TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION
REIGER PARK POST HEARING
FOLLOW UP WORKSHOP
DATE: 19 APRIL 1997
BISHOP RIGHT REVEREND DAVID BEREGE
N G FOCUS GROUP
HELD AT: BOKSBURG
CHAIRPERSON: People are requested or perhaps people are just reminded or cautioned that if you get to the statement takers room, a statement may not be taken from you, but you will have to register. Therefore, then you will have to give your name, you will have to give your name, your address, perhaps even your telephone number and the ID, your ID number. Particulars, your particulars will be taken, even if you may not give a statement today, for future reference so that you may be consulted to come and give your statement.
We are now beginning. We are beginning now. As we are starting we want just to inform people and that in our programme we have place for submissions and that people would be told if that time has come. When we have listened to all the inputs and I think when we have gone through discussions and questions, I need some clarity, but I think I will have to caution the following people to be prepared themselves if the time arrived. We have someone coming from Youth Group, we have Christian Korf who will be giving us a presentation and we have Lungelo Zondi who will also be giving a presentation on behalf of the NGO's. We have also a NG Church Focus Group, which will make a representation on behalf of White community. We have, and we want to acknowledge at this time, the presence among us of the Right Reverend Berege among us, Anglican Bishop in the Diocese of the South Eastern Transvaal, and Carol, his wife, they are present with us here. We want to give them a warm welcome and, especially us in this area, we are grateful to have them with us here. Perhaps it would be good if the Bishop and Carol just stand up so that we give them a real warm welcome.
Thank you very much and then we will also listen to the SACP representative from Davidton, Bheki, he is around with us here, we have, we will have someone from Khulumani Group, Mr Xakeka and then we have Prisoners Concerned Group, which will be represented by Paulos Xabi Mr and then we have Justice and Peace Catholic Church, Springs. There will be a representative from that group. Now, all these people we will call them if the time arrived. We are going to notify them when programmes arrives at that stage.
Now, we are, I am sure those people who have their machines before, I am not very much familiar with that, I will ask one of the Commissioners to tell us how these machines work so that we are all updated how these machines work and where to switch and where not to switch for this language and that language stations and so on. I am going to ask them to explain before we continue. We are just about to ask Dr Randera to address us, but before he does that, can we just know how to operate, can you listen, please, listen how this machine is going to work so that you are not going out saying that you did not hear. The interpreters, you are going to take this thing and insert into your ears and than you will be asked which language you want to hear. Over to you Doctor.
DR RANDERA: Thank you Rev Mbande. Before I explain how this little box works, I want to actually, personally extend a warm thanks to you and your colleagues for organising this workshop again. I have had the pleasure of attending two workshops - he is not listening, of course, - pleasure of attending two workshops that you organised and both of them were extremely well attended and that says a great deal for the respect that you have in these communities. I thank you for that.
This little box, on the right-hand side, has got numbers and number two is for English translations, number three is for Sotho and number four is for Zulu. We apologise for not having an Afrikaans interpreter. Okay sorry. There is a small technical problem, but everything should be on line within five minutes. Can I also ask people when we come to the discussion time and anybody from the audience wants to speak can they come to the central table and speak into the microphone there. Is that okay? Thank you very much.
Before I start on my, on my brief, which I understand is to give an overall state of where we are within the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I want to make another observation, which is to say that it is, for me, and I am sure, for the other people who participated in the East Rand hearings, it is very good to see a number of people, the witnesses were appeared and other people who attended and it is good to see that everybody is still smiling and well and, at the same time, I want actually thank all the other people who have come from the community. It is good to see such a representation of different communities here today and I am sure that this helps in this whole process of reconciliation that we talking about.
I want to acknowledge the presence of Eddie McKew from the South African Council of Churches, who has just come in now and also our Regional Manager, Patrick Kelly, I am sure some of you heard us singing happy birthday to him earlier on, it is his birthday, I am glad he has come to share it with us today. I think before I go into where we are at, I want to just take a few steps backwards and remind us where we have come from and for me the Constitution speaks with the most wonderful words as to why we have decided to embark, as a country on the Truth and Reconciliation process and if we just go back, most of us I hope have now been given this little books on the Constitution, but the preamble some of the relevant portions of the preamble says, "Since the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa provides a historic bridge between the past of a deeply divided society, characterised by strife, conflict, untold suffering and injustice and a future founded on the recognition of human rights democracy and peaceful coexistence for all South Africans irrespective of colour, race, class, believe or sex and since it is necessary to establish the truth in relationship to past events as well as the motives for and circumstances in which these gross human, violations of human rights have occurred and to make the findings known in order to prevent a repetition of such acts in future, ..."
Are people getting the interpretation now? Yes, great.
"... and since the Constitution states that the pursuit of national unity, the well being of all South African citizens and peace require reconciliation between the people of South Africa and the reconstruction of society and since the Constitution states that there is a need for understanding, but not for vengeance, a need for reparation, but not for retaliation, a need for ubuntu but not for victimisation ...",
and finally the Constitution states,
"That in order to advance such reconciliation and reconstruction, amnesty shall be granted in respect of acts, omissions and offenses associated with political objectives committed in the course of the conflicts of the past ...".
Now all the objectives we have within the Act and to which the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has proceeded, starts from these very fundamental premises. I am not going to deal with the side of reparation because Hlengiwe is going to go into detail as to where we are on that side, but if we come to, first of all, gross human rights violations, the period we are looking for, looking at, just remind ourselves, is between 1960 and May the tenth 1994. Now, when we started our education meetings last year in most parts of the country that closing date was December 1993. We then, because of the number of submissions that have been made to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we applied to the President and Government to look at extending that period to 1994 and that was accepted and I think that is one of the first messages I want to reinforce again.
That at the beginning there were people throughout the country who had come to us and said, look, this happened in January of 1994 and we were not able to accept those statements and certainly, on our side, with, some people kept names, but essentially those people got turned away and today we want to say clearly that the events that took place in 1994, and there are number of different events that took place, some of those that come to mind immediately and I want actually again reiterate those, is if one looks at the Tabott Commission that has been sitting in Mafokeng recently and the, and they are, they were looking specifically at what happened in the then Bophuthatswana in 1994.
Now, all those people have a right now, regardless of the fact that there has been a Commission that has taken, that has been sitting, to come forward and make statements to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Similarly, in the last two weeks in our newspapers, radio, television we have been hearing about what happened at Shell House and in central Johannesburg. Now, again, if there were people from this audience where either family members died or were severely injured on that fateful day, they have a right to come forward and make a statement. So, please, our appeal, again, is that, first of all, statement taking is continuing, although a hearing has taking place in the East Rand and other parts of our country, the statement taking process continues.
The mandate of the commission extends to the 14th of December this year. Our proactive, what we mean by a proactive statement where people are being sent out from our offices and where we have put in place what we call designated statement takers in the communities, that process is going to stop in either the end of June or July, but that does not mean that if people, subsequent to that date, come to our office or send the statement in, we will not be looking at those statements and trying to include those statements.
Having said that let me say that up till now, we have received about 9500 statements in the country. The Johannesburg office which covers Gauteng, Mpumalanga, the North West Province and the Northern Province have taken in, I think 3800 statements, approximately. Now, many of you who have made statements should have and will receive, if you have not up till now, a letter to say that your statement has been received by the Commission and is being looked at through our processes and those processes include going through your statement, looking at all the violations that have taken place and that is where our data processes coming into place feeding that into the computer system and then, subsequent to that, an investigative process takes place. So, this is where some of the problems and I want to share those problems, because I think it is very important as people ask us what has happened to our statement, to understand some of the problems that are happening within the Commission in terms of the process that we have embarked on.
First of all, that whole area of going through a statement and identifying all the violations that have taken place is quite an intense task. Just like our own statement takers have come back and have talked about the difficulties, the pain that they have experienced as you have told your stories to them and the impact and the effect it has had on them, similarly our data processes can only do so many of those statements in one, in any one day. Resources, at the end of the day, are limited. Hence, clearly, although we are catching up, let me say I looked at our income report and we are now up to 72% of all the statements that have come into the office are on the database. That means they have been, not only been registered, but they have been processed and fed into the computer.
Almost a third of those statements, the 3700 I am talking about, more than a third have now been, been corroborated. That means the investigators have written off to police stations, hospitals, other individuals and they have had some sort of response to add value to your, to the statements, because, at the of the day, those of us on the panel and throughout the country who sit on the Human Rights Violations Committee, our responsibility is to make a finding. We cannot just make a finding on what has been said in the statement. So, that is, if you have not heard that some of the reasons, if you have not heard as to that immediate need that has been expressed so many times to us within hearings, who did this and why was it done. These are some of the reasons why we have not been able to come back to you, and even today, why I cannot come back to any one individual and say, look, this is, these are the people who have done it.
Within the Human Rights Violations Committee we have also made a decision that until the amnesty deadline, which is the 10th of May, closes, we are not, even where we have, no sorry let me not make a dogmatic statement. For the majority of people where we have been able to find out what happened, we want to be sure that all the information is in before we can come back to people. Now, there have been exceptions. I am not saying that there have not been exceptions. The Stanza Bopape case is an exception. The hand grenade explosion that took place in some of, two of the areas in this vicinity, where the information has actually come out publicly through the amnesty process. People have read about it and come back. In the Stanza Bopape case we did actually go back, because, one, we were beginning to share it with the media and, therefore, we did not want to, we did not want the family to read about it in the media, we did actually have several meetings with the family to explain to them where our investigations have got to.
So there have been those exceptional cases. Recently, I am sure people have read about the exhumations that have taken place in different parts of the country. Again, so the point I am trying to make and what the message I am getting, trying to get across is that work is going on and that every statement that is coming within the, coming into the Commission, we are beginning to do this low level corroboration that we talking about. Clearly, in many, many statements that have come in, the difficulty that we are going to have and that we are going to have to come back to people and say that through our investigations we have not been able to get the answer.
I think we, as we are 15 months through the life of the Commission, although the Act says and mandates us to try and, to find out what happened, in many instances, as you know yourselves, either the response that we are getting from the police stations is that the, the reports were destroyed, because that was the policy. After so many years the reports were destroyed or and that is going to be part of the report that we finally write. What our investigations have shown is that reports were deliberately shredded, particularly in the early 1992 period, 93 period and 94 period. So, those are the difficulties we are experiencing within the Human Rights Violations Committee and, I hope, that in your questions you will raise other problems that you are experiencing as people you have made with, made statements.
I just want to quickly say something about two other issues. One is the amnesty process. At our recent Commission meeting the Amnesty Committee provided us with the full figures that they have. They have accepted, now, 5500 applications for amnesty and I am sure those numbers are going to go up as we get closer to this deadline of the tenth of May. Of the 5500 statements that have come into the Amnesty Committee, they have dealt with, approximately 1400. Now, some of those are just being dealt with on paper and there, there is 784 that have been dealt with through that process. Amnesty has now been granted to 22 people and it has been denied to 15 people where either through their applications or where a public hearing has taken place.
Now, let me say, again, that within that Committee and also within the Commission, the concern that has come about is are we going to be able to finish the work that we embarked on. That Committee is made up by five people and, of course, has got a support structure within the Commission, but if those applications are going to increase, what are we able to do and we have applied to Government to enlarge that Committee. Within the Act we are allowed to enlarge that Committee to the maximum of 13 people. That has gone forward to the Justice Ministry. Hopefully, within the next few weeks we should be able to hear that, hear from them whether that has been approved and whether Parliament has passed the amendment and that will clearly increase the capacity of that Committee to finish the work that they have embarked on. There still remains that questions mark, are they going to finish what has been started and I think we are not going to be able to give a definite answer until August, September of this year as to how we proceed with that difficulty.
Can I just say one last thing on the Human Rights Violations Committee and I hand over to my colleague and it related to what Hlengiwe is going to be saying on reparation and that is the question, are we only going to be considering people who have made statements to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission when it comes to making a finding and therefore referring that person on for reparation. There are many databases where victims' names are mentioned, people, where gross human right violations took place in the past. Now, clearly all those people are not going to make statements to us and part of the difficulty is where we have the names of those people through these other databases and we are looking at that at the present time, should we be including those names for reparation as well? That is where I want to stop. Thank you very much.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Dr Randera for your input. I hope all the people have already heard what you are saying. We will be given time to ask questions when that time has arrived, because all of us already have got the machine. Could you please, we also, I would like to apologise that there are other people who do not have the machines, the hearing aids, but I think many people are able to listen and understand what is happening. Without wasting much time, people who are going to give statements here, we are requested not to stay here inside we must try and go outside to give the statements, because there are people who are taking statements, they are five. We request five people who will go there and take statements and then as soon as they have made their statements they must come back, to give the statement he will come and take another one, but what is appearing there, the people who are taking statements there must always have people taking statement, let them not be left without doing anything. It is a request that there are five statement takers. If, it would be good to have five people per time going to give their statements. I am sure if people ask the table right at the back there, they will be given direction where the statements are being taken.
Now, we are going forward we are not going to waste time we want to move. We are now going call Ma'am, Mama Mkhize to come forward to come and relate her story here. We are not going to waste time. We are requesting all people to also ask questions, but then they must just wait until such, when that time has arrived.
MS MKHIZE: We greet all of you here today. I believe that we can last the whole day if we keep thanking you, because we in the Truth Commission we are very happy by the way you welcomed us, the way you, as the community, have shown to be very determined to be involved in this process from when there has been hearings here and up until today. My job today here that I have been given is that I must try and explain to you, explain what is reparation policy, the whole issue of reparation to the people. I am going to try and explain this very briefly. It is not very easy for me to explain it at this stage, but I think we will continue to discuss this issue of the reparation policy on how it works out.
The people who conceptualised the Act, the enabling Act, so a person approaching the Truth Commission through making a statement to a point where a person is found to be a victim and referred to our Committee, the Reparation and Rehabilitations Committee, and then questions raised as to what should be done for this person to be able to live like all other human beings. Partly, the purpose of meeting with the communities like this is because we know that when we talk about human rights violations they were not directed at individuals, but individuals within certain communities. So, what we refer to as damage or injuries or the scars of human rights violations of the past, clearly happened and affected communities within which people lived. So, it is important then for us to come back to communities, have discussions with people so that, at the end, when we implement our policy it will not benefit only those individuals, but the communities from which they come from as well.
So, when we talk about the Reparations Policy, it is within the Act, the Act which is facilitating this work, the Act, Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act of 1934, it does make provision for reparations that people who are found to be victims, something should be done for them, they should access reparative measures. So, in formulating this policy we have looked at our own domestic Laws. As you heard Dr Randera was looking even at the Constitution of this country and looking at what it says about reparations and also I would like you to, to remind you that even people who came up with the amnesty clause, at the time when people were debating the future of this country at the World Trade Centre, the President of this country, at that time he was a President of the ANC, he did make a plea that it would be important to have a systematic way of addressing the past. So, when we talk about reparative measures and rehabilitation, we are thinking of ways of restoring peoples' dignity, systematic ways. In other words, ways which will be apply universally across the board and will be guided by certain policies.
So, in formulating our policy as to what should be done for people, we look at what is in the database. In other words, we look at information, as people makes statements that is taken and accumulated in a particular manner and then it tells us about the requests people have. People have wishes, they tell us that when making a statement, those of you who have made a statement, you will remember that there was a question which asked you as to what you are hoping to get by appearing before the Commission or making a statement, because you qualify for reparation whether you appeared before the commission or not.
So, besides information which is in people's statements, also there is a Research Department which is always looking at all the information that we can get, local and overseas, wanting to know what has been done in other countries for people who were exposed to gross human rights violations like torture, the killings, abductions, long term imprisonment and so on. Also, we have had meetings with different communities, talking to people about reparation measures so that what people are saying, like what you will be saying today, is very, very important. It forms the co-part of what we will take forward to the President and say our reparation and rehabilitation measures should be along these lines and what we are doing is just not one of those exercises, but it is very, very important, because it is like giving a voice to what will determine your future tomorrow.
So, what we have developed so far is that when we talk about Reparations Policy it should be in two categories. There is what we call urgent interim reparation, reparations. In other words, there is a kind of assistance which is needed during the life of the Commission which needs to be implemented now. Like people who are making statements and are found to be in urgent needs. What we have found so far is that people's needs tend to fall generally under four categories. Some people following what they experience, they have pressing medical needs. People will say when I was imprisoned I developed this condition or I was shot at and as a results I am on the wheel chair, I need these kinds of medical equipments to survive. So, for those people it is clear that they need to be assisted urgently. We cannot wait and say the Reparations Policy will be implemented at the end of the life of the Commission, so, they can wait and only benefit then.
Then some people have got pressing educational needs. Like people who say so and so was killed and the children have gone up to matric and people who are looking after them cannot take them beyond this, they cannot afford. So, we consider that as urgent and some people were exposed to human right violations, were tortured and as a results even if they try to go back to school they have learning problems, which need special care and in this country that is costly and some people are in need of shelters. They were left with no shelter. So, that, also, we consider to be urgent and some people have got urgent needs. My colleague Prof Piet Meiring will develop that, what we call, symbolic reparations. He will tell you a little bit more about what should be done now and at the time when we are, the President is implementing the final Reparations Policy.
So, regarding what is urgent, we have proposed that it should be the Commission, I must make this clear, is not an implementing body. We are facilitating at this point in time. The Government, as far as I know, is setting up an implementing body within the Ministry of Justice. The regulations has just been finalised which are going to determine how is this going to be done and that, I should think, will be done within, now, the next four to six weeks, but what I need to say about what we call urgent interim reparation is that it is really assisting people on a very small scale. Like, if you can show that you have this need and you cannot get it from existing Ministries, then people will qualify for a small grant, a small amount of money to be able to access the kind of help which they need and which they think, which they believe it is not accessible or it is not available in their communities. So, from that point of view, one will qualify for urgent interim assistance.
But then the actual Reparations Policy will be implemented at the end of the life of the Commission. When we, as a Commission close shops, when we close down, the President's office will have an implementing body which will make sure that each and every person who is found to be victim is awarded a reparations grant. Having said that, it is not a contradiction of what I said about people's needs. People with medical needs, mental health needs, educational assistance, material needs in the form of shelter who have qualified for urgent interim will be fast track, in other words, will be put first when final reparation is implemented. They will still benefit, but in this instance, it will be a proper award. This is very, very important.
As a Commission we have reached a point where we have taken a stand that there is no way in which perpetrators can be given amnesty, in other words, free from any civil claims and victims not be given a decent grant to be able to claim or restore their dignity and to be live as people with rights in their country. So, from that point of view, we strongly recommend to the President that people should be awarded a reasonable grant which will enable them to live like all other citizens who have had opportunities and whose life has not been interrupted through struggling against the injustices of the past.
I know that is often problematic in the sense that people will start saying, but this country has no resources, but at the same time we have a problem. We, even if we do not have resources, there are obligations which we cannot compromise, things which are a moral obligation are a moral obligation. If people's rights were violated in the past, it becomes almost impossible and it becomes difficult to explain to the community of South Africa and even to the international community that we can just say, thank you, this country has no resources. So, those are the struggles that we are faced with and we can only overcome them with a support of the people of South Africa not only the people who made the statements.
When it comes to the question of money, how do we then restore people's dignity within their communities? We are not only looking at the Government, we are looking also at the business community of South Africa that it is very, very important for them to make real commitments in making sure that communities, which in the past became enemies and were divided on superficial racial grounds, can begin to claim their citizenship and see themselves as people of this country and begin to enjoy diversities. You know, sometimes when you go to other countries and see people who have developed an identity of that country enjoying even the differences and talking freely about those differences, be it cultural or racial differences, you envy them, because you feel in our case we have not reach that point. So, we are hoping that the Government will be supported by the business community in making real commitments in terms of supporting whatever programmes that might be deemed desirable for restoring peoples' dignity.
The international community has played a major role in putting in some money in the President's fund towards the support of survivors of human rights violation and that is appreciated a lot. So, having just said that, I want to emphasise the value of having community submissions, because, again, if we restore individual dignities, we would have failed as a Commission. Divisions existed not only within individual, it was not an individual thing, but also communities were left in a bad shape. So we are hoping (end of tape 1A) ... within communities which will promote reconciliation, because we strongly believe that national reconciliation will only be achieved if different communities come together as one and talking about what should be done at a national level as well.
My colleague on the left Professor Piet Meiring is going talk about one category or which I just mentioned, symbolic reparation at both levels, urgent interim reparations and at a final stage, final reparation measures.
PROF MEIRING: Thank you, friends. Just very briefly, it happens often at the hearings that when a victim comes to the fore and the question is asked, why have you come, what is your circumstance, what is your real need, that the father or the mother or the young person would say I do not want money, I do not want a wheelchair or this or that, but I really want is a tombstone for the father of the family. When he was buried he was a victim, we could not afford to bury him properly with a tombstone, can you help us with that? Other people will say, we need a death certificate, we need this or that. Many of these requests we cover with the umbrella term of symbolic reparation.
When we talk about symbolic reparation, either on the urgent level where people need things to be done now very urgently or as part of the final proposals that will be only implemented by the beginning of next year, we have to think about the number of things. On an individual level, when people talk about symbolic reparation, they will start thinking about things like we need the information, what really, really happened to my beloved. The HRV Committee, Dr Randera's Committee, will be able to help us with that. Many people say that is the most important of all, I want to know and only after I know I will be able to rest.
Some people say, as I said, can you help us with a tombstone, can you help us with the exhumation and the reburial of our beloved. In the newspapers last week there were many stories in the Eastern Cape, in other parts of the country where fallen heros were put in a secret grave and know it is rediscovered, the bones are exhumed and the people have to be reburied. That is part of symbolic reparation. We can imagine that next year when the final proposals are implemented many people will come to the fore and say we can never rest, somewhere in Tanzania, somewhere in Namibia my beloved rests and the bones have to be brought back to the family grave. Other people would like to say, what we really need is a death certificate. Somebody has disappeared, the father of a family, the husband, we cannot settle matters, we need a death certificate, can you help us with that? All those things are symbolic reparation on an individual level.
Then on a community level other things come to the fore. When we, as happened at the East Rand hearings, as happened in Sebokeng when we went to the Vaal Triangle, people will say something needs to be done in our community to help us remember the past, to help us live with the future, maybe we should rename the streets of the community to recall the names of the heroes, maybe some of the townships can be renamed, maybe we should have a memorial or a small monument or a cenotaph with the names of fallen heroes. That is symbolic reparation.
On a national level you can start dreaming dreams about the things we can do. Many peoples talk about peace parks, or new memorials or a monument or a national day of remembrance and reconciliation. We hope that when people catch on, start thinking about symbolic reparation on a national level, the whole artistic community in South Africa will help us think through these issues, that the school children, that the whole nation will start thinking with us and developing with us new ideas on memorials and monuments and a special day of remembrance of reconciliation of the nation, but all those concerns, they are covered by the umbrella term of symbolic reparation and on an urgent level and on a final level we have to take note of that.
Today in the Eastern Cape, in the former Transkei, in Thala there will be a ceremony where people have been exhumed the, bodies been collected and the family and the whole community will come to a grave and there the person will be reburied with proper ceremony, with all the things that need to be done. That is part of symbolic reparation. Thank you very much.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much to Mrs Mkhize and Prof Father Meiring for having given us that explanation. Now we are going to go ahead and we are going to, we are going to go to item number seven, for those people who have got the programmes. We are going ahead now, we are going to item number seven on our programme and item number seven, you will see, that, that we have got what is called Focus Group Report. That is the item we are moving on to now. The very first thing that we already done, there is Reverend Dludlu
who is going to do poetry although his position was taken by Reverend Zitha, but now that he is here, we are going to go ahead, the very first person.
This is a very urgent request from Bishop Berege who will be in this situation, that will be the very first person who will be path finder here in this focus group reports. We, therefore, request him to come forward.
Already we have been sitting and listening for quite a lot, we have listened to about five or four speakers. How would it be that, maybe, we must cut the things a bit. We will combine number seven and number eight. Number seven and number eight will be combined, because if I look at, if you look in your programme you find that number seven comes first. We should be getting this focus group report, but we also would like want to get questions, but the people who have made requests to come and speak here are already here, I do have their names as I have already called out others. I have already called Bishop Right Reverend David Berege, he is the one is going to come to the podium now to make his submission.
BISHOP BEREGE: Commission, firstly, I would like to thank the Commission for inviting me to make this presentation. I do so aware of the magnitude of your task and I am also aware of the pain and the depth of feeling there is in the lives of so many people in this area. As Bishop of the Anglican Church in this area, I have been a member of numerous pastoral visits by church leaders to areas affected by the violence, especially during the period from 1990 to 1994. The role of the church has been a prophetic, pastoral and reconciling role in this area, not only during the years I have mentioned, but before that period and that role continues today.
Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu was at the funeral of Makhi Skhosana in Duduza and played a vital role in mediation on that occasion. The late Bishop, Sam Mkhwani, during his time as Regional Bishop in this area, also played an active role in our different communities. For myself, the memory of the violence and the pain in the different communities on the East Rand will always remain with me. I think of the people of Polla Park, who had to flee their homes on more than one occasion and the people of Eden Park who accommodated them. It seemed to me and to other church leaders, that there was sufficient evidence to suggest a third force was operative in the area in that time.
I think to a visiting a community hall in Palm Ridge and talking to a woman whose husband had gone missing and she was unable to find him and I think too of the occasion in Davidton when I was asked to preach at a memorial service for the victims of a massacre in that area, standing with a man whose house had been burnt and his two children had died in the fire. There are many such events that the church leaders and the ministers of the different denominations will remember vividly. I want to say a special word of tribute to those ministers who lived and worked in those areas of violence and who were agents of Christ's love, healing and reconciliation to the people they served.
I want to look, very briefly, at what I regard as the value of the TRC to the church and to the world. Firstly, the power of forgiveness. To forgive is the hardest thing in the world even in relatively minor matters, but in South Africa we are daily seeing, through the TRC, the power of forgiveness in the healing of a torn society. Andrew Elfinston has said this,
"Pain which hurts unnecessarily and sinfully is capable of performing a vital function for spiritual growth. It is the means of calling for love at a more than natural, in other words at a supernatural level, a love which can disregard the pain experienced and continue to go out undiminished towards the perpetrator. That love which seeks to remain undeterred and undiminished in the face of pain is none other than the principle ingredient to forgiveness. Forgiveness is the crowning accomplishment of love both in God and in man. Forgiveness is specifically a matter of dealing with pain. Forgiveness describes the positive redemptive response to pain in which, for loves sake, the hurt is contained by refusal to return it with anger and in which love and goodwill are maintain unbroken towards the offender. The original hurt is isolated and, so being contained within the hurt person, is not instrumental in bringing about an increase in the total amount of pain and the consequent proliferation of evil. The original offender is not provoked to renew defence and the evil is robbed of its power to do further damage. The original hurt person has contained and not returned the hurts and so as to continue the feeling of suffering of it. However, the motive for doing so is the preservation of a relationship for loves sake and when the supernatural will to love has become entirely dominant over the natural will to take revenge, the pain is absorbed or redeemed and the hurt person and healing flows from that person to the original offender. A pain is being transformed by grace into a source of love for both people."
Elfinston is describing the kind of love that Christ had on the cross and which was his ultimate victory, but his one of primary commands to his followers to forgive as our Father in heaven forgives. It has been a gut-wrenching experience for we Christians of this country, who fail so miserably and so often in the whole matter of forgiveness, to hear some of the bereaved families of victims of brutality, torture and murder say before the Commission I do not want revenge, there has been enough blood share, I simply want to know what happened and to have back the body of my husband, son, daughter, wife so I can give him or her a proper burial.
Or even more moving, the woman who was asked by Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the end of her testimony, what you want the Commission to do for you and replied, I would like you to enable me to meet the man who killed my son so that I can look him in the eye and tell him that I can forgive him.
These are but two examples of an amazing power to forgive that has been released in many of those who were victims of the apartheid regime including our President, Nelson Mandela. The fact that they have no bitterness or desire for revenge means that the pain has been robbed of its power to provoke evil in a vicious, proliferating circle and if love rules the reaction to it and the evil one has been defeated by the heart of his strategy. This has been a powerful and incalculable challenge and rebuke and encouragement to the church. These people have shown that it is possible to forgive even the most horrendous crimes and it is possible to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and share his sufferings by becoming like Him in his death. That is imitating His response to pan and receiving the worse that evil could hurl at him and never once faltering in love by seeking retaliation, violence for violence or by despising and thinking evil of this tormentors.
And, secondly, the power of story telling. It has given the opportunity for people to tell their story, stories which should never been told before. In his book, Resurrection, Rohan William says that,
"There is no healing of the wound until the wound is exposed and exposed as lost, as loss ..."
There were so many unhealed wounds before the TRC began its work. The evidence of those who have given witness that by telling their story, they have shared a burden and found a new sense of peace. This is very obvious from the sheer look of some of them as they walk out of the meetings of Commission. Archbishop Tutu has said truth will ultimately out, it cannot be concealed forever. It is in its very nature to reveal, to throw light to clarify what is hidden. There are ways and ways of telling our stories and we are not encouraging people to relive and retell their stories endlessly and promiscuously, never moving forward, never leaving the past behind.
We retell our painful stories so that we shall remember the years that lie behind with all their struggles and terror as the way that led to new life, in the Christian terms, to resurrection and freedom. At a time when we saw God at work transfiguring evil and suffering into something for His Glory and for our growth, but as long as we, as the new life is not fully ours, the memories will continue to cause pain. When we keep reliving painful events of the past, we can feel victimised by them.
I am told there are two ways of telling our story. Firstly, to tell it compulsively and urgently, to keep returning to it, because we see our present suffering as the result of our past experiences or, secondly, we can tell our story from the place where it no longer dominates us. We can speak about it with a certain distance as we see it as a way to our present freedom. The past, ultimately, loses its weight and its power to trap us and can eventually be remembered as one way in which we experience God as rich in mercy, overflowing with compassion and tenderness, God the Comforter. So, the church has had a powerful and visible evidence of God's continuing work of resurrection and transfiguration. We have seen these great gospel events coming alive in our own day and in our own situation. A true form of contextual theology.
The truth always goes hand in hand with justice. We do not tell our stories only to release the dammed up tears that have waited years to be shed. It is in order that truth should be uncovered and justice seen to be done. Even though it is not the work of the TRC to pass judgement or sentence on the oppressors, it has led many perpetrators of crimes to seek amnesty. That is good for them. The Chairman may speak sternly and, in some case, refuse amnesty. That rightly demonstrates that truth can be tough. The refusal to grant amnesty is a sign that the TRC is not a body setting out simply to show leniency, but, more especially, that it requires justice before there can be reconciliation. Reconciliation is not taking the least line of resistance, reconciliation is profoundly costly.
What we have been seeing in the work of the TRC and the Amnesty Commission is the outworking of the values of the Kingdom of God. We have seen God redeeming time, we have seen God's victory over evil, lived out in the lives of ordinary, simple, downtrodden people. We are seeing an answer to the prayer, Your Kingdom Come, as that Kingdom is establishing itself in little pockets of the nations life where healing and forgiveness are flowing. The power in all this has often been a rebuke to those of us who squeal at the least little slight or hurt and harbour grudges for years. We ought to be a purer, humbler and more vibrant church for being part of this process, for being here in South Africa at this particular time in its history, where God's judgement is made evident in mercy and in wrath and where God's power to heal and restore to wholeness, is the testimony of so many.
What is happening in the different communities through the TRC should be a witness forever to succeeding generations and a sign of hope to those countries, for example, Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Zaire and the Middle East, where there is a great need for the healing of national and tribal memories stretching over centuries of enmity, that it is possible to be reconciled, for reconciliation is at the heart of God who was, in Christ, reconciling the world in all its hatred, divisions, evil and strife to Himself.
The value of the TRC has been that it has enabled this process by giving people the opportunity to tell their story, to hear the truth and, after all the literal meaning of truth, (...indistinct) in the Greek is a clearing, a clearing of mists, a clearing of blockages and, in terms of the TRC, a clearing of misunderstanding and prejudices, a clearing of the many deceptions and lies, a clearing of the smoke-screens that have been created to conceal human wickedness, cruelty, oppression, corruption and crime. It has released a mighty force for good as apartheid released for evil. It is a supernatural power defying natural, human inclinations for revenge, but since South Africa lives in a kind of global fishbowl at present, this power will be felt far beyond the borders simply of our country. It is the power that has all the original dynamism of the cross which stands dominating the world scene. Of course there are those who are finding it difficult at this stage to forgive, but it seems to me the majority are able to do so and have embarked on a journey of peace and harmony.
The TRC also keeps us in touch with the history of more recent years of this country, that is salutary. Someone once said history repeats itself, it has to because we never learn from it. So, there is an imperative to learn some invaluable lessons through all that is coming out of the Commission hearings and the TRC has enabled some to complete unfinished business either in incomplete grieving or a guilt feeling that insufficient gratitude has been shown for the support given by clergy, doctors, journalists who risked their lives to be alongside those in the thick of violence. There is a need to recall the bonds forged to the courageous actions of the ones who put their lives at risk by coming alongside those in the struggle. We record, with gratitude, all such people.
In this area of the East Rand, there is still much healing and reconciliation to take place. The work of the church in that regard, of your Commission and of all the people who seek reconciliation and healing will continue, but you and your work, as a Commission, have enabled that work to begin and for that we are grateful to you. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: There is a request, Bishop, that you please remain for a while, the Commissioners have some questions, please. Commissioners, over to you.
MS MKHIZE: Father, Bishop, you have mentioned that the majority of people are finding it difficult to forgive and I know of instances when some people who had given testimony before had said, I am willing to forgive, but the moment the people who were perpetrators came before the Amnesty Committee to tell of the deeds that they had done, the same people who had said they are willing to forgive turned back and just cannot find it within themselves to forgive. How can we, how can these people for are finding it difficult to forgive be helped through especially by the church?
BISHOP BEREGE: Yes.
MS MKHIZE: And those who may not be members of churches?
BISHOP BEREGE: Thank you. I think, I, what I did say was that I think most people are finding it, are able to forgive, but there are those who are not finding it easy to forgive. I think the work of the church, the NGO's, the community organisations, our work will continue for many years. The pain, it is said that within this area, a figure that I did not quote, that between 1990 and 1994 8500 people died through political violence in this area. There are very few communities that were unaffected by the violence during that period alone and I think peoples' feelings and emotions are very precious and you do not overcome that easily.
What we have to do is to provide the support for them to continue that journey and be, for their, be there for them in order that that process of healing can take its course. I do not think, for many people, it is just a once off. There are times when that will come back and we need to be there for them and my hope and prayer is that we, as a church, and I talk not just for the Anglican Church, but for every church within this area, will provide facilities for that healing to continue and I think all I can do is to urge the churches to take that very seriously.
DR RANDERA: Bishop, thank you very much for the early words of comfort and support, but if I can just, perhaps, push you a little on what you have said. Clearly, as we come back into communities one of the objectives has to be towards what can we do towards all this pain that we are experiencing and I understand what will happen directly through the church, your services, etcetera, but, if I can ask, what other resources can the church make available towards contributing to this healing process on the one side and, similarly, we have to accept that, you have alluded to that by saying not everybody is willing to forgive and some people find it very difficult, but within this community that we are talking in, at the present time, the conflicts were at different levels. There was the level between the State and the liberation forces. Within communities there was the conflict between the ANC and IFP. There was the SPU's and the SDU's. Now, again, just if we look at that level of different communities, White, Black, political communities, how do you see the church playing its role in bringing about that reconciliation that we so badly need in this country.
BISHOP BEREGE: Ja. Can I just, in addition, raise other issues? I mean, I think what we have here on the East Rand, which I am deeply concerned about, is the very high level of unemployment, for example, which makes seeking opportunities even more difficult and I am very concerned about social infrastructures as well. I do not think the church can do it on its own. I think what the church has got to do is to realise its own limitations and, firstly, work ecumenically, but, secondly, work with local authorities, with NGO's to make the facilities available that they do have. I think, within the church, what we can do is to offer what we have got in terms of counselling facilities, for example.
We have also got buildings and facilities and that we could make available, but we cannot do that on our own. I think very often the church can be quite presumptuous in thinking we can do more than what we can. What we have to do is to work very, very closely with NGO's, with local communities, with organisations and to be a support for those. The, as you rightly said, the conflict in this area was incredibly complex. For example, the situation in the Thembisa would be very different from the situation in Tekoza and so, therefore, it has got to be brought down to a very local level and to get the people, for example, in each area to determine what could happen.
Also, I think we need to, the church needs to resource and have contacts in terms of education, in terms of all the structures of our society. I see the church being one of many role players, but I want the church to be one and not to withdraw now, believing that the work is over.
MS SEROKE: Mine, I should think is related to what other colleagues have just said. Maybe mine much more specific. I really do not know, wherever we go it is becoming clearer and clearer to us that till such time that there is justice in terms of the distribution of resources, there is no way in which we can think of reconciliation and healing and just looking at the church, we are really privileged to have you as a Bishop, just looking at the church, some of us, more and more, think that the church can show the way through meaningful exchanges or contacts between, within the same faith. Like the Anglican, let us say, at Bryanston and the Anglican Church at Alexandria. So, but at the same time, it is not happening, but we really appreciate their prayers and the role of the church, but it is like there is something, the church is not making a breakthrough. I do not want us to appear to be putting pressure on the church, but we still feel the church can show the way in ways which will, really, make people of this country to move towards reconciliation, to begin to reconcile.
BISHOP BEREGE: Can I respond and I respond now, because I cannot speak for other churches, I want to respond as an Anglican and as an Anglican Bishop of this area and I cannot speak for other Bishops, but I think one of the things that concerns me most within the church, that nine o' clock on a Sunday morning is one of the most segregated moments, still within our country, because people will worship in segregated ways in a sense. You can be integrated on Saturday night at the cinema and segregated on Sunday morning in worship and that is a real problem and I do not believe that the church can say we have got it right yet.
The church, too, is on a journey. The church has to deal with its own transformation as part of the transformation of society. The church has to look at its structures, the church has to look at the sharing of its resources, the church has to look, for example, at its land that it has and how it can use its resources in a healing way for the benefit of our society. The church has a long road to travel until it can really say we are a transformed church and the church has its own role to play, a journey to play, to go on at this time. I think that if we can be part of societies transformation it would help us more, but the church, and again I say this only from my own perspective, the church is part of this journey, not because it has completed the journey, but because, in its own way, going through its own transformation and need for transformation and we are, and our need is as great as societies need.
MR MANTHATA Sorry to butt in at the last minute. Mine is more a proposition to give to the Bishop to share and discuss with other churches about its visibility. One of the greatest resources that we have as an underdeveloped community and that we need to share and make accessible to the underdeveloped is the education and the church has the education. Can the church consider taking back or reviving its mission schools where a resource of this importance, that is education, has to be shared or to be given to the people, should not come from the Government only, more especially, when we want to establish a tradition of observance and respect of human rights. We have a classical example in South Africa of the Afrikaans speaking churches which so, which see so much salvation in the church that they stick to, what they call, Christelik onderwys, our strength before 1950, that is in the cycle of Bantu Education, was coming from the churches themselves as they were able to give both education and training. That is our request that in more meaningful terms, let the churches reconsider reviving their own schools where they will put in place the culture of learning, the culture of diligence, the culture of respect of property, the culture of respect of human life. Thank you.
BISHOP BEREGE: I would want to say that I would accept that as a challenge. I think on the East Rand it is vital where schools, and even to this day very recently in KwaThema, we have had the disruption of education and I am very concerned about, as I go through, you know, places like Davidton and Thembisa, Watville, Khatlehong, Tekoza, weekly, to see how many children are still walking around the streets during the day when they should be at school and the facilities. I think it is imperative that we, as a church, regain our emphasis on education and do that as speedily as possible and I accept that and I will take that forward as well.
I want to say that I think we do, the church is able to do something in education. Not by, you know, not by believing we know the answers, but it is, we are able to engage with society and one of the things that I look for in a church of the future is not a church that withdraws from society, but a church engages with society and with the communities on all issues and I think that we, there is a danger in which I think the church can say we were part of the struggle against apartheid and now we can withdraw. I think the role of the church is different, I think the role of the church, but there is a danger for us retreating and what we have got to learn to do as a church, is not from a position of arrogance or strength, but from a position of acknowledging our own weakness, from a position of acknowledging our own brokenness to be engaged with society and with the community and we need to be a church that engages through a sense of powerlessness with society for the benefit of that society. I think education is one way in which we can do that.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Bishop. We are going to request that we move forward now. Thank you very much for your input and answering our questions. Now we are going to go on. We are going to request the three people to prepare themselves as I have already promised you that we are going to combine. We will combine this section with the questions, but at the moment I will request that these must be the only people who must come forward, the people, I have been given their name under item seven with regard to focus group report. We are going to request Christiaan Korf, thereafter Lungelo Zondi and then follows Bheki of SACP. I will request them to follow one another like that and we will see how we are going to move on. We can also ask questions thereafter. We are going to give up Christiaan Korf.
MR KORF: Thank you Mr Chairman, members of the panel and co-South Africans. May I just, as an introduction, state that I do not formerly represent today, here, any specific organisation. I do not speak on behalf of the Dutch Reformed Church although I am a member of the Dutch Reformed Church and I was contacted by Prof Meiring who, I believe, is also a member of the Dutch Reformed Church. So, I will not be speaking of any or communicating any official standpoints of the church itself, merely those of youths, as I will elaborate on later.
The subject of discussion which I was requested to discuss with you is the perception of the White Afrikaner Youth of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
INTERPRETER: The interpreters do not have an English/Afrikaans interpreter.
DR RANDERA: Chairperson, if I can just stop Mr Korf for a minute because we do not, at the present time, have an Afrikaans interpretation and I wonder whether it is possible, isn't there somebody we can ask? Thank you very much indeed. I think it will help a great deal. Mr Korf , if we can just get things organised, wait for two minutes. (End of tape 1B).
CHAIRPERSON: Our problem is that we do not know, problem, now those who have earphones are going to understand Afrikaans, because it is going to be translated, interpreted into English and Sesotho, but we are very sorry because we have a limited number of head sets. Now, please, do borrow each other the headset so that we can all listen.
MR KORF: Chairperson, if, Mr Chairman, if it is of any help I will attempt to conduct this submission in English, it is my second language, if you will please bear with me and if you will forgive me if, during the course of my submission, I just here and there fall back on Afrikaans where I experience problems, then I can proceed.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much and our brother is going to try and express himself in English and where he has problems he will refer to Afrikaans. Please proceed.
INTERPRETER: Okay, just turn it down a bit.
MR KORF: Let us try again, third time lucky.
INTERPRETER: Proceed. This will be the English translation onto the floor, all right.
MR KORF: Fourth time lucky. Right, thank you. I was asked to talk to you about the perception of the White Afrikaner youth of the TRC. This aspect is quite interesting, because in a certain sense, because it reveals something of the first post-apartheid generation. It reveals something about that their perception about apartheid. I was also asked to talk to you about ways, about how reconciliation can be achieved on a local level. It is important that I do not rely on any research on this subject, but I am merely giving my personal opinion on this regard. It is my opinion as a person who is involved with various youth groups. This specific youth, Afrikaner youth group, the group that I have go contact with is of average socio economic class.
The perception of the youth is formed by listening to the TRC's activities. First-hand experience has been achieved by first-hand experience from people involved in this which was perpetrated against either him or his parents or his family and which after that, you know, has been revealed to the TRC. The most revelation is being achieved by, unfortunately, quite often, the sensational reports are being relayed in the media which is not necessarily being in relation to reality. A further example of a first-hand experience where a child or his family has perpetrated the human rights violations and then such a person has to appear before the Commission.
I want to make a differentiation between two groups. First is the more senior members of the youth who has experienced the end of so-called apartheid. That would be the start of the transformation years, roughly the mid-80's to the early 90's. These people would be in their mid- twenties at the moment, early thirties maybe. We have to differentiate, though, between some children who were politically active shortly before the arrival of the new South Africa. I would first like to deal with the perception of the young youth or the junior youth.
The junior youth have a deep rooted feeling that we have to learn the truth and the truth has to be learnt regardless of whether people are going to be prosecuted or not. When these children have to be confronted, though, with the possibility that their parents may be prosecuted, obviously, there were a little bit of reservation and doubt about this. These young people also focus on whether affected people has the right to know what happened. We, one can think about the unanswered questions from a person or next to kin of somebody who simply disappeared. The truth has to be known regardless of the potential negative reaction from whatever quarters. The junior youth is also convinced that the truth is necessary for reconciliation.
I will now deal with the perceptions of the senior youth. At, with the senior youth there is a definite, you could call it a contradiction in their or, I do not know if that is the word you are looking for, in their perceptions, there is two sides in their believes. They accept the findings of the TRC, but they are disillusioned with some of the revelations, they are definitely disillusioned with it. They feel that it is better that the past should be buried and forgotten. It also seems that they are more likely to criticise the activities of the TRC. They are unhappy about the proper testing of the evidence before the Commission, they feel there is a danger of one-sidedness, you know, maybe that the TRC is not fair in its treatment of both sides, the danger of a witch-hunt and the unnecessary long, drawn up process of seeking for amnesty and applying for amnesty.
Another other aspect is the issue of admission of guilt. The Dutch Reformed Church has already put forward its position on apartheid and have already apologised for it. The youth, however, were not that deeply involved with the apartheid years and, therefore, they feel that they should not necessarily apologise for what happened in those years, it was more the work of their parents. They do feel, however, that they should apologise, that they should apologise for, that they are guilty of day to day racism.
I would now like to talk to you about how we can promote reconciliation on a local level. It is very important that the TRC realises that parents and their deep rooted beliefs that children can be very effectively affected by that. We can think, where a child, for instance, confronts his parents with the problem questions around issues such, issues such as the moral justification of apartheid. The TRC will have to build on legitimacy and trust by making evidence tested declarations in contradiction to the media reporting, who are often full of sensation. Also, the TRC have to eliminate negative perceptions in answer to some of the criticism levelled against it.
This can easily be achieved if we have, if we debate the issues about the TRC on school level and on the church level, these things can be achieved by debate. Also, very important by organised attendance, by, it can be, by organising attendance, of meetings such as this, by White students. The TRC has to ...
INTERPRETER: Just continue please.
MR KORF: The TRC have to give each child the opportunity to dream. We as, for us us as adults we cannot do this anymore, we cannot dream anymore. The TRC have to help us to create a dream and a vision of the future. We need a vision of a free and just society and, most important, a peaceful new South Africa. I thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Can we please reserve the questions for later? We will quickly request Lungelo Zondi to come forward and IMSA. They should both come to the front please. If Lungelo Zondi is here let him come forward please. If Lungile is not available, we carry on and we request Bheki from Daveyton branch of the SACP to come forward and he will be followed by N G focus group. This group will come just after Bheki.
BHEKI: Thank you chairperson and, only, and also thank the panel members. I have been requested by the TRC, through Inspector Ngcobo, to come and talk about the reparation process. Without much waste of time, I will get to the point, right to the question of reparations. I can just say that, Mr Chairperson, most of the aspects that I was going to talk about on the question of reparations have already been, been captured in the inputs that were made by Hlengiwe and by the Chairperson or Mr Manthata. However, I would make the following inputs with respect to the question of the TRC, of the reparations. I would speak about the concept itself of the reparations, speak about the process which has to be undertaken with respect to the question of the reparation process.
The reparation process, as it is defined in the Oxford dictionary or, perhaps, in each and every dictionary, means compensation for the loss or damages suffered as a result of a course of a war normally demanded from a defeated enemy, but as we have come to understand it in our own South African situation, it has meant a process of healing. The wounds of a new society in the merging whereas the question of compensation cannot be ignored, especially for those adversely affected by gross human rights violations, but the emphasis here, Mr Chairperson, is on the question of the healing process that has to go through or that our society has to go through.
A society that has rid itself free of, free from the question or questions of racial discrimination, questions of injustices in respect of work in relation to human rights violations and others is associate, and other issues associated with it. A society that has come to accept the reality of its diversity in terms of its own religious and cultural and racial heritage, but that has, necessarily, set itself an objective or one of oneness, in the struggle, perhaps, I should say, of fighting against poverty, crime and other aspects related to any injustice that could be created in the process of human life.
Therefore, this objective of oneness, Mr Chairperson, cannot be realised without looking back at where we are coming from and beginning to correct the mess or the mistakes that we have committed. (Speaker cut off).
NG FOCUS GROUP: ... Zondi was going to talk. We are a network of NGO's looking at bringing together victims and perpetrators to actually allow people to meet face to face, because that is what we believe reconciliation is essentially about, to establish that communication between people, that the Truth Commission is mainly about revealing the truth but it does not bring people together and so what we are trying to do is to find out where victims and perpetrators are willing to meet face to face, because a lot of victims have said that they want to find out certain questions, they want to confront the perpetrator and tell them this is how you have affected my life, this is what my life is now like, because of what you did and we want answers for these and these things. There are perpetrators who have said I would like to meet with the victim, I want to apologise, I want to show that I am sorry for what I did and it is very difficult for people to meet face to face. There needs to be a process that allows them to come together, there needs to be a safe place for them to meet, there needs, and we have people trained, we have organisations who are willing to bring those people together. So, in a place where they can speak their mind, both sides, where it is safe for them to do so and where all these questions can be answered and maybe we can contribute to reconciliation, we can contribute to some form of justice, maybe some form of reparation, but that is not the main aim, and ja so I just leave it like that.
That is what we think and we want to involve other organisations, the churches and other organisations working with victims and with perpetrators to join us in this process. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. We will now ask the last speaker, who is from Springs, to come forward so we may go on to the next item. Justice and peace? Are you representing Justice and Peace?
INTERPRETER: The speaker is not audible enough.
CHAIRPERSON: Greater Springs. Thank you.
MR SHONGWE: So, thanks Reverend MC and I will also like to thank the Commissioners to have invited us to present our side as a group.
CHAIRPERSON: Can you just, can you give us your name, your name.
MR SHONGWE: My name is Michael Shongwe, from Justice and Peace, Kristo Nkosi KwaThema. So, we thank you for having invited us through to come and present our side or our input, first on the evaluation and on the initiatives as what could be done to fulfil the primary objective of the TRC. Well, our group have felt, at KwaThema in particular, that the co-ordination of the TRC was poorly done and such a fact that we do not even, sure that you have collected enough statements at KwaThema, yet KwaThema is still, now, on flames through what have been plant so many years ago by the agents of the third force. So, that is the feeling of the group.
Yet, we do appreciate that, through the media, we have learned that the truth have been actually revealed as who were these shadows behind the works and the activities of the third force, which have existence in our midst and, as I have said, we are still suffering at KwaThema. I think it is the only place, if not in Gauteng, would I say in the East Rand where the killing fields are widening and people are dying everyday. So, we would have loved if, I do not know whether the TRC have actually tried again, I know that we were aware that they did come to KwaThema while you were on your last hearing in the Far East Rand, but I do not think at KwaThema you had a success to organise a hearing and you we worried about the statement. This is the feeling and the evaluation would have like to present to you today, that you will feel that quite a lot of people, victims at KwaThema, would be left behind should drastic measures not taken by your office, the TRC, to make sure that statements are efficiently and with all the capacity you have, taken and the victims do say or tell their stories in one way or another before the cut or the offices close, as we know that you will bounding up business at the end of June.
So, the other thing which we are worried about, about the TRC work, is that it have concentrated so much on human right violation, the economical part, not only at KwaThema, have been left out, we do not hear much about it. We are mostly focusing or we are experiencing facts like the R170,0m plus debts which the former Government have created. Sometimes we think it was deliberately, so that once even if we achieve our freedom we will never enjoy it, because as far as we are concerned, in our area there have been no delivery and we think the debts, which is the stumbling block to have finance by the Government is a reason for that none delivery. We are still in dire need, poverty at KwaThema. Unemployment is so high, yet KwaThema use to be, and it is still, one of the rich area which is exploited in mining gold and other minerals like platinum, yet, we are so poor, etcetera and etcetera.
So, we would have love if the Truth Commission, if you still have time, to consider that who ever have made agreement with the former Government, who have so much debts despite United Nation embargo on the former apartheid Government, the debt should be not part of our problem, it should be wiped out. Their friends who have provided us with means not to build us or to help us, but to destroy us, should have known or should, I am sure they are knowing that it was a risk for them, they should, enjoy, therefore the risk, but not us enjoying the paying as it is at the moment. So, that is about the debts, if the TRC would look into that and make it part of the economical violation which is sabotaging our social development today and perpetrating the pains further, so that as all speakers have said, that reconciliation in the absence of social upliftment etcetera and etcetera, is impossible, it is very difficult if it is not impossible, because the pains, the wound is always opening, we are back to square one.
So, the other topic or the other point which we have been asked to contribute is the prospective initiatives that will, on and facilitate reconciliation and reparation process, that with a specifical reference to KwaThema and maybe it could apply to other areas. I wonder, I am happy that quite a lot of the panel members of the HRV, sorry, the Human Violation Committee, are African. So I wonder if it was possible, on a local level in particular, in our African communities, not only to follow the legalistic process which have been said by the legislation in Parliament, but also, in, be inclusive of our cultural roots as how you go about reconciling to opposing a people in order that you get a very balanced reconciliation, because in our African roots I can reconcile with B, but C, who is the victim who is dead, who is not among us, might not agree with me, but there is a traditional way, the traditionalist would assist you and with your own background you know that two people who are alive might not reconcile with each other without being inclusive of the ancestors. So, as a group we were wondering whether if we will be taking the legalistic, only, path approaching as a procedure of reconciling our society and individual who have been victims, it would be a lasting reconciliation or not, without being inclusive of all aspect according to their different customary or traditional background. So, we hope or we in the group believe that we, that could facilitate a permanent and another way or a compatible means to facilitate reconciliation in the real.
So another point which have been of a worry to us, maybe it is because we are still living, we are still experiencing a human rights violation experience at KwaThema. It is the question of the applicants, the amnesty, the amnesty applicants, you know, the normal practice you find that if someone is having a responsible position and he is found to be investigated, it is normally suspension from the work, but we are wondering if we will get anyway if higher officers in the security forces who have been implemented in the human right violation and they have applied, yet they are still holding their post, whether any other things and any other activities, such as the third force at KwaThema, does help the community affected, because we have been experiencing such things at KwaThema and we know one of the prominent person who was commanding the third force is coming from that area and we were wondering as why the security forces, in particular, or the safety and security forces, the TRC could have never made a recommendation that such applicant should be suspended from doing the work or being of responsible position as they are. Some are Superintendent, Commissioners, Assistant Commissioner and etcetera. So, this is our feeling, that on the ground, on the local level, if such could happen maybe it will ease and see that, really, there is something, there is some way forward as far as the Truth Commission's work is concerned.
So, the others we recommend that those people who are asking amnesty should also, should they be given amnesty they should be, I do not know whether force, or they should, it should be within the recommendation or the condition that their amnesty would be to go and work for that community where they have done destruction. The people there will make use of them. They could help to reverse quite a lot of the wrongs which have been set up by the third force in those communities where they have been operating either as the commanding or and they know whom they have been working with, maybe they could be the first person to apprehend these criminality which is increasing in our country, which was part of the third force activities to destroy our particular part of the population, who have been affected and now is spreading over, now it is not choosing any colour.
If they do go and give a service for a period of time, either ten years or twenty years as part of their amnesty and also, on top of that, they should bring back their weapons which were used. We are being, you know, mowed down in the area where I am coming from by the same weapons, maybe, and they should be tested by independent experts whether they have been used in other areas such as murder, assassination, hold-up, bank robberies and so forth, all other crimes which we are experiencing at the moment. So, these are most, I think, one of the most crucial factors which should, which we feel should be part of the amnesty.
Mr, Reverend Chairman, before waste of time, the last point which we have deliberated is that a local none-partisan structures should be set up to make sure that, especially in my area, to make sure that statement takers or statement taking have been 100% taken, not by a party, not by self-appointed, but a credible where people will be free to go and make their statements and so forth before the deadline which we have been told is June this year. So, we, this is what we thought if you will take it serious it could help our area, that is KwaThema. Maybe you are not speaking on behalf of other areas where they might be not enjoying these problems. So, thank you very much Mr Chairman. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, we have reach, we have completed number seven now and I would therefore like to thank all the people who came and made reports here today. We thank you very much. We are going to go ahead now. We do not have a lot of time now, we have got only five minutes left. If there are any questions, we would like people to raise those questions now. If there are other supportive things, if they are not long things, people can also raise them. We will also request Barbara Watson to get ready to make her summary. We are looking at questions right now.
RESIDENT OF KWATHEMA: I would like to thank the honourable Commissioner, our parents and the house at large. In fact, my question is directed to honourable Dr F Randera, if I am not mistaken. As the Commissioner, it is just a short term in this duty, I would like to ask him four or two questions. Question number one, I wrote two letters to the nearest educational centre in my area, but it was turned downed. Two, confusion in the business sector or policing of which is the part of development in the country. Are they healing after death, is it prevention, a prevention is better than cure, according to my knowledge?
RESIDENT OF KWATHEMA: ... people and then the statement takers will come on a particular day, we think that is a long process, it is a very long process to work in this way. So, we would be very happy if we could get a quicker and faster system of people, of enabling people to make statements in an easy way. Thank you.
RESIDENT OF KWATHEMA: Thank you very much to the panel and the Committee as a whole. I have got a question here, I think that there are two questions. I have got a problem here. I would like to direct my question to Dr Randera. Doctor Randera said something that TRC should focus from 1960, first of March 1960 up until 1994. I am very worried, I do not know whether the TRC will come back again, the TRC that would be directed to the new Government, because now it is a TRC that is looking at the past of the apartheid days. So, I do not know if there are going to be a new TRC facing the new Government. There a problems in the townships, people are dying everyday and sometimes these people might be third force people who are killing our people. If I may make an example.
I have got a brother who started being involved in the struggle at the age of ten years, got involved as from ten years (end of tape 2A) ... He died in 1995. He was shot on the 27th, he was, he died on the 28th and it was a Monday. He was killed by a gangster called Panka in that township. Then we are confused as families of them, of my brother, we are asking questions now everyday. We use to go to the graveyard and ask him questions and said what if he can appear to our dreams and said what is the issue that caused him to be shot. I mean, there are lots of comments about him, there are many stories and rumours.
Other people, they were walking with gangsters and others say, no, they were standing by the street corner. We do not even know the cause of his death, why he was shot, but we did report the matter to the police station and, actually, on that very Saturday, that Sunday when he was shot, we were fortunate that there was somebody who knew us and came to our house and reported to us that my brother had been shot in the street. It was me and my, it was I and my sister, it was about ten past nine at night. My mother refused to go there, because of apartheid. The police use to torture our brothers. My mother now is suffering from a heart disease, but if my brother, can tell my brother what it is happening. Even my mother is still very sick today, she is ailing, she was not even able to come here today. In fact, she was in no in position to come here and that is why I have come here.
I am also feeling this pain, but as a man I am trying, I try. That is why I have come to the TRC so that maybe there could be some harmony and peace at home, but when we went to report it we found the police in the van, they had the cartridge of pumpgun action. The bullets, the ammunition which had been shot and he was shot in his private parts. When we arrived there the police had already written the statements, he was not yet dead. We rushed him to the hospital, but we left him at the hospital and the doctor took him to theatre and they said we must come back on Monday.
The following morning, but we did not even sleep on that day, early at seven o!clock I was already at the hospital. I was not allowed to go in at three, but at seven o' clock I went to the hospital only to find that he had already died, that he died at five to six in the morning, but, and then we reported this issue to the police station. They said they looked for this boys, they did not find them, the police continue to say they did not, they could not find this gang.
CHAIRPERSON: Now, what is your question? Could you please give us your question?
RESIDENT OF KWATHEMA: My question is, I am allowed to report to the Commissioner this matter happened, because I have been trying to explain that my brother died in 1995. Thank you.
RESIDENT OF KWATHEMA: I would also like to greet the Commission. I have a question that I would like to put forward as a Truth and Reconciliation Committee. Maybe this matter has been discussed in the past and I missed it. I would like for the Commission to look into this matter that there are people who have lost their jobs in the past as a result of struggling. Now, I would like to know is there a way to get them back to their work, to be reinstated as they have been black labelled and since they cannot be, they cannot ge employment and I would like to put this forward in this forum. Would the commission look into this so we may further reconcile. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: We are preparing to answer the questions now.
DR RANDERA: Can I answer?
CHAIRPERSON: Ja, can we respond to the questions?
DR RANDERA: Ja, thank you Chairperson. I seem to very popular in terms of answering questions. I hope people will be satisfied at the end of my answering these questions. To the young man who came first, I would like to say, perhaps, in my own confusion, but I was not quite clear as to the problems that he is raising and, perhaps, at the end of the meeting I would like to just to speak to him a little more to see how we can provide assistance.
Somebody said is there way of changing how we are taking statements and hastening the process. My response is that nothing is perfect, that clearly there are problems in the way that we are taking statements, because we are not, we are not from what we heard today, there are number of people who want to have their statements taken. We would like to, through the Committee structures that have been set up and through your NGO's, because they would be able to contact us more easily to work out a better system, but I would also like to appeal, the statement taking way through our statement takers or the designated statement takers is just one method. There is no reason, and we have written now to all NGO's and sent forms to them as well, as I understand it, there is no reason why people cannot fill in those statement forms themselves, if that is going to make it easier, and post it off to us. I am not saying it is an easy task to fill in those forms, but if that is possible through various agencies and individuals within the community structures to assist you, that can be done as well. Finally, if people are still experiencing difficulties in terms of accessing us, they can write a letter to us and at least we can, then, follow up on that letter. So, again, I am saying it is a two-way process rather than just looking at it from the one side.
To the young man who was asking me the question about the death of his brother in 1995. I would first like to express my sympathy and empathy with his loss, but he said, first of all, that there were, his brother was tortured many a time before his death and, perhaps, we can start off by taking that statement so that what happened to his brother is on record. The post 1994 period, and there are already structures in place, the reason why we asked for that period to be looked at again was that if one looks at the Human Right Commission, their mandate comes into existence from that time onwards. So, there are organisations.
My next point is not to say, look, I am disregarding what you are saying, but at the same time the reason why we have a Truth Commission is that things have changed. Now, we may all say that those things have changed superficially, that there are others, there is still these human rights taking place and killings taking place, but the responsibility also falls upon us. There are structures now, we have local councils structures. Earlier on I heard Reverend Mbande said to the Mayor that there is someone who is one of us, I am sure you will understand.
Now, we have access to these people, we have access now to many, many avenues that we can go down in terms of having our voices heard. Not least of all we have the vote in 1999. Okay, you can say 99 is a long time to go, but there are these and I do not think we must feel that we are helpless and hopeless, because the changes have been meaningful and the changes have been very important. It is up to us as members of civil society to also make those changes meaningful to us. We cannot always expect somebody else to come and do it for us.
The last one is the loss of jobs through struggle. Somebody said earlier, I think it was gentleman from the Justice and Peace, who said let us not take everything as legalistic and I do not want to say, look, there is the mandate of the Act and within the mandate of the Act we are not, it does not fall within our mandate, but, clearly, if, and, again, he made also the point of Africans being within the Committee. Now, comrade I want to say that, you know Parliament is made up mainly by Africans, if we are going to actually use those categories of peoples and their mandate, they discussed this for a long, long time before they gave it to us. The question of jobs and people who lost their jobs, if people have had a gross human rights violation committed in that course of losing their jobs then, yes, please come forward to us, but, again, my point is there are other avenues that you can go down. You know the unions have been around for long time and the unions are still there today. So, people can take up those issues through those respective structures. Thank you.
MR MANTHATA Thank you Mr Chairman. I was not in when other questions were raised but part of this exercise is to explain where explanations are needed. For example here, the question was or the suggestion was, you know, food parcels for the victims. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, more especially the R and R, wants to operate on the basis of not creating, what we call, dependency or on a welfare basis. You know, once you begin to give people food stuffs or food parcels, you are actually militating against
their human rights to earn a living or to earn food the way they deem fit according to their own tastes. So, that is why in our proposals food parcels, subject to correction, are not mentioned at all.
Then there is reference to children. Here, to subject to correction from our Commissioners on the Human Rights Violations Committee, I think when we are going to have children testifying it will mean children can make statements and this can enable the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to operate on the statements given by the children themselves. What I want to say is that the TRC is going to work on statements. That is why Dr Randera raised the problem of what do you say. If and when, at the end of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, not all people shall have given statements. We need to hear from you, you know, whether the Truth and Reconciliation Commission should come up with a machinery or a mechanism that could continue taking statements up to a certain time, not, you know, ad infinitum, not continuous or not infinitely.
Then there was a question from IMSA, I think, which I think they needed to have guided us. Are they saying that there should be a mechanism either recommended to the Government where IMSA can be able, can be enabled to bring these groups that they are referring to together, so this should come in the form of a recommendation to the TRC which it can forward to the Government and this does not mean to cast blames or what, more especially KwaThema. KwaThema, when we talk about the Co-ordinating Committee, it presented the Truth and Reconciliation Commission with a problem. We asked for a meeting and the Catholic Church, Priest Molete, I think, and other people took up that issue enthusiastically and they convened a big meeting.
Then at that meeting we were told that there is a committee that has been mandated to operate in KwaThema and that committee even decided on a day and time and venue where there would be a public meeting. I regret to say that we went to that meeting, there were not less ten people in that area and it was at that meeting when they wanted the raise the question of statements and a venue in KwaThema, that it was impossible to sit to get statements in KwaThema, when to get the hearings in KwaThema when we had so few statements in that area. So, the problem is not with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the problem is with that community.
Okay, other issues, I think Dr Randera has explain them. That we act within an Act and, perhaps, we are not at a position where we can change that Act or if it had to, perhaps, people should have articulated that long ago, like the suspension of the perpetrators who are still found in the communities. The Act, what we keep referring to as the Act that was suggested, the amendment that was suggest by the late Joe Slovo, what we call the Sunset Clause, is that nobody is going to lose his work when these whole processes go on, unless it comes in as a new thing altogether and/or it is brought in by way of requesting the South African Police Service that when we go to the hearings either people who, police people who have been directly involved with the masses and they have caused hurt and pain to the masses, should as much as possible not be seen within the nearness of the hearings and, perhaps, as you put it, you know, it is a thing that can be discussed more in harsh terms at departmental level, but it is not a thing that, perhaps, we as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission can begin to recommend.
Yes, that recommendation, suggestion of community service, I think that one is well taken. The same applies to that one of reconciling the Black way, that is bringing the element of traditional reconciling into the whole issue. That is a good contribution too.
Well, I think the question of statement taking Dr Randera has replied to that and then there was these question, I do not know whether I heard the last question well, the person who talked about the education centre, which I thought fell together with this one of the 1995, you know, murder, but otherwise these are the few that we managed to pick up and, by the way, we have not even come to insights into processes of reconciling in this area, even if they could be just thrown around from this gathering. Thank you Mr Chairman.
CHAIRPERSON: Ja, thank you. I think it is important for me to inform you that we were quite behind by a hour and now we have covered the hour that we had lost in the morning. We have heard the questions. We will only allow this lady to ask the last question. When she has finished, we will then ask Mrs Barbara Watson to come forward and make the summary and also discuss our way forward, on the way forward issue, item. We always stay with hope, we are always hopeful that this is not, today is not the end of the process, we will continue and when we finish everything, maybe people who would still have questions and other concern, we will inform them as to where to go, who to contact, but in truth, we have run out of our time now and the transport has already left other people. So, I would ask this lady to ask the questions and then we go on.
MRS TSWENYA: Thank you very much, Chairperson. Thank you very much to the Chair of the Truth Commission. I will put my statement here before I ask the questions. I am Mrs Tswenya I come from KwaThema. My son was killed (end of tape 3B) in 1985 at the university. I had taken him to Potchefstroom to go and get education. The next thing I was informed that he had died. He had given a hand grenade. In 1987 his father died, because of a broken heart. Now I have two children, two of them are at the university. Now, what I would like to find out where could I get assistance of helping my children, because they are at the university and they are very good with the learning. Thank you.
MS SEROKE: Before Commissioner Hlengiwe can answer your question, I would like to find out if you have put down your statement with regard to the death of your child on hand grenade?
MRS TSWANYA: Yes, I did.
MS MKHIZE: Maybe we can just briefly explain to say that those who have put down their statements, their statements will be considered. As we have already explained in the morning that there are those who are investigating and then they will, they are going to look for further information and do further investigation about your son who has died. So, that is, does it fall in line with the Act on which we are working on, but once there is real confirmation that this whole issue falls within our Act that your son was victimized and then the investigation will be brought to this question on reparation and than, we are then going to look the urgent needs and also long term needs.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
MS MKHIZE: You said that was the last question.
CHAIRPERSON: I said the previous question was the very last question I was going to allow. I know you, Reverend, will meet separately and sort out the issue you want to raise. Already we are late.
MS MKHIZE: Before the Chairperson go on, I would like to tell the people who still concerned that their statements were not taken in their areas, that we still taking statements, but we are not taking them for a hearing, but we must take many, many more questions as much as possible up until June and maybe the KwaThema people who still have a concern, we would request them to contact us at our office, because there are already designated statement takers so that we can sort out this issue. Maybe we will still go back to and, and that we should still go back to KwaThema to take statements. At the moment we have got a Community Liaison Officer, but, unfortunately, this person is not here today, because we would introduce this person to you, but we do have the person in our office. Please contact us at the office so that we ensure that there is a mechanism put in place to take statements in KwaThema if you not satisfied that this issue was properly addressed.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. We are going to hand over to Barbara Watson. Before I allow Barbara Watson, as we are talking, there is a question we are going to post to all of you, that we request one person before we close this gathering to tell us what they think of this exercise today, because since we started and we want to get peoples' views on how do they feel about this gathering today. We are just going to take only two people to get their views and the evaluation of this gathering today, because after we have done our summary by Barbara Watson, this will happen after that. Thank you over to you Barbara.
MS WATSON: Thank you very much. I am sure all of you are very tired. We have been here all morning and we have had to, we have listened to a number of people and it is virtually impossible to remember everything. What I would like to give you is just a brief summary of some of the messages we got today. The Mayor, as you remember, was talking about the history of this town of Boksburg. All the terrible things of the past which happened and the need for this very community to think of ways of coming together and being reconciled with your own past, the fact that through the Truth Commission you have been given an opportunity at the East Rand to go through the history of the atrocities of the past. We are now in the process of looking forward.
We had hoped that today, perhaps, we would have heard more from you people from these communities telling us what are the kind of things that you are hoping to begin to do to heal the areas you coming from and work towards reconciliation and, again, with the reconciliation, I think the Priest, the Bishop that testified emphasised the fact that reconciliation is not a slow process. The Truth Commission, as he said, was really giving the beginning of a very long, long process of reconciling the different factions that have existed in this area and you know that it was not just a simple as Black and White, it had the ANC, IFP dimension, it had the problems of what had happened in Reiger Park between the Indians and the Coloureds. So, the entire community in this area does need to look at what have they done to contribute to the problems that are there so that everybody can begin to work towards the healing process.
From the Truth Commission, we hope that what Dr Randera and Hlengiwe Mkhize have told you have given you a better understanding of what has happened to the statements since you have come to the Commission to give your statements. This is an opportunity that we thought we would give you more insight into what goes on after you have given that statement. I hope that with Dr Randera's talk and explanation, you know now what is happening, we have not forgotten about you, but I also hope that you have appreciated some of the problems the Truth Commission has with regards to corroboration of those statements. In some areas documents, official documents have been destroyed. So, it is going to be difficult for the Commission to conclude some of the cases.
Hlengiwe Mkhize gave you a brief overview of the Reparation Policy in terms of the urgent reparation and the long term and symbolic reparation and I hope that, at some point, we will begin to get some news about community efforts in this area, on what are the kinds of reparation attempts, are you doing here. Somebody also mentioned that we cannot look at the Government to correct everything, we should be looking at partnerships and we hope that after today the NGO's the churches, challenges have been thrown at you, that we will start hearing something about, how you have accepted the challenges from todays meeting.
We have also heard a testimony from the Afrikaans community, maybe a better understanding that within the Afrikaner community there are the two divisions. Those young people who had some kind of exposure to the atrocities of the past and the very young ones who somehow were not that badly affected and how the two groups perceive the Truth Commission and I think out of those insights that will help you as community members to begin to deal with some of the reactions of these young White people towards community efforts, because I think part of today was to give some kind of understanding about what is happening in the communities. So, from that area I think we have been given another insight.
It was also very good to hear from the Justice and Peace group in KwaThema, Michael Shongwe. Your, we have listened from the Truth Commission, some of your critique and, as we said, the TRC is not perfect. We are very thankful for some of the comments that you see as a weakness in the structures, but we would also like to call upon these communities, if you do have some suggestions, you know your communities better than we do and your suggestions will help us in the little time that we have to provide a valuable service.
I think that is, very briefly, what has happened today. I am sure, within your own self, there are some ideas, there have been comments about the Reparation Policy, but more than anything, I think the understanding that it is not the Truth Commission that is going to do the reparation, but the Government and for that thank you very much for sitting through the long day with us.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much Mam Watson. We will just ask just one person to give us an evaluation of this meeting.
RESIDENT OF KWATHEMA: I would like to thank this opportunity for me to raise my opinion and to give a summary of what we think about today, todays event. In brief, what we would like to say is that todays process, as different organisation, as victims, we could say that with regard to the deliberations that were made here today, they were eye opener for some of us and we also realised that, as a whole East Rand, that our problems are different, as you have seen that people who have raised questions, people have raised questions that reflect that in some areas, like for instance in KwaThema, they still have got a lot of problems and grievance that their statements have not been taken.
In other areas it would seem that we do, we are on the equal footing with the Truth Commission, because we have already passed that stage. Many people do know how to make statements and where and others have already had their statements taken, but the thing that I would really like to raise here, there was a question that was asked here by the Commissioner, that if people are going to be reparated, are going to get reparations, what will happen to those people who did not hand in their statements, because the Commissioners, the Reparations Committee will be working on the basis of the statements they got and now I think that is a very important question to those who are here today, because there are those people who have not handed in their statements from, due to lack of any information and knowledge and there are also those who did not hand in statements, because they did not want to. Therefore, there would need to be a criteria that would say the one who did not want to issue a statement must be excluded, but the one who did not hand in the statement due to lack of knowledge, the Truth Commission would, therefore, need to be considerate and sympathetic to that kind person, but that is my personal opinion, but I think if we could, in this area, agree on this issue to form a Task Team of the greater East Rand so that we can discuss this issue very, very deeply, because reparations, you might find that once other people are being reparated they will bring more pain than the pain we actually have now. I think I would not want to go home not having raised this issue today.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. If we had a chance we could have give to another person, but now I think we have come to the end of our workshop ...
CHAIRPERSON: ... and we are going to ask and I do not know who has been asked to come and propose a way forward here, but I think from the Chair, maybe one will be advised what way, what direction are we taking here in as far as the way forward is concern before we close. As we, perhaps, prepare for that, I am going to request Mama to make a vote of thanks before we close. This is Thembi from Watville who is going to make a vote of thanks to thank people here on behalf of the East Rand, to thank the Commissioners, to thank all the people who need to be thanked, the parents and the victims and the supporters and this will happen after the way forward, but we suggest that she comes forward right now.
We are also going to request Baba, I mean, the Reverend Babalo, to come and make the, to make the blessing before we close. Now we are going to move on to way forward.
Because way forward would be directed at us, we as the Council of Churches we will take the responsibility of the way forward, because there is not much that we have done, but today we have worked, we are going to meet the TRC and Commissioners and other people who have met here today. We are going to inform you what would be the next step or phase after this. We are going to try different ways as a church, we are going to try and meet all the areas here in East Rand. Today we have also seen that some other White, there are some other White people who are prepared to work together with us and these things happen. If we could just close this gathering but we will invite people and we will inform other people as to what is happening. I would like to finish now but there is a hand up ...
RESIDENT OF KWATHEMA: Issue that has been raised here. There must be an East Rand Task Team. I think this should be taken as a way forward.
CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you we have heard. We, as Priests we are going to meet and then we will initiate this process of forming this team together with the TRC, because there is this kind of situation. I would like people to listen to this very carefully, including Thema, that there are committees here that have been established as Commissioner Manthata has already said, these committees were in existence, were established in all townships here in the East Rand, but we do not see these committees, we do not hear anything about these committees and we would not like to blame people for that. Therefore, our way forward, we agree with what was said here today, but we must make sure that this committee is available in all townships so that there could be an easy flow of information to all people. There is no any other way forward except that we need to communicate and work together and move on.
With regards to your complaints from the ground, they would be passed on to the TRC and also the complaints from the TRC will be brought to people and, therefore, the church and these committees are going to see to it that work continues, but the people who are here today, they must ensure that there is a committee. We, on our side, are also going to try our level best, as South African Council of Churches, to ensure that these things happens and other churches and other structures, organisations, Priests and other denominations that are not within SACC, we do want to work with them and with NGO's, we also want to work with the NGOs. Mothers and the youth and all other people who are prepared to work with us we want to appeal to them that if they hear about any TRC meetings, they must please respond and come forward.
Many people can actually see that there is a lot work to be done and those people must be helped by us. Thank you very much. We will, therefore, ask Mama to come forward to make a vote of thanks (end of tape 3A). Before you speak I have just seen your hand.
INTERPRETER: The speaker is inaudible, the speaker is not on the mike. The speaker is inaudible, the speaker is not on the mike.
DR RANDERA: Sorry.
INTERPRETER: The speaker is still inaudible.
CHAIRPERSON: Please, you are requested to come forward.
INTERPRETER: The speaker is still not audible.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
RESIDENT OF KWATHEMA: So, I am sorry to delay people. They are arguing with me that I am delaying their time, but I always think that when you have come to do a job you should do it perfectly, otherwise you will be going for money. So, I was saying, Reverend MC, I agree with the idea of a Task Team, but we have a tendency and a problem, especially here in South Africa, whereby as representative you take decision on behalf of people you are representing without going and reporting back of the whole procedures we have gone from A to Z. So, I would like to say that because the Council of Churches and the other NGO's they are working with, they are very much organised and very much in contact to have come with an idea with the TRC, they have been working. If they could supervise that the representative after reporting back to their people they are representing, they should then, we should then come with the way forward whereby a constructive idea of a Task Team should then come up and I see that as a concrete and a step forward, because if we could make a Task Team now here it might collapse before we reach where we are coming from. Thank you very much.
CHAIRPERSON: Mama, can you please come forward for a vote of thanks?
THEMBI: I would like to thank people from East Rand, because they managed to respond on a short notice. They allowed us to organise this gathering and they came together. We only heard it on Thursday, that we should be here today. So, we had to run around here in Watville, we only heard it on Thursday.
I want to thank the parents by being co-operative and their families, especially the victims and the families of the victims, who were very co-operative and came here with us ... (end of tape 2B)