TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION
OUDTSHOORN POST-HEARING COMMUNITY PROGRAMME
Prof Meiring opened the proceedings with prayer.
DR RAMASHALA: Before we begin I would like to introduce my colleagues on the panel.
My name is Mapula Ramashala, Commissioner and Committee Member for the Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee, Western Cape.
Ms M Mkize, Chairperson of the Committee and Commissioner for the Reparation and Rehabilitation Committee;
Ms Mary Burton, Commissioner, Member of the Human Rights Violations Committee;
Prof S Magwasa, Committee Member of the Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee, Kwazulu Natal;
Ms Glenda Wilscott, Commissioner and Member of the Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee, Western Cape;
Prof Piet Meiring, Member of the Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee, Gauteng.
I would like to recognise the Mayor, if he is in the audience and really thank you Mr Mayor, really thank him and Council and the other members of the Oudtshoorn Steering Committee for helping organise the past three days.
If you have not had the opportunity to visit the Museum please find the time. It is a wonderful documentation of the history of Oudtshoorn during the
conflict. It is documentation and history about which we
should be proud and it is very important that our children be exposed to that history.
That history was put together by members of the community of Oudtshoorn. It is by no means complete. There will be additions to that and additions to that, representing all sectors of the Oudtshoorn community who were involved during the struggle.
Last night we had a wonderful blessing service and for that too we are grateful.
What I will do, in just a few minutes, is to give a background on our programme today. These are not hearings in the traditional HRV context. They are a follow up of the HRV hearings and focus on, not only the mobilisation of the community toward the healing process, but to listening and getting input from the community about the reparations process which will be described by the Chairperson a little later.
The Oudtshoorn community was probably one of the most devastated in the country during the conflict and I just want to go over some highlights of what happened in this community. These are highlights to give us context and to give us a good understanding so that we may appreciate what we need to do from now on.
Between 1960 and 1971, this period was characterised by segregation and influx control, particularly through the Group Areas Act. These apartheid laws led to the removal of thousands of Coloureds and Africans from town. The influx control measures further restricted African influx to the area and targeted, in quotation marks,
"illegal Africans for deportation to the homelands".
The Groups Areas Act was applied to Oudtshoorn on the 21 February, 1961. This enabled the Town Council to embark on a protected process of removals, particularly from the north end. The notion of slum clearance was also used. At least 400 properties were identified as slums. The Town Council began building new houses in Bridgeton to accommodate some of those removed.
By December 1961, 325 families had been moved to Bridgeton. The process of demolitions, slum clearance and removals continued until 1969, when an area known at Suikerbult was finally cleared by the Divisional Council.
A final burst to resistance to removals occurred in Deyselsdorp, a small community several kilometres outside of Oudtshoorn, which experienced violent conflict during removals in 1971.
The majority of Africans in the Oudtshoorn area lived in a shanty town, called Klippies Eiland. Those living in town were forced to move to his camp. Klippies Eiland consisted entirely of corrugated iron and wood shacks in which over 300 families lived.
On April 7, 1966 a new township of Bonguletu was proclaimed, permitting the destruction of Klippies Eiland and the removal of Africans to the new area. Bonguletu homes were built by the residents themselves with their own materials and some donated by the Municipality.
As Oudtshoorn fell within the Coloured preference policy area Africans faced, particularly, severe forms of control of their activities and their access to
Oudtshoorn. The Pass Laws were strictly policed by zealous officials. There was a compulsory registration at the Labour Bureau, trading rights were denied because and I quote: "Natives can be more easily served by European businesses in town".
In 1973 the Karoo Bantu Administration Board took over control of Bonguletu from the Oudtshoorn Municipality.
This was soon followed by a series of rent increases, some of them a 100% increase for Bonguletu residents, as well as monthly levies for children who lived with their parents and for lodgers. Even the Oudtshoorn Municipality criticised the Karoo Bantu Administration Council, stating that, and I quote: "It could not find any justification for the increase in the fees, taking into consideration that no improvements were made by the Bantu Council."
Political activity arose earnestly in the 1970's. Some of the rising political consciousness backed to Oudtshoorn from different areas of the country, including the Eastern Cape.
Racism was rife in an incredibly way during that period. For example racial segregation meant that Bridgeton residents had to obtain permits to visit relatives and family members who lived in Bonguletu.
Oudtshoorn also achieved not a variety in the national press in the late 1970's and early 1980's when numerous racial incidents appeared to mark Oudtshoorn as the most conservative Cape Town area. This pedigree of
racial incidents included:
1. Coloured pupils were refused to use an empty school in Oudtshoorn, because it was in a white section of town;
2. The Town Council refused to grant a permit to coloured cricketer, Godfrey Malgas, to play at a Municipal Sports Ground;
3. Pianist, John Theodore, a Coloured from Oudtshoorn could not play before his own coloured friends in the town's 'white only' theatre, because the Municipality would only give permission for the parents to attend;
4. A church minister barred coloured mourners from the funeral service of their white farmer boss. A church minister said the church council had taken a policy decision not to allow coloureds into the church, of all places.
5. The Congo Caves were racially segregated in terms of entrance fees, tours and facilities, and so forth and so forth.
Between 1973 and 1983 there was a growth of community organisations. A lot of activity resulted in the politicisation of the area. Those in leadership positions for example like Reggie Oliphant experience constant police harassment and arrest.
1985 was marked by a political storm. in April 1985 open political conflict broke out. Students at Fisikele School were detained. A school boycott ensued. A total of 155 students were arrested and charged with public violence.
On the 2 of May 1985 the SADF troops moved into Bonguletu with the SAP. Almost ten people were shot in Bonguletu around this time, including ten year old, Sipiwe Nonomba, who lost an eye.
On the 17 of June, while police were removing belongings of Warrant Office Ngoma three children were shot dead at the house. They were Andile Majola, Fisile Hamse and Patrick Madikani. Several other youths were seriously injured, including Golile Loak.
These deaths set in motion escalating conflicts between residents and anyone seemed to be working with the state. All black police were driven out of the townships, during this period.
Police shootings continued. Saamstaan Newspaper alleged that in 1985 at least 600 people were injured with bird shot.
1986 was marked by more deaths, trials and detention without trial and it saw the ongoing conflicts with police, mass detention and trials, with two significant deaths.
During 1987, 1988 there were new forms of repression through the now infamous kits constables. The first two special kits constables were introduced to Oudtshoorn in October 1986 and during 1987 a further 14 kits constables were sent to Bonguletu to police the area. That created for quite a bit of instability and destabilisation of the area. The actions of the kits constables proved to be the law unto themselves.
Between 1987 and January 1988 at least six activists
were injured by kits constables. A remarkable series of incidents, involving the kits constables was recorded by police themselves in the Bonguletu Police Station in their Incident Book. My colleague, Mary Burton, will talk further about this.
So, in a sense, the Oudtshoorn Area, in particular the black and coloured areas were devastated during this period. One need only look at the residential area differences. One cannot help feeling a sense of sadness that vast amounts of resources were utilised in the name of controlling people, while the development of people and the education of children were in the back burner.
The Commissioners and Committee members visited Bonguletu this morning. We started our trip first with joviality, in a sense of humour when we were in the van. We came back quite sad, devastated and angry. Angry, realising that the resources of this rich country of ours were wasted and not used to develop all portions of the community.
Today is not the traditional HRV hearing. It is the first process toward engaging the community of Oudtshoorn toward healing and eventually toward reconciliation. I am saying healing first, because we have to take care of the pain first, but we also have to take care of the quality of our lives. And I know that throughout the hearings and in the statements made the people in the most disadvantaged of these areas have talked about improving the quality of their lives in their communities.
The procedures today follow the schedule that I will
describe. We will hear first from Ms Mary Burton who will give us feedback about the kinds of gross human rights violations that have been presented by the Truth Commission. Then will follow Ms Mkize who will talk about the process of reparations and rehabilitation, the primary work of our Committee and we will place into context our thinking about a policy toward addressing those people who suffered gross human rights violations.
Immediately after that we will have a series of submissions from the Oudtshoorn community. This will not be a description of what happened, except to the extent that it places context. It is a description of the consequences of the human rights violations in this community. It is a description of the devastation of the violations on youth and education, on women, on the church, on the media and the family. It is a sharing with the Oudtshoorn Community and the Truth Commission about opportunities lost, about psychological devastation, about physical devastation, about everything one goes through when we conceptualise the period between 1960 and 1993. These are submissions from the heart from this community for this community. These submissions were not put together by the Commission, they were put together from input from people from the Oudtshoorn community.
After the submissions, in the afternoon we will break up, and please do not leave, because the afternoon session is very important. We will require the input of you all.
We will break up into small group discussions that will address where we go from here. We will talk about
the various forms of reparation. We will talk about a response to these submissions. We will talk about the inspiration to the people of Oudtshoorn to work on three issues:
Strategies for improving the quality of life of all Oudtshoorn residents; to talk about the process of healing; to talk about eventually the process of joining together and making this community the best that it could ever be. And somewhere down the line talk about reconciliation.
Then after the breaks we will come back and look at the recommendations. And then at the end the town officials will talk about pledging to this community and walking together with this community and making a commitment to this community to improve the quality of life and to work together.
I would be remiss if I did not point out that I am really absolutely heartened today to see members from the White community here. It is very encouraging and to say to you the problems of Oudtshoorn are the problems of Oudtshoorn, both black and white. Without the commitment from everybody in Oudtshoorn, Oudtshoorn can never move forward.
With this I would just like to talk about some housekeeping things. There are headsets on your seats, I believe there is enough for everybody - translations in Afrikaans, Xhosa and English, the first station is Afrikaans, the second station is English, the third station is Xhosa. Please use them, because we do not
want anybody to miss out on whatever is said. The biological rooms are somewhere in the back and during the break we will use them.
May I now ask Ms Mary Burton to give us feedback on what has been presented to the Truth Commission on gross human rights violations from this area.
Thank you very much.
SUBMISSION BY MS MARY BURTON
Thank you, Dr Ramashala.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission began its work in this part of the country and in the Oudtshoorn area specifically in the first half of last year. During May and June our teams of Statement-Takers were working in the area in Oudtshoorn itself, in George, Knysna, Mossel Bay, Plettenberg Bay and other areas in the vicinity.
I believe that more statements are being taken here this week and I think that even today if you or anybody you know wishes to make a statement, we can provide the facilities for doing so.
In order to do that we relied upon the support and the assistance which we could draw from community organisations in the area, the CBO's, the NGO's, the churches and other religious denominations. And we have always known that we cannot work in isolation. We have to be part of the process of the whole community working together to accomplish the aims of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
From the statements that were represented to us we held public hearings in George on the 18 and 19 of June
and we heard 20 deponents from all of those areas, but we set aside one of those days specifically to tell the story of Oudtshoorn.
Since that period and even before the public hearings our team of investigators were following up the stories that were told to us, were checking them for accuracy, were checking for other existing records that might in fact prove that those events really did happen as we were told, checking police records where they were still available, checking hospital records. And some of the cases that we heard have already been completed and corroborated. Others are still in the process of investigation.
Perhaps it would be helpful if we look again at the criteria that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission looks at when it is defining a gross violation of human rights.
We are looking at events that took place between the period of March 1960 and May 1994. That period has later been extended from December 1993 to May 1994. So when we first started taking statements we were excluding anything that had happened within that period. We now can take statements about events that happened up until May 1994.
The categories that we look at are torture, killings, abductions, attempts to do any of those things and severe ill treatment. The stories that were told to us from this area included all of those categories. They included actions carried out by members of the police, including the kits-constables, and they included actions carried out by members of the community, particularly the youth.
I do not think that we have had statements about events that happened in the 1960's. We are able to record some of those from our own recordings of historical events, but much of the focus was in those crunch years of the 1970's and 1980's and I do not think that any of you will be surprised to hear that.
At the public hearings we heard the stories about Nkolo Jafta, about Sojozile Dows, Selwyn Botha, Johnny Carelse, Andile Majola, Patrick Madikane, Fisile Hanse, Sipho Kroma, your Mayor, Michael Lucas, Patrick Maganene and Umphomolela Wena. We also heard from an expert witness, lawyer Kobus Pienaar of the actions of the kits constables. And Dr Ramashala has referred to the fact that the kits-constables were particularly a feature of life in Oudtshoorn in the 1980's.
During 1987, 16 kits-constables were sent to Bonguletu to police the area after their six weeks of training. A temporary police station was put in use in Bonguletu in August 1986, running a 24 hour service.
We heard about a variety of actions of the kits constables and between September 1987 and January 1988 at least six activists were injured by them. And the incident to which Dr Ramashala referred which was recorded in the Bonguletu Police Station Incident Books, refers to the fact that one of them fired at his brother with a shotgun, apparently while drunk; that another reported for duty drunk and was sent home; that another shot himself with a shotgun; that another exploded a grenade by
accident in his hand; that another was hit by a shotgun after a shuffle at a water tap, and altogether there is a picture of disorderly and undisciplined conduct.
The process that happens after we have investigated the cases that we have told about is that they go to a Committee of the Human Rights Violations Committee, and are assessed and regarded as the investigation have been completed. They then are processed through the full National Human Rights Violations Committee and a finding is made as to whether that person is in fact a victim as defined in the National Unity and Reconciliation Act.
And then the Reparations and Rehabilitations Committee is asked to take appropriate action with those cases.
But in addition to gathering the information through the process of taking statements we seek other ways of recording events. And members of our Research Team held discussions with the Community Representatives of Oudtshoorn quite early last year and they have identified the major events and outlined the history of this town - a history to which Dr Ramashala has already referred to in some detail. This is a history that reflects the history of our country as a whole and it is within that context that we understand the individual incidents which have been described to us.
The work that has been done thus far has been this documentation and corroboration of gross violations of human rights. Now, we are into this next phase of our work, done together with you, the people of Oudtshoorn.
And it is a privilege for me to be part of this process.
DR RAMASHALA: The Fisikile High School choir will be giving a selection. To the students I would like to say this is a different South Africa. You have opportunities that were very tentative for most of us. Grab the opportunities. This is your best chance for the best South Africa, and, therefore, on behalf of the choir I would like to dedicate their selection to Andile Majola, Fisile Hanse, Patrick Madikane and Antonie Plaatjies.
THE FISIKILE HIGH SCHOOL CHOIR GAVE THEIR SELECTION.
DR RAMASHALA: Our next speaker is Ms Hlengiwe Mkize, the Chairperson of the Committee on Reparations and Rehabilitation who will help place this day in context and share with you our thinking with respect to policy formulation.
SUBMISSION BY MS HLENGIWE MKIZE : Thank you very much.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleague, Dr Ramashala, who on behalf of the Commission, in consultation with other members of the team, has worked hard in terms of thinking about this day. This is our third meeting with the community of Oudtshoorn and we have been told all along that the community has been cooperative all the way through, and we are grateful for that.
Our Committee which is forecasting on reparations and rehabilitation is tasked with a very difficult exercise. At the same time we have accepted as a Committee and we acknowledge the importance of our terms of reference.
Basically I would like to start off by helping the people to understand the rationale for these post hearings community partnerships, which we try to establish.
For us it is important to visit communities, following human rights violations and begin to engage those communities to help them to use what has happened to them in the past as the window through which to shape the future. When I am saying that, again I know that this is a very difficult task. We have heard this morning about the history of human rights violations and specific practices which constitute to what is referred to as human rights violations. So I am not being simplistic if I am saying as a Committee we re-visit communities within the aim of helping them to look at the past but not to be fixated there. To begin to look at strategies as to how to move forward and begin to claim or re-claim their true identity.
We are guided by an act, which is an act of Parliament, the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act, No 34 of 1995.
As a Committee it is important for me to be up-front in terms of saying, we are not an implementing body. Whatever we think about corrective action which has got to be taken which in terms of the Act is called Reparations, we are expected to assist the President of this country in terms of formulating policy guidelines as to what should be done. And the implementation is not our responsibility. But as a Committee we want to emphasise that we acknowledge the need for corrective action.
What we have been doing since last year we have been meeting with members of the communities from different sectors. As colleagues here have mentioned the groups that have assisted us are members of the Faith Community, NGO's and citizens of different communities. We have met with them with an aim of figuring out what should be done to initiate reparative measures in our society.
The first difficulty which I should acknowledge which we have noted in the process is that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is looking at human rights violations between 1960 and 1994. Those violations that we are talking about - we have acknowledge also that they were not aimed at individuals, although in terms of our statement taking process we often get statements from individuals - but it is evident that as we saw when we took a visit around this community of Oudtshoorn, the effects turned to effect not only individual victims, but communities as well.
So when we talk about reparations the first question is how far do you go given the devastating effects of human rights violations, not only for those individuals but for other members of the community at large. So that is the first question which we appear to struggle with. But at the same time we have got quite a number of measures which have encouraged us in terms of going forward and struggling in terms of formulating the categories of needs in people's lives.
Most people who have made statements before the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions are not bringing stories
per se, although we call it story-telling. They are bringing to us the experiences of people with specific experiences like emotional damage. Quite a number of people who appeared before us have expressed incapacitating experiences of anger, of feelings of anger, about what happened to them or to their loved ones. Some of them appeared before us and presented feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, pain. Some have presented before us with chronic conditions, medical conditions resulting from specific practices of human rights violations.
Torture has been the most common form which was used countrywide and some people are left in the process in a bad mental state of being. We have been in some sections where we got statements but it was said that this person will not be fit to sit before the Commission.
And some people have presented us with pressing needs for educational assistance, especially in instances where the breadwinner was killed and maybe the family has struggled to take young people to a certain point and when they cannot take a child forward they come to us as well to say look, we have made a statement but so and so has passed matric, we cannot take him anywhere.
And other people have made statements and they indicated to us that look, our rights were violated and we look at what was saying and we think it is in line with the provisions of the Act and they say we were left homeless.
And some people are left in a state where maybe a
person is too old even to look for a job, but maybe five sons were eliminated and they desperately said look, for us to survive we need to be assisted with a certain sum of money.
There are other people whose loved ones decided to leave the country as a way of waging the struggle against the oppressive government and they have come to us in terms of saying, I am too old, I cannot visit my child's grave since it is outside the country. I would be happy before I die if his or her remains can be brought back to the country, a person be re-buried and given the dignity they need.
And the requests which have come before us, as my colleague on the left indicated, that once people have made a statement the Human Rights Violations Committee, in consultation with Committees like us within the Commission, has got to make a finding as to whether this person's rights were violated and once we have established that we made recommendations to the President. But even at this point in time as a Committee, even before the Commission begin to finalise the process of making a finding we have begun to come with clear categories as to what should be done in assisting the survivors and the victims of human rights violations.
We are beginning to create a picture or a scenario that there are people who will need emotional assistance. I am sure you will agree with me that that does not say much about exactly the problem and the activities, but basically that, in simple terms it refers to the healing
of the mind and the soul which we all got to begin to think about.
There are people who will need educational assistance of one kind of another and some people will need medical assistance. Some people will need material assistance, but what is important which I would like to share with you and which I hope will be clarified as we have discussions with the group this afternoon, I want to say this also and to ask you not to confuse me as though I am an apologist for the State.
I said, when I started, that as a Committee we acknowledge the victim's rights to reparations. That something should be done. It is their right. But having said that I am grateful for this opportunity in the sense that we realise that there are different levels of implementing reparations. I believe that what we are formulating as policy guidelines will be taken to the President and the Government will begin to implement the recommendations, but of more importance is for the community to begin to look at possible actions which need to be taken at a local level on a small scale, with the aim of beginning to normalise their society.
Corrective action does not refer only to forms of assistance, but it begins to look at all practices which became part of the machinery of dividing people, which people can begin to correct. It calls for people, the community, to begin to look at the languages used, even for people to be referred to as Coloureds, Africans, Whites. People of Oudtshoorn have got to begin to look at the language that divides them and to begin to claim their identity as a community.
So those are the things I do not think you will wait for an outsider, a person employed by the Government, to tell you to begin to do that.
We have churches in the community. As a Commission we have really enjoyed the support we got from the Faith Committee and in our dialogue with members of the Faith Committee we found that the church turns to be a neutral zone. And we are beginning to believe that communities have an opportunity of utilising those resources as a way of beginning to claim reconciliation and unity of some kind.
Last year the Committee went to Rwanda and one thing which really was difficult for us or devastating, was that the church in the process began to take positions and got actively involved in terms of human rights violations.
For us in a way we felt much as there have been concerns that a church could have done more, but we still feel that our church was left in a state where it can still be respected by different constituencies and it can be utilised in initiating quite a number of activities which will in a way promote healing and reconciliation.
I am hoping that this afternoon as people look at different categories of human rights violations that would have been submitted here they will begin to think of those actions which will help us as a Committee on behalf of the Commission to consolidate our thinking about what needs to be done at different levels of interventions
which I have spoken of.
The only category which I did not mention which in most hearings have emerged as an important one is the question of what we call symbolical corrective action. By that we simply refer to requests of the naming of schools after certain people, and sometimes the creating of monuments which will retain the history of the people.
I mean our first day here, when we went to the museum, we really felt that the community of Oudtshoorn has already taken a few steps. We see our role as that of support and facilitating already what you have initiated and I should think that hope has been in a way achieved here, because we thought there are quite a number of corrective measures which communities can be begin to embark upon, so as to avoid the possibility of people who are survivors of human rights violations to begin to see themselves as victims of the new order if nothing is being done about their plight.
DR RAMASHALA: We will now go into the next session which will be the submissions, but before we ask the Media to come forward to present their submission, I would like to set the tone about this whole concept of healing.
The Commission is often known in the general community as a Commission that promotes healing as a concept of let us kiss and hug and move on. I want to say the Commission stands for healing on a broader perspective.
At a personal level we stand for an environment that
guarantees that all children grow up in circumstances that assure health, education and other opportunities.
An environment that provides circumstances that assure the nurturing of families and community members. An environment that promotes development in the community, including schools, health facilities, recreational facilities, running water, sanitation, employment opportunities and all those things that we all wish for.
An environment where our institutions are held accountable.
An environment that is devoid of a judiciary system that goes with a political claw.
An environment that through the legislative process guarantees all kinds of freedoms for its people.
An environment with religious institutions that are held accountable and do not go with the flow of political environment.
An environment with an education system that nurtures and ensures opportunities for all children.
An environment where the media serves as a watchdog, holds accountable not only the legislative, judiciary and other processes, but holds itself accountable also.
A nation that put forth as a primary concern the rights of its people, opportunities for capacity development to ensure a successful South Africa that has a comparative standing within the international community.
With that we invite Mr Piedt from the media to do the first submission.
Mr Piedt, the procedure is that you will do your submission and then after you have done your submission I will ask the panellists if they have any questions of clarification.
Thank you and welcome.
SUBMISSION BY MR DAVID PIEDT:
My name is David Piedt. I am a member of the Oudtshoorn Steering Committee and I am submitting the report on the media.
Like the rest of society the media in Oudtshoorn was divided along racial lines for several decades. And in line of patterns of control in the country the media was overwhelmingly owned and controlled by the white establishment, both English and Afrikaans.
While the white state controlled the electronic media using television and radio to advocate and perpetuate its policies and value system the print media was under the control of groups like Nasionale Pers, Perskor, The Argus and SAAN. Papers produced by these groups such as Die Burger, Rapport, Cape Times and Argus have been read by people of Oudtshoorn for a long time.
The Afrikaans newspapers have a strong readership, since Afrikaans is the dominant language in the town. With the smaller group, mainly professionals, community activists and business people reading English newspapers as well.
The free-flow of ideas was just a pipe dream, because of minority control and ownership of the media combined with the application of stringent media laws. In
addition, state repression which gave rise to an increasing atmosphere of fear, prevented people from openly speaking their minds.
The banning of The World and Drum in 1977, starkly brought home to people that dissenting voices will not be tolerated. As the newspaper, Saamstaan, learned it was very difficult at times and outright dangerous for members of the disenfranchised communities to start their own newspaper.
Saamstaan, for example, would not be touched by an Oudtshoorn printer and had to travel to Cape Town for 450 kilometres each month to be printed. Residents interviewed in the first edition of Saamstaan in 1984 around housing issues were visited by the local security police in a clear act of intimidation.
In 1985 an attempt was made to burn down the newspaper offices and its staff and office bearers were detained and later restricted. One edition of the newspaper with the print order of 8 000 copies disappeared without trace after it was sent by courier to Oudtshoorn from Cape Town in the eighties.
The refusal of a local type setter to type set anything other than sport stories for Saamstaan is perhaps one of the starkest cases, indicating the level of fear in the community.
Circumstances such as these meant there was no media diversity. A new media project simply could not establish and consolidate itself.
The Oudtshoorn Courant has been in existence for more than 100 years, coming out weekly. It seems that the newspaper tended to steer away from politics in previous decades. This often meant in practice that through omission, it failed to highlight sensitive issues around police violence and general discrimination. For example the paper introduced a page in the sixties for news from the coloured community, an initiative that lasted till
late in the seventies.
Saamstaan on the other hand blazed into the political arena with strongly anti-government headlines, such as "Die Regering lieg, moenie stem nie" (The Government is lying, do not vote).
A paper like this dedicated to a moral cause could in retrospect have ordered critical comment on the policies and actions of oppositional forces, including Civics, Trade Unions, political organisations, etc.
The intense conflict that prevailed at the time, perhaps they made this difficult as the battle lines were clearly drawn.
In Oudtshoorn media consolidated a division and suspicion caused by apartheid between different communities. The media made no attempt to challenge the notion of separate development and vigorously promoted the idea of national unity.
Even a paper like Saamstaan, though its long term aim goes with the achievement of national democracy was obviously found threatening by the white people of the town, thus its message was not heard outside the disenfranchised community.
Though Saamstaan and the Oudtshoorn Courant operated in the same town there never was contact between the two in the eighties. However, there appeared never to be any antagonism between the two papers. They simply operated in isolation from each other.
It is not relevant to talk about the long list of incidents of repression against Saamstaan. This is not the purpose of this workshop. We are essentially here to look how the media impacted on the situation in this town. In summary, one could say that the media in Oudtshoorn created and/or consolidated division and mistrust among the people of the town. It did not lend itself to the free flow of information and ideas, was owned and controlled by a small minority, reflecting its sectarian interests, were not critical of the organisations which they saw as representing the aspirations.
In the current phase of democratisation it is important that a transformation of the electronic media is intensified, so that it becomes truly national in character and offers services of the highest professional standards.
Efforts must be strengthened to bring journalists from the formally disadvantaged communities into the main stream of South African media.
At a local level there is need for the diversification of the media. There is room for more newspapers covering local issues. In this regard the government has a role to play to ensure that the formerly
disadvantaged communities can attain the necessary skills and exercise both ownership and control of some of the media.
These broad ideas need to be fleshed out more in the media discussion group later in the workshop.
I want to thank the Truth Commission for this opportunity to speak about one aspect of our past. Certainly there is no way we can build a shared future if we do not fully understand our past.
Thank you very much.
May I ask my colleagues if they have any questions?
PANELLIST: Mr Piedt that was a very interesting submission which you made. Thank you very much. I am interested in Saamstaan. Would you like to tell us, does the newspaper still exist? Who is the editor? How is it published, how is it distributed, is it sold? Could you just tell us more about it.
MR PIEDT: During 1980 Rashied Shiria, Dr Allan Boesak, Sarah Carolus and them came to Oudtshoorn. They came to talk to us about the possibility of alternative media.
We got together a few men and ladies and we started Saamstaan with foreign funds. People funded us from the Netherlands. Fast and Aksie was the name of the company. And because we did not understand the skills around this type of action too well Rashied Monsoer Jaffer, he is also a member of the TRC came to Oudtshoorn to come and teach us those skills. And the Chairperson of Saamstaan was Reggie Oliphant and I was the Deputy Chairperson. And there were names such as Joe Slazen, who was on the
Executive Committee and Derrick Jackson, Steve Bolelo Grootboom, Gorrat Ingagi, were the people more-or-less who were on the Executive Committee.
Saamstaan could not compete with the commercial press in South Africa because we did not have that type of infrastructure to talk for example about the Stock Exchange, international politics and so forth. ..(tape ends)
..... on the needs of the people, the basic needs of the people and we thought that was a fundamental idea in mobilising people.
The other important point was that we did not sell the newspaper. Because we had a target group - there was a target group which had to read the newspaper who was not in a position to buy the newspaper and for that we were very grateful to the international donors who made this donation possible for us and last year Saamstaan gave up as a result of the fact that the donors withdrew funding and as people got so used to not buying the newspaper it was too difficult to sell the newspaper firstly. Secondly, people who had businesses to whom we went for advertisements were whites who had businesses and they were not prepared to put advertisements in Saamstaan.
And they thought that it was best not to advertise and one of the ways in which to make a newspaper sell sufficiently is by advertising and our small business corperation did not have the financial capacity.
So it was a heart-breaking day when we had to close the doors of Saamstaan. Saamstaan was in the forefront at the time of the Civic Associations in Oudtshoorn.
Saamstaan played a leading role to mobilise communities when we had protest marches and to mobilise people arond issues such as these.
PANELLIST: I am inspired by some of the ideas you have in your written submission about ways of looking into the future and dealing with some of the community issues in the future.
Without preempting about what is going to happen this afternoon could you just perhaps flesh out some of the ideas for now about what are your ideas about how in a sense a community initiative like a newspaper could in fact promote issues around healing, moving forward into the future, perhaps reconciliation, and so on.
MR PIEDT: We think that it is absolutely important that we use the media in order to help us with the transformation of the healing process.
My personal opinion as I am look critically to newspapers is that I do not think that the newspapers are conveying that message to our people. And because of the fact that I earlier mentioned that we are not in a executive position as regard to newspapers, that makes it so difficult for us to get our foot in the door.
And that is why I have also made mention about the fact that it will be very much appropriate that we can intervene in getting the Government involved so that we can get that sort of financial contribution in order to take the initiative like we are doing here today, in order to get that message across.
We must also realise that commercial newspapers in South Africa have got other interests too. And part of this is that we want to do what we intend to do. And the reason for that is that they have got other interests too and that they are operating directly for a target group of people. And that is the reason that I have got that sort of uneasy feeling that we will have to look at ways and means from the perspective of the disadvantaged community to take this initiative in order to reach out to other people and say exactly how we feel about this whole operation.
It takes two to tango. It is important, like somebody else from the panel indicated that there is no way that we can have reconciliation and reparation, unless everybody is involved in that operation.
We must also believe that because of the division in South Africa it was people operating from different perspectives and they have different sort of positions that they have taken. Not because they wanted to but because of the historical tendencies that they have gone through.
So it is important that we use newspapers as that link in getting people together.
PANELLIST: Perhaps one more question perhaps to reflect for those other people in the audience as well, but perhaps to elicit your comment about this particular notion that it seems as though the communities out there seem to feel that the burden of reconciliation rests on that of the victim. Often people seem to be saying that
the reconciliation initiatives often have to be taken by victims.
How do you think the media can play a role in helping to encourage that perception to be changed in some way?
MR PIEDT: I think that the media is in the forefront in taking that initiative in order to transform that perception, so that people even who are supposed not to be victims, but - and this is a very debatable issue - my assumption is that white people were also victims and I had a serious discussion last night about the fact that white people were not victims. So a victim does not necessarily mean that you were on the receiving end of being a victim, but people can psychologically, or in their minds, be a victim, because of the fact that we were driven by an ideology.
So it is important that there must be a 50/50 initiative from both sides to make it a genuine reconciliation and reparation. But if it is coming from one side then it means also that people feel, that I have never been a victim and as far as I am concerned, the status quo was something that I would like to have seen, in this country, for an indefinite period. So that it is important that we interact and engage with people all the time, but I do not think it is fair that it will only come from one side.
PANELLIST: Thank you very much.
PANELLIST: Just one small question from me. The jest of your submission is like it is raising concerns about repression.
As we indicated that partly really we are hoping that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is going to help people to move forward.
I just want to get you thinking as to what should be done to make sure, even if we get whatever kind of publication locally, that people do not use that old technique again to intimidate people who would think differently from them.
MR PIEDT: I have got no problem from people who are thinking differently. Now that we are in a democracy it is the right of people to think differently, but I think there is a common understanding that we have a devastating past and I think, as we as saying: "Begryp die verlede om deel te wees van die toekoms" (understand the past to be part of the future).
It is very much appropriate that we try to interact with other people to a very large extent that they can understand the past because for some people there was nothing wrong with the past.
So it is important that we, through the media, bring this message across because even a lie, if you tell that on a consistent basis to people for an indefinite period, then people will tend to believe that lie. So we work with the realistic perception that we understand that there is our past for everybody to see and understand, because history is going to become part of that past. And then we interact with other people through the media.
I see this not as something that will be finalised tomorrow, but I see this as a departing point, as a
starting point and as a process. So this process will take us into the new century but we start with the process of reparation and healing.
PANELLIST: Are there particular things, if you had the opportunity, which you think the media ought to take up so as to promote healing and reconciliation locally?
MR PIEDT: Yes, I was part of the family sector and we said in that sector that there is no use if we only talk to coloured and black people about this whole exercise of the impact of apartheid on family life. And we have identified white people, very prominent white people, even people from different political persuasions and we talked to them and what was very amazing and very encouraging is that they have submissions.
And we talked about that and they were quite prepared .... But later in the day you will hear about that, but I am so encouraged by this whole operation in Oudtshoorn and her people, perhaps you know Oudtshoorn, but the politics of this town is something that have taken a very serious step within the past.
So this was the place, the rural town in the Karoo, after the big march in August 1989 in Cape Town, where in September 1989 we mustered about 15 000 people in Oudtshoorn for the first big rural march. So in this town we decided on two things: the slogan "Submit or fight", because this was a very conservative place, extremely conservative and the people in town had to make their choice early in the sixties, are we going to fight or are we going to submit? And the people took the alternative
and that is to fight back.
So we headed for one hell of a confrontation. And after the change in the coming of the new Government and the freedom of the State President and everything, then people started to interact with one another. So what I am trying to say is that that phase of struggle has passed in Oudtshoorn, of confrontation and conflict.
I spent four hours in a meeting yesterday with developers in Oudtshoorn through means - but it went for a confrontation - but through means of interaction and negotiation we could reach some sort of an agreement and consensus.
So what I am trying to say is that this town is now on that way and I am talking for the majority of people and that include white people, that there is a sincerity among the people that we want to rebuild and reconstruct our town on a humanitarian basis, on the basis of human dignity, on the economic basis and just on a social basis.
And I was an activist and if making these statements here this morning then I want to state that we have made a paradigm in this town. And I am very positive and very encouraged about that.
DR RAMASHALA: I have just one question. What would you think would be a much more creative way of using the media to reach out to very depressed communities?
I think what is important here is that we are struggling with a situation where we want to bring everybody on board. Where we want to reach everybody. Because previously one of the impact which the previous
repression has had on people is that of polarisation. The
fact that communities are still polarised. It is well understood. And the fact that some communities must still feel left out is also an important one.
So I think we have been struggling for some time, in terms of how can we reach those people because we are also talking about class. We are talking about language. We are talking about people who have never been engaged in the process politically. We are not talking in terms of ideology, but these concerns are at a different level.
So we are very much interested in getting creative ideas from the media.
DR PIEDT: The first thing that I think is very important is the fact that we are now on the side of delivery on the side of the Government. And instead of putting pressure on the Government to deliver and then at the end of day say that this is a useless Government because they cannot deliver, the media has to understand the dynamics of what is taking place.
The majority of people are in a disadvantaged position at the moment now. So that they can share with the people the patience of our problems, the extent of the problems that we have in our country.
And convey the message to the people who do not have. Not to be patient, but to say that this whole transformation business will take time and we in the forefront, in order to see that the delivery to the people who do not have, will happen as soon as possible. And try to be the catalyst between the anger of the people and the delivery of the Government.
So if we move on to culture and education which are also priorities I think that it is imperative that we start with the basic needs of people. Because if people are employed and if we can get that kind of job creation for people and the newspapers are instrumental in saying, we are on the verge of getting through to investment in South Africa, and people we are very optimistic about that whole exercise and so that, then that creates a positiveness with the people who are in that indicative position.
So it is important for me to think that the media plays that role between these two conflicting groups. Those majority groups of people who are sitting there, waiting after the transformation for the things to be delivered. So the media must have an educating role in telling the people how it works. The dynamics of how a new Government works. And particularly this Government which is almost very poor today.
MS BURTON: I do not want to ask a question. I just want to make a brief comment.
One, is that I note with appreciation that even though you were very close to the process of Saamstaan both in your capacity as an officer there but also in time looking back at it, is that you are able to be critical also of Saamstaan's own partisan position, which I think you are right, is a reflection of the times.
And the other thing is I think it was quite right in your submission that you should not be documenting the
incidents of repression, particularly against Saamstaan, but I just hope that that history has been written, so that it is part of the record.
DR RAMASHALA: The last question, Mr Piedt.
There is a history of Oudtshoorn that is exhibited in the museum, since Monday night. There is also a history of Oudtshoorn that is in a sense displayed in Bonguletu.
And that is the, I would call it devastation, the way people live, without running water, without good sanitation, you name it, it is there.
I am also aware that white people in South Africa in general state that they were not aware of all of these things. Without preempting the discussion this afternoon, what role do you think the media can play in the Oudtshoorn area to share with general Oudtshoorn that there is a plight in Bonguletu, a very serious plight? A plight that is of concern of all peoples of Oudtshoorn and not to sort of showcase Bonguletu as a sense of voyeurism, but that we should be concerned about the quality of life, not just in Bonguletu but in general South African communities, like Bonguletu.
DR PIEDT: You know, it is important, many things happened in a very positive way - too in Oudtshoorn, particularly after the change which we had. And I think it is there because yesterday, as I have indicated earlier, we took the media with us to that interaction with local Government, so that we have that positive result which came out of the discussion and that can be reported in the newspaper as well.
So if we do not apply the media in order to further the aims and objectives of the people I think it is also part of our whole project, in order to coordinate that process so that at the end of the day it has been reported.
But we must use the media so that other communities can see too to what extent people have applied this strategy and applied it very successfully.
So, my understanding of the media, and they say that the pen is mightier than the sword, is that I think that the media has got a fundamental role to play. I think the most important aspect of the transformation, if we want to make it successful, is that we have to apply the media in all its capacity, because the media, and even more than that, the electronic media. So that people can see that the things that seemed not to be possible, these things are possible, particularly in the one town in Oudtshoorn, as you have indicated, Oudtshoorn/Bonguletu has got the same problem as George/Tembalethu.
And even if initiative is taken here, and the strategies being applied and we get a positive result and we flash that with the electronic media then people with the same problems can see exactly what has happened here.
So you can see we can apply the media very positively in the interest of the people and the reconstruction of our community.
DR RAMASHALA: Thank you very much Mr Piedt. Any other questions?
I observe with interest the integration of your
testimony, particularly in the discussion about looking at the media as part of our institution. A part of the institution that also has a significant part to play in the development of South Africa.
This afternoon in the workshop on the media we will engage even the people of the media who are here, engage them in strategies, creative strategies on how the media can be used not only as an information dissemination tool, but also as an education tool.
I thank you very much for your submission and hope to expand on that this afternoon.
DR PIEDT: Thank you very much.
DR RAMASHALA: It is five minutes to eleven. We had planned to take a break at fifteen minutes to eleven. Could we take a break, stretch a little bit and come back at quarter past, twenty past eleven?
MS H MKIZE:
I would like to invite the three ministers of religion to come forward, or I understand now there are four. It is Pastor Mandean, Reverend G de Klerk, Pastor N Dyantgi and .....
In welcoming you I would introduce new members of the panel: Rev Dr Ghojo, who is a Commissioner within the Reparations Committee; Rev Sekundu, he is also a Committee member of the Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee.
In welcoming you I would like you to talk in your presentation briefly about the role of the church during the years 1960 to 1994, but also of importance we would like you to look at the things or issues that the people of Oudtshoorn are struggling with today and especially those in which you think the church has a role to play.
SUBMISSION BY PASTOR MANDEAN (Vice Chairman of the Southern Cape Council of Churches, representing a submission - the Church, the impact of human rights violation of the work of the church in Southern Cape).
I greet you in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ. It is a privilege for me to represent the South African Council of Churches and to give a submission on the impact of the human rights violations on the work of the church in the Southern Cape.
I am going to deviate a little bit from the paper you might have in your possession, because I will try to be as concise as possible, so I am deviating a little to save time.
I did mention in that paper that the church is very
actively involved. And because of the apartheid laws there was a tremendous suffering of the church and her people. It made the church to become very engaged and very involved.
For the church it was ironic to accept that South Africa, claiming to be a Christian country, with Christian values and freedom of religion, but have demon driven laws like the Group Areas Act, the Separate Amenities Act and the Pass Laws Act, which the regime claimed to be biblical and Christian.
In order to address the injustices the church decided to join the forces of anti-Government campaigns. They first formed ministers' fraternals and in 1986 the South African Council of Churches was launched in Mossel Bay for the first time as a church resource centre, catering ecumenically for all the churches in the Southern Cape.
Right from its launching the South African Council of Churches, Southern Cape particularly, became the target of the Security Police. The church became used to the scenes of heavily armed police forces outside its gatherings.
We were hard hit when the whole Executive Committee of the Southern Cape Council of Churches was detained before June 16, 1986. The names: James Buys (Chairman), Hendrik van Wyk (vice Chairman), Rev Brits (Treasurer), the late Rev Lesley Krots, Pastor Bansi, the organising Secretary and the Rev De Klerk. They were all detained.
In spite of this the church moved on and was involved in the forced removal story that you heard about, that took place in 1989 at the Waai Camp. There the church was prepared to show solidarity with the poor and oppressed and services were held there to prove their solidarity, where the Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu was present, Dr Boezak, Frank Chikane and Nissan.
I want to direct our hearts and our minds to a few instances that happened where the church was really church.
The staff of the South African Council of Churches was detained at various road blocks and the church had to proof to be church in spite of what she endured.
Obscene telephone calls were made to the office, anonymous callers of course. The mail was intercepted, opened and altered. The locks of office doors were glued. It could not be opened in the mornings due to vandalism that must have taken place during the night. And the copies of the Saamstaan paper which Mr Piedt mentioned in his submission, we formerly were just very good colleagues, the South African Council of Churches and the Saamstaan newspaper office, because we were located very near each other, and we were sort of partners in the struggle in propagating news to the outside world, as far as the church is concerned - now copies of Saamstaan the community newspaper were confiscated by the Security Police from our offices.
All our activities as church were monitored by Security Police. They intimidating the church and labelled it as "communist".
Now there is a couple of things I would like to highlight in connection with the role of the church and that is that the role we played was to bring about peace and reconciliation in Oudtshoorn. I was successful in being very steadfast, in questioning the moral foundation of apartheid. And was trying to heal the scars of apartheid, played a major role in the resolution of political disputes and was trying to be the conscience of Oudtshoorn. And it gave complete combat to the onslaught, spiritual devices and mechanisms of apartheid.
The impact of the church was that it was questioning Christianity if apartheid rule was so-called Christian based. And the church discussed that, because it can never be that apartheid was Christian based and if we look at what apartheid has brought about the Church came into questioning it as far as that is concerned.
The input the Church gave to the community and to the other church spheres at hand was that the church managed to foster ecumenism. The church also unified the overall community when they looked away from their political persuasions, culture, creed and religion to form a united force.
There is a couple of things that we would like to put to the Truth Commission this morning in the true spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness and for the sake of nation building.
We would like, however, the TRC to uncover the following for us. This is still a secret. Who was responsible for ordering the shooting of teargas into the Bonguletu Church? Two, who was responsible for intercepting and altering our mail? Three, who made the anonymous telephone calls to our office and Executive members? Four, who was responsible for the threats? Five, who was responsible for gluing the locks of our office? Six, we would like the TRC to look into this very seriously, to try and make available the files kept by the Security Police on everyone involved in the Ecumenical movement in Southern Cape.
SUBMISSION BY REV G DE KLERK
Commissioners I thank you for this opportunity to say something of such importance to the people at such an August gathering.
I would like to make mention of the fact that I had to bring a few additions to the original submissions, I think you have in your hands.
I am really speaking as a former Chairperson of the Ministers' Fraternal since 1976 up to 1994. I have prepared my submission in Afrikaans if you do not mind and I would like to start by giving a short introduction.
The boiling pot resistance against the cruel and unjust practices of the apartheid Government reached a boiling point, a saturation point in 1976 in Oudtshoorn.
And our community was drastically affected by that.
Must I repeat that? The boiling pot of resistance against the cruel injustices of the apartheid regime reached it height in 1976 in Oudtshoorn. And changed our community very drastically. Confrontation was inevitable. Suffering and persecution was part and parcel of the greater number of the nation.
Up until that point some, in quotation marks, "some churches and I am sorry to have to confess this amidst great persecution and harassment persisted in carrying out the word of God". In my heart I am convinced, firmly convinced that this commitment to the cause of justice encouraged and motivated the people involved in the struggle.
There was a clear feeling of cohesion across several borders to fight apartheid tooth and nail and to destroy it. Allow me to say, that unfortunately this movement across various borders was limited to the so-called black and brown communities.
Point two, the church and marches, all bona fide meetings and gatherings were prohibited by the regime. The regime became very conscious of the impact that the church could have in these resistance campaigns and used all kinds of dirty tactics to try and break us.
Our services were infiltrated by the old special branch, SB, and their paid agents and informers - impimpies.
It needs to be mentioned that where decisions were made to have public marches the church took the lead here. The protest action had to be taken out of halls and homes into the streets. Unfortunately, the regime by its campaign of disinformation and smear tactics of the churches, they played off one church against the other and in so doing, sowed distrust and suspicion.
Nevertheless, the struggle still continued.
Three, detention without trial - police and ministers. Obviously some of our ministers were regarded by the regime as very dangerous communists, who had very dark motives to topple the regime of the time. The police as agents of the state, and here I refer specifically to the Special Branch, employed special agents, even in the church councils. Church Council members often collected their salaries on the third floor of a big white building in Baron van Rheede Street and they had to act as spies, to spy on the Minister and then report and still meet today on a Wednesday (they did this on a Wednesday). Families who were intimidated - my son, and I am sorry to be personal here for a moment, was twice in the early hours of the morning taken away from our home, without any explanation and brought back home late in the afternoon.
My brother mentioned this, our letters were intercepted at the Post Office, read through and put back. Telephones were bugged and pamphlets in which we were described as ugly people were spread by the media. In 1986 with the announcement of the State of Emergency four of our Ministers were detained without trial.
Their periods of detention ranged from 40 to 47 days. I was detained for 47 days.
No reasons were given for our detention.
In those times you were caught simply because the Special Branch did not like you. Simply, for looking at a member of the Special Branch you could be arrested.
In prison we were treated like criminals. We regularly had to undress so that we could be searched. And in prison there were some people who did not even know about the struggle and it seemed clear that the gap between the church and state could not be bridged. The church had to occupy itself with spreading the word of God and leave politics.
Unfortunately, some of the churches had ties with the then Dutch Reformed Church which reported to the regime, but many of the Dutch Reformed members and their Ministers nevertheless supported the cause. It also needs to be mentioned that the struggle against apartheid in Oudtshoorn was not only waged by black and brown people.
Detention of youths, myself and other Ministers had the privilege of being in contact with youth leaders. In 1979 the regime was confronted by a different type of youth, a liberated person, a new person with a different mindset. The regime could not arrest all the protesting people and focused themselves on eliminating the leaders.
They could never destroy the leaders, on the contrary, where a leader was arrested there was a new leader to take his place.
The youth often had to go underground and children had to sleep at different houses, each and every night, because Botha's dogs, this was what the Police and Defence Force were referred to, swooped on these children in the early hours of the morning.
Parents and children had a nightmare existence because children were abducted and tortured without their parents' knowledge. Children were tortured, not even to mention the picking up of these children.
They were picked up, smacked, kicked and then they were told you will not tell your parents, otherwise something terrible will happen to you, something even worse. Boys and girls had to be smuggled out of town at night to escape the Security Police.
Many people, especially senior citizens became ill at that time and some of them died as a result of the pain and suffering metered out by these monsters.
Many of the youths suffered discrimination because they were activists and they are still suffering the consequences of those experiences.
The Ministers had many perceptions of the situation. The regime succeeded to some extent in also playing off one Minister against another, by means of their mass propaganda campaign.
I believe that the struggle against apartheid was in itself a unifying force, because we were focused.
Our strategies, unfortunately, did not always correspond and this also brought about some tension amongst us.
Ladies and gentlemen, my perception now is that we have something different now, which for reasons unknown to me does not unify us to the same extent as in the past.
And it seems to me as if we have arrived and we are not quite sure of the way forward,
And then, a postscript, the submission does not represent everything that has been said, but it is my humble way to try from my perspective to throw light on some events which are obviously too extensive for words.
SUBMISSION BY PASTOR DYANTGI: Chairperson and the Commission I stay in Bonguletu. I will not take long, because my colleague has already spoken. I will say something similar to what he has said.
Truly, apartheid endangered a lot of churches, especially Ministers. I think the first major damage is that South Africa wanted to separate the word of God and bring forward interpretations that suited them.
As I said, around 1958 apartheid was not so strong. There would be one church for whites, blacks and coloureds - the same church. One worshipped where they wanted to worship, just in terms of language not of colour.
Things got bad around the 1960's. The law started to divide people according to their colours. If you wanted to go and fellowship in town you could not, because of the colour of your skin.
Where it got even worse is when these laws became quite stringent. Christians started mistrusting each other. A white Christian would not see a black Christian as a Christian, but as a heathen.
To confirm that, a white man would have to go and preach to black people even though we would have our own black minister.
Also to confirm even further, apartheid was so bad in the churches that a black man was not seen to be able to bring forth the word of God properly.
We endured until the youth could not take it any more. That caused situations whereby, in Bonguletu around 1984 the youth started fighting, fighting within schools.
As my colleague already said that apartheid brought division amongst churches and ministers. If you would go to a different church you would get sermons whereby division is brought forward.
As I said, the youth was not able to take it. Unfortunately or fortunately, the youth started fighting the police. What was painful is that the one day three children were killed. The community and parents' hearts started bleeding, because as a leader one had to bury the children or partake somehow in the burial.
Ministers then started meeting. They started to bring forth organisations whereby these children could be buried. During these funerals you would find that if you would be conducting a funeral service, there would be people with guns surrounding us. These people with weapons and guns would be listening to what you were preaching and they would limit the number of people attending.
As a result ministers started uniting, because even in the procession to the graveyard the ministers would have to be walking in front of the whole group, because if we were not there, the police would always disintegrate the groups.
If children of God we needed to do something for the community, we would have to join them and lead them because whatever happened to them we would have to take account of. We continued that way.
If you were in church, police would launch teargas unto us at the doors. At the Presbyterian Church in Bonguletu people were injured. Our Bishop is crippled because they were leaping our of windows where teargas canisters were launched. We were sjamboked. Everybody was just beaten up.
As if this was not enough there is nothing more painful than when a person fights you, does not only fight you but your children as well. What would happen is that you would see a Jeep from the police launching teargas all over the township. As you can imagine the township is so clustered - this teargas would be blown all over the township. The police did not care who got hurt.
What I am trying to say is that apartheid really was oppressive.
We thank you for this opportunity.
What we need is reconciliation. However, it is important to hear people confessing, perpetrators confessing. We know that it was the regime that led him to do this. Some of these police, we see them around, they are still alive in our communities.
We thank you that in the present regime there is a difference. One is able to go and fellowship in town if one wants to, even though you are not welcome as such, because you are different.
PIET MEIRING: Thank you very much brothers. I paid attention and listened with much interest to what you had to say, and to me it is very clear that the churches in Oudtshoorn did play a very important role. It seems no church can escape its political evidence, even where it had its light shining or where it withdrew, because it did not want to participate, but it was still political evidence.
I would like to put a few questions to you. Perhaps I should direct them to Reverend De Klerk. Perhaps the other brothers could add to that if they feel that he has not answered it completely.
The first question has to do with the past, the time when the churches, the church leaders, the congregations were in the struggle and where you suffered. Did it sometimes happen that you reached out to the white English and Afrikaans communities, when the need arose? Did it ever happen that you asked them or told them what was happening and did they from time to time showed any solidarity in an attempt to assist you?
My second question has to deal with the future, where our banner says: "Understand the past and deal with future", it has to do with reconciliation. Is there a possibility that the entire church community in Oudtshoorn, including the Afrikaans community, the English speaking white community could hold hands and reconcile?
You mentioned these brothers and sisters. Do you think that they could also be involved in that?
REVEREND DE KLERK: Commissioners, firstly the clergy brothers of the time existed with the knowledge that we could not be torn apart. It existed in connection with the world as it was. We made several attempts to cross the racial borders. I can say to you, fortunately, I was the Chairperson of that group.
I went to the pastors personally and after all those years of struggle one reverend only attended a single meeting, and when he heard us talk about equality and justice he said, that unfortunately he did not come for that, he came for the gospel.
Firstly we struggled. We were not satisfied with the fact that one or two refused. We persisted, but they refused. But one has to understand the historical background. They worked under a congregation that was very harsh.
Oudtshoorn is one of the oldest parts of our country. It is extremely conservative and they were the servants of the system and I would just like to say that I understand that, perhaps more of them should have been more manly, had a bit more back bone. And certainly I do not believe that there is any future, even in your work, if we do not reach out once again. Even now we can reach out, because we have a new system.
And, yes I do believe we will not get anywhere in South Africa if we are going to hide behind the fact that people did not want to cooperate, but what we have to do is try and try again until the Lord comes on the clouds.
Secondly, if you could just repeat the second question?
MR PIET MEIRING: In a certain way you have started responding to it because I wanted to ask what was the possibility of the way forward in trying to get the entire community involved.
PANELLIST: Perhaps I could supplement that answer in response as to what you just said. I am quite glad that Reverend De Klerk has said that.
As you said we did receive many negative responses in our attempts to the members of the broeder kin and the youngest I would like to mention which is applicable to the future is that at senior level there were a few that have joined the Southern Cape Council of Churches, which is an indication that we are on our way to a new Christian South Africa.
I would like to mention in supporting Reverend De Klerk's point that the men are coming in one by one and we have got them at signed level and we are now asking them at local level, when are you joining us.
PANELLIST: Thank you very much. First I want to appreciate the work you have done during these years. We have observed it and we appreciate what was happening around here, especially from the side of the South African Council of Churches.
We are looking at the present and not very much on the past, but just happy that the stories are told, so that they be known by the people.
Some people have said, I want to hear what you say here that these people who never got themselves involved, especially the churches, the ones you have mentioned (maybe for the sake of reconciliation) need to do something which can be seen by the people as a contribution to those communities which were very much affected by apartheid - most of them were the churches of the haves.
That would be a sort of restitution because most of them supported the Government. I am just testing you. How do you feel about that in Oudtshoorn? Because reconciliation must not be cheap reconciliation, I do not believe, even the Gospel does not say that reconciliation must be cheap reconciliation. That is one thing.
And number two, you have mentioned the harm which was done by the system to some of the young people, some of them got out from school. And some of them are going to become criminals. And I do not know what I am going to do as the church, what challenge I accept in the church.
You know when apartheid came, it destroyed the morality of my children which was planted by the early missionaries in our churches. The type of education which was given to us by the regime was that one which did not benefit us. And how are you going to address education as the church, that we produce such people who are going to be good citizens.
You know, Mandela always boasts that he is what he is because he went through these types of schools which had morality in them.
And as the churches how are you going to help those young people who have been very much traumatised? What kind of projects are you going to set within your churches to help this situation?
REV DE KLERK: It is a very broad perspective that you covered just now.
The church has presently embarked on some programmes especially focusing on students who have been hard hit by the apartheid and the after effects of apartheid and we have educational programmes going at the moment.
We are also looking at the justice and social side of such hard hit victims. We have programmes to that effect that we are working on now.
And that I have also said in the very last paragraph here of my first submission, the role of the SACC was a somewhat radical one, but has now changed to that of reconciliation - upliftment, job creation projects and a watch dog over peace processes to ensure that concerted and effective measures contribute to the well-being of the overall community of Oudtshoorn.
So you can see that we are mainly focused at the healing of the total man - body, soul and spirit. And I would take the advice very seriously to our gatherings to note that we are put up now with such after effects of apartheid that can in no ways be excused from tackling programmes now that we are focused on the healing of the total man, especially our student sector of the community.
PANELLIST: Is anybody prepared to answered my other question? I said that these people who were not involved in the struggle, in fact some of them are making statements at the regime, they are criticising the churches of the SACC, they are calling them by names.
I say now, when we are moving forward in this reconciliation programme there is a feeling from some of the sectors, that as part of their contribution can they do something which can be seen by the people, even those who suffered? That now, in this process of reconciliation this is what they can give.
I said that some of these people in the communities who were oppressed by the regime, even you people know very well that in some of these areas we do not even have churches, places of worship as the signs of hope for the ordinary community. And I say that don't you feel that maybe in this reconciliation you could have these people, invite them? It is not to give - not paternalism. It is a mandate from them to give something evident as a contribution, restitution.
PANELLIST: In other areas, you look at the last World War, there are cathedrals like Coventry as symbols of forgiveness. Or what Dr Ngocha may be referring to is, are there possibilities of adopting say, churches moving in an area in which they help, because most of the perpetrators came from that area, to adopt even children, families in a process of transformation.
I think he is asking for outward and visible symbols which will show that they there are sorry and therefore wanting to repair damage. I think that is what he is trying to say.
MR PIET MEIRING: I think one way of addressing this is to have a religious Codesa, a real religious Codesa. Because you can do nothing without contact. There you will have ample opportunity to listen to the other side. You will have time to say your piece. It will be something, I don't want to say like Kempton Park, but it must be on similar lines. It must be open, honest, brutal in its endeavour to be honest and true. That is what I believe.
I must be frank, we still have conservatists here in Oudtshoorn. We are still miles apart. We are really not working together, especially now with the new democracy that we have, with affirmative action - they are around all over the place. It is important, essential, imperative - I would say Christian imperative - that we call a Codesa immediately.
And then on we can plan the detail and the other things.
That is my humble submission.
DR RAMASHALA: Pastor I want to be very direct. Last night there was a service in preparation for today to bless the proceedings today.
There was an obvious absence of white Pastors, obvious absence of the white community. We have very good media coverage today. Clearly the white Pastors are not here today. Since we had this good coverage, would you have each a one minute message to talk to them so that they can hear this on the media tonight.
REV DE KLERK: Last night I expressed my dissatisfaction along the isles of the church where we were last night. Formidable planning has been done beforehand to get the whole church community of Oudtshoorn at that meeting last night. Messages have been conveyed, announcements have been made in churches, I think the Ministers that are present, for the last two weeks we have been working on that.
Last night there was a problem in the first place with the bus - I am not apologising I just want to give you the situation and I think I am not going to be criticising about what you are saying now, it is wonderful. We planned a bus in the first place. It was said that the bus was going to be on the route, especially for the Toekomsrus people and the Bonguletu people who stay quite a few kilometres from central Oudtshoorn or Bridgeton, or whatever you want to call it.
So we mandated somebody, I am not going to mention the name now, one of the Ministers, to seriously find out from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission whether funds would be available to render such a bus service. And then we had to wait for two days just to finalise on that and then it was truly confirmed that there was going to be a bus, that the cost was going to be covered by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The person who we mandated to go to the bus company and make sure that all our people would be there never did his work.
Last night at ten to seven I just felt it necessary, I said I am going to leave the circle of Ministers now in the vestry here in the Dutch Reformed Church, and I am going to find out what is happening to the people, perhaps we can do something at the last minute to get them there.
I drove then to the bus company in the first place, I did not know what company was booked, but God was so good I just went to the right one, in search of the right one. And when I got to the man he said yes, I know about the bus that was booked, but none of the Ministers came back to confirm that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was going to pay for the bus. So I could not put my bus on the road, I did not hear from you ever since.
And I say with dismay on the part of the Ministers it was negligence on their part. Not to check up on that bus.
I went down to Toekomsrus, the furthest end and then went down to Bonguletu and I picked up some of the old people who said, it is too late now Pastor, we would like to join the service but the service must be in such progress now that we are going to miss out on most of the items. Well I said it is okay.
I once again discovered that something is wrong somewhere. Now, I drove back and I came to the service. When I looked at the empty benches and pews in the church last night I said to myself, Oudtshoorn must be a very unthankful community.
They are privileged to have the Truth and Reconciliation Commission back here from George. They are privileged to be seen as the people who were part and parcel of the struggle, but look what is happening and is reflected here tonight.
The words came to me and I want to stress it, if we want to go for reconciliation, people of Oudtshoorn we must go for it or leave it. And I am telling you we are going to hamper this healing process, and I am speaking very firmly to the community of Oudtshoorn, and especially to God's people that are geared for reconciliation and forgiveness.
I said to myself that I would like to have quoted that in my prayer last night, but I did not want to spoil the good spirit that was prevailing in the meeting. I wanted to quote in my prayer but I was stopped by the spirit of God, because there is a time for everything, the Bible says. And it was not the appropriate time for me to burst loose because I felt very unhappy last night.
And you know what I wanted to pray? I was going to pray like Jesus said, haven't I healed ten of you and only one comes back to say thank you, and was in gratitude for what Jesus did. I want to stress this very importantly that Oudtshoorn has got to look up, Oudtshoorn is a privileged place, Oudtshoorn has done a lot to promote justice for the people that had been perpetrated.
But Oudtshoorn has got to watch out. Not to slack down. We have received praise for the things we have done but we want also want to receive praise for the things that have to be done.
Thank you very much.
CHAIRPERSON: Will the remaining two panellists just try to respond to Dr Ramashala's request just to give a one minute message and ....
DR RAMASHALA: the message is to the white pastors. I want to be very direct. You are on television. The message is not to the black communities, the message is to white Pastors. About their absence and their interpretation of reconciliation.
PANELLIST: I just want to say that there is something hidden here. I thank the Commission that it has realised that - truly speaking in the previous meeting that we held we used to have at least four white Pastors - but while we are making our programme, trying to include them as Pastors, it became clear that they do not accept that because they are afraid of the problems that they are going to encounter back home. They tried to say, to tell us that they are not representing their churches but that they are coming as individuals.
We told them that it is not necessary for the people to represent their churches, but you are here as leaders of the community. They refused. They did not come. I think that there is something else because while we were busy here they are busy with something else and their absence are showing us. I personally phoned some of them but they did not come as you can see.
In other words the request on behalf of the Pastors, on behalf of the Ministers is that the word Christians - the Pastors they must know that even from the other race, there are other Pastors, we are one in front of God. The word of God says, all of us are going to kneel before the Lord. They must not look at us on race, colour or creed. They must know that we are also God's creatures. We are just like them.
We, therefore, request them - one of the Pastors has said the old apartheid defeated the people, but even now they are still in that situation. They do not take us as leaders.
PANELLIST: I would like to say that there are many perceptions in Oudtshoorn as far as the TRC is concerned. Many people do not like you, how you operate and I have some understanding for those Ministers who might probably like to be here, but the moment they get back home they will have it from their members.
That is not a negative thing. I am just trying to be positive by being blunt.
I think what I would like to say is this. I think we must move beyond being a sign of healing. Ministers out there, we are signs of healing. We have been healed and God wants us to move beyond a sign, a sacrament of healing. He wants us to be instruments that can work towards healing. And I would urge my brothers please to contact us and let us come together, get together and make this little baby, this new democracy work.
That is what I would like to urge my brothers. Because this is not the time to say anything else, but to tell our brothers you are our brothers. We invite you to come and join us as we move along the way, trying to bring healing to the community.
PROF MAKWASA: I start by making a comment that having listened to your presentations, to me you came across as role models. People that have been victims. You have been violated yourselves, but you do no longer consider yourself to be victims. You see yourself as survivors.
You have gone through the experience of being harassed, tortured and many other things.
That is the type of experience that you share with other people that are in some very disadvantaged communities. I will quote as an example Bonguletu. That unlike some other people you are talking about something you know and have experienced.
My question is, if you look at Bonguletu people who are living in that type of environment, and you are saying to them let us talk about reconciliation, do you think it will make sense to them? You know their experience. Do you think it will make sense to them talking about reconciliation now?
We all will agree that before you talk about reconciliation you must be talking about forgiveness. Do you think those people are in a position where they can forgive, granted the situation in which they find themselves? And if you are saying, that is very difficult, then I will ask you and say, what can we do to go down to the level in which they are, not to talk about our own forgiveness, because our own forgiveness can come much more easier, than the forgiveness of those people living within those circumstances.
Now it is a challenge to you, that how can we actually move the people living under those circumstances, still experiencing the pain of violation. There is nothing which is affirming them in their experiences and now I am saying, let us forgive.
Just come with creative ways, how would you respond to that?
CHAIRPERSON: Just before you can answer I will request that we must try to be brief. We are going to get other questions when we will be having groups. Thank you.
PANELLIST: This is a very difficult question, but briefly I can say, I am talking about Bonguletu now, a black person has got a talent that will never be taken away from him or her, because a black man is a peaceful person by nature. A black person, even if you do something wrong to him to her, but still they have peace. What I want to emphasise here, the most important thing that I want to emphasise here is to try to educate them, try to show them that a black person is forgiving, even though you have done something wrong. That is the reason why a lot of nations would like to take them for granted, because it is their nature. They are very forgiving.
I am trying to say, it is not difficult, though it is very difficult to touch a person's heart, but the most important thing is a black person is very forgiving. It is very easy for him to take the evil our of him or her heart. Thank you.
DR RAMASHALA: We are not doing very well, in terms of time. We still have three other submissions which we should get between now and one o'clock. I will be happy if at this point in time I can thank you and ask that the other issues be developed during our group sessions.
I just want to thank you for coming forward to share with us. It is clear that the tapes has a challenge to show the world the way to healing and reconciliation, but as you yourselves have said we are grateful to you as people who have come forward and we hope that you will be the instruments of the roots that we are all talking about. Thank you.
We will ask Mr Redelinghuys who is representing the Family Submission to come forward please.
Mr Redelinghuys, our members of the panel, would like to welcome you and as I have indicated that we are not doing well in terms of time, I am sorry it is not meant to make you feel pressurised, but I will ask you to give your presentation and I will ask fellow Commissioners to limit their questions and the rest of their questions will be developed in the groups this afternoon.
SUBMISSION OF MR MULLER REDELINGHUYS
Respected Committee members, ladies and gentlemen, the submission which I am about to talk about is the product of input from various sections of the community and different people. They try to give answers to certain standard questions put to them and the result was this submission and I would like to put it to you now.
How did apartheid affect the families in Oudtshoorn? People who grew up on farms were regarded as the farmers' possessions and could never develop their own identities. Many breadwinners lost their jobs, because they became involved in the freedom struggle.
Family members who worked for the apartheid regime were abhorred and that brought about polarisation between members of the families.
Circumstances on the farms for black people were often very bad. Long hours had to be worked for very low salaries and many of them possessed very little.
As a result of all the suffering the fathers became involved in the political struggle which brought them into conflict with the law. In families where the father or mother was a fighter for freedom and the others accepted the system of apartheid, this led to further polarisation in the family context.
With the result that members of a family were alienated from each other as a result of their various opinions and thought patterns.
Members of the white community felt that the previous Government consciously tried to prevent them associating with other citizens of the country and family members felt guilty because they were given some privileges which other members of our country did not get.
The system gave a false sense of security to white people and this led to them regarding other people as inferior and saw themselves as exclusive.
Some whites who grew up on farms and who associated themselves on all levels with the farm workers cannot understand why their was this discrimination against people who they regarded a friends. Other whites indicated that their relationship with their farm labourers has always been good and they had no problems with apartheid.
Apartheid robbed many people of their humanity and made them hard, fearless and bitter.
The expropriation of properties led to a lot of dissatisfaction amongst family members and that led to a lack of security. The hatred against apartheid led to the fact that members of families who tried to fight the system, their lives were endangered by Security Forces. And this led to fears and the lack of security since family members were never quite certain of their lives and their safety.
Parents had to watch helplessly as children and family members were intimidated, tortured and even received death threats from the Security Forces. Family life was disrupted because they could not always live together in the same dwelling and this trend robbed children of their childhood and their were even cases where family members were killed by members of the Security Forces. And this led to a hardening of attitude amongst the remaining and surviving members of the family and they hated apartheid even more as a result.
In some cases apartheid had little or no effect on family life, especially regards employees on farms where employees were seen as shareholders and not as inferior people.
Apartheid also impoverished people spiritually. And empowered white people to act in certain ways simply because they were white.
In general white families were affected because as a result of the system of apartheid they were apathetic towards their fellow citizens. White families found that their security centred around their possessions and political and spiritual leaders.
Children who joined freedom struggles suffered educationally because they were constantly harassed and arrested by Security Force members, even when they were writing exams.
In many cases the breadwinner or father was often absent for long periods because he had to leave the country for indefinite periods to undergo MK training, and sometimes the mother had to then play the role of father as well. This caused disciplinary problems and also led to a lack of security.
Because they could not have the same privileges as far as family life as white people, this became a further stumbling block.
The apartheid system caused a feeling of despondency because many oppressed families believe that apartheid would never end. Many who became involved in the Security Forces found that they were under a lot of stress, they were in fear of their lives and for some white families it was difficult to understand why their black friends could not have the same privileges as they themselves had. This led to feelings of guilt. White families were slaves of school and church which in turn were slaves of the apartheid ideology.
On the positive side apartheid also made families aware of injustices which were committed against people and evoked a certain feeling of sympathy towards the other citizens of the country.
In general apartheid also strengthened family ties, because they were all fighting one common enemy, namely the evils of apartheid.
How do families in Oudtshoorn feel about the concrete implementation of reconciliation and rehabilitation in the community?
Generally their is a feeling that although the Government has taken the lead in dismantling apartheid families in Oudtshoorn feel that the playing fields have not really been levelled yet.
Economic power is still mainly in the hands of whites and they control it, strictly speaking. The importance of reconciliation has been supported by everybody. There is a feeling that all people in Oudtshoorn can live in harmony with each other, but this can only take place if there is an internal reconciliation amongst people. And for that reason it is important that people decide together, make decisions together and jointly so that they can restore confidence in each other.
Recommendations made to facilitate reconciliation and these proposals flow from a study which was done regarding the submissions of the various parties of the Board of Community, the rule of multi-cultural associations and meetings, the extension of bonds of friendship across racial divisions, white people must get from their high horse and show sympathy with other people. There must be cooperation, there must be an integration of school and church that must play a very important role for reconciliation.
Whites feel that affirmative action discriminate against them because they were excluded from the process. They would also like to be part of the process.
A reconciliation and rehabilitation forum must be established as soon as possible to implement all these recommendations.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for sharing your perspectives of the impact of human rights violations in the past and I would give this opportunity to fellow Commissioners. First of all I would like to introduce Tom Manthata, who is a Commissioner in Gauteng and he has just joined the panel now.
I will ask fellow-commissioners to ask their questions and in the interest of time I will ask all those who have got questions to ask them and then give you an opportunity to talk to them. And see how you can integrate them.
MR TOM MANTHATA: My question would be more of a simple one which you would consider.
We are seeing this kind of disparity between the African family and the white family, where you find that the African family literally has nothing to offer. They cannot even be able to teach their children to forgive, they cannot even teach them to hold their heads high up in terms of, I am equal to everybody, and inferior to nobody, to no one else. And at the same time we find that the white family has almost all.
Is it possible perhaps even through the churches that a scheme can be devised where white families can move into the destitute black families just to advise, teach, request the children in those families to attend school, work diligently?
Fortunately we are at a stage where it is said education is free up to matric. They do not even have to contribute anything, but just to give the families the moral support, because that would be the first level, you know, of where to strike equality amongst the communities. MR MAKWASA: Thank you very much. I have just a small question.
You spoke about the economic powers still in the hands of the whites and I believe it will continue to be like that if something is not done. What projects can be done by the whites to provide more jobs for these families which are disadvantaged? Because if the jobs are not there, they will almost remain in that situation.
I am just asking, can they not have any projects so that jobs are given to those people?
And number two, do you not think that you have spoken about something which is very important, the creation of schools and churches? I agree with you. Do you not think that some of the white families, because some of them are very affluent, would adopt the children. It has been said that education is free up to matric, but you pass standard ten you have nothing, you have no education and some of the black families find it very hard to send their children to Technikons, etc. so that they can get skills.
And what you said about that, don't you think that maybe some of the families could adopt some of these children so that they can get these skills? Thank you.
DR RAMASHALA: I would like to address the issue of children within the structure of the family.
Quite frankly the future of South Africa is in our children. It is in our children that we need to invest the right values, values not only about each other, but about the future of this country.
One of the things I would like you to consider, perhaps not now, but in later response, is how within the structure of the family, can we broaden the education of the children in such a way that there is an appreciation of diversity. There is an appreciation of cross cultural communication. White children for example have been deprived of knowing about black children. Black children on the other hand have been deprived of knowing about white children.
And I think if we do not develop strategies to ensure that our children get to know one another and interact in natural ways our future is very gloom and I just wanted the benefit of your thinking about that.
CHAIRPERSON: I know how difficult it is now to respond to about five questions, but I will ask you in your response to just indicate that your response addresses this aspect, if you decide to put together some questions you can feel free to say that.
PANELLIST: I would like to present my response in my own language.
Chairperson, I am going to answer very briefly. I trust that my colleagues will answer the other questions. When you ask for the contribution of the churches to the families, concerning reconciliation between the white man, the white children and the black children so that we work altogether towards a better future....
I see the church as having a significant role to play because the church as a body that during conflict was a body that was between the two sides. It played a very important role in protecting humanity. It seems to me that it has the most important voice rather than one of the sides talking to the other.
As it is said one wants to know where one comes from, the roots so that you can have a decent future. I am not talking about a situation whereby there are no other ways, I am talking about a situation whereby there is lack of money to further and make decent one's life.
I think that the situation in the country should be that there should be no difference between black and white. I cannot give up my roots. It would be just like in the apartheid times, because a lot of people who were black or who are black, prefer to be coloured, because it is better, because of the apartheid system.
Therefore, what I am saying is that black children being adopted by white parents would revert the situation back to the apartheid times.
What is important to me is that the black children should not be brought up by other races, like the white race. A black child must know where he is going.
DR RAMASHALA: Chairperson, may I clarify something? I would like to clarify something on the idea of adoption.
He did not mean literal adoption of black children into white families. He meant financial adoption. Actually I would not just say, white families, I would say all South Africans who can afford it. Both black and white, to take the financial responsibility to educate South African children who had not had the opportunity for education. All South Africans, both black and white.
That is what he meant by adoption. Not to take children from their families but for South Africa to truly demonstrate reparation and get involved in capacity development for our country. That is what he meant.
MR MADIKANI: I thank you for this opportunity. As I am sitting here I am quite a slow person, but when I do get somebody's point I am able to answer.
You have asked a lot of questions. Even as I sit here I try to absorb them, but I cannot answer all. If perhaps I could be asked the questions one by one I would be able to answer all. Now you have put so many questions before me, I am a bit confused.
I do not know whether you are asking how we are going to build the youth or how we can help the youth? You are talking about developing standards such that there is no difference between a black and a white child - I think that is what you were asking.
If there is some kind of help to bring together a white child and a black child, I am not sure whether this is what you are asking it is difficult to bring together a black and a white child, especially a child who has lived the history of this country, because it is always a wound that is alive.
Even though a white child would go to a black child, asking for forgiveness, the black child has not fully healed from apartheid, therefore they would sort of recoil. If it is a child who has not lived through apartheid he will freely accept a white child.
I have children at home. From the time that black children were being chased, children lost their education, they lost their morals, there were just chaos. My children did not sleep at home. I had to sleep with my door ajar, because the police was going to walk through and kick the door down anyway and do whatever they want to do.
This teaches me that my child is still begrudging the white man. I agree with you that a child who has not lived through apartheid can have reconciliation in their heart. If at a very young age you can bring together a black child and a white child they can grow up as friends, but you cannot take an adult child and put them together with a white person. They will fight.
It is evident in our country that there is no forgiveness or peace within our children. I want to make that clear. It would please me as well if from a young age a black child can be brought together with a white child.
You have piled up the questions before me. Therefore, I am a bit confused. I cannot respond to the other questions.
CHAIRPERSON: You have helped us a lot. We will still have an opportunity in small groups to develop some of the ideas, especially the challenges, I mean, like what you have just said. It is an important statement that we need to look at creative ways of helping, even the very young people who are injured within our families, to move forward, to look for ways of beginning to take a step.
So, we see that as a challenge which should be looked at this afternoon in groups. Once more, thank you very much for coming before us.
I would like to propose that we adjourn at one thirty and have lunch between one thirty and two o'clock, which means we will continue with the next two submissions within the next thirty minutes. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: I would like to welcome the two of you and begin to talk about your submission.
SUBMISSION BY MR HILTON COERECIUS: I was asked to present a direct response from the interview with an 18 year old coloured youth. So I will read the questions as well as the answers.
Question: What was the impact of the gross human rights violations of the past on you as a young person?
Answer: During the unrest of 1985/86 I was very young. I was in primary school. I always just assumed that white people stayed in town, black people in Bonguletu and coloured in Bridgeton. That is what I grew up with.
We used to be scared of the police vans. It was a time of the riots. I remember it clearly. Everyone was scared of the vans. I think we adopted this fear from the older youth in our area.
Question: What were your perceptions of the political climate at that time?
Answer: I did not realise there were political parties when I was in primary school. In high school I realised, because political parties came to address our school. In about standard eight I realised you could choose to be in any party you liked, for example you did not need to be in a party because they were coloured. People could choose.
In standard eight the ANC youth came to our school and spoke about what was happening in our community and country. And only then did I become aware.
I can still remember there was a strike amongst the workers of Oudtshoorn, maybe in the whole country. Before then it was as though I was living in isolation, in a coloured area. I did not even know what was happening in Bonguletu, right here in our town.
Now I am learning through television, documentaries and films that look at the apartheid years, what the previous Government was doing to non-white people in South Africa. As children we were not exposed to these things.
Question: Describe an average day in your life in the days of serious unrest in Oudtshoorn.
Answer: I felt safe in my own area, but not all the time. I was scared when the police vans drove into Bridgeton and into our schools. And tyres were burning in our streets.
I thought that that is how it must be. Now that I think back and see the discrimination between people today, I realise that is not how it should be.
Question: How many youths were actively involved in the political activities in the area in which you lived.
Answer: Some people from Bridgeton, I do not think all of them. A lot of blacks were involved.
Question: How did the community treated those people who were actively involved in politics?
Answer: I do not think the community liked them, because people in our coloured area believed that things were how they needed to be. And they were disrupting this. I think the community were generally against them. A few were in support of them.
Question: What effect did gross human rights violations had on your education?
Answer: As a coloured person our schools were also disrupted by riots. It had a great effect on black pupils' education. When there were riots there were no classes. Sometimes for weeks.
The year my sister had to write her matric examinations the disruptions were so bad there were only about three months of classes that year. She still wrote her examinations. She passed, but not as well as she was hoping to. She redid her matric while she was working and passed with a matric exemption, about three years after she wrote matric for the first time. She then studied part time through the university and is now a teacher.
The education in our schools improved but we are still not equal to the white schools.
Question: If you could change things, what would you change?
Answer: I would like the idea that people see people for who they are, not what colour their skins are. We are all people and equal. I would have liked to be able to go into where I wanted.
I remember my whole family not being allowed into a restaurant in town in the late 1980's. There was a 'whites only' sign above the door.
Question: What does reconciliation mean for you?
Answer: To bring to the people the idea of equality, and to bring all people onto one level.
Question: What would be ideal reconciliation?
Answer: That all people of all races could live with each other. I think there need to be programmes, run for the youth to get youth of different races together.
They have to concentrate on the youth. Because the youth is the future.
Question: What would be an acceptable form of reconciliation for you?
Answer: I think there are signs, the fact that we have a black Mayor at the moment. We can go where we want. We can live where we want to live and we can go to any school we choose.
Question: What advice do you have for youths in other communities who have gone through similar experiences and face the same challenges as you do?
Answer: Be positive about the future of our country. Do not leave the country. We need to build a better future together. Forgive the past but do not forget it. We have to build on the past for a better future.
SUBMISSION BY MBULELO DIKAGI
I was asked to give a submission based on an interview with a 39 year old man from Bonguletu, and perhaps I have added some inserts within the interview which is very short.
Based on the first question of what the impact was of gross human rights violations on your youth. This person was born in Oudtshoorn and did his schooling in Cape Town. And he remembers a march on the 11 August 1976 in Cape Town. He says we were going to take a memorandum to the Minister of Education, to object to having write our exams in Afrikaans. We were stopped by the police. There were shootings, people beaten up and it was terrible. I realised then that things were really serious.
I left school and became actively involved in changing the system. The system was even using the Defence Force. Everyone was being arrested for something, maybe what you have done or not have done.
Later I returned to Oudtshoorn, in February in 1980, then I was 23 years old.
Based on the question of describing an average day in your life during the days of serious unrest in Oudtshoorn: That was during the mid eighties. One could not sleep at home. One had to sleep in hide-outs, at friends' houses, like in the chimneys, or in the ceiling sometimes. Sometimes you could not sleep at all.
We were constantly confronted by police on the streets. Even at home, they would just come into your house and harass you.
From 1985 to 1988 my father was very sick. The police would kick the door down, shouting my name, looking for me. They did not care about my father. He got no peace until he died in 1988.
I used to discuss with my friends what could be done to get us out of this situation. And formed street committees to come up with plans. Some friends were thinking of leaving the country.
Based on the question of how many youths were involved in political activities: Every young person was basically involved in politics. In fact the entire community was involved in politics.
And how did such involvement affect relationships between yourself, as an activist and your community? People supported the youth very much, but were very afraid to be seen with other active comrades in the streets, because some of the communities felt that these people are radicals and some were worried about their own safety, if the police saw them with these activists.
Question based on youth and education - what effect did this have on your education? It had a massive effect. When I left school in 1977 I never returned to school. My main aim was to see things changing in my life.
I also remember during the mid-eighties primary education in Bonguletu was also disrupted by these activities. I remember one time teachers were also harassed in primary school. Leaders of the students were also detained in primary school. At some stage the students would just throw stones at the schools and break the schools and sometimes burned the administration block of the school, to fight against Bantu Education.
And many of the active students could not go back to school. I chose to stay in hiding. Hiding around the township or in surrounding areas. And also one aspect which made the educational activities of the students to be affected was the fact that the young people who were involved in night activities sometimes to guard that the police not to come into the township to harass people. And these night activities would go throughout the whole night. And perhaps in the morning people would not be able to go to school, because they might be tired.
Next questions, what are the long term effects of this? Now it is very difficult to get work for other people, because many of them are illiterate or they have not gone far, as much as they wanted to be educated. And one should realise now the work needs someone who is well educated and who has done matric and all that.
So you find them very few in your township, those who have got adequate education.
Another question was: If you could have your youth back again, what would you change? I would like to have seen the Government of today in power then in the seventies and already then beginning to develop our country, but that was impossible.
We would have more employment opportunities and good education for our children then. And we might have known where our future lies today, if that Government was in power then.
And also: What does reconciliation mean for you as a young person? Reconciliation means people forgiving each other and working together as one nation. It does not matter as to what one has done to another in the past. Well, at some stages it does matter, but for the sake of following the national trend today one has to follow the trend of reconciliation.
What would be ideal reconciliation for you? That is that the many people who do not have education are reached. Reconciliation starts with building up these people who are uneducated. Employ those who are unemployed. Train those who are not trained. Develop those who are not developed.
And what would be an acceptable form of reconciliation for you as a young person? I think an example is set nationally though the formation of the Youth Commission. I think if perhaps all the youth of South Africa can be part of that Youth Commission by giving suggestions to that Commission and putting forward recommendations to that Commission for development of young people. I think it would be an ideal form of reconciliation for all the people, especially of Oudtshoorn, which is an undeveloped area.
And what advice do you have for the youth who has gone through similar experiences, and face the same challenges as you do? In fact I would like to say to the youth of South Africa and especially of Oudtshoorn, hang on to your education, keep on going to school. Our eyes are on them, they will enjoy a better life than we did. Share ideas with people of different colour and culture.
To you I say mix with all people and do it right now in this reconciliation process. I thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much to the two of you.
As you can see these submissions have been structured around questions. Before I invite any additions to these questions, I would ask Dr Ramashala to give a perspective of what emerged during the hearings in this area around the same topic.
DR RAMASHALA: I do not know if people appreciate that instead of giving just your perspective that you actually went out and interview the youth then and the youth now, in order to get a full sense of that.
When the three children in the so-called 'Bonguletu Three' were born, Dyantgi, Madikane, etc. - when those children were born their parents had a vision. Their parents had some ideas about their future. Their parents dreamed about what could be. In fact, in the African community when a child is born the parents tend to say: This one is going to be a teacher, this one is going to be a doctor, this one is going to be a nurse, a lawyer, etc.
That is how all parents dream for a bright future for their children.
When the children become six, seven and eight and begin to see other role models in communities they themselves dream, they dream about becoming a doctor, they dream about becoming a teacher, they dream about becoming a nurse. The dreams of South African children from disadvantaged communities were snuffed out. Some were killed and others like the case histories here, never finished school.
We refer to those children who never finished school as 'the lost generation of South Africa'. They are 30 years old now, they are 32 years old now, they are 39 years old now. Those are the children whose education was disrupted. Those were the dreams that were aborted. Actually in African culture, and that is my perspective, when a child is born the parents see an improvement in the quality of their lives, because they invest in their children and their children say, when I am finished I am going to buy my mother her first decent house. (..tape ends)
.... Bonguletu and those who never finished their education are still living in shacks in Bonguletu. So lets take heed that we are not just talking about the killing and the abortion of peoples futures', but we are talking about the continuity of a hard life, of poverty and an never ending struggle.
What has emerged out of these case studies is the question of missed opportunities. We do not know if any of these children could have been doctors or nurses or not, but we know that South Africa has lost and lost for ever. And lost talents that could have been a significant part of the development of our country.
But what has also come out of these submissions is a strange kind of hope, a looking into the future. There is a talking about re-training of those children who missed opportunities. There is talk about the education of the youth. There is an appeal from the child of that generation to the youth in South Africa to say, stay in school, hang in there, not only for yourself, for your families and the future of your country.
So while there is some desperation and some pain, there is also that hope. I would like to say to Oudtshoorn that hope is not only for the children in Oudtshoorn, it is the hope for the parents and for the community. It is important to grab the message. To grab the message that has come out of these young people. To grab the message that has been conveyed by these young people and look around not just with your families, but let us look around all of Oudtshoorn, all of South Africa and dare to be offended when a child misses an opportunity.
I do not want to sound paternalistic but I am just so proud of you. That you actually went out and did research and out of that research came the spirit of hope. I would like to include you also in asking Oudtshoorn to look at what can be done for you and other youth like you.
I know we despair and say, this is a lost generation, but I do not think all is lost. I think this is a creative opportunity, I think this is a creative town that through the different structures that are possible, we can get there from here.
Chairperson, thank you very much.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. I would just like to emphasise one thing, that I would like to invite all of you to assist as much as you can in developing the response which has been given by young people this afternoon in terms of thinking about what is possible.
We have heard a lot about their experiences and I suppose that applies to all the presentations we have had, and the Commissioners were trying to help the presenters to think about what can be done, and you saw the difficulties which we had - there was not much time, but definitely this afternoon we will use as much time as possible in thinking about what can be done in this area, or initiate it. If I say what can be done I am not having in mind a quick fix of some kind, but as the community of Oudtshoorn I should think you can begin to think about possible action.
So we will adjourn now and come back here at two o'clock whereby people will be given specific instructions about what will go on in groups. I do not know whether a person who is giving a woman's presentation has arrived, I was told she is not here. I am told she is not here, so I thank you, we will adjourn and be back here at two o'clock.
DR RAMASHALA: I have an announcement. The group sessions this afternoon will be divided into six. Women which will be facilitated by Glenda Wilscott will be here in the hall on the stage. And it is important because that group is the one that will be taped. And that is why we have set it up on the stage.
Youth and Education, facilitated by Ms Mkize and myself, Class room 206.
Media, facilitated by Burton and Jaffa, Room 205.
Church, facilitated by Mary Mgosjo Khundu, Room 204.
Families of victims, facilitated by Tom Manthata, Class room 203.
Health care workers, facilitated by Granville Grey and Magwasa in Class Room 202.
Please distribute yourselves according to your interest area and where you can have the greatest impact in terms to contributing to policy formulation.
Thank you very much.
THE HEARING ADJOURNED FOR LUNCH
DR RAMASHALA: I will start by saying, do not be alarmed that the Women's submission was not made during the last session. It in fact was incorporated into the small group discussion. One member of the submitting team was not there, but the other one was there and all the information was fed into the small group discussion and it will be part of the reporting.
What we will do is get some feedback from the rapporteurs about the significant issues that came out of the small group discussions. And I sense from the animation and the excitement that I see that all the groups went very well.
May I start with the Women's Group to give your report please.
SUBMISSION BY THE WOMEN'S GROUP
I am Lenie Rhodes from Oudtshoorn's Women Organisation. We women of Oudtshoorn took a decision here today that there are lots of things in the town that women can do.
The first decision that we took was that we as women should go out to those families who have wives, husbands and children who died in the apartheid era. We must find out what the needs are, what the shortages are of that family.
Furthermore, we decided that we will have to look at the advancement of the surviving families there. We discussed the needs of the town, the surviving people, children who remained unemployed in the apartheid era, who do not have sufficient education and all those issues need to be addressed by the women in the community.
Women took the initiative that there are women in town who could go out to the different places of employment in the town and at these places where there are not other races who are not employed, like at the banks where certain races only are employed, the chemists, the supermarkets.
Many of our children have the desire to go and work, but they cannot come out there, because they are afraid that because of their Xhosa accent and their Xhosa names they are immediately turned away.
It was also asked that these children who died in the apartheid era have a monument dedicated to them in memory of them in Bridgeton or Bonguletu. That monument is to be placed in the middle of town. And it was also asked that the women sit down and launch a bursary fund and that money be used so that students who did matric and whose parents who cannot afford to send them to tertiary institutions be assisted, so that those children are not a loss to our societies.
It was also asked that the museum exhibition that was introduced to the people on Monday night, the museum be used by our children, who are the youth of today. That the schools allow them to go to the museum and learn that what is being exhibited there, is in memory of the people who died for us in this town.
It was also decided that the women of Bonguletu and Bridgeton should ask Oudtshoorn that there should be more NGO's made available to us. People who died in Oudtshoorn meant a lot to our town. As a result of NGO's who withdrew we would like to make their funds available again so that the children who are walking around in the streets can go there, workshops be presented where children could receive educational opportunities so that they can be better people tomorrow.
It was also asked, in the light of our arts festival, that is going to take place in March here in Oudtshoorn, there was a feeling by the women that many of us women and many of our people and our communities in Bridgeton and Bonguletu cannot form part of the programme which is being launched in Oudtshoorn, because things are too expensive, it is not accessible to our people on the street and people cannot go there to take part in the programme.
The stalls which are going to be there during the festival are only accessible to the white people of this town, the white people around the town and white people as far as Namibia because it is affordable to them to go and exhibit their things there.
Our people have the skills to have different sorts of stalls at the exhibition but we do not have the money to go there, because we cannot afford it.
So we, as the women of Oudtshoorn felt that it should be one of the things which should be addressed in this town. The first year of the arts festival, it was possible for all people of Oudtshoorn to be part of this festival, but since 1996 it was not affordable for all of us and we could not be part of the programme. The same thing will happen this year, 1997, so we must draft a plan and take the initiative to reach those people.
The Women's League of Bridgeton and Bonguletu felt that there were many shortcomings in the town and we felt that we will work together as a team and see that we address these shortcomings and see what we can do for our communities.
A lot of our youth are on the streets on a daily basis and they cannot get involved in the community any where, because there is nothing in our communities that we can do for them. So that is one of the things, that we have to ensure that things happen in our town.
The women also feel that they can go to banks and apply for loans to launch small businesses, but as soon as we go to the banks we are turned down. Money is not made available to us because we cannot explain to the banks or assure them as to how we are going to repay them. So the women of Bonguletu would like to mean something to their people but they cannot, because the money is out of their reach.
It was also decided by the women that a service is to be held in one church for the entire community so that we can stand together as a community and address what is necessary for our town.
That is all.
DR RAMASHALA: Thank you, that was very comprehensive.
The next report is from the Youth and Education group.
SUBMISSION BY THE YOUTH AND EDUCATION GROUP
My name is Wilhelm Verwoerd, I am a staff member in the TRC and I have been asked to give this feedback.
The first question was individual and family reparation, specifically looking at the youth. There was a clear emphasis, some people said we must provide some compensation to people who suffered severely under apartheid. The question was, should it be in the form of lump sum money payments? And there was quite a long discussion whether that might be corrupting, how it is going to be spent, and whether it would not be better to submit a list of names of victims to the President.
They can then be entitled for special grants, special benefits like disability grants, or whatever. That we must find a way of making sure that they money is actually used to empower people and not just to leave them dependent on hand-outs.
And then obviously the question about medical treatment. People who still have bullet wounds, people who still suffer at a physical level should be given medical treatment and those people who are also suffering from psychological continuing problems, they should also be given help.
And then there was some integration with the next question, looking at the community level, because a number of people felt we should not just look to the individual people who suffered specific gross human rights violations, because the youth as a whole in a sense suffered under apartheid and large numbers of people suffered.
The emphasis in a sense then shifted to looking to which employment opportunities can be created so that people can be empowered, so they can get their self-respect back and not be dependent on hand outs - so a lot of discussion went into that.
And then education, and people felt that so many people are having to go to the cities to get tertiary education and that one of our biggest recommendations would be to find some kind of multi-skills technikon tertiary type institution in Oudtshoorn, which can then be used to give opportunity to the youth to get further skills beyond the school level.
And then of course even within the school training, greater emphasis placed skills, ways in which the existing resources within Oudtshoorn can be used to equip young people to cope with the life in a modern society.
People who can go back to school should be identified and opportunities created and there was some discussion about bursaries that partly can be made available through the Municipality but also through the state, for people to go and further their studies.
Somebody said that we must make sure that we get an audit of the existing resources within Oudtshoorn, at medical level, at educational level, people who can actually become involved in helping people without jobs, without the necessary education and then they can be employed.
And that was linked to the third question where we talked about ways in which people who have skills, people who have resources often within the white community but just not only within the white community, how can you create opportunities for those people to help those and to become involved in the lives of those who do not have those opportunities, specifically in terms of education.
And it is not going to be a one way education, because many say black kids would have certain skills, certain understandings which many white kids do not have.
And that you should create opportunities where there can be a sharing of skills between the different groups.
So that was the second and the first question and to some extent the third question.
The third question focused specifically on the process of healing and reconciliation and the Mayor made a sort of solid input, saying that we must somehow find a way of bringing those people who are not here today, to bring them on board. Look for opportunities to convey the message that unless we swim together, we will sink together.
And even if those people do not want to get involved we should find ways to keep going, to keep trying to convince people to come on board and to not just do it for the sake of the people who have suffered, but for their own sakes, in terms of being reconciled, of being healed themselves as well.
So we talked about how we can change the negative perceptions about the TRC. We talked a lot about using the children, perhaps the parents will not be able to convince, but the children at school level, expose them to the history of Oudtshoorn which are not being taught as schools, especially the white kids.
Find ways, for example at a sport level, and just not in January and February when people have athletics, but throughout the year organise events, using different sports, not just athletics, but other kinds of sports, where people can at a regular basis interact and mix and so break down many of those walls that separate people at this stage still.
And we should not just wait for national actions, that we should look for ways within our own community and between the different communities to continue with this kind of action.
And then at the end somebody made a very moving sort of contribution, saying that also for the sake of the perpetrators we must find ways of bringing them back into the community. And as I understood it, there was the idea of creating special occasions, even special days or special ceremonies where people who confessed for what they have done can be embraced, can be reintegrated in the community.
So they can be healed themselves, so that they do not walk around with the scars, and commit suicide, and kill their families and make no constructive contribution to society.
So that was a very important point. And then of course also, hopefully in that process you might get some of the people who confess, who were perpetrators to say, we are not just talking about confession we are actually prepared to give more, to give some of our resources, to restore the consequences of what we have done. And that would obviously be the ideal we could aim at.
And let me just finish on a personal note. While I was sitting there, listening to especially the last contribution I was just struck by in a sense the tremendous strategy of apartheid, and a sort-of sense of sadness, how it is possible for a white community in Oudtshoorn and I do not think it is so unique, people can sit out there and they are so far removed from the TRC, so far removed from the other communities. And here we sit in a class room talking about ways to embrace perpetrators, looking for ways to reintegrate people and all they can worry about is, this is a sort of ANC witch hunt and I do not know what else.
And just the sort of tremendous irony that people are reaching out. People that do not have to reach out, who should actually be bitter and angry are prepared to reach out, but people are still not listening.
And I am really going back to the Commission with a renewed commitment to look for ways to speak to the community also where I come from, which is an Afrikaans community, to take this message to them. And to try and break down some of those wrong perceptions about the TRC and about the other communities.
DR RAMASHALA: Thank you Wilhelm. The Media group.
SUBMISSION BY THE MEDIA GROUP
Good afternoon. My name is Mansoer. I am from Oudtshoorn, Toekomsrus and I am going to report about the Media group. In the interest of time I will keep the report as brief as possible.
The first point that people made in the group was that we want the media today to provide a total and objective picture of our own society. We do not want a situation where we repeat the mistakes of the past - that only a particular part of history is being transmitted to people.
The media in this sense can also assist people in thinking objectively and critically about their society. The media must facilitate areas of integration, especially at the school level. We were told in the group that there are teachers and pupils who are trying to cross the past and meet with each other at various levels and the media needs to give more coverage about this kind of thing.
The group also spoke of an open day where people of various communities could meet each other and that the media should also give prominence to this.
In terms of our history it was also felt again that the children need to know the history of this place and in that respect the exhibition can be continued and expanded. More people need to be drawn in to writing the history of Oudtshoorn so that children can go and know that Oudtshoorn was not always like it is today.
There was one Oudtshoorn. People used to be integrated, used to live next to each other in town and the children where their fathers and grand-fathers, mothers went to church and school and so on.
And this is the kind of visual display that we need, not only at the museum but also at other institutions in Oudtshoorn.
The media can deal with the emotional stress and scars that people have experienced, by focusing on families and individuals who have suffered in the community by writing up their stories on a regular basis.
It can try and meet people's physical needs by informing people of socio-economic projects which are currently being engaged in, for example around land claims, around educational opportunities and so on.
The media must vigorously promote reconciliation and healing and we again spoke about the absence of the white community here today, quite openly. And we thought that perhaps the media needs to look at the factors which result in the white community staying away from very important nation building processes, such as these.
It was pointed out that in the past there was a kind of a confrontational relationship with some sectors of the media and that we need to change that, where we interact more with the media and explain to them what the needs of the community are.
We need to encourage the media to strike a balance between positive and negative elements, so that there is not only a focus on the negative, but there is a focus on the positive and the constructive things happening in our community.
People spoke about a youth centre which is in the pipe line, which is going to offer skills, computer training, etc. and one should also ask the media to focus on these kinds of issues.
Adult basic education was also important and in this respect the radio could play an important role.
There is apparently a publication, called The Scholar's Voice which is brought out by different schools and this was discussed and it was felt that one should look at expanding this publication and look at reviving a community publication like Saamstaan, possibly in a very different form and with a very different role that it played in the past. But there is perhaps a need for a community paper, which can incorporate all sectors of the Oudtshoorn community.
Finally it was felt that the Truth Commission should at some point document these feelings that the community have put forward and meet with some of the editors and heads of the media and convey this to them in a memorandum or a document. These are the kinds of things which people would like to see reflected in the media - things of reconstruction, things of development, of healing, of reconciliation, of bringing people together and of integration.
Thank you very much.
DR RAMASHALA: Next is the report from the church.
SUBMISSION BY THE CHURCH GROUP
My name is Piet Meiring and I was told to speak in Afrikaans. Those of you who have to listen to the interpreters must do so.
You will be interested to know that the church people and the Ministers who gathered together did not talk as much as they would normally do from the pulpit, because they realised that they are dealing with very serious matters and that each and every word has to be weighed quite carefully.
The first thing that was mentioned in the Church group is does the church have a real role to play in Oudtshoorn and we told each other that it was a real gain and advantage that there is real respect in Oudtshoorn as a result of the past and as a result of the role played by Christians and church leaders here and as a result of the point and stand taken by the church in the past.
So the community supports the church and would like to see the church taking the lead. And that was a great advantage, which is placed on the table.
The second point was that the churches have the word of God and ultimately with the word of God in our hands, we ought to convey our message.
The big question is just that the word of God, the message must come through to each and every situation and Ministers must try to address all aspects of the Gospel, not only when it deals with the relationship between God and people, but also regarding the relations amongst people themselves.
And we said that armed with the voice of God, the church has a voice and people will be willing to listen and we also told each other that these are questions facing us, what do we have to say to the families, and to society?
And it was very clear to the Ministers and the Church group that is a great need and that many families have been affected, many individuals have been affected and that there is a great need in may ways, but that it was felt that we are going about this in the wrong way.
That the Ministers in the Church group cannot sit and tell each other what the community actually needs, that the churches must first consult with the community, they must speak to the victims, and listen to what they have to say, what are your needs and only then would the church be able to implement these.
And their was also a discussion about the need for the community which is rather a divided one, to be brought together and then the Ministers really started addressing each other seriously.
And they followed the same lines that was followed by Rev De Klerk this morning, by saying there was a time in Oudtshoorn when the churches really formed a united front when the communities were suffering. Then the churches really new what they were fighting for and they stood together but after the changes came about it was as if there was a sort of fragmentation in the church community. And then the Ministers also said to each other, and you might agree, that as a church the first most direct contribution which could be made is that the churches can now move closer to each other, take each others hands and embrace each other.
We then started dreaming. And as was said this morning regarding the role of the church, is was expressed that what you need here in Oudtshoorn is a religious Codesa, and we went further and said that the religious Codesa ought to take place in various stages. And we said that we suggested that Codesa 1 would be when the church communities as they exist currently, come to each other and say, look we need a new commitment and that the churches in the coloured community and the black communities and those churches normally associated with the Southern Cape Churches, that all these churches meet each other and say to each other what we need to do.
And on the other side as part of Codesa 2, have a look at whether we cannot motivate the white Afrikaans and English churches to start up a similar process in the town. To tell them, look at the past and look at the future. What are the problems, what are the perspectives and what are the challenges facing white Christians. That is Codesa 1, religiously speaking.
And then we need to go to Codesa 2, when these groups actually meet each other after the ground work had been laid. So then in the second phase all Christians from all denominations and groups, language groups that they will meet each other and say, let us turn over a new leaf and let us start afresh.
There will be a lot of matters on the agenda. The first will be how can we strengthen our unity, but a second issue would be to, with all the knowledge of the various communities, to compile a list of the real burning needs in the communities we know, which families, which individuals are suffering. We can compile a list of those.
And then the church would also be able to do a third thing and that is to compile a list of all available resources available in the different communities and churches, which could be utilised to help alleviate the need.
One would, for instance, be able to ask some of the
white Christians, try and convince them, that this is also their issue, their concern.
And say to them that we were advantaged in the past and we profited from many things in the past and we have the resources to help needy people today.
So Codesa 1 is a bit of consolidation, to see whether the groups could have a strong commitment for the case at hand. Codesa 2 would be where people actually meet each other and plans would be made to strengthen church unity and lists would be drawn up of the needs of people and thirdly to properly utilise all the resources to really help people.
As far as reconciliation is concerned we also said that the church has also got to play a very big role. It is easy to talk about reconciliation and the need for reconciliation and it is necessary to bring together perpetrators and victims and sufferers and it is all nice to talk about this and pay lip service to the idea, until actual people are being identified as perpetrators or victims. And then the question is, would these specific individuals, would they be willing to meet.
The local Ministers felt that this would actually be possible.
We concluded in typical Ministers' tradition and said that the role of the church could be of a dual nature. Any church in any country always has a choice, it can either be a mirror church, or it can be a window church. A church can either be a reflection of all the needs and pain and suffering and prejudice and every thing found in society and then the church is just like the world out there and does not help much. Unfortunately that is often the way the church seems to be.
But on the other hand God or the Bible demands of us that we should be an open window and that we will deflect people away from our problems and tensions and the church should establish a new future of reconciliation for the world and we are full of hope that Codesa 1 and 2 take place in Oudtshoorn, that the past will be understood and there will be an open window into the future for all.
DR RAMASHALA: The next report is from the Family Group.
SUBMISSION BY THE FAMILY GROUP
I am Z A Hanse, a Minister of religion locally in Oudtshoorn and I am going to present my report in Xhosa.
As we were sitting as a group, discussing issues about the families of the victims we pointed out very important things.
The first one was about the so-called perpetrators. As we were talking about them there is a need for those people to come forward with the aim of asking for forgiveness. Before that they must tell us the reason behind all this, so that we can accept their apologies and build our nation together.
And also consider those people who were victimised during those times. They must at least get a pension.
We looked at the important role that actually took time before it was concluded. It looks like it has been dealt with in the other issues that we started with. We decided to set a forum that is going to be a mediator between the two groups so that all those needs should be combined together so that their communities could give support.
And that this forum is going to be a rehabilitation forum which is going to deal with the following issues:
Training of the people, so as to know the relevant things, to deal with problems like people who are not aware of their rights. That is the reason why the authorities would take one side of the story. We decided that there should be a collaboration from this rehabilitation forum, which is going to help train people, even the churches, the schools and the business people are going to be used in this forum - the people will be sitting for this forum.
Where the people's needs are going to be discussed we are going to use the researchers that are available. We must not delay. We must try and improve the services that we have. Examples of this, there will be other forums where there will be groups from different places. The cultural groups where we are going to hold the cultural activities.
This means that we will be working with the aim of improving both sides to improve the future, as you can see there on that big flag.
We discussed that there should be a hall that is going to be used. A hall where all the names of the victims will appear, all those who were harassed and tortured until they died during the times of apartheid. So in that hall those names should be listed on a stone. There should be a monument in that hall with all those names.
Another idea came that the hall should be built somewhere in Bonguletu. There were different opinions - some felt that this hall should be in Bridgeton or in town. The question was, is not this going to remind the people of the past if this thing would be in an irrelevant place?
There was another idea that this issue is going to be forwarded to another forum or maybe a stadium can be built. It should not be like an ordinary stadium, but a stadium which is going to be called a National Stadium, where we are going to have tennis courts and other things of that nature.
We all agreed on this idea of the hall and the idea of the stadium, where the names of the victims will be listed who died during those times.
The last issue: there are people who were killers, the people who were perpetrators. They are still around, they are still working even today, some of the perpetrators. Some of them like threatening people even right now.
We decided that such people should be taken to the Station Commander so that the Station Commander should decide what to do with such people, because we want those people to be retrenched.
Another possibility on the collaboration of the forum is training of the police so that they can be able to work with the communities, even the people should be trained to know the law, so that we can build a peaceful South Africa. Thank you.
DR RAMASHALA: The last report is from Health Care Workers, but before we get that report I want to acknowledge on behalf of the Commission that the Health Care workers have already worked and continue to work with the Commission by providing medical aid and counselling, following our urgent interim reparations programme. And we have not had a chance to say, thank you. These are folks who are responding to the more immediate needs that cannot wait for the policy level in the recommendations to the President.
May I officially say thank you to the Health Care workers.
SUBMISSION BY THE MENTAL HEALTH WORKERS GROUP
My name is Charles Narkin. I represent Provincial Administration Western Cape, Mental Health Services. I am not from Oudtshoorn.
We had a meeting of about 30 people, nearly all of whom were from Oudtshoorn and to confirm, as Dr Ramashala said, our mandate was to try and present a working programme that we can begin to implement with almost immediate urgency.
Now the group was attended by people who are traditional mental health care workers, such as your Psychiatric Community Nurses from the Southern Cape, led very ably by Dr Van Wyk who comes from Oudtshoorn originally. I think it is wonderful that he has actually returned and he is the only psychiatrist in the Southern Cape and he is certainly bringing all this skills back into this region at a very timeous point.
It is timeous because the group recognised that Oudtshoorn has suffered mental health-wise. There is no research to prove it, but it seems clear that there has been a lot of trauma and there is people who have suffered acute trauma and long term chronic trauma.
And this group decided that they want to try and develop trauma services within their existing resources. There was an acknowledgement that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission cannot in the short term put up any reparation money, they cannot put up a lot of mental health resources. We must turn to the resources within Oudtshoorn and the resources within the Southern Cape.
So the decision was that there would be two types of processes that will happen. First of all the existing mental health workers will put the word out that trauma and people who have suffered from various forms of trauma, who are suffering the symptoms of trauma, to please feel that the health and the mental health services have an open door to receive them.
An this would also possibly include people who are perpetrators, who are suffering potentially the traumas of having played that role. Maybe deliberating about seeking amnesty, coming out into the open, seeking forgiveness, so it is really an open audit.
They have been trained but they will get further training around the very particular nature of politically motivated trauma, as well as all the other trauma they deal with, like child abuse, sex abuse, violence, which is clearly no less in Oudtshoorn than in other communities - and we are very concerned about that.
But in addition to the traditional mental health workers the decision was made by the group and there were a lot of people there, who immediately volunteered to set up a cohort of volunteers. They are going to be trained by Dr Van Wyk's team and a supportive team led by myself from the Provincial Administration, where we are going to develop trauma work skills in this group of people, counselling skills, trauma skills, conflict resolution skills.
So they are going to be armed with a set of skills that they can offer this community to ease some of the distresses and pains which are both chronic and acute. So we are going to get going with training programmes, where these people, who are also the volunteers will put the word out.
So we want to just make a final message and a final statement to the community to say, that put the word out that groups will be starting up. If people are suffering from trauma, if they are having all terrible symptoms and they cannot get their lives back on track, if they are having all kinds of problems which they feel are due to the traumatic events in their life, to feel that there is a supportive web, being built up in this neighbourhood and in this community - by people in the community and it will hopefully grow from strength to strength.
Thank you Commissioners.
DR RAMASHALA: Thank you very much.
I am going to summarise very quickly to identify what has come out of today's proceedings.
This has been an incredible day and I can say that now that it is towards the end. I felt like a bride at the beginning, I could not say it is going well, you have to wait until the end. It just has been absolutely incredible.
There have been two levels of discussions, particularly with respect to the afternoon sessions. The one level of discussions related to the TRC mandate, which clearly confined us to the description and definition of gross human rights violations. A feed back came on issued that relate to how we are going to formulate policy recommendation for those people who suffered gross human rights violations within the Oudtshoorn community.
Lots of information came out. Information that will be part of our report to the State President.
The other level, discussions and recommendations specific to the Oudtshoorn community. I was terribly impressed that the Oudtshoorn community, in the discussions, was not saying to the Truth Commission we wait for you to solve our problem.
In fact people were very aggressive about saying that Oudtshoorn has to take it and move with it to make sure that Oudtshoorn not only develop its own support services but other developmental problems. And that, truly, was very very impressive, in fact there are very specific strategies that have been identified that will take this community forward.
I am very impressed about how generous people are about the issue of perpetrators. It is incredible to me as Wilhelm said, that in the discussions, particularly in the Youth and Education Group there was great emphasis that we should reach out to perpetrators. That we should support perpetrators. That we should provide counselling services to perpetrators, because they also are carrying a burden. And that has been emphasised also by the Health Care Profession.
The Truth Commission is going to put together a report about these three day proceedings and we will send that report to the Oudtshoorn Community Steering Committee. And between us we will discuss how we will distribute it to the Oudtshoorn community so that at least you will have a record of what happened in the past three days.
I would like to thank some people and if I forget you please it is not deliberate, but especially Mayor Sipho Kroma and the Town Council, who not only provided a place for us to meet whenever we came, but fed us, supported us in every possible way.
And Matthew, I have not seen Matthew except for a few minutes, Matthew really was sabotaged, bamboozled into this assignment. And Matthew I would like to say thank you for initiating the processes up to now in the Steering Committee.
The Steering Committee, consisting of Mbule Lodighatle and David Piedt, Pastor Dyantgi, Angelina le Kay, Pastor Hanse, Margory Piedt and others, thank you very much for pushing this process forward. And your task is not finished. This is just the beginning of your task.
The group of Ministers who arranged the service thanks to you. The Exhibition Committee, especially Erica Barnard, the Curator of the Museum. Thanks to you too.
The Catholic Church and Bishop Adams who provided us with a temporary office. We could not have functioned from that distance and be successful. And thank you very much Bishop Adams.
The media - you travel at great risk. From the G7 hearings yesterday to be here to cover these hearings. Without you we would not be able to share these experiences with the nation. Thank you and I know you are looking forward to getting home and getting good sleep.
To Sol Terblanche, again you also travelled at great speed in order to bring us the sound system here today;
Principle of Bridgeton Senior School for providing us with the venue; the Police for taking care of us; the Traffic Department; the people providing the beautiful flowers; the caterers - we had a very good lunch; and the TRC staff team. We look good here, but really let us face it, it is the people in the background, and without our staff team we would not have looked as good as we do now.
May I ask that you leave the head phones. They are useless, you cannot use them for anything. So leave them on your chair.
Before we close I would like to ask Mayor Kroma to say a few words and I am deliberately not saying commitment Mayor because I do not want to put you in the spot, but to say a few words about what has come out, not only from these proceedings, but from the three day proceedings in Oudtshoorn. And after the Mayor we will sing the National Anthem and we will ask Reverend Ghojo to pray for us again.
MAYOR KROMA: Thank you Commissioner Ramashala. I think I have to make a few comments, especially on behalf of the community of Oudtshoorn, who I represent.
In the discussion that we had during the course of the days I did mention a few issues that to me were not very very sound, especially if one looks at the level of participation as was mentioned from the white community of Oudtshoorn. It is an issue that needs to be worked at.
Let me first start by saying as Commissioner Ramashala has mentioned that, you see I move from the opinion that in the past the Oudtshoorn Town Council has played a major role in the violation of human rights of our people.
If you look through the archives of the Town Council and read through the minutes and look at discussions around the Group Areas Act then you would find out that the Town Clerk of the town was the chief Architect of the Group Areas Act. He took to himself to make sure that this issue was done.
You further go on and look at the minutes. I just want to deal with structures that dealt with human rights violations. You look at the JMC's and you look at discussions that happened within Council. Those minutes are down there. Look at the JMC's where the police were planted within the Municipality to do a particular job. They were there where discussions were held in the Municipality.
I am saying that we have a democratically elected Municipality in this town. And that democratically elected Municipality has got a task and the task of making sure that we played a major role in the reconciliation of our people in this country.
One of the major roles that we have to play and that you must play in that Municipality is to make sure that you participate in the whole issue of reparations and the healing of our people in this town. Because if our people are not healed you are not going to be able to have a community to lead at the end of the day. We must and we are compelled to play a role at that level.
I am saying this and I know that I am saying this on behalf of the majority of people in this town of ours and I know that I am saying that on behalf of the majority of the Councillors who are within the Council.
As I mentioned that it is our task people who are here who for the past three days have been part of this whole endeavour. I think what we need to do now is to go to the other side and go and convince our brothers and sisters who are living in town and explain to them the importance of the Truth Commission and the importance of us coming together as a nation and the importance of us living together as brothers and sisters in the spirit of reconciliation, what that can do for our town.
There were people of the opinion that there can be no ways in which the people who were formally oppressed can reconcile within ourselves alone. We need to take our brothers and sisters in hand and bring them along with us.
Even if that meant that we have to do that on a day to day basis and pursue and continue because it is very very important for us to move together.
Let me further say that I hope that this is not the end of the whole process. That I hope that this is the first step towards healing and that with step of today we are going to form something concrete that is going to lead to us having a town that is healed.
Let me further say that, when I am saying these things, when I refer to the town I not necessarily refer to the Town Council, I refer to the people of Oudtshoorn, to the community of Oudtshoorn. Together we can be able to build, to bridge the gap existing between us in this town. Together we can be able to make sure that our idea of reconciliation becomes a reality at the end of the day. I must at this stage say that on behalf of the people of Oudtshoorn, I must thank the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the work that you have been able to start in this town of ours. I do not want to say the work that we have done, but the work that we have been able to start in this town of ours, because I think without your support and without you wisdom and without your advice we would not have been able to reach the point that we have reached today.
I hope that some of the issues that have been raised here, there are issues that are pertinent to our community. I hope that you did not raise these issues and all the submissions that were made here, there are issues that are dealing pertinently to the community. I hope that you did not raise those issued here today in order to walk out of that door and forget about them.
Because tomorrow we will sit again with the very same problems that we are sitting with today. I hope that you are going to make sure that we do our job as the community of Oudtshoorn to make sure that at the end of the day, we have a unified community that we can all be proud of. And a very beautiful town that we are having. God bless you. I thank you.
DR RAMASHALA: Finally may I give special appreciation to my fellow Commissioners and Committee members for their support in helping through this process for the three days and to say a special thanks to my Committee Chairperson for hanging in with us the past three days.
Thank you so very much. May we rise and sing the National Anthem and after that Reverend Ghojo will just close.
The National Anthem of South Africa is sung.