for amnesty and we don't know even if those are all the people that really should go for amnesty. But, 11 000 people came to the Truth Commission and said I was involved; I committed gross human rights violations; I am guilty of these things that happened and I want to come and ask for forgiveness; I have to come and ask for amnesty; will you please hear my story; will you please listen to make my case and will you please decide if I can have amnesty or not?
At the beginning the Amnesty Committee was rather small: three Judges and two advocates had to sit and listen, but because there were so many people who came to ask for amnesty, we went to the Government and asked please make this Committee larger; please give us more Judges and they gracefully said yes, they will do that and in a few weeks' time more Judges will be appointed and three different groups of the Amnesty Committee will sit in different parts of the country to hear all the many cases of the perpetrators who want to go for amnesty.
Today and tomorrow in the Cape Province there's and amnesty hearing taking place and tonight when you sit in front of your TV set or when you listen to the radio, you will listen, you will hear what has been happening in the amnesty court.
The third committee of the Truth Commission is the R & R Committee and the chair of the R & R Committee is just walking in, Mrs Hlengiwe Mkhize. She will tell you about what the R & R Committee does.
PROF MEIRING: Welcome. Mrs Mkhize comes from Johannesburg. She doesn't know Mpumalanga. She had to find her way first. Let me just fill you in. The idea was if there are so many human rights violation's victims that fill in statements; people that suffered so greatly in the past; what are we going to do for them?
For the perpetrators who go for amnesty, there's a lot in the process. They can come and although - even if they have committed so many murders, even if they have committed so many gross violations; when they go the Committee they can get a new lease on life. They can say I am sorry and they can go out and they can have a new life.
The problem many people had, was what is in the process for the victims, the people that really matter? What is in the process for the people who suffered so greatly? And to care for them, to see to it that right will be given to the many victims, the third committee was established; the Committee for Reparation and for Rehabilitation.
And this Committee Mrs Mkhize will tell you all about, but they were the people who are involved in trying to look after all the problems of the many victims; the present problems and the future problems and what can we do for them to see to it that the Truth Commission process is not only a perpetrator-friendly, but especially a victim-friendly process.
That was the first purpose of our visit today; that we report a little bit back to you to tell you where we are at the moment; that I told you a little bit about the hearings. Maybe I can just add this. Most of the hearings have ended now. All the victims' hearings have come to a close. There will be two or three more hearings, but that will be special cases.
In a few weeks time in the old Fort in Johannesburg there will be a prison hearings where all the people who were in prison, or some of the people who were in prison, will present statements reflecting on what was the fate of the many prisoners who suffered for so many years in the South African prisons; what can be done for them.
At another stage there will be a media hearing where all the newspapers in South Africa can reflect on their role during the Apartheid years and two or three more special-event hearings will be in the offing.
The last part of the year we will reflect mostly on what can be done now by way of reconciliation. It's the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We have been involving ourselves for 18 months, trying to get to the bottom of the truth, bringing out all the stories, but now the last part of the year we will have to reflect on reconciliation; on the healing of the community.
Who are - what do we mean when we speak about reconciliation? Who are the stakeholders, nationally as well as locally. But that is what we wanted to tell you.
The first part of the meeting was to report back to you. It may be that there are a number of questions you would like to ask and I think the Chairman will allow for questions after Mrs Mkhize has also spoken to you. If you want to ask us about the process, about many things that happened, please feel free to do so.
The second part of the hearing is that we want to come and listen to you. You have gracefully listened to us, but we need to listen to you. The train has come to Ermelo and to all the surrounding areas of Ermelo. Many people were touched by the Truth Commission and now after so many weeks we want to hear from you what happened to the community. What are the ties that we still need to - the strings that we still need to tie? What are the things that happened subsequently in Ermelo and in Piet Retief and in Bethel and in Middelburg and in Witbank and in all the areas you represent.
We want to hear from you all the advice you have for us, especially in the field of reparation and very much in the field of reconciliation. We would like to hear from you what has been done locally for reconciliation. Do you have plans? Do you have projects? Do you have ideas, not only for this year, but for the coming year and for the future on reconciliation and the community.
For that reason we have arranged that a number of so-called focus groups will speak. You see on the programme under point 6 that a number of Ministers will - two Ministers will speak. We would love to hear what the Baruti has to say on reconciliation and on the prospects for reconciliation in this area.
Then we will have two women, two mothers of the community that will speak to us and we want to listen to what they say on what the ladies, the women are going to do for reconciliation.
We are very interested in the business sector and the Government departments, because they represent a very important part of society. What do they say? What is their perception of the Truth Commission and of the work of the TRC and how do they look towards the future.
Then we will have the young people. Usually that is a highlight in our meetings. When the young people get up and when they get enthusiastic and say, this is the things we want to do, this is how we see the past and the present, but especially the future.
Then lastly we are very fortunate to have a traditional leader, Mr Khumalo, who will from the side of the traditional leaders will put yet another perspective on the table for us.
That will take care of the day. At the end my colleague, Mr Tom Manthata will tie all the strings together. He will try and make a summary of everything that is said by you, by all of us today.
We have tea together at the end. We have lunch together. May I just reiterate what the Chairman said: we are so glad to have all of you here. It is so nice to see that you represent the different communities of this area. The Black community and all its different segments, we have the White community, the Afrikaans and English-speaking community here. We are very, very grateful that you are here.
I hope you find it enjoyable and knowledgable that all of us will learn a lot from being here today. If you have questions, ask. If you have comments, if you have advice, we need that. Let us make this our TRC day, the final day of the TRC in this part of the country.
Thank you Mr Chairman.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much Professor. Before we ask Ms Mkhize to speak, we would like to welcome you. Thank you very much to be here, to be with us. We know that you are from Johannesburg and it is very misty on the way, but you braved the way. Thank you so much. Over to you, Ms Mkhize.
MS MKHIZE: Thank you Mr Chair, my colleagues, thank you very much.
First of all I would like to apologise that I couldn't be here on time. I greet each and everyone of you gathered here and we thank you as the Truth Commission that you are here to support us once again.
Since we have started as the Commission we are here, we have achieved what we've achieved today as a result of the support we have been give by the community in different places.
My duty as it has been mentioned is to explain briefly about the Reparation's policy. I should think the question of Reparation's policy is very, very important in the sense that within the Commission we believe that's the legacy by which the Commission will be remembered.
It's either we succeed in promoting national unity and reconciliation or we fail. So it's important for each and every person to hear clearly what we are proposing and during working groups; even if you are looking at what women are saying, you've got to test it against what we have said in the policy and make suggestions. It's not yet final. We are improving on it on a daily basis, depending on the feedback we get from individuals, from groups like yourself. So really I appreciate your comment. Even if it's one word, it will make a difference in this policy.
As we are here, the three of us, we belong to that committee. Some are in Cape Town, some in Natal, some in Eastern Cape. Besides the work of the Commission, our role is to suggest to the President things and matters that need to be looked at, especially for the victims who underwent the atrocities.
We know that many people have suffered different ordeals and some have suffered even more than others. As Prof Meiring have said and told us about reconciliation. We read newspapers and we find out there is no way people can heal just like that, especially when others have gone through serious atrocities. There have got to be things that will have to be undertaken so that others feel better.
When we started we contacted every community. Almost everyone of the people in different communities have made mention of the fact that the Reparation's policy is very important, because it is going to be an aid to those who have suffered atrocities.
There is an Act that we work within and it is imperative for us to go by it and it explicitly emphasise the fact that it is important that people should be compensated.
We know that the AZAPO group have taken the Commission to the court of law, stating that those who have committed atrocities, should not be granted amnesty in any way. That will mean we cannot revenge, you know, and we cannot even take them further legally, because after they've been granted amnesty, one won't have any authority to take them further legally. The minute one is granted amnesty, there's nothing that can be done to those people.
As a Committee we looked into that judgement and after this judgement was announced, as a Commission, we have been granted authority to go on and work despite the fact that the AZAPO was against it; saying and claiming that this Commission is against human rights.
The jJdge who took this judgement said, it is better if it's done this way, because even those who suffered this ordeal and the ones who have committed these atrocities, will be granted amnesty and the ones who have suffered will have to be compensated in some way.
In Reparations we don't look at the fact that you should just be compensated, but what we looked into, or what we look into is what you've suffered; maybe the family and the whole community was harassed and ...
END OF TAPE 1 - SIDE A
This Commission looks into building the person who has been affected and the community at large, not only the individual, but it goes even beyond what you've suffered.
That helped us as we looked into Mohammed's judgement, because he also supported the recommendations that we took as a Reparations Committee.
I have already said that we've contacted many communities and different communities; even those who gave in statements. We asked them as to what would they prefer to appease them. We looked also at the world and internationally to see what was done to them and referred to things that were done in other countries and try to do them and apply them here in South Africa.
As you know about the RDP; what we request from the Government for the victims is not only a hand-out to be given, something that afterwards this thing is gone and it is time-consumed. What we do: we build the people and the nation. We give them the fishing rod to fish; not the fish to feed them.
We know very well that when one is given something, they will consume that thing and after it has been consumed, he or she is left alone and cannot grow or be developed. Now we suggest to the Government to give people things that will carry them a long way.
One other thing that I would like to mention. Besides the fact that we have to have development centres, we have to get something that would be equal to everybody, not want to get something less, but some kind of help that will be equal.
As I am still on that point, please all those who have cellular phones, may they be switched off, because as it rings it is recorded as well.
We shall request the Government that there should be uniform help that is given to the victims, but there should also be an opportunity for those who have certain needs. Especially the ones who are handicapped, who need medical attention or constant medical attention, will not be given the same help as the people who have been psychologically affected, but are able to work on their own or earn their own living.
So these different groups of people will be compensated differently. Those who need immediate help should be helped immediately, especially with regard to medical attention. Then we formulate certain guidelines that govern the way in which the people are compensated, because if we do not make those recommendations to the Government, the Government will not know as to how to compensate or rehabilitate the victims.
One other aspect of the Reparation is the fact that there should be reparation officers in different areas where they will be able to help us, especially with groups such as the SACC, the South African Council of Churches, as to how they have been helping their communities to cope with certain traumas that they've undergone.
Such committees will be able to help us in giving us some suggestions as to how to deal with certain matters within the community. For instance, other groups in Johannesburg who take decisions, without consulting the other ones who are outside the other places. They should be able to have some communication within their structures so that the Reparations Officers who are connected with the families as well as the communities, are able to detect whenever there is a problem; so that there could be some changes implemented whenever difficulties are encountered.
The policy that we are referring to is governed by a certain Act. There is what we call urgent interim and there's also what we call the final, but the policy is based on the same principle. It's one policy, but the difference is that the urgent interim is something that can be done between the Commission and the Minister of Justice, but the final one is taken to Parliament and it can be promulgated into law.
That is where it can be determined as to how much can be spent on compensation. Now, as the Commission we are dealing with the interim; that is where people need urgent help, especially medical attention as well as non-governmental organisations that we would need to contact in order to grant other victims urgent interim help.
But what we have discovered is that even with that, some other people who can be helped or victims who can be helped, are far from those facilities. They are not able to reach their medical centres.
So we have asked the Government to set up a desk which can deal with these matters quite urgently. Then after we have closed as a Commission, the final will only start operating then; that is when the matter is being handled by the Cabinet as well as the other committees of the political parties together, who can actually decide as to what they would do with regard to the policy.
There's help that is going to be implemented whilst the Commission is in process and there's another one that is going to be implemented once the Committee has finished its duties and it has closed up.
What we are now looking at as far as the injuries that people get, there are five categories. Some are physically handicapped, they need prompt medical attention. For instance those who had been assaulted and those who are on wheel-chairs, blind ones and some who need medical treatment. Those are the ones who need medical assistance. There are others who are mentally or psychologically traumatised to such an extent that they are not able to keep up jobs for a very long period of time and those we categorise as the mental health group. I think you as a community or as South Africans know that most of the people who have come before this Commission, were very traumatised, very angry and some were even crying when they vented out their anger.
This shows that they have been emotionally and psychologically affected and therefore need help. We also should approach the Government with regard to that, because some of them should go to trauma clinics, but we as the Commission, feel that helping a person psychologically, it is not the psychologist's or psychiatrist's duty only, but we do believe that faith healers can also lend a hand in this and there are also others within our communities who were looking after the traumatised families of victims of human rights violations.
We also feel that there should be some teams or groups within our communities who come together to try and find solutions as to how these people can be repaired or rehabilitated.
We are also contemplating on making suggestions that there should be some discussion groups and they should also be prominent members of the community who are going to help with regard to the rehabilitation of the victims of human rights violations.
There's also the category of educational assistance. It is apparent that some other people need educational help, especially those children whose parents died during the struggle, who therefore could not continue with their education, because of these reasons.
Some lost their parents and we cannot just say sorry to them; we need to rehabilitate them. We need to help them to be able to cope with life, to be able to fend for themselves with regard to skills and education.
There are also those who lost their houses, especially in rural areas. If you belonged to a certain political group, you would be chased away by another political group and you end up losing your shelter. We should also think about those. They should get their shelters, get their places back.
These are some of the suggestions that we are giving to the Government. We also have another category of symbolic reparations; that besides the other categories that we have spoken about, there are some people as you have seen on television that some bones are being dug. Certain people have been killed and buried at certain places where there were no death certificates issued to the different families.
The Commission should help them get the bones of their loved ones as well as getting death certificates. Some of the families, we have already started helping them in burying their loved ones and we believe that that is symbolic; that is still going to go on within our communities.
Some have got wishes that they make some - erect some memorial stones or monuments for the victims of human rights violations. Some went out on exile and their parents will need to have something symbolic to remember their children by.
One other thing that we are asking from the community; that is besides the individual families; we would like to have some monuments to remember our heroes or our fallen heroes or maybe there could be certain places where people could be educated on a human rights culture so that we do not kill each other any more.
We will try to reconcile and bring together some tolerance within the political parties. All those things should be implemented within the community, because even today we are having new political groups coming up.
That doesn't mean that we are going to have peace, that it is going to be a bed of roses. It is apparent that we are still heading for very difficult times, especially with the new political groups emerging. Therefore we should exercise tolerance, especially with the elections looming around the corner.
In South Africa we still do not have the culture of tolerance. If you don't see eye to eye then you're enemies, but these are beliefs that should be eradicated from our community.
Then we come to a national level. There should be some principles or ways or means that should be devised that there should be some monuments which shall remind us of our past and make us to be able to cope with our future. There should be some memorial days and some monuments erected with the names of the people who died during the time of the struggle.
That is all that we feel falls under the umbrella of symbolic reparations. We believe that that is part of reparation and rehabilitation as well as reconciliation.
So that was what I was saying briefly, but the main thing is that we as the Commission are not the ones who are going to implement all the policies and principles that we have talked about.
We take recommendations, opinions and suggestions to the President's office and he shall see to it these are the people that will promote healing and reconciliation. We believe that healing is very important. The people should be healed emotionally, mentally and psychologically before they can actually accept their pasts, accept what has happened and try to forget about it.
We must be the rainbow nation who has got a pride that we are all inhabitants of this country and we love this country. That is all that I wanted to say and you can come forth with your suggestions.
CHAIRPERSON: We thank Ms Mkhize. She has put it so clearly. I think we all know what the work of the Truth Commission is. We do realise now that it has got a mammoth task.
We also thank those who have dedicated themselves and volunteered to help us without expecting any remuneration, because they are trying to heal the community, to repair the damage that has been done within the community. That is a very important aspect.
We thank you very much, Ms Mkhize. We also thank Prof Meiring for his brief explanation. It's possible that there are some aspects which have not yet been covered. Maybe there are certain things that are not clear within the Truth Commission or the workings of the Truth Commission.
Now this is an opportunity for you to come forth with any questions that you would like to pose to the panel. It doesn't matter what type of question you want to ask, but this is your opportunity to ask questions.
Anyone who has got a question, may come forward and ask the question. Then he or she may be answered.
BISHOP NKOSI: I would first like to thank you for the opportunity that you have afforded me. I thank Prof Meiring as well as Ms Mkhize and Mr Khumalo.
I am from the reverend's office in greater Ermelo. We would like to ask from the Commission, because from certain statements there were case numbers which were written on the statement; we would like to know as to how much the Commission has worked or what has it found so far?
Are they able to get the perpetrators and if so, are they prepared to come forward and ask for forgiveness to the victims now and not to the Amnesty Committee. Because as priests, when we talk to people during the process of counselling, people do intimate to us that true peace will only be found when the perpetrator comes forward personally to the victim and speaks to the victim and asks for forgiveness to the victim himself or herself.
We do appreciate the work of the Truth Commission, but the most important aspect is for the perpetrator to come forward and face the victim and ask for forgiveness to the victim himself or herself. We believe that we shall thereby find peace.
I have got two more questions. As a group of priests, we shall appreciate to get a report from the Truth Commission from time to time, with regard to the developments that are taking place; as today we are getting the first report after our last public hearing.
Lastly, from the office of the President, we thank very much that he has implemented this Commission to come and promote peace in our country. We thank you very much.
CHAIRPERSON: We will ask you to sit down for a moment, Mr Nkosi, because there's going to be a number of questions.
We shall pose certain questions to you and we'll ask Dr Tom Manthata to answer the questions that you have asked.
MR MANTHATA: Thank you. Let it be observed that our investigative unit is on duty 24 hours of the day, finding out exactly what you are talking about. About the perpetrators, about the missing victims, about where the victims could have been killed. All sorts of questions.
Some of them are even being added to by those questions that arise as the amnesty hearings are on; where the perpetrators themselves will talk about certain people that they may not even - whose names they may not remember.
So that process is going to take us a long time and you have rightly said that for that - for the communities to get answers to those questions and even for the communities to find a way forward to promote peace and reconciliation, the community will have to have an established organisation that can deal directly with this.
Whether this is going to be the office that will be implementing the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to the Government, being implemented by the Government, so that all those questions can be channelled to that office and in turn that office should channel them to the communities.
But we are working feverishly in that regard and we were supposed to have had almost a fact sheet on how many in this area have applied for amnesty and how have their
hearings fared to date. How many - this too now becomes a very delicate and a very profound work to be done - how many people were supposed to have applied for amnesty and they have not done so and if so, what should the communities themselves do?
Because when people couldn't come to apply for amnesty, it was made publicly clear that should any of those people or persons be found to have not applied for amnesty and the victims discover that and the victims decide to prosecute that person, they are free to do so.
So that is a question of what we are given and what the communities themselves are able to find out or to observe and if so, the communities are allowed, are free to take whatever legal actions they can with regard to those people who have injured people, who have killed people, but have not applied for amnesty.
When it comes to the question of the church it's true. Right from the beginning the President saw or sees so much salvation in the church or in the churches for the promotion of unity and reconciliation in this country, that we become very happy once local churches decide to make it their duty to make a follow-up in the areas of healing, counselling, advising and/or even enabling the people to get what is due to them.
So that is the situation. There are those who have applied for amnesty whose names we do not have today, but you at committee level should know about those who were supposed to have applied for amnesties and the committees must be beginning to ask themselves; what can they do with those people.
We know that there are - as it has been pointed out - that this Commission is not resting on just vengeance and what not and what not. The idea of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; the key concept is reconstruction. It is a building process. So other things to look into, are what is it we can do to build the communities?
That is by way of symbolic reparations. What do the communities want? So it is not so much what - it is (a)a. what the people have said, their request; (b) what has, as Hlengiwe has pointed out, what has the Truth and Reconciliation Commission itself to offer to the people and are the communities now ready to take that up themselves; when it comes to putting up the committees for reconciliation and how to go all these things about.
The most important too is that you cannot go onto reconciliation without key facts of who was killed, who killed who, where did you take this person to? All those things are needed, they're very fundamental; these other things that you are going to work with and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is there to provide you with that information. It will be given to you, Reverend.
BISHOP NKOSI: I thank you for the explanation that you have just given, especially the fact that you have undertaken to inform us from time to time.
CHAIRPERSON: We thank you, Rev Nkosi. We would like all those who have questions to come forward one by one to ask their questions. We do hope that there are some people who have questions that they would like to pose.
Please come to the front seat there so as to identify them.
MR MALATO: I say thank you, Mr Chairperson, Rev Khumalo and all the other members present here on the platform. I'm Malato from Kluzi Middelburg and I have one or two things that I would like to ask in the form of a follow-up of what transpired on that day.
I remember very well that one of the members of the Truth Commission on that day, Ms Yasmin Sooka, indicated or intimated to me that there is one of - there are two lists that have been gone through of the names of the exiles wherein my child, my son's name doesn't appear.
Because, like I said the other day, it is a mysterious story. Now, my question is, I may be a bit too fast, but I think I have to, I can't do otherwise. I'm asked to - according to the invitation that it is a follow-up. If she were here, I would have asked and the question is: has the third list been gone into, because she promised that day she was going to check on the third list.
The other thing that she wanted to know was the fictitious name he was known by while on exile and this was provided to me, I had forgotten at that stage. She was known as Millard, you know the horse-trainer Millard and another name was Twala, something like that.
Now, I'm really just making a follow-up on that. If it is too immediate, well unfortunately, that would be so, but has she gone into that to find out whether in the third list that she was going to go through; whether any of these names that I've mentioned does not appear.
Because as far as we are concerned, our child has disappeared mysteriously. It's a mystery. We have not heard no head or tail about what had happened.
My second question again, Mr Chairman, is, it was a certain member also on that day who was - who told me that he is associated with Wits - I don't remember his name. He indicated to me that there is someone who - when I was giving the evidence his name came into his mind and he'd begin to scratch his mind very itchyly.
He said, this gentlemen appeared to him to know more about what I was saying and he was going to make a follow-up on that and he promised that to me ,that he was going to get into that matter so that this man should tell him what happened to my son.
I wonder - can I - am I, Professor, am I allowed to mention this gentleman's name?
PROF MEIRING: No, give the name to us in writing.
MR MALATO: In writing? Okay.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Are you ...
MR MALATO: Yes, these are the two very important questions at the moment.
CHAIRPERSON: Okay. I will ask Prof Meiring to answer.
PROF MEIRING: I would like to thank you, my brother from Middelburg. I was there at the hearing and I remember that you came to the floor and the questions you asked.
What we usually do and what Ms Yasmin Sooka also did, is to immediately after the hearing, give the file to the investigative unit and they go into the matters.
But I will tomorrow, when we return to the office, go to the investigative unit and to hear whether they have succeeded in getting some information.
Thank you for the names, Millard, Twala, I have written that down, the fictitious names. Also the request, I think the gentleman you remember from Wits is Mr Russel Ally and if you give me that name I will give it to him.
But please, on the piece of paper, write down your telephone number too so that we can report back, hopefully by tomorrow on what has been happening to this file.
Maybe I could just explain to all of you; when all the files - when all the statements are made by people who either just make a statement before a statement-taker or people who go to a public hearing to make a statement in public; whenever we get that files, it goes to the investigative unit. Tom Manthata told you about that.
We have, in all four regions, we have a set of investigators. They go through all the files. They see whether they can find corroborative evidence of everything that have been said and after they made their findings, they give it back to us, to the Human Rights Violations Committee and they then make a finding, say, yes, Mr so-and-so has made a statement, the investigative unit went through it, they got all the corroborative evidence and now we can truly say this person and the case has been looked at, the information is correct, we can find this person to be a victim.
You can well appreciate that it takes a long time. Some of the statements we can very easily corroborate. Some of them they have to dig very deeply to get to the bottom of that.
But in all four regions people are sitting weekly with a stack of files, going through the evidence, seeing if they can make a finding.
But I will undertake to ask Ms Yasmin Sooka and Dr Ally to come back to you tomorrow, if you give me your telephone number. It may be that they've already dug up more information and maybe they can report back to you
MR MALATO: Mrs Sooka, yes, I remember. The other gentleman is ...
PROF MEIRING: Russel Ally.
MR MALATO: Russel Ally.
PROF MEIRING: Yes, Russel Ally.
MS MKHIZE: I would just like to add something, I mean you might be aware that we have had political party hearings again and this question was raised. It affects quite a number of people as to what happened to their children and what is - while investigations are going on, but it's becoming clear that many people fell in-between. Some people didn't even reach the countries that they had hoped to go to live in exile.
So I remember very well when that question was raised of people that are not accounted for, it became clear that even the ANC and the PAC, some names they don't have. They cannot account for.
But what has been said, as a Commission, we are continuously using names, interrogating people as to what might have happened, but that's what we are talking about; that with other Commissions at the end if nothing is found, no information; that's where the President make decisions about symbolic deaths and awarding of even death certificates and symbolic funerals, so to say. But the investigations will continue.
I just wanted to add that it's like - from political parties it's like there are people that they cannot account for.
MR MALATO: Yes, I shall for the moment accept, but thank you very much.
CHAIRPERSON: We thank you for having answered those questions and for you to have come forward. We will ask the next person who'd like to pose a question to come forward.
We would like you to introduce yourself please, before you start asking your question.
MR MASEKO: Thank you, Mr Chairman. My name is Dias Maseko. I'm from Wesselton at number 703, Wesselton extension.
Mr Chairman and the panel, Ms Mkhize and Mr Manthata, I thank you very much for the opportunity that you have afforded me to come forward and ask some questions. I do believe that this is an opportunity for me to ask with regard to certain aspects that are not clear to me.
Now I'm going to pose my question. I was a councillor at Wesselton for quite some time as from 1983 up till the time that I resigned my duties in 1990. I was forced to resign, because I was being attacked by my community for being a councillor.
But till today I have not been told as to why I was attacked. As a result I still do fear for my life and I feel that I no longer have the dignity that I had at that time.
Now I would like to know as to why I was attacked. I am going to speak to every individual member of the council. Now I want to know as to why I was being attacked by members of the community. I don't know whether this does fall within the ambit of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee's duties to deal with such a matter, because I still have this problem of not trusting my community. As a result I cannot interact with my community, because I regard myself as an outcast after the attack by my community.
CHAIRPERSON: We will ask Ms Mkhize to answer your question.
MS MKHIZE: Mr Maseko, maybe we could check, did you make a statement, did you submit a statement to the Truth and Reconciliation Committee?
MR MASEKO: It's the very first that I've come before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission with regard to this matter.
MS MKHIZE: I'll just explain briefly to you that as the Commission we usually encourage people who have been harassed, who have been tortured to come forward and submit statements to the Truth and Reconciliation Committee. Firstly. there should be some political conflict that existed or that resulted in your being harassed, your being tortured or assaulted.
The first is for you to submit a statement, but what we have discovered as we have been touring around the communities is that there are years where those who were activists and took those who were working for the Government as targets, will come in front of the Commission and say, because at the time I was a councillor my house was set alight and I have suffered atrocities.
But what we have learnt and discovered is that that was some kind of a way that they could fight the councillors and a kind of way that they could send a message through to the Government.
MR MANTHATA: Mr Maseko, if I have to add, in that last hearings that we had here, we had a very good picture of what was obtained in this area from one lawyer for human rights in this area. The audience that was here was moved to come to a conclusion or a suggestion that all the people who were involved should be brought together to bring about an end to all that hatred, hunting down of one another, to begin to talk to one another.
It was even suggested that the people should even consider where and how can they have a place where they can have the names and the people who were involved, written out so that it must be a public display.
They were not talking about people from one side. Prof Meiring has put it very clearly right from the beginning; that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is for everybody who suffered. Whether it was the councillor, whether it was a youth who was mistaken for an informer, whether it was a White person where landmines were built in his house or where he was caught in cross-fire, whether it was a policeman whose house was burnt down; all those people are the people that we're referring to here.
It was said that the process of bringing the people together to talk about these issues with the view of establishing peace and reconciliation, should be started by the people in this community.
Hlengiwe has answered you very well; that if you have particular personal problems, where you have sustained certain injuries, let us have your statement with us, it will be attended to like any other statement.
So the Truth and Reconciliation Commission should not be seen to be promoting one sector of the nation, one sector of the community, one sector of what not; we are here for one and all.
In fact, in our last meeting it was such a blessed meeting that from Ermelo there even came out - I'm sorry that I may sound personal - there even came out one person who was a police after me when we were in the Modderbie Prison. We shook hands, we embraced each other. He had been following us ever since the beginning of the Truth Commission and he knew that he was, you know, behind me all the time. He is a White gentleman, very gentlemanly, honoured, honourable.
So we are saying this - the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is here to promote a healing. It is here to promote a reconstruction. So all what has happened to you, we will request - as the churches have already said, put itself to do here - can the churches together with community organisation begin to set up a body that can attend to all those things.
On the other week when we are in Sharpeville - sorry, in Sebokeng, the ex-councillors like you, came out as a body. They were saying what are you doing with us who are rejected by the community and we are rejected even by the present Government.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has taken up that whole problem to see to it that people are restored back into their community. They are honoured, dignity and all.
I don't know whether that answers your question.
MR MASEKO: Yes, I'm very much happier of what you are saying, Mr Manthata, but could you be in a position to direct people who had been councillors in Wesselton, where must they go to lodge their complaints or perhaps to find out what is happening by now? Can you be in a position to ...
MR MANTHATA: I think Ms Mkhize has answered that, that if it is for individual purposes, let all those ex-councillors please give us their statements. Let each one make a statement to us. Then we shall attend to the problem as they raise them in their statements.
MR MASEKO: Thank you very much.
MR MANTHATA: Sorry it's still on. If we don't have statement-takers with us today, it is simply because of the pressure of work at the office. The process of taking statements is still on.
So you are still at will and liberty to make your statements; whether you would love to have it collectively, but we prefer individual statements. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Before you leave, Mr Maseko, maybe you are not aware of this fact as Mr Manthata has made mention of. There's still time, you're still at liberty to submit a statement and to get in touch with a statement-taker here in Ermelo. You may contact me or Pastor Nkosi. We are here and taking statements.
Before you leave the podium, Prof Meiring has a word to say.
PROF MEIRING: Thank you. Mr Manthata and the Chairman said what I wanted to say. There's still opportunities for making statements and we'll appreciate it if you do that.
Can I use the opportunity just to ask; it seems we have about time for about two or three more questions. There are some people here representing the social workers community in this area. I wondered whether there are some questions from that community? Some of the social workers, some of the community workers; maybe if you want to raise a few questions, this is the time to do so.
So if you would like the opportunity to come to the fore too, we'll appreciate that. I think, Mr Chairman, let's have another 20 minutes for questions before tea and then we carry on with the focus groups.
CHAIRPERSON: Okay. I thank you very much, Mr Maseko. We will entertain the next question.
CHAIRPERSON: Please introduce yourself. Thank you very much, Maseko. We will entertain the next question.
MR SMELANI: My name is Mbozo Smelani, M M Smelani and I reside in Wesselton, 572 Zwane Street.
My question is this: my son was also injured in (indistinct) and since I have never heard a word as to what happened and transpired then. Even the person who lived with and the one who led to his death, I haven't heard a thing about him, about that perpetrator.
Also, there was one child of mine that survived the incident, but has suffered and has been traumatised as a result of that incident.
But my concern is that I haven't heard anything since then, especially that I did report the matter, but there was no word that followed me after that. I would like to apologise to you, Mr Chairman, for bringing this up, but this really is worrying me.
This took place in August 1990. Since I haven't heard a word with regard to this matter.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Mr Mkonsa - no Mr Smelani. I know very well that you submitted a statement to us and you explained your matter and this was touched right now that at times the statements do look alike and when the Truth Commission came here to listen to the victims, not everybody was called forward to render a testimony.
But if you were selected to come forward and to tell their stories, your story is similar to many other parents who came forth to tell the story.
So only one parent was called to relate a story that is similar to yours. The Commission couldn't call all of you who had the similar problem, but the Commission did emphasise the fact that it will be in touch.
All that was important was that you submitted a statement and they're looking into that matter, even to date. It's not like it has been forgotten or laid aside.
PROF MEIRING: Thank you. The Chairman said it all. You must realise that when we work in the office with a stack of statements, it doesn't matter if somebody made a public statement, or if the statement is only on paper. We take the statements each after the other and we take them very seriously.
It is interesting that in many cases one statement corroborates the other. It's like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle on the table. The pieces are starting to fit together.
But as soon as there's information available, we will let you know. We have - we can promise you that. But thank you for raising the question and if you can just bear with us a little while. The investigators are working as hard as they can to see whether they can find all the information.
Thank you very much.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Mr Smelani. We do trust and hope that you have be answered.
MR SMELANE: Yes, I have been and I will hope for the best. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: We will request the next person with a question to come forward. Before he may start, it looks as if we have more males than females in the hall. We will appreciate if the women as well can come forward and lay their stories, because they are the mothers of the nation.
We'll appreciate that the women as well shall come forward. It seems as though only men are coming forth. We will appreciate and we encourage even women to come forward with their questions and their concerns.
MR MABUZA: I greet the Commission. I have one question. I reside in Changansi Street in number 739. Now I have this question; that as I was attacked at my home in a tuckshop and I was shot and the person who attacked me had disguised and covered his face that I couldn't identify him.
He entered into my tuckshop at my home and shot me twice. Now I would like to know that as I was shot on my arm and my arm is not functional now, even my tuckshop was destroyed. Today I am just a nobody. Only my wife is working and a breadwinner at home. Being a man, that affects my ego. Now I don't know what steps to take and what to do, because even the police from Pretoria came to get a statement from me and indeed I submitted a statement to them and they promised and assured me that they will follow this matter. They wanted to know if I am the right person who was attacked. They assured me to relax and give a statement to them, because they have already heard that I was shot.
I asked the very police as to who shot or attacked me? They said, that person is in Natal by the name of China and I told them that that person had covered his face so that I don't know who that person is. I couldn't see the person nor identify the person.
He showed me twice and I went home. I went right into the house after I was shot from my tuckshop, which is just on the same premises, but right next to the house. My brother-in- law was with me in the tuckshop. I don't know what happened subsequently, but I left with immediate effect the tuckshop into the house and I told my wife.
My wife was surprised and wanted to know what is that that sounded like a gun. I told her that I have been shot already and look I am bleeding profusely. I said to her don't even ask any further questions, because I have already been shot .
My wife cried bitterly. She told me to get into another room to hide, because there was the possibility that those people could come and attack me again. I could not walk properly. I was dizzy at the time and I stood there. I stood right next to the wall and she said, maybe she should enlist help. They enlisted some help for me and I was taken to the hospital.
Upon arrival there, I was admitted and the doctor who attended me is now late. He gave me medical attention and I survived the incident in that manner.
PROF MEIRING: Mr Mabuza, thank you for telling the story. You haven't made a statement already, have you?
MR MABUZA: Yes.
PROF MEIRING: Have you made a statement?
MR MABUZA: Yes, I have already made the statement.
PROF MEIRING: Thank you for coming forward and for telling the story and we will see to it that the people investigate it and if there's a finding we will come back to you. But thank you for relating the story.
CHAIRPERSON: We thank Mr Mabuza and one other thing that we would like to highlight on, especially to those who will be coming to ask questions, is that we are not coming to tell our stories. Don't tell your story or what you've gone through. Ask a question.
It's just a question-and-answer series not a hearing. For example, Mr Smelani asked a question as to what will be done, because his child was killed and he was answered and the answer was: the investigation is still on and they will get back in touch with him soon as they receive something sound to tell him.
Because he already submitted a statement with every detail. Now we please ask for those who'll be coming to ask questions, especially those who've already submitted statements; not to tell their stories, but to ask their questions direct and be given answers.
We assure you that the statements that you've submitted are being looked at. We do trust and hope that those who'll be coming to ask questions will just ask questions direct, not relate their stories.
MR MAKOBTEO: I would like to thank the Chairperson. My name is Lee Makobeto. I come from the community group by the name of Sancor. There are things that we would like to be clear on, especially that we work with the community.
There will come a time when the community ask us question and we are unable to answer or not sure how to answer their questions. As there have been statements that people submitted in the past as the Commission was here in Ermelo, we would like to know as to what will be done or what steps will be taken with regard to the statements that people submitted to the Commission when the Commission was here in the past.
Secondly, as the community and also community organisationa, we're not satisfied, especially that the perpetrators - especially the way the perpetrators have been treated, that they are not know in the community. It's not clear. Things are evasive as to how and what will be done to those people.
Mr Nkosi asked about the case numbers. There is something and there are things that we would like to know with regard to those case numbers; that as there are people who opened dockets and it was discovered that such people will be looked at and their background as to what community or organisation politically is he or she from.
So that the case will only be treated according to which group do you belong to. We would like to know that those cases, why is it that they were not investigated properly. We would like to know the reasons of such that there were some case numbers that were withdrawn and the case will only be treated according to which organisation you come from.
Lastly, we would like to be offered the opportunity or time-frame that when will we be given the list of the perpetrators and those who were in the forefront attacking people and as to when will those people appear in the court of law? So that we may know and see them in person and know for sure and be certain that the Commission, the Amnesty Commission is doing this and that about such people.
We don't want a situation where people lose credibility in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This is why we are asking such questions and also make mention of the fact that there are statements and we'd like to know about the information with regard to the statements so that we may be able to answer the questions when the community ask.
MR MANTHATA: You are taking us back to the first answers we gave that investigations are on. We haven't got the time- frame in terms of when are the questions going to be answered, because first the questions are so varied and many and of course one other thing we should learn to bear in mind is, there is that provision too of in camera in camera hearings for the perpetrators who have been cited by individuals.
If you have sighted an individual and that person affects just a few people, our Section 29 hearings, where we questioned the perpetrators, are on. You may not know if, and if what we believe can inform the people publicly would be public hearings for the perpetrators of that nature.
So that whole thing is on. Where people have been cited, people are being called to our offices. That is such perpetrators have been called to our offices to account and give us a full picture of what happened to them.
When it comes to what you say people are to be treated according to their political groupings and what not, I wouldn't know, I'm just not too clear whether that is the commitment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, because when people come, they come as individuals.
They were tortured as individuals by people perhaps of a certain political organisation, where perhaps they have even gone all the lengths to give us the names of those people and these are the people that I have referred to already who are being questioned in camera.
I don't know whether I have got the gist of some of the questions you have asked, because I see, and rightly so, that the community needs to know what has happened to it. But I am not too certain to hear whether there has ever been - this is what we're saying - has there been a structure here that the TRC has to report to or whether the TRC has to report to the individuals who made the statements and if there is an organisation here as we have already commented and praised that the churches would love to form that kind of a core group; that can receive some of these recommendations and see whether some of these recommendations, as they affect the communities, can meet a body to implement them or to carry them forward.
You know this is, you know whether we are talking about a similar group from amongst your group that says bring - let the TRC bring all these things to it, rather than to the respective individuals. I think we will need to. That will have to be made very clear, because this is a thing that we shall have region by region.
MR MAKOBETO: In actual fact, Mr Manthata, about the fact that people have been treated differently and according to their political affiliations, I do not intend to point that to the Commission, but my question is with regard to the investigation of those matters, especially those who were working during the apartheid regime.
You will find a case where one will open a docket and is affiliated with a certain organisation, say IFP, and my docket won't be investigated properly or accordingly, but in certain political organisations people will be treated differently from the other.
We would like for those cases who were not properly investigated to be investigated, or maybe there are reasons why they were not investigated accordingly. Maybe you know about such reasons. We would like to know thus far, why they were not investigated further?
MR MANTHATA: At this stage the level at which we are now, we are not able to say that there are no cases that have been investigated - that have not been investigated and/or; there are cases that have been investigated on political party basis.
All investigations are still made on the basis of the request of the person who has made a statement. He says I want to know what happened, I was attacked by organisation A, B, C, D and in the forefront of that organisation there were so and so and so and so and so. These are the so-and-so that we are talking about. Whether the so-and-so will be appearing to us as delegating that organisation is a different thing altogether. I don't know whether that makes any sense?
MS MKHIZE: Maybe if I can just quickly add something. You see, we as Commission we have investigators who come from Germany, Sweden and different countries worldwide. One other reason why investigators were gathered from different countries, it is because the local investigators should work in accordance.
If the statement is with us as a Commission it is in safe hands, because there is no such thing like being biased. One other that I would like us to note is the way we would like - or the way you talk about the perpetrators, that they should come forward.
The reason why we did that or why we put that structure, is to give the community an opportunity to take action and to do a few things. The Truth Commission at large seeks for the truth and the truth only, and it has separated itself from punishment.
It is painful when one goes through a certain stage, but then when you'd come and tell the truth, we are not looking into punishing individuals, but we look into the truth. The way with which you put your statement about the perpetrators, the Commission is not interested in punishing the perpetrators, but it is interested in the truth itself.
MR MAKOBETO: We have been answered and the community that is here, some of them have asked questions and I do trust and hope that they have been answered, because we would appreciate if such answers come from the horse's mouth.
CHAIRPERSON: We hope that there are some who had questions and they no longer have that question, because the question has already been asked by a prior speaker. We thank you for all the questions and we will go on to item number 6 according to the programme and call upon the focus group 1.
I will leave this chair for a while, because I am one of those who'll be coming now in front of the Commission. I will ask Prof Meiring to take over as a Chairperson whilst we deal with the focus group 1.
PROF MEIRING: Friends, we now come to one of the most interesting parts of the whole morning where we have the focus groups. Yes, please, you may sit there.
We come to one of the most interesting parts. This is where we start listening to the community. We asked a number of people from the community to prepare a short statement each and to bring it to us.
We will conduct this second part of the morning in this way, that we will invite all of the people on the list to come to the table. Each of them has five minutes to speak to us. We said to each of the people of the focus groups, please tell us what is your experience of the Truth Commission? Tell it to us.
Secondly, what is your hope for reconciliation in your community; what would you like to put on the table? What can we do?
The first persons who will speak are two of the Baruti, two of the Ministers. It is Mr Khumalo, whose just gone to his car to fetch his statement and the Rev Barnard, Gerhard Barnard from the NG Kerk.
Maybe you would like to come to the fore and we'll start with the Afrikaanse dominee.
Ds Barnard, dis baie lekker dat u hier is. U moet solank kom sit en ds Khumalo sal by u aansluit. Ek dink u gaan in Afrikaans praat, is dit so?
DS BARNARD: As ek mag?
PROF MEIRING: Ja nee, dit is hoog tyd dat ons 'n bietjie Afrikaans ook hoor hier in Ermelo se saal. Ek gaan vir ds Barnard vra en as hy klaar gepraat het, gaan ek en my mede-paneellede miskien so 'n vragie elk vra om 'n sakie duideliker te kry of nog iets verder te hoor en dan gaan ons aan na die volgend groep.
Maar nou ds Barnard eers, u is van die NG Kerk en u het 'n hele klompie gemeentelede hier saam met u. Ons is baie bly dat u gekom het om die dominee se arms sterk te maak en ons luister graag na u wat u vir ons wil vertel.
DS BARNARD: Baie dankie, geagte Voorsitter. Dames en here, dis vir my 'n baie groot voorreg om vanmôre hier te kan 'n woord sê. Ek sou nie graag vanmôre hier wou sit as 'n Blanke nie, maar wel as 'n Suid-Afrikaner.
I noticed that we don't notice each other as people of colour any more, just as people.
I was born in Ermelo. I am a member of this community and I am very happy to return. I want to speak to you as a representative of the Afriaans Christian community and the first thing I want to say, is I think this is the right place for Christians to be - the TRC, because our leader, Jesus Christ, also said: I am the way, the truth and the life.
So I believe if we want truth and reconciliation in our country, then us Christians have to make a contribution and we do this through the work of Jesus Christ as he came to bring reconciliation on earth.
The work of the TRC, during my work in the TRC, I asked - made some enquiries about what Prof Meiring asked me and what I noticed is that most people that I dealt with were not very much aware, or were not aware at all about the TRC, that the TRC had held - had listened to evidence here today.
Our people are not so intimately involved or have even considered it giving evidence, because they didn't know that there would be an opportunity.
I also accept that this ignorance still exists in our community and I've asked the people around me in preparation for this movement - for this meeting, but we didn't really know about this meeting.
I must also add the work of the TRC; about that we were quite well informed. I think the TRC's work and evidence which we read in the newspapers, it was quite a fiery debate which is still taking place and I think it was a very positive debate, because our people have started thinking about the truth and started thinking about reconciliation.
Regarding the truth, it was a painful process to us. We heard things which happened in our community in the years past of which we didn't know, which we became aware of, that we were a part of and for which we felt guilty.
We have had the opportunity to speak about our guilt. We were also deeply hurt that we didn't realise how deep the pain was in our community.
The community asked me questions and it became very clear around the TRC that I got the feeling that in our community there was some suspicion about the TRC and its existence and a certain amount of fear about the activities of the TRC.
The question was asked: who is this Commission and if the answer had been easy to give, it wasn't easily believed.
The second question, why, what was the purpose of the Commission. There's a perception in our community and I have heard this over and over again; that the people don't see it as a reconciliation commission, but as a punitive commission; somebody had to be punished and this is where our Afrikaners had to take their punishment.
So the whole process around forgiveness became very difficult, because to admit the mistakes of the past is not easy, but I realise and I will talk about this again. I realised that the fear which arose, is not the fear of confessing, but the fear of what is to happen to this evidence? In which way will people be punished in future? Will this process really lead to reconciliation? These are the questions that I heard in the community. I can react very positively about what the Christian community in Ermelo experienced.
The fact that there's a lot of ministers here today, is evidence that some degree of reconciliation has happened in the community of believers here in Ermelo. If I can take an example; about a year ago, at a special meeting under the theme peace and reconciliation, we filled this civic centre. It was a Sunday afternoon. There wasn't a single seat. People were bussed in from Wesselton and there were people from all over. Black pastors came and White pastors preached. We filled this stage here with brothers and sisters who embraced each other and who asked each other for forgiveness for what we had done, how we had missed seeing each others over the years. The fact that we didn't share each other's pain.
This is what we have been doing in Ermelo. If I think back on what happened here on Sunday night; we had a well-know Black preacher from the Ivory Coast and that is a country where the church is growing fastest and he came to speak to us.
It wasn't a mixed audience. It was a united audience of children of God. What we have started experiencing in this town it that when we gather as Christians; Black, White and Brown, we are not a mixed community, we are brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.
We have experienced this in our own community some two weeks ago. A worker came from Natal and he came to see me after the service and he said, Gerhard, I'm astonished that you don't have a White congregation any more. There are so many Black people who are members and when I looked up I saw it was true.
God has brought so much reconciliation in our community that I cannot see people according to their colour any more. Through the grace of God we now see each other as fellow Christians. Reconciliation has gone much further than just colour.
In this congregation today there is a pastor of the IFCC community. There is a pastor of the Methodist community, there is an Anglican priest and myself and all of us can say today: we have become friends over the years. God has brought reconciliation in this country. We are not part of the problem any more.
Some week ago, I could add my name to those dominees who said: we are sorry that we were part of this division in the past; we all took part in this and we confessed this in front of God and I am confessing it in front of you. We are now part of the solution. We are on the road to reconciliation through Jesus Christ.
PROF MEIRING: Broer Gerhard, baie dankie. U moet daar bly sit. Moet nog nie loop nie. I want to ask your colleague, Ds Khumalo to speak and we would like to ask you a question or two.
Brother Khumalo, thank you for coming to us again in the new role as somebody whose making a submission from the churches, but please we are listening with open hearts to what you are saying to us.
REV KHUMALO: I thank you. As it have been mentioned and said, I am pastor Khumalo from the Anglican Church, locally.
I am pleased to be offered the opportunity like this to talk to you and not me alone. I am here on behalf of all the pastors. When we discussed this matter as pastors, as usual we do talk and discuss such issues, it was clear to us that even us, we were affected about the things that were happening or transpired in the community.
But because we pray together, we have a prayer band of some kind where we meet and pray; that helped us a great deal. For an example, I remember this one time there was a boy who was killed, shot and died. He was about 15 years old. The funeral - I conducted the funeral service. We left the church building and there were many people who attended that funeral who then headed to the cemetery.
When we got to the cemetery, into the graveyard, as we know, especially those who come from local, you go through a certain section and as we were approaching that section, extension, we were shot and people dismissed and we were dispersed by police in that fashion.
Only two boys were killed. We just left the casket right there with the corpse in it and people ran away. Those who were injured, I was the one who carried them and transported them in my bakkie to the hospital.
After all that we had to see that we bury the corpse. That wasn't easy to be done. I tried by all means to ask some people, even the parents of the late, to show them that there's nothing we could do except bury that casket, that corpse. We cannot just leave it lying around like that. We transported the corpse in my bakkie and some people came. We were about 12 in number, who came and joined us to bury that boy.
It is one of the things that brought difficulties to the community as the pastors and the difficulty we have experienced as the pastors.
One other thing. We would like to thank the fact that we had that nerve and audacity, even after we had been told not to use the churches, but we were brave enough to make it clear that the churches are not ours, but they belong to the community. So the community has a right to use the church buildings. All what we were careful about was the things that would be discussed in churches and church buildings should be things that are good enough for the community, not destructive for the community.
We only wanted things, positive things to be discussed that would bring about peace in the community, not the other way round. We attended peace - we were members of the peace committees as pastors and we tried to bring peace.
I remember this one other difficult time for us as pastors, but we knew that we had to take that step, because if we don't, there would be trouble that will arise.
There was a hostel as we know here in Ermelo. We once blocked people who were armed from the hostel, approaching the community. In an effort to attack the community the second time, because at first they did that.
We were there and we tried to plead with them, even talking to the police who were there. I think we discussed and talked about this there in the middle of nowhere - for about four to five hours, talking and trying to negotiate with those who wanted to attack not to.
I do trust and hope that what we did that day was good and positive, because if we did not do that, many souls would have been killed that day. Again, there could have been many houses that would have been set alight that very day.
We are fortunate again that the police listened to us and sided with us when we asked them to assist in some way to stop this from happening, because at first they said the people wanted revenge and there is nothing that we could do.
We should just look and see that there's no damage that would be caused. But that was very interesting, because there was no way people could attack and no damage would transpire after that.
But we tried to stop all that. It wasn't easy, but we did that as pastors. Many a times, we would set ourselves into risk. At time we'll find ourselves in trouble and I remember this other incident. There were a group of young men who were called Black Cats. There was a time when it was said they are being protected by the police and they were living at the police station.
We went there as a group of pastors and we talked to the policemen about the danger of separating these young men from their community where they belonged. We thought that would end the hatred. We thought that if we talked to them and they realised that there would be that kind of hatred; especially between Black and White, it will be as though Whites were using Black to be killing and attacking Black. Black on Black violence.
We talked to the group of young men and we also talked to the captains at the police station for the whole day until they agreed that they shall be set free and go back to their respective homes, because they had said they have a place for these young men somewhere out of Ermelo.
All that were difficulties that we encountered as pastors, trying to come and quell violence. One time we called upon the whole community as the pastors and I want to thank the community, because they responded to our call. They went to the stadium where we pleaded with them and things were terribly, terribly bad at the time and they - some of them were insulting us, but we knew one thing for sure; that what we are up to was for a good cause, that the people of God or the children of God should not be treated the way they were treated at the time, but should be treated decently.
Some of us belonged to a certain organisation by the name of SACC - South African Council of Churches. I also was a member and still am a member to date, which is now called Mpumalanga Council of Churches. It helps, it helps quite a great deal. Even to date it's still helping.
Right now we intend to call upon other pastors who were affected at the time. This SACC has helped us also as pastors. We once held and had a workshop for the whole week where we would be able to help people who have undergone or who have been traumatised from the incidents of the past and implying pastoral counselling to them, counselling them.
Finally, we would like to thank as a group of pastors, thank the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, because we have seen that there is truth in it and also thank the power of God that today we have a body like TRC, because if it never existed, there wouldn't be any reconciliation at all and forgiveness at all. Thank you.
PROF MEIRING: May I say a word of special thanks to our two brothers. It is time for tea now so we will let you go. It seems you have the easy one.
Can I just on behalf of the three of us, say in a word what I think we would like to ask you, not a question, but a request. We know that when the Truth Commission closes its doors at the end of they year, it's only the beginning of the work of reconciliation and thank you for what you said about the opportunities you have, but may we plead with you in the different towns represented here that you will carry on with the work.
There are so many people who still want to tell their stories. So many people who have hurt in Ermelo and other places. Will you be able to arrange for meetings to get the communities together to unburden themselves, to tell their stories to be reconciled.
So many things have happened in Ermelo for which we thank the Lord. If the wheel of reconciliation could turn and start turning and turning and turning and rolling and rolling in Ermelo and in Witbank and in all the other communities, what a wonderful testimony that would be.
Thank you from us and please may we have your testimonies in writing. We want them for our files. We want them to use it. It also applies to the other focus groups. We need, if you haven't have - if you don't have them with you, please may you in the day or two we have in written, written down the statements you make.
It is a quarter to 12 now, it is time for tea. We are a number of people, but I am going to plead with you that we have tea as quickly as we can and may we be back - on the programme we have 15 minutes allowed for tea - let us see if we can do that. If you can quickly have your tea, quickly go to the toilet if you need to go, but at 12 o'clock let's try and be back for the second focus group. Thank you so much.
PROF MEIRING: After tea, I hope you've enjoyed the tea and the cookies. May I ask the two ladies who represent the women, Mrs Methule and Mrs Barnard to come to the front. Mrs Methule and Mrs Barnard, if you can come to the table, please.
Mrs Barnard, please take a seat. I would like again to ask Mrs Methule to come to the table. Mrs Methule, maybe she'll find a way to the table just now. I'm going to ask Mrs Marinda Barnard to speak to us. She will speak to us on what women in Ermelo think about the Truth Commission, about the process, about the prospects of reconciliation in the future. We're very happy to have you. Thanks very much for coming.. U gaan ook Afrikaans praat.
MEV BARNARD: Ja.
PROF MEIRING: Baie dankie. Ons luister graag.
MRS BARNARD: Thank you, Mr Chairman. It's a wonderful privilege to have an opportunity to say a few words. How have I experienced the Commission up to now; I can say that I've not followed every detail about the TRC and that I've not always had the opportunity to listen to the TV. But I think it's wonderful that people can have the opportunity to open their hearts.
On occasion I was really touched and my eyes were opened to see the hurt and the pain suffered by people through the years. Often we weren't aware of all the pain and heartsore and also that suffered by mothers. I speak to you today as a mother of children.
The pain experienced by other parents who have lost children to violence and who have gone through so much trauma and I think it's a wonderful opportunity for people to come and open their hearts here.
As a White South African I sometimes found it disappointing that leaders from the White community were so reluctant and didn't really come forward enthusiastically to say that they were sorry for their part in what had happened in the suffering of so many people.
That it's the leaders of colour who've come forward to say that they are sorry for what they've done through their leadership to other people.
My vision of the way ahead and whether reconciliation is possible, I think there are a few matters that need to be addressed. I think reconciliation is possible, but one big factor in our community, and when I talk about this, I talk from the heart of a mother and that is that violence is not a pleasure for anyone. It scares us and as I sit here today I wonder how my children are at home; are they safe; isn't there someone who might be hurting them? I think in this aspect, we should all stand together to oppose violence.
I also think, that's only my personal opinion, there was a suggestion from the table next-door that there should be monuments so that people can be reminded of all the pain and suffering and evil and violence and aggression. But I think that's wrong. I think it's completely wrong.
Two weeks ago I went to Russia, to Moscow and the Ukraine where people are reminded all the time about their pain and suffering. I think that's wrong. I think it's wrong to use money to erect statues and to take even more money away from the people.
We must look ahead. Do you know it can be done. It is possible. So today, for every mother with children and every mother and I want to address them all and say look to your words. Do you speak badly, then your children become bad. If you speak evil against your husband, he will become evil. Do you know what I have seen in life, evil and hatred don't remain small. They grow. If you plant hatred, it grows, and mothers of children, if you sow hatred, if you sow the seed of hatred, it will grow.
Let us stop. Let us turn our husbands and our children into healthy people. Let's put out our hand to Jesus Christ and he will give us the wisdom to sow the seed of forgiveness so that our children and our husbands can be healed.
I thank you.
PROF MEIRING: Thank you, Mrs Barnard. Please don't go. Mrs Mathule is already in the audience. If not, I would like to ask from my fellow panel members at the table, my two colleagues whether they would like to ask a question or to make a comment on what Mrs Barnard said. Hlengiwe? Tom?
MR MANTHATA: Mrs Barnard, you don't come very clearly on the issue of monuments. I don't know whether you are saying the monuments for what they are worth, you mention they're a waste and therefore they must not be embarked upon. Or do you have another reason to have reservations about monuments?
MRS BARNARD: My remark about monuments; in the first instance I think to erect monuments which keep on reminding us of hatred and aggression and the evil or the anger I bear towards a brother or towards a political party, I think that's unacceptable. It achieves nothing. It doesn't bring reconciliation. It doesn't make people love each other. It reminds you of the evil and the bad things of the past.
If we can erect monuments which will bring people together, then I say that's right. That's wonderful and that will be the right thing to do, but to erect monuments which only fan hatred and don't bring reconciliation, I don't think anything comes of that.
MR MANTHATA: On practical level of people opening up their hearts to one another, have you got an idea of how this can be done, naturally across the colour?
MRS BARNARD: I want to suggest that people among each other, even people who live between each other, not necessarily Black or White, but people among themselves will reach out and take hands.
One way of doing this would be by churches uniting and work together and show each other that they also want to give each other the space and recognition that they are there, that they have dignity.
I think mothers with children in a society; Brown or White and society as a whole, we can have a function. We can do this by raising our children properly by teaching them music, teaching them art, how to improve their sport and help - we can reach out to one another. I've seen this where a mother, a Black mother and myself, a White mother, where we start talking about our children, we always greet each other in town and we talk to each other. We share in each other's pain and happiness and this is a privilege.
What I also wanted to say and what I heard here today, it won't help to sit around and wait to see what someone else is going to do. To me, you should start today. Go to that person who has hurt you. Go and tell him, I forgive you. That is how we can practically understand each other.
PROF MEIRING: Thanks very much for what you have said. I don't want to ask a question, I just want to make an appeal, it would be too wonderful it too would too wonderful if the community in Ermelo could be an example and start inviting each other and listening to each other's tales.
The fact that there are millions of South Africans with hurt and pain in their hearts who cannot go to the Truth Commission, but they also have the pain, they also have the frustration and the feelings of hatred and anger in their hearts and we need to unburden ourselves.
If in Ermelo the mothers can come together and unburden one another, if the men can do that, if the young kids can do that, if in all the other towns in Mpumulanga that could happen, what a wonderful example wouldn't that be for the whole of South Africa.
I would ask you if Rev Khumalo's congregation invite the congregation of Ermelo-Oos to their church on a Sunday night and say come and listen to our stories, will you go and will you tell your own stories to them?
MRS BARNARD: That will be a pleasure and it will be something that we look forward to.
PROF MEIRING: Thanks for your contribution, it was very nice having you here.
I'm now going to call upon the youth group first. I've learnt during teatime that one or two of them have to leave, but I'm going to ask the Afrikaans youth, represented by Tarien and Mr Mnisi. also the two young people, Mr Mnisi and Tarien.
Mr Mnisi, where is he? I'm going to do something which we haven't done yet. It would be nice to have a young person from the Black community also to come and speak.
Can I ask for a volunteer? Anybody in the audience; either a young man or a young girl to come and sit with Tarien and just off the cuff, in two minutes, say what is in your heart about the TRC and the prospects for reconciliation. Any young person. I'm looking for a hero. There he comes. Thank you so much. Yes, you can applaud him.
PROF MEIRING: I need your name. Paulus Mnisi, you're not the Mnisi on - the man that should have been here?
MR MNISI: Yes.
PROF MEIRING: Are you Mr Mnisi?
MR MNISI: Wonderful. I think you should retract your applause.
We have the two - I'm going to ask Mr Mnisi first. No, don't Tarien - yes, Tarien, thanks, you needn't - jy hoef nie te vlug nie.
MS PIETERSE: O nee, ek wil net hierso sit.
PROF MEIRING: Mr Mnisi, your five minutes and then I will ask Tarien to speak for five minutes and then the questions.
MR MNISI: Thank you, Mr Chairperson. If I may just correct one perception. You should not be mistaken by my White beard. In terms of the South African definition of a youth, I have not reached an exit point. I still have left seven years.
When they speak of youth and their problems, it is one sector that consistitutes a vast section of the population. This inevitably places an enormous duty on our shoulders to focus our attention at matters related to youth development. Undoubtedly this is the sector that has wired the future of this country in their hands.
Today when we speak of the youth in a South African context, we refer to those between the age of 14 to 35. Contrary to most countries which refer young people till the age of 25. In South Africa it is so, because we are addressing a particular deliberate situation, deliberately created by policies of apartheid.
Innocent and armed young women and men fearlessly confronted an apartheid monster, defended by men who were armed to their teeth. It was due to those battles of the struggle that today we speak of a democratic South Africa.
The nation as a whole is therefore deeply indebted to these young people who are not offered an opportunity to enjoy their tender age.
Undoubtedly, Chairperson, the socio-economic scars apartheid has left, are so deep that no organisation wll dare heal them unless the needs of the aspiration of young people are adequately addressed.
The youth are facing a complex array of problems which emanate from the legacy of the past. They find themselves on the margin of society with chronic unemployment, disrupted family lives and with no confidence or commitment to prevail and establish institutions.
For many, Chairperson, participation in community institutions is blocked by a lack of resources, poor education, poverty enhance the inability to compete in the main stream of Eurocentric economic structure.
The wide-spread unemployment, slow economy growth and social dislocation which were deliberate policies of the Apartheid system, have marginalised the majority of these young people and denied them the right to citizenship, confined them to townships, homelands and obstructed their access to education and training.
It is therefore of vital importance, Chairperson, that the youth, consisting a substitute quantity, a substantial quantity of the population, should be taken seriously if we want to guarantee ourselves a safe haven and prosperous future.
Young people in South Africa have the potential of becoming - of being a dynamic and positive force in shaping the future of this country. There's a need for a vibrant and enterprising new population by any Government to achieve its developmental goals.
However, current social and economic conditions often discriminate against young men and women and for a significant number it is during childhood and youth that the patterns and processes of disadvantages are grounded.
Chairperson, I have a written document here that I am going to present. I'm not going to go through it, but I will speak to it.
We should acknowledge that the young people of South Africa are not a homogeneous group which can be assessed without locating them into different locations. Inter alia, age group, employed, unemployed, student, race et cetera.
The hearing from the Youth Commission from the youth our first point of view, had made sense and drawn interest of young people whom today are between the ages of 24 and above 30 years.
These young people are those who were at the forefront of the struggle for liberation, the 1980s, a generation of highly politicised young people leading on the struggle on township streets, hence the image of young lions or to the then state leader; a lost generation who had boycotted and burned down schools, instinctively violent and irretrievably delinquent.
We wish therefore, Chairperson, in brief to suggest the following programmes. It should be clear that young people
are not out there, waiting for quick type of solutions that will not last long. They are prepared and more than willing to participate in their own development.
Programmes that we'd like to propose that shall be initiated includes firstly; to promote reform on legislation, the criminal justice system with specific reference to the juvenile justice system, compel updated data and accurate statistics on youth on crime.
Solicit commitment from youth organisations to actively participate to visible anti-crime activities and programmes. This include young people working hand-in-glove with community based policing institutions, initiate programmes for victims and witness protection mechanism and show effective social engagements for young people through sport and recreation, arts and other activities.
The creation of a platform inter alia Mpumulanga Youth Commission, will allow the provisial Government to address in a systematic and sustainable manner the burning needs of young people, especially in relation to the fundamental issues of education, training, employment, health, welfare, sport and recreation.
Human values and rights. We want to propose networking with Human Rights Commission. Organise workshops, seminars and religious revival in human rights and values.
This in a nut-shell will actually try to actually close the gap and the river between that exist between a number of racial groups between young people. Conflict resolution, training of youth leaders immediately and conflict management, break the cycle of violence in the community.
Present democracy, political and religious tolerance, creative discussion with Government and development. Our overall mission as youth as first - or the youth commission, is to empower the youth of Mpumalanga in allowing them to realise their full potential through optimal access to opportunities and the successful implementation of any youth programmes will depend on networking, co-ordinating and monitoring and joining with all (... indistinct).
In conclusion, Chairperson, undoubtedly the youth is the future of our country and that we should invest as much time, money and energy into the development of young people to ensure that our future leadership is one which can manage our country on a sustained and a profitable basis. Thank you.
PROF MEIRING: Mr Mnisi, that was a powerful statement. Thank you for that. I can imagine many hours of thought and discussion went into preparing that. Thank you for that. We'll take it with you and we will go through it. There are many very important suggestions in the paper.
In Johannesburg, two weeks ago, we had a similar meeting at the civic centre and a lady whose name is known to many of you, Mrs Sheena Duncan, who is rather old herself; she said, Iam an old lady, I am 65, but I want to say something to you. She said, forget about the old generation, think about the youth. They are the people who are really important. The Truth Commission won't forget about the older generation, of course not, but the youth are very, very, very important and you've just reiterated that.
Thank you. Don't leave. There are questions for you. Tarien, wat is jou van?
MS PIETERSE: Pieterse.
PROF MEIRING: Tarien Pieterse is now going to speak. We look forward to what she is going to say.
MS PIETERSE: I was asked: do the youth have a future in the new South Africa? I believe we have, if we can forgive 70 times seven.
On Sunday, 6 July 1997, in Rapport, Mr Dullah Omar praised the TRC, but he wasn't prepared to forget what happened during the apartheid era. Aren't you just opening old wounds? What about healing? Can we as the youth have a future in the new South Africa if we can't forgive and forget?
Angry and bitter, we can never form a new nation in one country. What gives an answer is Jesus Christ, the true truth and light and He is the only person who can heal this broken land; no Commission or law can ensure our future. Only God the Father can. What we need, is not commissions, but reconciliation from above.
It is a telephone line to God which reaches from me to God, but also from God to me. Thirty children from our church attended a workshop, the Joshua experience, where people from all nations, all races, all countries gathered; where we took hands as one. We are all one in Christ and that is why I believe that the youth must start coming together, irrespective of our colour, our race, our language.
We can only unite if we unite in Christ. We also attended a workshop teaching us how to go out and look at people through the eyes of Christ. How to see the poor through His eyes. Not through ourselves, but how we can help them.
That is what we have to do. We are wounded healers before we can be one South Africa.
PROF MEIRING: Tarien, dit was kort en kragtig. Baie dankie vir jou oortuiging vir wat jy op die tafel gesit het. Ek dink dat my kollegas het 'n vraag of twee om te stel. Kom ek begin by mnr Manthata.
MR MANTHATA: Mr Mnisi, you seem to push or one seems to hear you to be addressing more of the Black youths. You don't seem to say where do you fit in the White youth in all these RDP programmes that you would so love to see the Government, you know, engaging in for the purposes of reconstruction of the youths themselves.
You talk about the young lions and what they did and so on. What would you say about the youth, the other side?
MR MNISI: Thank you. I think, when I spoke about programmes on human values and rights, I did mention the organisation - and the first point I am making was the networking with the Human Rights Commission and the second point deals with the organisation of work shops, seminars and religious revivals and human rights and values.
What we're aiming at in the organisation of these workshops, we want to call all people across the ideological spectrum and apart from ideological spectrum, to also call people across the colour bar, because it is important. The past policies that existed actually created a wall that actually kept us as Black youth from understanding what is happening with the White youth.
So it is important that we meet to break down that wall as they did in East Germany and West Germany. If you break down that wall that keeps us from understanding each other.
We need to bridge a gap, to bridge that particular gap and construct a bridge that will shorten and that will actually close the river in-between and we can actually understand each other.
MR MANTHATA: I don't know if that's a repetition. Because of the past that we come from, the youths have tended to be so institutionalised along party political bases and racial bases that what we talked about some times back; this element of intolerance, you know, is still so engraved in the mind of the youth, that it seems what you say will actually require a youth crusade that will run right across each - it will no longer be a youth group that mouths the political slogans of one political party as against the other and/or even sounding like saying those that come from another group, they have to be looked at with suspicion.
This seems to come through, even through Tarien's talk, when she says, "omadala" as commissions and the Lord will not work, we want something from above, reconciliation from above. Sometimes the moment we come to talk that language, Tarien, we are trying to say to the others, I cannot listen to you, I can only listen to God as though the people on earth are not the children of God.
Once one goes along that line of I cannot listen to this, I don't want this, I would want the other; that in itself has elements of division and hatred and breaking down of barriers.
PROF MEIRING: Tarien, may I join in? Mr Manthata asked you - I heard you speaking from the heart. It was lovely to listen to you.
Have you as White youth, do you have any plans for reaching out to the Black youth, because without each other you can't get anywhere. Is there somewhere in your agenda that you're going to do what I have asked the other person; that you will sit down with your fellow South Africans around a camp fire and start listening to each other's tales?
At some stage you have got to finish with the past. You have to close the books, but you can only close them once you have opened them and when you've looked at them properly and when you've shared each other's experiences.
My big question is: have you got such plans? Tell us about your plans to reach out and take the hands of other people.
MS PIETERSE: We have already done that this week. We reached out to people of other races and cultures. We asked them about their experiences.
Something which I became very much aware of is we believe in one God, in one Jesus. Why should we be divided if we all got one thing in our minds?
We're going to launch quite a few projects. One of them is in Hillbrow where we worked with Black people on the streets, people with no food or clothing and these people announced that they wanted to buy blankets for these people. We put a drum on the street and we asked people to contribute as much as they felt and we collected R6 000,00 and we bought 200 blankets.
That morning we had collected the money and that afternoon we bought the blankets. The people getting the blankets didn't have any food either. So we said that if you didn't feel hungry that day, please contribute the food you would have had together with the blanket.
They expected so little that they put one table aside for it, but they had to collect more boxes to take all the food. We told the people about Christ, but we also gave them blankets and something to eat.
We have already made contact with the pastor from Wesselton. We are also going into Witbank and as they say in the Bible, we should start in Jerusalem before we go into other countries.
But we have to take hands, otherwise we won't achieve anything.
MR MANTHATA: If I could just start by saying, it is quite encouraging if I could sit next to her, speaking nice about reconciliation and so on, because it is where we should actually start to build a foundation for a bright future.
It is only us as young people whom we should shake hands and find each other, because if I could call the recycled youth, those who are older or younger than beyond 35, they will not be there, but the country shall still be there and we shall still be there.
So it is for us to build our own future. I wish to say yesterday we had a meeting in the office. I have my deputy director, Ms Komon. We were actually discussing the importance of the church on this whole round of acknowledging that the bulk section of our population actually goes to church and it has undoubtedly a very crucial role to play in this process of reconciliation and in people trying to find themselves and to find each other.
So that we can actually learn to live together as brothers and sisters or actually face the frustration or face the problem of actually perishing together as fools.
PROF MEIRING: Thank you. You cannot leave yet. Ms Mkhize has a question.
MS MKHIZE: It's just one small point for me. Can you just clarify to us as to your vision of the future for South Africa. I mean, I accept what you are saying, that somehow we need an element of spirituality, you know, the solution is not amongst the Commission, but there's a question also which you raised that as you went around, you were praying that people be converted and also feeding them.
My dilemma maybe with a purely Christian approach and this is that we have a problem. The past was such that other people who were recipients, you know, in terms of power relations, there were the poor, the haves and the haves-not.
So if we adhere strictly to the Christian paradigm, we are likely to continue in this country with that kind of situation where a huge percentage of people are recipients and others are givers and in that way, you won't, we won't restore peoples' dignity.
Because you know this a material world, whether we like it or not. How you are respected is based on whether you have a shelter, you have clothes, you can determine your life and partly with us, within the Commission, we've been thinking a lot about what will balance those power relations. To distribute resources in such a way that there's a balance and thereby hopefully people beginning to acknowledge each other.
So I just want your wisdom in that. What I'm saying is like we need more than spirituality. There's a question of resources as well.
MS PIETERSE: Ma'am, I understand what you say and I believe what you say is correct. We can't just base it on Christianity or through religion. It must be the foundation though. Jesus did not go on material things. They slept in the fields. I can't see why it's got to do more with the material things. Why should we who have should stop giving? We can give. We are wounded healers. We picked our own pieces and as the youth we must pick up the piece and build the jig-saw puzzle and then we can be wounded healers and reach out to everyone.
PROF MEIRING: Would you like to react? I would like to thank you then. If I heard my colleague correctly, she said a wonderful thing which I discovered recently; that the privileged White Afrikaans-speaking persons who always were the people who gave and gave; that we have reached a point now that we are also people who need things, but in a different way.
There are a lot of things, gifts that we never dreamt of that these people can give to us. One of our biggest adventures is to listen and to receive a lot of things that Afrikaans and English youth can hear and receive from people who are much wealthier in another way.
MS PIETERSE: I agree with that. That's why I say we must take hands and only in this way can we learn the stories of the other groups. But one thing we do envy them is their musical talent.
PROF MEIRING: Thank you. We appreciated your coming and we can let you go. Tarien, we need your statement in writing too as we'll get Paulus's statement.
I now would like to call - thank you, you may go and sit. You conducted yourself very well, the two of you, thank you.
We have now focus group 3, the business sector and government departments. We need four chairs. Somebody must please help us to another chair, because we have Mr Zulu who represent the business community, Mrs Ngwenya, the welfare community, Mr Mashigo, the health sector and Mrs Brits, mental health.
The four of them, please, if you can come to the fore.
Arzina, can you help us with another chair, please. Thank you.
Can I read the names again. Mr Zulu, the business sector, Mrs Ngwenya for welfare, Mr Mashigo for health and Mrs Brits for mental health. I didn't hear your name.
Thank you. Mrs Ngwenya will speak for welfare and for mental health.
MRS NGWENYA: For health.
PROF MEIRING: Welfare and health. Thank you so much. It seems - sorry Arzina, I needn't have asked for another chair, because we have one person who sits in the place of four. You are so welcome and we're privileged to have you and you will speak for welfare and for health. Thank you. Mental health.
MRS NGWENYA: Welfare and health.
PROF MEIRING: Welfare and health. Where are the other persons? Haven't they come? It seems not. It seems not, but thank you, we gladly listen to you.
MRS NGWENYA: Mr Chairperson, honourable dignitaries and ladies and gentlemen, I would like to thank you all for affording me this opportunity to talk on behalf of our department, health and welfare.
Unfortunately our MEC, Kirsty Mashigo, was unable to come today, so he asked me to talk on behalf of the whole department.
Firstly, I would like to highlight also that I'm going to focus on the questions which were presented to us by the TRC. First of all I will start of with: is the TRC helpful?
Yes, we feel it provides people with a platform to ventilate their feelings and emotions. People heal better if they have expressed their emotion and feelings, say of anger or hurt. They could also be able to forgive if they have spoken to the perpetrators of their hurt or those who inflicted injuries on them.
Again we feel one - when one understand the circumstances under which the perpetrators acted, one tends to be more forgiving. The fact that people are offered the opportunity to relive their past experiences and are given recognition and support, is very positive.
The TRC is helpful in that it follows a certain process, namely educating the public, taking statements, researching, identifying witnesses for public hearings, notification of witnesses, witnesses preparation and the hearings.
It is also helpful that in after the hearings, there are investigations carried out and these can lead to people being subpoenaed to give accounts of what happened.
Those whose rights were not violated, they also get the opportunity to know what other people underwent. This would enable us to help.
The second question which I'm going to address, is how can the victim be helped. I'll talk on behalf of our department regarding this. Pre-counselling, that to give information on expectations, benefits et cetera. These should be clearly stated so that by the time a person goes to a particular resource, he knows exactly what he's going to receive there.
The other thing is about referral to appropriate services like psychologists, psycho-therapies, doctors or social security. I would also like to mention that in our province now we're beginning to have some psychologists and also psychiatrists.
Like in this region, that is the Eastern Highveld, we've got a psychologist whose base in Secunda. And then we do also need support groups to have victims' support groups after hearings. They need to be supported, hence this could be very helpful. Then counselling, for example mourning and feelings of loss and for extreme cases maybe they could need psychological services.
Then, how could reconciliation be achieved? Through people admitting the wrongs they did unto others and taking responsibility for their actions. The victims themselves need to be prepared to forgive, otherwise the TRC on its own cannot make people reconcile. It is for us as communities, for us as family members, for us as churches, for us as human groups to ensure that we give support to one another and encourage one another to forgive.
Then I have got recommendations here. It would be appreciated if the TRC could make funds available in view of reparation where finances is required. Some people, for instance, when referred to social security section or the offices, after the hearings they received no help, because some of them they do not qualify, but those who qualify, they are assisted.
Then again, training of people at grassroots level to facilitate support groups could be helpful to the victims. We could use organisations like FAMSA and Mental Health for training purposes. Also to use religious leaders to provide background information to the concept of forgiveness; that is forgive those who trespass or hurt as to forgive those who hurt us.
I think the religious leaders could help us a lot regarding that. The other thing is that the focus agree with Ms Hlengiwe Mkhize that the focus should be on the developmental approach. It shouldn't just be hands-out alone so that the dignity of the person could be restored too.
Relating to the department as such, they indicated that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is a national responsibility. As such we need guidelines as a province, I mean for us to work from.
At this stage no budget is available for TRC purposes. Services could, however, be rendered like you are doing now on short-term bases like provision of wheel-chairs, hearing- aids and also counselling. As you know, that with our department we've got the free health services also and also we're also helping out with, you know grants.
It would be difficult to render services to the victim who would need long-term help or services. Regarding this we feel we need the support of the national department and also of NGOs. Thank you.
PROF MEIRING: Mrs Ngwenya, thank you very much. You have given us a lot to think about. You will present us with your statement. Can we take it home with us? Yes, you can fax it to us, thank you.
I am sure that some of my colleagues would like to speak - ask a question or make a comment and I am positive Mrs Mkhize will be the first in line to say something as a fellow health worker.
MS MKHIZE: Well, first of all really, all I'll say is that the Commission really appreciated the response of the MEAC in particular. When we started, she was the first person who even volunteered to help the TRC desk. So that was a good start.
But regarding what you are trying to do, I mean we acknowledge that the resources are a problem, but I just wanted to ask you one question; have you thought of programmes whereby you won't entirely rely on professionals? You mentioned psychologists. You mentioned psychiatrists that you are beginning to have a few, but have you thought of programmes as we heard from the leaders of the Youth Commission, whereby you rely on other, on other indigenous resources to for instance deal with trauma that you are talking about? Promoting healing and care in general for survivors of human rights.
MRS NGWENYA: I think in my speech, in my presentation, I did mention that I spoke about support groups and over and above that, I spoke about training of grassroot people at grassroot level to facilitate that. Yes, I agree that the community has a major role to play, not only to rely on professionals.
MS MKHIZE: You mention also that you are hoping to get support from the national office. Well, they have made a submission to the Commission during the week of the health sector.
They didn't say much about what they were planning to do for the Commission, but as a local health department, have you been in touch with the business community, because I know even within the Department of Health, there is a thinking with certain specific problems like dealing with the after effects of violence at a local level one needs partners even from the business community.
The Minister at national level started meeting with church groups some time back and have you identified some farmers or business people at a local level whom you think they can help in terms of skills development, job opportunities for people who - even if they're affected, let's say mentally, but they can still function.
MRS NGWENYA: Actually, like I indicated in the report, I think that could be a good thing to do from our department. Like I highlighted, at this stage our department doesn't have the budget as such for TRC purposes and I would think that maybe the Amnesty or the department itself will have to make some recommendation to the national department so that funds are made available for the people who are going to do that. I mean at local level.
PROF MEIRING: Mr Manthata?
MR MANTHATA: Our communities are still largely rural and sometimes the healing of trauma that you are talking about, is in part being attended to by our traditional healers.
Where would you say they feature in your department of health?
MRS NGWENYA: Come again?
MR MANTHATA: Where do the traditional healers feature in your Department of Health?
MRS NGWENYA: Okay, Sir. I don't think I will say much about that regarding, you know, health as such, because I am - although representing Health and Welfare, but I'm directly involved in welfare.
MR MANTHATA: Oh, in welfare?
MRS NGWENYA: Yes.
MR MANTHATA: Because even in that regard, a lot of welfare work is being done traditionally too. You know, I would want to know whether there are some special structures, you know that appeal, that will address that issue from you know, a traditional point of view.
MRS NGWENYA: Okay, at this stage I haven't heard of anything and haven't made any contacts re the TRC.
MR MANTHATA: Yes, because like we are talking here about the need, rightly so, of a grant from the national Government, where, if I understand you well, there are some institutions needed that must be erected and people must be trained to help, you know, others, perhaps you know that aspect too may feature in that whole issue. So that is why it becomes a question of can that too be catered for. Okay.
How closely does your department - okay - have you had people who have made statements to the TRC, coming to your department asking for assistance?
MRS NGWENYA: Yes.
MR MANTHATA: And if so; could you give us a rough number? You know; are they on the increase, are they on the decline?
MRS NGWENYA: Yes. Actually what I would say; there are some people who have come to us and the social workers - I will talk on behalf of the social workers - they've indicated to me that okay they did offer, you know, counselling, but the problem which they had with some of them that they couldn't meet their expectations.
After the hearings some of them they came with a lot of expectation. Maybe they thought they were going to be given some money and when they went to the social security section within our department, they couldn't be helped. Like I indicated that maybe they couldn't qualify. So that made them unhappy in a way.
MR MANTHATA: Thanks. There has been a close relationship with the office in Nelspruit which could explain issues as Ms Mkhize has done this morning, with regard to the policy, namely that the implementation is with the Government and not with the TRC and that we should try to consolidate recommendations for just that part, such that can be pushed to the Government as soon as possible.
That is reparations processes, because that is the most fundamental thing that people must know that they have made suggestions and that their suggestions are going to be pushed to the Government. Then they must later know what to expect from the reparation offices that may be established in Nelspruit.
MRS NGWENYA: Actually what I would like to say is that I am actually happy of the fact that Ms Mkhize gave us some information on reparation. I think that could, you know, help us to look at it again and come up with more proposals, because we are not informed about it and we could make all our officers aware of that too.
PROF MEIRING: Thank you very much. We would very much like to travel to Nelspruit to meet with the MECs and with the Premier and we will have a lot of talking. I think we need to learn from one another and help one another.
The Chairman says to me that I must remind you that there are a number of Baruti who stands in the wings waiting to help you. I know that the Chairman and Rev Nkosi has undergone training. They are very good in supervising and helping with pastoral care.
So on behalf of all the Baruti, I'm a minister of religion too. If he want to make use of the ministers, please do that. They are willing to help.
Thank you ever so much for coming to us and you'll fax your statement to us.
MRS NGWENYA: Thank you so much.
The very last submission is that of Mr Khumalo. It's not the Chairman. It's another Mr Khumalo, who will answer the question that my colleague Tom Manthata has posed and that is what is the role of the traditional leaders? Not only the traditional healers, but the traditional leaders in the community will be able to play.
Mr Khumalo, where are you? Please come and take your place at the table. Mr Khumalo. Yes, please.
CHAIRPERSON: We'll call upon Mr Khumalo with regard to traditional healing. We'll ask for Mr Khumalo to come forward to the podium, if he's present.
PROF MEIRING: Friends, our lunch will be ready in half-an- hour. Mr Manthata, he will use about five or 10 minutes for the summary, the closing remarks he wants to make. It seems that we have about 10 minutes to play with.
Are there any questions? I'm going to hand you over now to the Chairperson, but maybe we can allow for another 10 minutes for recession questions and answers and this Mr Manthata will give his closing remarks and then at a quarter- to-one, in half-an-hour, the lunch will be ready for all of us.
But I hand over to the Chairperson.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Those coming from the business sector and the Government departments couldn't turn up. Maybe for now we may go ahead and tackle questions, whatever questions you may have or you need some light to be shed on. You are welcome to come forward. We have 10 minutes to entertain all that after which Mr Tom Manthata will summarise.
All those who have questions, please come closeR. We have four chairs so four of you may come forward. You are not coming to tell stories, you're coming to ask questions. That should be crystal clear.
You may ask your question, but first tell us your name.
MS MUTABE: My name is Ruth Mutabe. I'm a social worker at Sebusa Forma KwaNdebele. In December the Truth Commission had a hearing in Philadelphia Hospital and of all the people who attended there was a question as to whether the Commission will come to KwaNdebele with regard to all the violence between the community of KwaNdebele and the perpetrators.
The answer to that was, was that they would still have a meeting and discuss about the fact if they will come back or not. We still are waiting for the response that after the Committee discussed about this issue; what was the outcome? People do come to us and ask us as to when the Commission will come back to KwaNdebele? That is my first question.
Secondly, we as the social workers, we work hand-in-hand with the community and the community depends on us in many things, especially with advice, with which way forward and also working somehow hand-in-hand with the TRC.
There are women who came forward to the TRC and it was said to them that they should get in touch with the social workers and we'll be able to enlighten them with as far as investigating. We're unable to answer when they come to us, because we end up telling them that we don't know much about the TRC and people now are discouraged, because they don't get answers to their questions.
Especially they have so much credibility in us as social workers. It looks as if we're careless with our jobs, and yet we are not. It's just because we are not informed.
We don't know and we don't have answers to their questions. It's because we don't have any connection with the TRC. If maybe we may sit down with the TRC and discuss some network of some kind so that we are able to answer the questions that people bring to our offices, because each they come, we tell them that we are not informed. There are offices in Johannesburg.
I think we should have or derive a way in which we will work together, the TRC and us as social workers so that we are in a position of answering the people, people who come to us with questions.
We are quite aware that the TRC is not only looking into our problems as KwaNdebele, but the country at large.
CHAIRPERSON: Tom, would you answer that.
MR MANTHATA: With regard to the question to Kwandebele, we duly apologise as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; not only to the committee of KwaNdebele, but to the larger part of the nation. We have not been or it has not been possible for us to visit all communities in this country, because of time constrains.
Wherever we have been, people had questions to raise, more so that even our education - even our public education processes were never inadequate. You know, there are areas where we have never been at all, let alone for the hearing, but just to preach about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Quite a number of communities - right now communities like Bushbuckridge are at fault with us. At the beginning we had thought we would grant them a hearing, that is we would hold hearings in that area. It has not been possible. So finally I think that is what is going to come from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission nationally, that with due apology to all or to most of the communities that we have not been able to interact with them as effectively as it was supposed to do or to be, largely because of time constraints.
For the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to operate within two years to do the kind of work it is doing, it is almost impossible. That is why in the end we would have still depended on the people themselves to even make recommendations to the Government; what would they think about the unfinished work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
With due apology to the people of KwaNdebele. It is not possible for us to go back to them. Just as it has not been possible for us to establish education mechanisms, communication mechanisms that could have made the people in the entire Mpumalanga fairly conversant with the operations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
It may not be a satisfactory answer, but that's about the best we can say.
MRS MUTABE: Okay, I'm satisfied, but I would like to say - I'll end up by saying that we love it or we like it, because there are professionals here who have been invited into this workshop; if contacts can be made with them, just to update them as to where is there a Truth and Reconciliation, then we will be able to answer those clients who come to our offices for assistance.
MR MANTHATA: What we have said in most communities, we have encouraged where there are still possibilities of groups of professionals to come together; can they please organise themselves in that fashion and sent for us. Let them contact us and agree on appointments.
MRS MUTABE: Thank you.
MS MKHIZE: Well, I should think really mine is an explanation which adds to what Tom has said.
When we started as a Commission we realised that South Africa is such a big country that at the end for us to say we were able to access all the people, we'll need resources.
We tried to set up some structures, but it became clear that for instance, take Nelspruit where you have Rev Utembo, for him to move around there was a question of resources immediately. Who pays for this? Who finances his travelling? That in way has been a major, major limitation on our part that working within a Government's budget you do not - you're not in a position to communicate effectively.
So we have had communications officers being employed on a full-time basis. They have developed like the mechanisms you see with the Archbishop's message on the outside.
In some instances we haven't even been able to distribute them, because when you try to work with NGOs they come back and say, finances. Professionals they say we have a workload. It's very rare to get professionals like yourself who are prepared to add more.
In some instances they've even said, look, don't refer too many people to us, because we won't cope. So there are all those problems where - that's why we keep on asking people about other initiatives within the communities, using local resources to develop and really make sure that what the Commission hopes to do is done at a low cost. If there's anything which can be done with no resources.
So we appreciate your enthusiasm. You will get our number and also when we go back to the office, we will talk to the office and see how we can reach out to as many professionals as possible.
PROF MEIRING: May I add just one word? The stories of KwaNdebele are being researched. If that is one of the prime leads that people at the long run will know what happened in the atrocities; who were the perpetrators, what happened to the victims?
Those stories are very enthusiastically investigated at the moment. People are being subpoenaed to give information and part of the final report of the Truth Commission will also be the report on what happened in KwaNdebele. So you can tell your people that although we are not there to report back to them now on our findings, our investigative team worked very hard on all the stories of KwaNdebele and there will be in the final report a lot about that.
MRS MUTABE: Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Now we'll ask the lady. You may be seated right where you are.
QUESTION: My name is Gertrude Mahoza.
CHAIRPERSON: Please, may you be audible.
MS MAHOZA: My name is Gertude Mahoza. I come here to greet the community, because of time in the morning. I was present in June 22 when the Commission was here. I would like to complete a few things that were left incomplete at the time.
CHAIRPERSON: We are not clear, lady, as to what you are referring to.
MS MAHOZA: I left my reserve when I was testifying for the Commission. I didn't complete my statement then. May I be offered opportunity to complete my statement that was left incomplete at the time?
CHAIRPERSON: We do remember your presence when you came and told the Commission about your sufferings and all that was taken and noted. Everything you said was noted. When you came here, you were telling us about what you have already written on your statement and what we already had in your statement.
What I would say to you, is there is no need for you to repeat and tell us or to complete the statement that you say it was incomplete, the testimony. Because today we are not giving opportunity to testify.
This is a workshop where we've got questions and we answer those questions. Not to give stories and we would like to know how the Commission will be working as from now on and the way forward.
I wonder if that satisfies you?
MS MAHOZA: I just arrived now. I wasn't aware of what was happening here this morning.
CHAIRPERSON: Well, one other thing that you shouldn't miss is the summary that Mr Tom Manthata will render. He's going to touch and leave no stone unturned. That we do hope that will satisfy you.
MS MAHOZA: Because I left some things that I didn't mention.
CHAIRPERSON: No, as I have already said that you've left those things unmentioned, but it doesn't matter. Don't go on ahead and imagine that, because we have those in writing. Don't worry about the things that you did not say, because we have those in writing.
Maybe if you start on that, you will also be touched and you cry maybe and a lot of emotion, but what we're concerned about is that we answer questions that people have, but not repeating our statements of the hearings.
We won't allow you to complete your testimony that you left hanging in the past hearing, because this is not the day to be telling stories. What my advice will be to you is that you shall be assured that your matter is under investigation just like all other matters. Your matter does not mean it's less important than others.
Mr Manthata is going to summarise and people will even who were not here in the morning, will get more clarity on what today is about. Thank you.
Because of time constraints, maybe the two that we have in front here should be the last ones and also requesting you to have brief questions and direct questions.
MRS : I was also confused about the fact that as the Commission is coming here in Ermelo, why were we not informed, but thanks to the facts that you've told us why, I feel terrible and bad, because I lost all my possessions, everything of mine was burned.
I wonder and I really would like to know how is the Commission looking at this and what will the Commission do with this regard to this?
PROF MEIRING: Can I just ask - thank you for asking the question, because it seems it's a great concern to many people. Have you made a statement in writing?
MRS : Yes.
PROF MEIRING: Then you can rest assured that the statement is with us. I explained earlier this morning that we have a huge stack of statements and we are working through the statements and in due course you will receive a letter to say that your statement has been worked through, all the evidence has been corroborated and that you were given the status of a victim.
What we do is, let me explain to you. Each week, in all four regions of the Truth Commission, we have what we call case conferences. All the stacks of statements are being brought to the case conferences.
Then the investigators say to us; here is the case of Mr Kumalo. We look through the case. We went to Pretoria and to Cape Town and we checked all the evidence. We have corroborated the evidence. The statement is true. You can accept it.
Then the case conference accepts the statement, gives it to Mrs Hlengiwe Mkhize to the R & R Committee. Then they have to come into contact with the victim and another form will be sent out to get all the information about the circumstances of the victim; what the real needs are and then when early next year, the whole big thick report of the Truth Commission is being handed to the - by the President to the nation, then the implementing body, the state will have an implementing body and they will receive all our statements and they will start acting upon that to make reparation.
But if - the only thing you need to be worried about is, have I made a statement? If you made a statement on paper and gave it to the Truth Commission, you can rest, because you've done what you've needed to do and we are working with that. So you can be assured. Thank you.
MR : Thank you, Mr Chairperson and the honourable members of the TRC, for granting me this opportunity to come and say something.
In fact, I am not here to ask any question, but there are some concerns that I wanted to raise concerning the submission that were made by the Afrikaner youth.
Mr Chairman, we feel disturbed as the marginalised youth to know that once we're trying to reach out to other members of our community, that we should engage it rather in finding common grounds whereby all of us, Black and White, can live peacefully together.
There are people who use this opportunity to shed crocodile tears. It is quite disturbing also to know that our White youth are hiding behind the Bible; to hide the evil past. We should remember that it's not Jesus Christ who created this divisions, it's man himself.
So let's put the Bible aside and come together and find common ground, because the most important thing we are saying as members of the marginalised community; that as youth we want opportunities to empower ourselves so that we should have life skills, not hand-outs from the White community.
That's basically what I wanted to say. Thank you.
PROF MEIRING: Just before you go; thank you for what you've said. We take note of that and I think the Afrikaner young people need to hear that. That you have to reach out to one another, not necessarily putting the Bible aside, but taking the Bible to each other and with the Bible in the hand you can talk to one another about empowering one another. Thank you for what you said. It is an important thing.
MR : Can I elaborate further; just for a minute? To prove that our White community, especially those who are here, are not genuine about reconciliation; let me make a practical example.
During tea-time, they were just running forward. I don't know maybe to them they do not want to queue with Blacks or so they just want to get rid quickly.
It's unacceptable really. We feel strongly about that. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. We'll ask Mr Tom Manthata to wrap up and thereafter we'll ask Bishop Nkosi to close with a prayer.
MR MANTHATA: I thank you, Rev Khumalo, the Chair, and I thank the house. As it has been indicated right from the beginning, our work is not an easy task. This stems largely from what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is supposed to be, which is a completely new dimension or a new focus.
If we have to put it very clearly, internationally. The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission seeks to restore people's dignities. It does not want to punish. It does not want to revenge. It does not want to force anybody to do that which is not in his or her abilities to do.
But it recognises the paramount issues of this country being the divisions and the hatreds that have occurred over our history of shame. So it's for this reason that when all divergent opinions come here, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is there to listen to them, sympathetically, to accept them and even be able to say what is it that it is going to present to the Government; for the Government to build on that for unity and reconciliation.
So you will appreciate that what came out very strongly right from the early morning here is; to inform the community here about the policies of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, regarding reparation and rehabilitation.
We hope that will be noted. Flowing from that, this workshop was meant to get opinions and proposals from the house regarding the reparation processes that they think would be ideal for themselves, even at community level.
Still stressing the point of communities may not be the same, the country through. So we don't at long last want to say there is a blanket proposition or there is a blanket plan for all the communities. We will still want to have the communities respected, because this is the main hallmark of respect, protection and promotion of human rights.
Out of this it became clear that to do this broadly, people ought to - we need to have as many statements as possible. It came out very clearly in this meeting that there are people who still have burning concerns, but have not made statements. That appeal goes to them once more: could you please make your statements whilst there is time.
Of particular reference here are the ex-councillors who feel that they have not been accepted in the communities. They are not admitted in the communities first and they want to know what can they do? Which is not just a blanket question. It is a question premised on what they have suffered as individuals.
What came out next, very paramount here is; this house seem to say the way forward is reconciliation and along that line it became very clear that the churches say we have a role to play.
But we haven't had, subject to correction, we haven't had any other organisation represented in this house, saying that we want to work together with the churches along this line. Except, of course, the youths.
The youth came out as a distinct organisation, representative of its constituency. So that's why you remember Mr Chairman read here about our expectation of people coming from the traditional rulers, expectation of the business sector, because we want to hear from these communities which are part and parcel of this broader community, how do they see themselves going to inter-relate to form or to embark upon processes of reconciliation?
The youth perhaps by virtue of being fully and that powerfully represented, came out very strongly in this that they need reparation and rehabilitation processes that can focus on them. By virtue of the role they played in the anti-apartheid struggle in this country. Here we are not talking only about the Black youths. We know what was happening even amongst the White youths, who were involved in anti-conscription campaigns.
When we were conducting youth hearings in Johannesburg, we had to get the youth who were forced into the Army to come and declare of the gross violations of human rights on them when they could no longer be able to make individual decisions.
So in that aspect, it becomes very clear that that finally - okay that may be just a guess - that when the country finally realised that the youth is becoming increasingly opposed to apartheid, perhaps this could have been another factor that made our parents right across the colour, right across political spectrum to say: is apartheid viable for the future of this country? Therefore, let us reconsider and renegotiate and come out with the Government of National Unity.
What became very clear too from the racial groups, that is people expressing their observations from various racial groups, is that there is the need to build bridges. There is the need to have organisations or inter-relations right across communities. Whether White mothers and Black mothers cannot begin to come together?
I remember when we were in Sharpeville, there was that challenge where the challenge was, it seems the two groups of mothers do not know what is obtained in their communities. One community had to invite another, where they would be taken a tour of the projects that are undertaken by women in each and every community.
Be they literacy, be they what, be they what, that is the only way they can learn to understand and respect one another in terms of their commitment towards defusing all these racial barriers.
Already it has been suggested - of course what became very clear too is that all these communities take off from their cultural base. If other groups saw the only way of coming together or the only way of talking the truth to others, is through the churches or is through religion. This is how they see it. But other communities, which suffered physically and morally, if they see it as something material that has to be done to them, this is how they see it. But certainly now that there is common acceptance that the two need to be juggled together to come out with something very realistic and very convincing to one another.
For example what the youth was saying here. I think you are just meeting for the first time here, for just this occasion and to expect that someone would have jumped overnight to appreciate you or you to jump overnight, I mean, please let's be very factual.
We are talking of processes of life or processes in life. We are not talking about a thing that can be constructed overnight. So all what we want or what this exercise means to create is; can we have just an idea of what other communities are like and whether we can commit ourselves from now on to having permanent structures that can take off from where we are or from what we say today.
If I have omitted anything, please come out with it. Of course another thing that I have not omitted, but I think we shall be repeating is; people came expecting to know what actually happened to the requests they made to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We have said right from the onset that what you have requested needs to be investigated.
Where you need to know who did what to your child, you need to know about that person, not just a blanket assumption that it could have happened like this and to get to that person, is not that easy.
Let us be very honest. We work under very trying conditions. Records have been destroyed in some cases. By the time the Truth and Reconciliation Commission assumed shape, some of our policemen whether in the Army or what, had a chance to destroy the records.
So to go and work where the records are destroyed, is not that easy. So just be patient and accept that you have made statements to us. You have made requests to us. We are investigating those requests and as we have sent you letters acknowledging receipts of your statement, so we shall respond to your request.
Thank you. Back to you, Mr Chairperson.
PROF MEIRING: Just before we close, may I, on behalf of the Truth Commission thank our very able Chairperson who guided us through today's meeting. We really appreciate it very much. He will thank all of you for coming, but it's my privilege to say thank you to him.
I want to say to my young friend over there, go and get them, the young Whites; maybe they are hesitant. Maybe they don't know where they fit in. Your challenge is; "Gaan vang hulle, gaan vang hulle!" Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: We thank you very much. Could you please leave your earphones on your way out, because they are of no use outside this room. Even if you may try to use it at home, it won't function. It only functions in this room.
We had requested Bishop Nkosi to close with a prayer, but I would like to apologise to Bishop Nkosi. It is apparent that we have have been visited by Father Joseph from the Roman Catholic Church. He's from Piet Retief. We appreciate his presence.
There are also other members of the community of Piet Retief who have just come to grace the occasion. We appreciate their presence as well. They've come together with Rev Father Joseph and we request Father Joseph to come forward and give us a closing prayer.
He's from Uganda. He's Ugandian by birth, but he's here with us in South Africa. We welcome him in South Africa and as well as in the church.
FATHER JOSEPH: You may remain seated as we are. There are surprises in life. I couldn't imagine to be here with you to close this occasion. I accept in faith the honour you have given me. Thanks a lot.
Just maybe, before I say a closing prayer; two things to say. When I received a passport, it said to all countries except to South Africa. Where they have said except, is where I am.
Being here I have learnt really a very great thing which remains a challenge, not only for me, but I think also for my country, Uganda. People who are coming together; I like the word process. Since we have started, may the good Lord who have started this good work in you, bring it to fulfilment.
Another thing which I would like to comment; all this is prayer, spontaneous prayer; that let us give God His rightful place in the process of reconciliation and do not forget also our responsibility.
Some people say, whatever is received, is received according to the natural and the condition of the receiving part. If we want to receive reconciliation, let us dispose our natural condition to receive it.
If we want to offer reconciliation, may we also offer it in truth.