TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION
FOLLOW UP WORKSHOP
DATE: 21 JUNE 1997
HELD AT: SEBOKENG COLLEGE
NAME: HENRI MEYER
WILHELMINA DE BRUYN
CHAIRPERSON: A prayer, a welcome by Oupa Masankane, 15 minutes and then from 20 past ten from, and a prayer by Reverend P F Molefe to cover from 20 past ten to 25 past ten and then choir.
REV MOLEFE: Opening prayer.
PROF MEIRING: Thank you Mr Chairman. Before we start may I repeat a number of things that have been said in English. We do hope that in due course we will have earphones for everybody and that there will be simultaneous translation. Something went wrong with the technicalities of the whole thing, but we hope within half an hour or so we will have the, are the earphones ready already? Not yet. It should be here soon. Hopefully by tea time all of us will be fitted with earphones and we will have simultaneous translation by then. We will have to do it as we do it in church for the first half an hour or so, that we present a sentence or two in English or in one of the other languages and that will be translated so that all of us can partake.
Can I just for the benefit of the English speaking, Afrikaans speaking people just repeat a few things. In the first instance a very, very hearty welcome. We are so happy that all of us, all of you are here. The Chairperson, Oupa Masankane, has already said very welcome to all of you, but we are very honoured to have all of you here today. The programme will be the following. After I have spoken a bit about the purpose of the workshop then Mrs Seroke, on my left-hand will give a report back on the Human Rights Violations hearings. Then I will also add something about the policy of, on reparation for the Truth Commission. By that time it will be tea time. Then we will go out for tea and the whole section between tea and lunch will be devoted to focus groups when different groups, we have about six groups, I will tell you about that a bit later, when six persons will verbalise feelings within the community about the Truth Commission. Then it will be lunch time and then after lunch, all of you are invited to lunch, and then after lunch Mr Tom Manthata will give you an overview, will give a summary of what has been said. He will tie all the loose strings and now maybe you should start translating.
Before I go on may I introduce the panel to you please. On my left-hand side is Mrs Joyce Seroke, she is committee member for Human Rights Violations and we are very honoured to have her. All the mothers in the audience will know her well, because for many years she has been the big boss of the YWCA. And then next to her sit Mr Tom Manthata who is also well known to many of you. He is member of the Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee of the Truth Commission. My name, you have heard, is Piet Meiring. I am also a member of the Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee of the Truth Commission. Thank you very much.
In a few words, why are we here this morning. I would say, firstly, again we are very honoured to have all of you here today. It is a special day for us. The Truth Commission has developed a method of returning to a community after hearings have taken place. You know it, you have seen it on the television, heard it on the radio that the Truth Commission has had a number of Human Rights Violations hearings all over the country and after the whole train of the Truth Commission has passed through a community we try our best, after so many weeks or months, to come back to the community, because the Truth Commission is a process that is owned by the nation and when we have been to a community we want to come back to the community to talk to the community about the work of the Truth Commission.
Many of you know it is about a year ago when we were last here in this very same hall. During that week it was even colder than it is today and you remember we had heaters all over the hall to try to keep us warm, but now after so many months have passed we are coming back to talk to you about the Truth Commission. We have a number of things that we would like to hear from you and we have a number of things that we would like to tell you from our side. We would like to hear from you what the impact was that the Truth Commission made on the community. We have come to the conclusion that nobody remains untouched by the Truth Commission process. Many people are very enthusiastic and grateful for the Truth Commission, other people have questions and those are the things we need to know from you. Also from our side we want to do some reporting.
My colleague, Joyce, who sits next to me will tell you about the Truth Commission, what has been happening the past year in general, but especially in this area of the country. From our side, after that, we would love to hear from you what are the possibilities for reconciliation in this part of the country. We want to tell you about our proposals for reparation and for rehabilitation, but we also would like to know what you are going to do to repair the damage in the community.
After tea we will have six focus groups reporting to us. We have one focus group, one person from the Khulumani Group that will present his statement to us. We also have the Vaal Victims of Violence that will report to us. We will have a report from the South Africa Communist Party who will speak to us and all the Baroetis sitting in front have appointed somebody who will speak for the Ministers in the area to verbalise what lives among the Ministers in the area for us. We have two representatives from the Afrikaans community who will come to speak to us. The Reverend Henri Meyer, a young Afrikaner, will speak to us about what young people feel, young Afrikaners and Mrs de Bruyn there, sitting next to him, she is a mother and she will speak from her heart what mothers in the Afrikaans community think of at the moment.
All of us want to listen very carefully to all the submissions, because these focus groups, these representatives will bring to us all the different opinions from the community. We also want to make time for questions and answers for it may be that many of you have questions to ask and we would love to give some time for that and then the very last thing I would like to say to you is about statement taking. You know that many, many thousands of people all over South Africa have made statements already. Also from this area in the Vaal, many people came to the fore, victims, survivors, family members and they brought their statements. It may well be that there are some of you in the audience this morning who also feel, but, I want to give my statement and I have not had the opportunity, I want to do it now. Right at the table, at the entrance one of our colleagues, Fikile, sits.
If you want to make a statement now you can quietly just go out of the audience, leave the hall and report to Fikile and she will tell you how to go about it, where somebody is who can help you, to fill out your statement form. So if there are people who still want to make statements you can do it now while we are busy and Fikile at the back will help you with that. And that is, that was the first speech of the day. Thank you for listening to my speech and I hand you over to the Chairperson.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Mr Piet Meiring for telling us in brief the purpose of the day. There is a short message, the driver of the red City Golf, the registration number PKZ480GP, your lights are on. Please switch them off. Mrs Seroke, over to you.
MS SEROKE: Thank you very much Chairperson. I have been asked just to give a brief report back of where we are now at the TRC. As Prof Meiring has said, it is wonderful for us to be back here in the Vaal and it was exactly in June last year that we were here during the hearings and where we listened to the awesome stories that the people were telling about the violations that were committed to them. As you were walking in to the hall you must have noticed the copies of the newspaper clippings that have taken us back to last year and giving us a reminder of the stories that we listened to, but we are happy to say that today we are here with the hope of reconciliation. As the young majorettes were marching and we moved into this place with the Priests from the different churches I could not help but sense that there was hope for this region, hope for reconciliation.
The, I would like to give you some information about the statistics relating to this area. Since our inception we have received 251 statements from the Vaal and of that number 236 have been processed and 15 are still outstanding and 64 of that total are still to be corroborated. Of this total we have 102 statements from Sebokeng, 24 from Boipatong, 8 from Bopelong, 44 from Sharpeville, 17 from Everton, 18 from Vereeniging, 28 from Orange Farm, 4 from Meyerton, 3 from Sasolburg and 2 from Vanderbijlpark and 1 from Walkerville. So you can see from that amount that we still need to have a very intensive statement taking drive in this region, because without the statements we will not be able to really give a picture, a good picture of the conflict that took place in this area.
From all these statements we can conclude that out of the four human rights, gross human rights violations that the Act has mandated us to highlight, 13 of the statements in this area give us a picture of abductions, the people who were abducted and disappeared and of the killings we have 197 people who were killed from the statements that were taken and 170 of severe ill-treatment and 38 of torture and 184 of associated violations which do not include abductions, torture, killing and severe ill-treatment. So in all we, out of the statements we have taken here, we have 603 gross human rights violations that were committed in this area.
I know many of you who gave statements and who appeared during the hearings are yearning to know what is happening to their statements and at what stage are we and I have already told you how many of your statements have been processed and how many are corroborated. Before we can make people, we can declare people to be victims we have to have findings and this process of doing our findings is very, very slow, because our investigators have to come and try and corroborate the stories that you have given us. They have to find out exactly whether your stories which you gave us reflect a true picture. So that process is very slow. When we go to police stations we are told, I mean when we go to the police stations and hospitals we are told that many of the records have been destroyed ... because of those many factors. So I hope you will bear with us and I know many of you have already received letters of acknowledgement from the Truth Commission. We have not forgotten you, it is just that the process is very, very slow.
Once we do the findings we are going to refer those victims to the Reparation and Rehabilitation Committee and those are the people now who will send their recommendations to the Government as to what kind of reparations and what kind of rehabilitation services that are needed for this area. Our Research Department has given us a picture of the conflict that took place here in the Vaal and it would seem from the Human Rights Commission report that they have divided the oppressive system of the previous Government into two eras. The first era is what they call the total strategy that took place from 1960 to 1989. The second era of the oppressive system they call the destabilisation era which took place from 1990 to 1994. It does seem that the Vaal did not escape these two eras, because one of the very poignant and sad events that took place was in 1960 here in, with the Sharpeville Massacre on the 21st of March.
You know that during that massacre plus, minus 80 people were killed and that is why the mandate of the Act of the promotion of national unity and reconciliation says we should start from 1960 to 1994. When we come to the destabilisation era of 1990 to 1994 the, we have records here to, that mention that for the period March 1992 to February 1993 about 1650 murders took place in this area and some 2900 violent confrontations involving weapons other than firearms and almost 6700 cases of assault in this area. You will remember that the period of 1990 to 1994 was the beginning of the transformation and when we were preparing for our elections and this was highlighted by Mr de Klerk's speech in Parliament on the second February of 1990 which was now leading to the process of elections that was going to end up with democracy and yet this period, which was the beginning of the transformation, was one of the worst periods that this country suffered in terms of loss of life and destabilisation, because all that happened although the whole total onslaught was halted, it was the era when there were covert operations which hindered township communities from forming their support base and transformation into organised political parties. We had this destabilisation taking place through the State Security Forces, the elements of the security forces and Inkatha and the Inkatha supporting vigilante elements.
In order to be able to analyze the violence that took place during that period of 1990 to 1994 it is necessary for us to give the conflict under four headings. The first one is IFP versus the community violence in this area and the second one is the drive by shootings and the third force attacks and thirdly the police violence and lastly the intra-organisational conflict that took place between the various groups in this area. And when we consider the IFP community violence we all know about the famous, infamous Madela Hostel where all the atrocities took place and during our hearings here we had some of the, their highlights, in fact, to call it highlights when it was so sad is a misnomer. We had some of the very painful incidents that we listened to.
On the fifth January 1991 we had, during our hearings we highlighted what happened on the fifth January 1991 when Christopher Nangalembe, a member of the ANC, and the Sebokeng Crime Prevention Unit was kidnapped and strangled to death at a rubbish dump near Boipatong. A week later at an all night vigil for Nangalembe a gang of armed men, armed with AK47's, first threw a hand grenade into the tent where mourners had gathered and then fired randomly into the crowd. 38 People were killed and a further 40 injured. On the 23rd of May 1991 two men with AK47's opened fire on some hundred patrons of the Gobies Entwana Korporasie Beer Hall in Sebokeng. Five people died instantly and with four days the death toll had risen to 13. On the third July 1991 the wife, daughter and grandson of Earnest Sotso, a prominent returned ANC exile, and civic leader in the Vaal were brutally murdered at their home in Boipatong. In April 1993, on the eve of Chris Hani's funeral, unknown gunmen drove back and forth through Sebokeng shooting randomly at residents. 19 People were killed and ten injured.
We can go and on showing the conflict in this area, but since time does not allow us I will just highlight the fact that we had the drive-by shootings, the Sebokeng massacre and the divisions that went on between two organisations and since we have been here many of you have been watching television and you have seen the process of the amnesty hearings whereby now we are beginning to see some of the causes of this conflict in this region. When people during those days talked about hit squads in this area, nobody believed that there were hit squads, but from the hearings of the amnesty we are now beginning to get people who are coming forward to confess and to say how they were part of this violence that took place in Sebokeng.
So, as I said earlier, because of time constraints, this is just a background that I was supposed to give which is a report back from the Human Rights Violations. We are hoping that very soon all of you will be knowing what is happening and those who did not know what took place, who asked the Truth Commission where their young, their loved ones are may soon know and just to finalise, to say that some of you have seen through the press and the television that tomorrow, I mean today the ANC is having the burial of the three members of the MK that were unearthed, whose bones were unearthed in Aloe in the Cape and today they are going to be buried.
Why I am highlighting this is to show that some of the people who had lost hope, who did not know where their loved ones were and we had lots of requests from people saying if only I could have the bones of my father, of my husband so that we could rebury them. Already some people have had that opportunity and today we are going to be having that burial and we are hoping that with some of the requests that you have made through our investigating structures we might be able to answer some of those questions. Thank you very much Chairperson.
CHAIRPERSON: We are very grateful that the work is going on. Mrs Joyce Seroke has told us of the progress achieved by the TRC and they are here today to report back and to ask the community what else could be done. I am now handing over to Mr P Meiring to give us the policy overview of the R & R. Over to you Mr Meiring.
PROF MEIRING: Thank you very much Mr Chairman. Many, many people ask what does the Truth Commission do for the victims of the past and that is what I would like to tell you about this morning. We know of the many victims who come to the victims' hearings, we hear their voices and we hear the stories of the thousands of victims. We also know about the second Committee, the Committee for Amnesty who has to look after the amnesty applications of about 7000 perpetrators, but now the R & R Committee, what work what does the R & R Committee do. The R & R Committee stands for Reparation and Rehabilitation Committee.
This Committee has to listen very carefully to all the needs of the victims and the families to see what can be done for them. From all the statements made by the thousands of victims we look carefully at the circumstances and the needs of the people and we put it into our data process. It is very interesting to listen to what the needs of the people really are. Some of the victims who came to this hall last year said we need medical help. Others said we still have nightmares, we still suffer psychologically, we need emotional and psychological help. You may remember that a number of older people, but especially younger people said help us with education. That is our prime need at the moment. Others said we need money for shelter and then there were a number of requests for, what we call, symbolic reparation.
Symbolic reparation has to do with tombstones and reburials and the clearing of names, the expunging of criminal records. The reburial of the three young heroes Joyce spoke about today in Soweto is but one example of symbolic reparation. Also many people say can we not have a memorial or a national monument or a national day or remembrance and reconciliation in the future. That is also part of symbolic reparation. So we have taken careful cognisance of all the needs of all the victims and now we are drafting a long series of policy proposals of reparation proposals for Government and we are lobbying it with Government and with all the other stakeholders and we hope that by the first of March when Mr Mandela, the President, hands over the report of the Truth Commission to the nation that the first reparations can take place.
We know that some people are old and infirm and they will have to be put in front of the queue. They will need urgent reparation. The others will be a little at the back of the queue, but what we would like to ensure you today is that all the needs you have put down on your statements we take very, very seriously and once we get all the names from the victims who went to the Committee for Human Rights Violations or all the victims that came through the amnesty process to us, once we have all the names we are making recommendations for reparation for all of them. We are still, at the moment, liaising with Government about the implementation of all the reparation proposals, but we hope that, as I said, after the first of March there will be a body in place who will start with all the handling of all the reparation cases. We know that there are many victims in the country and they need to be looked after and that is what we would like to do. Thank you Mr Chairman. I am finished with my second speech.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much Mr Meiring for respecting the time and I thank the audience for being so very well behaved. Mr Joe Japhta will be waiting for the people who are going to give their submissions just before tea time. He will be waiting for them here at the front. It is very important to feel free, especially the speakers, we have to speak, because we need to know what kind of a progress are we going to achieve as one nation building one Vaal.
MS SEROKE: I forgot to mention one important point when I noted that, you know, the problems of the investigating officers in terms of getting medical reports and from hospitals and clinics and from the police. So we would like to urge many of you who promised that you would send death certificates to the TRC to really try and send those death certificates, because when we are trying to corroborate these statements we find that everybody promised that they would send us a birth certificate or a death certificate and up to now many of you have not done so. Whilst we are trying to encourage people giving us more statements, we would also like to bring to your notice that the statement taking is going to come to an end at the end of July. So there is very little time and you know that in December the Truth Commission is closing down and so anybody who has not had this opportunity must try to do so before the end of July.
CHAIRPERSON: We are breaking for tea and we are coming back at 20 to 12 to listen to the submissions from focus groups. To avoid misunderstanding I would request you to remain seated while the Commissioners go out for tea followed by the Ministers of regions and other invited guests. Thank you very much.
CHAIRPERSON: I am briefly going to give this opportunity to Prof Piet Meiring to tell us what is expected of the people who are going to give their submissions. Over to you Professor.
PROF MEIRING: Thank you. One of the most important and, hopefully, one of the most interesting parts of the morning will now start. When we come to the focus groups people from the community will present different views from the community to the Truth Commission and to all of us. I am going to call one after the other eight different representatives from the community. We are going to ask them, I will read the sequence just now, but I am going to call each of them one after the other to come sit at the table and there in five minutes, only five minutes, say what they want to say to the community, to all of us.
Each of them will be helped along with one of the three Committee members who will help them with their testimony, but as soon as the five minutes is passed, I think I will be very strict. I will have my watch in front of me and if five minutes has passed I will just click on the table, knock on the table to show that five minutes is behind is, but then when somebody spoke five minutes one of the Committee members will ask one or two questions just to get more information, to get clarity, perhaps, on the submission. It is important to us to listen very clearly to what this, the people say from the community.
Now the list, where is that list? The list will be in the following order. Ds Henri Meyer will be first. He is a young Afrikaner who will speak for Afrikaner young people. After him Mrs de Bruyn will speak as an Afrikaans mother. We are so glad that you are here. Then after her will be Mr Peter Mbongo from the South African Communist Party. Number four is Mr Mandla Nangalembe from the Vaal Victims of Violence. Number five Mr M Mkiwane, ex-councillor in the Vaal. Number six, Mr Petrus Tapeti, Justice and Peace. Number seven will be Father Ben Photolo from the Gauteng Council of Churches and then number eight, Mr Duma Khumalo who will speak for the Khulumani Support Group. The order, the Afrikaner NG Kerk youth, NGK Womens' Group, the SACP, Vaal Victims of Violence, ex-councillors in the Vaal, Justice and Peace, Gauteng Council of Churches and the Khulumani Support Group. While the translation is being done may I ask the Reverend Henri Meyer to come to the table.
Mr Meyer or Ds Meyer, we are very privileged to have you. You are the first on a long list and you have five minutes. I spoke to you on the telephone the other day and I said to you, Henri, please tell us what lives in the hearts of young people in the Vaal Triangle, in the Vaal area and please tell us.
DS MEYER: Okay, I think I will speak in English, because that will make it so much easier for everyone of us. I maybe want to begin just to quickly say that the White people and the Black people for a very long time were very distanced from each other. I mean we did not really know about all these atrocities that was going on here. Today is the first time that I heard of drive-by shootings and stuff like that. We heard about it, but we were protected. So I would like you to understand that very carefully.
I would like to begin and say what I think about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I am a Christian, I am a professing Christian and I am here to put the name of Jesus high and that is all and I speak on behalf of Christian South Africans and, firstly, I want to say that the Word of God tell us in James Chapter five, verse 16 that we must confess our sins openly toward each other and then we will be healed, but I do not think that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the young White folk or, I do not know what to call them really, is a thing like that, that we must come here and confess our sins.
I think we understand it as we must speak about things that were in the past and get it out of the way so that we can go forward and I think that I can say is the young, the average young White guy that that is his purpose or his feelings, that we must go forward now. We are very ashamed of what happened in the past. I spoke with another guy the other day from the Junior Rapport Ryer Beweeging and I told him that I am ashamed of being called a White Afrikaner. I am ashamed of that, because things that happened in the past, I definitely did not condone that and I am ashamed of that and I think that is the problem of many of us young White folk. We are ashamed of what happened in the past and if you put the television on the only thing that you hear and see is the struggle and apartheid and we did this and we did this and we did this and we feel we must get it behind us and that is why the Truth and Reconciliation Commission are so very, very important to us. That is quickly, I have only five minutes.
What I want to say about the future of South Africa and I want to speak on behalf of myself, but I think I speak on behalf of many young White people when I say that we are very anxious and that we are very positive about what will happen in South Africa. We are not negative, our parents are negative. They say everything will go down, but we do not feel like that. We feel like everything will go up and I can tell you that there is an intense religious revival amongst White people in South Africa. They must search Jesus again, because for such a long time we have been protected by the Government and we have been, it has been monitored what we see and what we hear and it is very important for us.
So what I can say in my mind and want to, I cannot think what is "aanhaal" in English. I want to quote, yes I want to quote Hebrews 12, Chapter one which says that we must go forward and we must put our eyes on Jesus and we must take all the things, all the sins and all these baggage that are in the past and leave it behind us, because we have brothers and sisters around us that will walk this road with us and that is what I want to say. I see you all as my brothers and sisters and I see you all that we can go forward and we can build a country. A country that will be the best in the world, because we are a Christian country and I think that together we can go forward and we can make a difference and I can tell you this, that there is no more racism amongst White people.
White people do not feel superior towards Black people. They do not want to put Black people down. Young White people want to go forward even though right wing people do not want to, we want to forget about the past, we want to forget about apartheid, we want to go forward. So I think about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that everybody, everybody is positive about that and we are positive about the future if we can leave the past behind us and go forward.
PROF MEIRING: Before you leave Henri, the translation and then we would like to pose one or two questions to you. As is our custom at the Truth Commission hearings I will ask whether some of the Committee members at the table want to pose a question to Ds Meyer. Joyce.
MS SEROKE: Ds Meyer, you said that the older generation in your circles is in, a bit negative, they do not have the hope that you have as young people. How do you think the young people can help the old people also become positive and be hopeful for the future that you are talking about?
PROF MEIRING: Just a moment for the interpretation.
DS MEYER: I think I can answer the question in this way. When we had the, I think it was the 1991 elections, everybody thought that there was going to be a war and everybody put their cupboards full of food and everybody stored up petrol and everything and our young people we said, no, that is not necessary, everything will be good and they said, no, no, we must be prepared and it is good to be prepared, but nothing happened. A lot of people prayed in South Africa and nothing happened. I can think, I think that the best way to influence the older people is by our enthusiasm. I think if they see how enthusiastic we are about the future they will change.
I do not think that if we speak to them or if you try to convince them or anything like that will help. I think our enthusiasm will help. That is the first thing and the second thing is I think that Jesus Christ can make a difference in their lives. If we pray then it will definitely make a difference.
MS SEROKE: My last question is how can you encourage or we, what do you suggest that we could do to encourage young people of different races to come together and start to discuss and talk about the future even though they do not forget what happened in the past, especially in the church circles since you are a Christian and you are a Dominee.
DS MEYER: I think a thing that I have seen about young people. It does not help very much to talk about too many things. I think we must come together and practically work together at something and we do that. We come together, we are going, this holiday we are going to the Venda people and we are going to build a church there and do some mission work and I think that is the best way to come together, get a project, get something to work for and work together for that project. I think if we just speak and speak and speak it will not help, because they have been spoken a lot and I think we must start really practically doing something.
MS SEROKE: Thank you.
PROF MEIRING: Mr Tom Manthata has a question.
MR MANTHATA: Rev Meyer, you talk of enthusiasm of the youth. What, how can you describe that in terms of the youths around here having been, perhaps, to Boipatong, perhaps to Vanderbijlpark, Kwamadela Hostel just to gain first-hand information about the issues that we are talking about?
DS MEYER: I think what you are saying is very important. I think we must go into each others communities and see and really speak with people. I think that is extremely important. We try to do that, we go to Orange Farm and we go to Venda and places like that, but the older generation, the older people they do not want their children to go, because they are afraid of the violence. So I think the big problem why we cannot get the children into the townships to speak to the other people is because they are afraid, but as far as I am concerned I think it is very, very important to go into townships and not only we must go in there, they must also come to our community and speak to us. I think that is very, very important and the other thing that I saw the other day on the television when the American tourists came to South Africa. They went through Soweto and only after they had been through Soweto did they really understand what South Africa is all about and that is what I am trying to say.
For such a long time we have lived apart, apart from each other and we do not really know what is going on in the other mans domain. I have stayed in Black peoples' houses, I have lived with them and I think that is what changed me and what made me to understand that we were lied to all these years and I think that is very important what you are saying.
PROF MEIRING: Thank you Henri.
MR MANTHATA: I was, I did make mention of contact with the Vanderbijlpark Company. I am talking about this simply because it has always been very difficult to make that company to appreciate the problems that the KwaMadela Hostel people occasioned, you know, the community and I think because that, the management of that firm is still largely White, perhaps it can respond positively when it is being engaged by the White youth, you know, on this issue which can begin to form the basis of meaningful dialogue between the workers in the Vaal and that particular hostel and that particular firm.
PROF MEIRING: Can you translate that?
DS MEYER: I really believe that you, that what you are saying is true. If there is going to come a change it will be the young people that will make that change and I think we must really try to influence the older people and I do not think the right way is by rallies or even speaking or something like that. We must go into the community, into the peoples' houses and just in our living way, in our, in the way that we live, in the way that we react towards other people and the way that we show people the love of Jesus, In that way we must communicate that to him. I think that actions speaks louder than words in this context.
PROF MEIRING: Thank you Henri. The translation and then we will let you go, but just a moment. Before I, before the Truth Commission started I taught Theology at the University of Pretoria. One of the students in one of the classes was this man and I am proud of him today. Henri, thank you very much. Our second submission will be made by an Afrikaans mother. Mrs de Bruyn, we are so privileged to have you with us. I think you are going to speak in Afrikaans. Is that right? We must have hear a bit of Afrikaans. Mrs de Bruyn, make yourself comfortable.
MRS DE BRUYN: Thank you.
PROF MEIRING: The light is on already. I am going to ask Mrs Seroke to assist you with your testimony, but please sit. It is nice to have you here.
MRS DE BRUYN: Thank you.
MS SEROKE: Welcome Mrs de Bruyn. I think it is fitting that you should be interviewed by another woman.
MRS DE BRUYN: Yes, of course.
MS SEROKE: I must apologise. My Afrikaans is not of the best and I do not speak pure Afrikaans. It is just a little Afrikaans that I speak. So, I hope you will not mind if I speak to you English.
PROF MEIRING: Carry on, finish speaking first.
MRS DE BRUYN: Good morning ladies and gentlemen. It is a great pleasure for me to be here and I really regard it as a privilege to speak to you. I would like to state that in the beginning we, as women, were very sceptical about what the Commission was involved in and what was being done, but this morning has really opened my eyes. It has shown me what it is all about, it has brought insight and I am glad to be here to have seen what this is all about. ... looked at the past and we have cut to the bone to expose everything that had happened in the past, but now we must put all this hurt behind us and we must look ahead.
We must regard this foundation that the Commission is laying something to build on and to advance from. We have finished crying and we have finished our sorrow now. We must put that behind us and now we must start singing a song of gladness and of praise. We must work together on the future, the future of our children. We in the Vaal Triangle have had many things happen in and around our area and I feel that we must now in the same Vaal Triangle stand together, take hands and also make things happen here, but positive things. We must look forward, we must take hands and we must make these things happen together.
The women of South Africa in the past have not been much on the foreground. We have worked behind the screens, but now we as women must come to the fore. We must work together for the benefit of our children. Women have always had a softness in their hearts. They always thought of their children, they have always had their children's interests at heart, but now we must put these things in the foreground, in the forefront. We must motivate our children. We must let them do the best at school that they can so that they will have a future to look forward to as well. We teach our children, we learn, we teach them to read and to write, to learn at school. We must also teach them that violence is not everything and that violence does not provide the solutions to our problems.
We must take hands, we must learn from each other. We do not know enough about each others handwork and about culture. Our problem of unemployment can really be turned into a temporary problem if we stand together, if we work together on our handwork activities and motivate our children to become involved as well. Learn about each others cultures and then our children will also have a place in this country prepared by us as women as well. South Africa is at the bottom of a very large continent. The southern tip is but a small portion, but we as South Africans are being looked upon by the whole of the rest of the continent of Africa to set an example and we as women must take the lead and show Africa where to go, holding hands together. We must stand together, we must think positively, we must act positively. Thank you.
MS SEROKE: Mrs de Bruyn, thank you so much for that wonderful input. I will now ask my colleagues to ask questions if they have. Oom Piet.
PROF MEIRING: I only want to say Amen to what you said, but I do want to ask can you answer very briefly, are there plans made by Afrikaner women to reach out to the Black women in the area?
MRS DE BRUYN: Yes, the women are working in various outreach programmes, but this is happening on a small scale at present. Although I do believe that in future we will be working together on a much larger scale.
MS SEROKE: Mr Manthata.
MR MANTHATA: Thank you Mrs de Bruyn. You have unwittingly thrown a very big challenge on the basis of your understanding of the, of what is happening or what has happened in the Vaal area. You will know that historically the union of South Africa Constitution was endorsed in the Vaal and yet ironically the happenings of Sharpeville, you know, seemed to negate all that and then recently, with the new Constitution, we have seen how President Mandela gave to give it almost the absolute stamp of recognition back here in the Vaal. Do you not think that this is throwing a great challenge to the community in the Vaal to establish something national to show the unity of the people of South Africa right across the colour.
MRS DE BRUYN: I agree with you 100%. I have also felt that the Vaal Triangle is a very important place that we can start here to make things happen, to let things take the lead in South Africa and show the rest of South Africa how things can be done.
MS SEROKE: Mrs de Bruyn, you mentioned three important points in your submission. Firstly that we as mothers should have, we have our children's interest at heart and we have done that in the past and I would like to sort of highlight the fact that even when we were in the struggle, in the midst of darkness it was the mothers who forgot about their work and went out looking for their young, their daughters and sons who had disappeared. Going into prisons, going to mortuaries to look for them and they are the ones who did that because of what you say about the interests that the children have.
The second point you have made is that we should respect our culture, our handwork and maybe those two things could bring us together and I want to say that our new Government has already started. I always have the pride in my heart when we sing our national anthem and we sing it in three languages. It is never done in any country. We have 11 languages, official languages which we now respect and we never have that in any other country and I think our Government has set us in motion to say that if we could sing each others anthems and learn to speak the languages what will stop us coming together and, lastly, I would like to say I want to take the opportunity one day to invite you to come to Soweto where I live and show you the wonderful handwork our women do in that place which is never highlighted, but which will surprise you. Thank you very much for that.
PROF MEIRING: We really enjoyed your contribution. Thank you for bringing a message from the Afrikaans women of the community. Thank you ever so much and you may take your place. Our next witness, our next speaker will be Mr Peter Mbongo from the South African Communist Party. Mr Peter Mbongo from the South African Communist Party should take his place and Mrs Joyce Seroke will also help you in your submission. You are very welcome with us and Mrs Seroke will help you.
MS SEROKE: We welcome you, Mr Mbongo, to come and give us your submission as the member of the South African Communist Party. Thank you for coming. We will give you an opportunity as soon as the interpretation is finished. You can carry on.
MR MBONGO: Thank you very much Commissioners. Maybe I must first explain that our submission is going to be submitted here in a form of a document, because we are working as a collective leadership and I believe you will bear with us, because I am just going to read what we have, sort of, compiled as a document for the submission. Thank you very much for that.
"The South African Communist Party submission document to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The South African Communist Party wishes to extend its word of thankfulness to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for once more conquering our region after having conducted public hearings into our human rights violations at this hall in June last year. We also thank you for this appropriate opportunity you have afforded us to present our submission before you in accordance with the guidelines set out in the letter received by the party.
Your honourable Commissioners, our submission follows the sequence of the questions as they were posed and thus below other questions under SACP responses. Question one. What was your experiences during the hearings and TRC interventions, etc?".
The SACP response,
"The first day of the Commission was an exciting one where we saw people filling the hall to its capacity. However, as days wore in and out the attendance gradually went down. This is attributed to the fact that at a venue, albeit it located at the centre of the Vaal Triangle, but the poor and the disabled could not reach it. Perhaps if the transport was arranged to ferry them from and to we would not be raising this concern.
The Commission has left a number of cases unattended. A case in point is that of the former leader of the Vaal Triangle, SACP and a former employee of the SACC, Comrade Swals Swatsie, who mysteriously died at a time when he was to testify before the Goldstone Commission about hit squad training and police involvement in their clandestine activities in the Vaal Triangle.
The SACP also regrets to mention that not a single individual came before the Commission that he or she participated in the brutal killings of our people in general and, indeed, the wiping out of the Lufwede family and the sudden death of Getie Sikeswe in police custody who intended to spill the beans about the killings and those conspired.
We, however, throw the ball into the Commissions court and adopt a strategy of wait and see.
Question two. What type of individual or family reparations would you recommend for the victims and survivors in your community?".
The SACP response,
"In the light of the fact that many individuals suffered differently for different reasons, but then the common denominator is that they are all victims of apartheid, of apartheid atrocities. Nonetheless all those individuals who suffered through torture, trauma and other forms of brutal abuse during the pursuance of the struggle and no longer use their body parts to earn a living, we recommend the Commission to take into cognisance of them for reparations.
Likewise families that have suffered through by the loss of their breadwinners or the family was wiped off the earth and only one or two individuals survived. However, ideally individuals and families that we are thinking of are those that were part of the mass democratic movements in our country. Precisely because police and the army were always there for such category of people.
Question three. What do you suggest be recommended as reparation measures for the community given the effects of human rights violations?".
The SACP response.
"The SACP views reparation measures as one of the important factors our community eagerly awaits to see and therefore recommends the following: One, that a centre be built where all victims of human rights violations would make use of it for counselling. Two, that one library be identified, be renovated so that an archive is built for historical material references for the coming generation. Three, a monument bearing all the names of heroes and heroines who died during the course of the struggle be erected. Lastly, that a big event, probably the September three, be organised with the sole purpose of popularising the work of the Commission.
Question four. Identify areas of focus for healing and reconciliation in the community.".
The SACP response,
"We would like to recommend to the Commission that the Commission identifies one appropriate day where a commemoration for the Sharpeville, Sebokeng and Boipatong massacre can be held. This, in our view, should not be attended by political formations only, but churches, businesses and so on be encouraged to attend and be part of the preparations.
Question five. How can this be accomplished (partnership, action plan and monitoring mechanism, etc)?
The SACP response,
"As pertains to the question posed above the SACP hereby gives its opinion in this fashion that it would opt for partnership by which it should be composed of community based organisations, business and the non-Governmental organisations. The fusion of this would advantageously benefit and sustain the projects we recommend above. We also put our proposal before the Commission that all the issues entailed in this document either in a form of issues of concern or recommendations be attended to according to their urgency and preference.
We further suggest that a stakeholders structure be put in place for the purpose of overseeing the end product of what we intend achieving.".
"The South African Communist Party wishes to convey its message of unequivocal support to the Commission for there is much of which it can be justly proud. We congratulate you for all the endeavours you made to reach places as far as the rural areas and, indeed, uncovering the heinous crimes that were perpetrated during the dark days of our country. We hope our people now that the stories of atrocities were revealed to the Commission and the truth is known, they will be able to heal the wounds of the past.
We once more thank you for availing yourselves to our community and wish you all the best in your assignment. Written and compiled by the Sebokeng branch of the SACP Working Committee. Date 16 June 1997.".
MS SEROKE: Thank you very much Mr Mbongo. I will now ask my colleagues to ask you questions.
PROF MEIRING: Mr Mbongo, no question, only a comment. The Reparations Committee takes very careful note of all suggestions made for reparations and the suggestions you made for this area for a library that can be renovated and an archive and a museum, all the things you mentioned, we really appreciate that and we will give very, very good attention to that and if you have more information, more specific information we would love to get that from you, but thank you for all the thought that went into your submission and we will take it very seriously. Thank you very much for that.
MS SEROKE: Tom
MR MANTHATA: Sorry. Mine is just, I am just asking for clarity. I do not know whether, that is you have bullet four that a big event probably be, probably the September, September the third be organised with the sole purpose of popularising the work of the Commission, I see, and then for your recommendation two you still talk about,
"We would like to recommend to the Commission that the Commission identifies one appropriate day.".
Are you seeing this as two separate days or is there a way where these days could be merged into one for this kind of a commemorative day, you know, of what happened in this area?
MR MBONGO: Thank you for that question. I think in our view, what we are saying is that the September three is one of the event which took place in 1984 when our people went on a rent boycott and then the Sharpeville massacre, the Sebokeng massacre on the 21st of March, if I am not mistaken, and then the Boipatong massacre on the 17th of June. These, in our view, we see them as different and what we are suggesting here is that a commemoration for massacres be organised, but the September three, as I said, has its own connotations and that is why we are suggesting that a big event and, if I am not mistaken, there was an event somewhere in the Orange Free State which was organised by the Truth Commission, a big event for the people of that particular area within the Orange Free State.
Now in terms of the September three, what we are saying is that if that day could perhaps be organised for the sole purpose of popularising the work of the Truth Commission and what, in fact, the Truth Commission has done so far for our people, but then the other days that we recommend in them is about the commemoration of the massacres that took place within the Vaal since from 1960 up until 1994. So that is why we put them ...
MR MANTHATA: Thank you.
MS SEROKE: Mr Mbongo, thank you very much for coming. I just want to comment on your, the, your misgivings about some of the cases which you feel were unattended and you mentioned Comrade Swals Swatsie and the Lufwede family and the sudden death of Getie Sikeswe. I do not think you should feel that the Commission has not attended to these. When we asked people to appear during hearings we usually send Section 30 letters to the alleged perpetrators to say that they are going to be mentioned during the hearings and if they want to come they are welcome to come and defend themselves or to ask for forgiveness if they want to, but none of these people have appeared, but even though they have got the letters and, secondly, we also subpoena people to come forward to the hearings.
If they have not come willingly, we subpoena them to say they should come and tell us about what happened in the various cases that you mentioned and in the case of the people you have mentioned I may say that some subpoenas will be coming forth some time in July and we also rely a lot on the amnesty applications. When people apply for amnesty then they confess about the things that they have done and in that case we might uncover the people who caused the deaths of the people you have mentioned in your submission. So I would just say bare with us for the time being. It is not that you have not attended to that.
PROF MEIRING: Thank you very much for the delegation for the submission from the SACP. Thank you for being with us and please stay with us till the end of the day. Thank you for coming. Before I call the next witness, that will be Mr Mandla Nangalembe from the Vaal Victims, I want to hand you to the Chairman. He has an announcement or two to make.
CHAIRPERSON: If among us there are Mayor's delegation from any other organisation, members of Parliament please let us know so that we can appreciate your presence. The other important notice that I want to make is that Reverend Meyer and Mrs de Bruyn have requested permission to leave. They have got other business to attend to. I am going to request that when the people are busy on the stage with their submission, there will be no movement at the back, because we get disturbed, please. We now grant permission for Reverend and Mrs de Bruyn to leave. Thank you.
PROF MEIRING: Thank you Mr Chairman. I now call upon Mr Mandla Nangalembe from the Vaal Victims of Violence Committee to come to the fore and our colleague, Mr Tom Manthata, will assist in the leading of the evidence, will assist in the leading of the evidence.
MR NANGALEMBE: Chairperson, please allow me before I start to correct an error that was made. The submission from the Vaal Victims of Violence is not yet at the table, but we have the submission to make. The Vaal Victim of Violence will still meet before Wednesday to sort things out and maybe thereafter you will get there submission. Thank you.
Thank you Chairperson. I want to make a correction to my name. I am Nangalembe, not the other way round and in the near future I might be Adbullah Aziz, because I have transformed into another religion. Thank you to the Commission for coming here once again. It seems to me that you do not come at an appropriate time. Last year when you were here it was the Holomisa, ANC issue. Today you are here again and there is a de Klerk against the TRC issue and they are going to the Court of Law. We do not know what the outcome of that case will be. We all know that the TRC tries to bring about peace and reconciliation and we thank God for saving us for this day. We thank Him for saving us to be here despite the ordeal of the past.
Members of the Vaal Victims of Violence are the victims who were at the Nangalembe night vigil. Many people did not know what was happening at that time. Still today people have wounds on their bodies. Some are traumatised, some still have bullet wounds in their bodies. That was my first point. I want to come to the second point. We have heard that the President advised young people to go to school. Yes, we agree it is easy for parents to maintain their children while they are still at a primary or a senior school, but university education is very expensive, it is unaffordable. They cannot afford it. We would like the Commission to assist with the, with higher education of the victims and one other important issue connected to the issue of education is child care units. Parents do not know exactly where to go. Children play with firearms as if it is a, they are good toys. They need to be counselled.
I want to go then to the third point which is counselling. People are confused as they were before. They spoke of being members of ANC, members of PAC, IFP, NP not knowing exactly the idealogy of those parties. The youth was also traumatised. They use to go around carrying guns. They use to members of self-defence units protecting the communities. They do not know, they are not even aware that the days of war are, have gone by. They need to be counselled. They resort to car hijacking, because they are neglected. They fought for a good cause, but today are forgotten. That is why we see this crime.
I am going to the fourth point which is unemployment rate. Violence turned people into criminals. People do not even have R1,60 to be here today. People are very poor. Projects should be identified and for such projects victims of violence should be given the first preference. We, people still do not know the whereabouts of their loved ones and they want to be part of what is actually happening.
Chairperson, I am going to the, to the sixth point. Parents buried their loved ones and their graves are unattended. Sometimes they go to the graves and clean them up, but there needs to be something that will remind them of their loved ones and a good idea is that of tombstones. That was my sixth point and I do not want to be long. I have summarised the whole submission. Actually not a submission, as I mentioned earlier on that we will give a full submission after coming together as the Vaal Victims of Violence. Thank you.
MR MANTHATA: Mr Nangalembe, we are very grateful. I have got only one question, I think, if not two. Have you got a rough estimate number of those families that or those people who were caught up at the night vigil of the Nangalembe?
MR NANGALEMBE: The number is 38 people who died there and 48 were injured or crippled.
MR MANTHATA: My next question is where you talk about counselling on political party education, if I understood you well. Do you not see that as to get that coupled with the, you know, what, yes, to, do you not think that that is, by and large, a moral issue rather than an issue of political parties, that is rather than an issue of political parties alone or rather than an issue that can be attended to through a counselling institute only?
MR NANGALEMBE: Mr Chairperson, that is a good idea. I was just merely putting it forward as people find themselves in involved in political organisations whereas some of the things that have been done are not a political thing. So the proposal that you are putting forward is quite welcome and it is positive.
MR MANTHATA: And as a moral issue have you, perhaps you have not given thought to it, how do you see the churches addressing that moral issue? Is there something they can do besides what they are involved in today like, you know, but something very drastic and a little revolutionary?
MR NANGALEMBE: I may not be negative on that question unless church members are actually volunteering to actually assist. As today, we are here, maybe they are aware. They will then maybe do something from your recommendation or whatever the case may be, but as it will bring something positive. Presently, if I may put forward, that most of the members of Vaal Victims of Violence have not been given any counselling whatsoever or have not been given an idea where to go for counselling. Thank you Mr Chairman.
MR MANTHATA: Thank you.
MS SEROKE: I am merely going to comment on some of the issues you have mentioned and I am very pleased that, Mr Nangalembe, you are saying that the Vaal Victims of Violence need help to help themselves. They need to be empowered. In terms of medical treatment and education and all the points you have raised the TRC on its own does not have any grips as to what it can do now. All the things that have to be done depend on the recommendations that the Truth Commission is going to make to the President and from the President to Cabinet, but what I would like to say is that since we have such a short life span and we are closing down in December we are already now trying to work with NGO's around us, church groups who are going to be the support of the victims when the Truth Commission is over and when we are still waiting for the implementation of those recommendations, but I would like to say that in terms of the demilitarisation of the youth, especially the SDU's, we had this submission when we had the childrens' hearings in Johannesburg last week and there are certain trusts that are doing something about how to demilitarise the young people who fought in the war and still feel they have no way of, you know, taking out the violence out of their system.
So we would like to encourage organisations around the Vaal, particularly with such an active council of churches to come together to see how they can help the victims whilst they are waiting. Prof Meiring did mention that some of the people are going to wait and it is the older people who are already nearer the grave who might be the priority, but this is a slow process, but it is going to happen very soon, but it has got to start now with the efforts of all the organisations around the Vaal including your organisation of the Vaal Victims of Violence.
About the disappearances you made, I said earlier in my report back that our investigating unit is working under great pressure, limited resources trying to find out what happened to people who disappeared. It is not a very easy process and I said it depends mostly on the amnesty applications. Once people come forward to say I was responsible for this and this is what I did with that person. You have been watching television and in certain cases it happens, but we have not given up. So we are still trying and if people never find out what happened it is going to be very hurtful for the parents, but it is not everybody who we can unearth the whereabouts if the perpetrators are not going to give us any help. Thank you very much.
PROF MEIRING: Thank you. Thank you so much Mr, I will pronounce that correctly, Nangalembe. Thank you so much for being with us. We, I did receive a note just after you spoke to clear up the misunderstanding that we did receive a submission from the Victims of the Vaal Triangle Violence, but the representative, unfortunately, is not here to read the submission, but we will take the submission with us to Johannesburg and it will be included in the report. Thank you very much. I think it is time now for lunch, Azina is the lunch ready, but the Chairman, I hand over to the Chairman now.
CHAIRPERSON: I want to thank Mr Nangalembe and so he is from the Vaal Victims of Violence. We are now breaking for lunch and we come back at 20 past two, because one of the speakers alluded to the fact that people do not have transport to go back to their homes and the Commissioners hade a lot of work to do and they are going far away from here. So the people with stickers will be the people who go for lunch. We have not enough food, we apologise for that and we can now react. Thank you. Over to you Mam.
MS SEROKE: I am going to ask Mr Mkiwane to come and give the, a submission on behalf of the ex-councillors of the Vaal.
MR MKIWANE: We would like to tell you what was the situation of the ex-councillors to TRC. We were councillors elected into office after the collapse of the Advisory Board system in 1977. Service charges were increasing almost yearly before we came into office. People were not happy and by 1984 their cup of dissatisfaction was fill to the brim. An increase was mooted that an amount may be added after the budget showed a deficit. This increase was never implemented, but unknown to the councillors, the people had taken a decision to do away with the councillors.
On the third of September 1984 mobs broke into bottle stores and looted some and looted. Some friendly residents warned some councillors to be aware as they were the next targets. Some unfortunate councillors were not warned. Those who were warned took to the hills with whatever they could lay their hands on. Life was important. On the fourth of September 1984 all hell broke out. Property was destroyed, houses were burned, were burned down and belongings were either destroyed by fire or carried away by the very same people who elected us. Some of our colleagues who were found at home were brutally killed namely, Mr Jacob Dlamini at Sharpeville, Mr Chakane at Sebokeng and Mr Motiyane also at Sebokeng lost their lives.
The wife of Mr Dlamini was so traumatised that she became insane and subsequently died. The wife of Mr Chakane is also insane though still alive. Mr Motiyane's wife is not healthy following the husband's death. These men had children who must be brought up. After these riots which spread throughout the country the councillors were left with nothing. Some houses were built in Zone ten to accommodate them, but they had to buy them. What with. The children of councillors feared to go to schools, because of the obnoxious tag attached to their parents. Most of the councillors never got work ever since and are now not in a good state of health.
As ex-councillors where do we belong as it seems we are not wanted by the people and the Government. We are aware apartheid is a costly commodity, but why at the expense of the councillors? Why, why, why? Suggestions, we feel that concessions should be given to these ex-councillors to be exempted from taxation and medical expenses. Bursaries should be granted to the children who still attend schools or universities. The ex-councillors should be given proper accommodation. Alternatively, sorry, the houses built for them in Zone ten should be given to them as compensation. The rest we leave to our Government to know what to do about those who suffered and are still suffering.
Areas of healing. People have to be counselled about the needs of a community and accept the needs that we all must meet services. How this can be accomplished. The nominee or the State President must meet the ex-councillors and hear what they have to say and get it from the horses mouth. Meeting the people at the ground level and making them aware that although the Government wishes to help them, they must also play their part.
Commissioners, I have a list of some councillors at the back of which I am not going to read them out. I will be handing this over to you as your record. Unfortunately, because of lack of funds I could have photostatted this to make few copies, but hence I know exactly what I have written here, I will be handing this over to you.
Finally, we, the community of Lekwa City Council, we feel that something has to be done to bring us back to the community as we feel that we are rejected by the community and the Government. Not a single person has ever visited us to counsel us, at least to bring back the happier days though it, we know very well that it cannot be 100%, but to be closer to our brothers and sisters. Thank you very much. MS SEROKE: Thank you Mr Mkiwane. I will ask a brief translation. Mr Tom Manthata, do you have any questions?
MR MANTHATA: We are truly sorry for the situation that the ex-councillors, the former councillors still find themselves in. Admittedly it is not a thing of their making. As you have rightly pointed, it is a thing of the making by the Apartheid Laws. I do not know whether the councillors have observed the changes in so far as the President himself has had a position or has been in a position to meet quite a number of people who were former functionaries of the apartheid Government. I mean quite a number of people who were in that state happen to be re-admitted or re-accepted in the ranks of the ANC and some of them are even still holding higher positions in the Government institutions. So I do not know whether you are saying the ex-councillors have taken advantage of this and they have met with or have had an outright rejection by the president Government.
MR MKIWANE: May I respond Sir?
MR MANTHATA: Yes please.
MR MKIWANE: As I have mentioned that nobody has ever indicated to us or came to us informing us about what you have just said. Up to now we are still in the wilderness. We are not aware of that, not in the Lekwa City Council. I may say in the Vaal Triangle.
MR MANTHATA: Yes, it could be true. I personally am not very well versed with who are running the show in the Lekwa area more especially in Government administrative posts and perhaps even in the industrial, commercial area where we are beginning to see quite a number of some of the ANC people or even Government people to be holding control over. In fact this ties up even with the question I raised to Ds Meyer, whether companies in the Vereeniging, particularly those at Vanderbijlpark, which at one stage were seen to be supportive of apartheid, have not been approached by the White youths and/or the Vaal people to assess whether they have not changed their attitude to a point where they can so relate with people in the community, that they can begin to create avenues of employment and/or just platforms to discuss with them to enable them to forget all the problems of the past, you know, to heal them and to make them begin to realise that they are being rehabilitated, they are being readmitted into the community.
MR MKIWANE: May I respond?
MR MANTHATA: Yes please.
MR MKIWANE: Not to our knowledge Sir. If, at all, there was such a thing we could not have hesitated to come closer to such institutes. Up to this minute when we drafted this I had some of the ex-councillors, we still feel and we are still sailing on the same boat of 1984 where we were not accepted. Not a single person has ever approached us informing us of where can we get some friendly discussion with anybody, bringing us closer to the residents or to the Government. Not one. I am, I may add this, as I am seated here I have been an ANC member ever since 1943 when I was still a fresh teacher in the field, up to this minute. Even during the days of the rotten apartheid when we were made very uncomfortable I never ceased to be a member of the ANC, but not a single person has ever brought me or brought light to me, this is the way.
MR MANTHATA: Let me complete by saying that as the Vaal Committee has met here together with the Minister hearing the stance which you are at. They hear your cry. I hope that they will start. There should be an arrangement for communication between the ex-councillors and them. People from the churches I think they will take your complaint and try harder that things should be back to normal. That is my response.
I will conclude by saying the people of the Vaal are here listening today. The Ministers of the region are also here. They have listened to your request. The church maybe will take an active role to reconcile you with the community. Thank you.
MS SEROKE: Mr Mkiwane, we heard your suggestions in terms of concessions for tax and other things, bursaries for your children and accommodation. I would say that for the sake of reconciliation we would consider these requests in terms of all other requests that have come out today and not single out and make special requests and say these are for ex-councillors. So that when we make our recommendations we will mention the plight of the ex-councillors, but when we come to reparation and rehabilitation it would be something that is done for everybody. I am happy that some of you were brave enough to come out and give, during the hearings and tell your stories, but in other areas it is very difficult for us to get the story from the other side. So I would encourage that even though you have this list at the back of your submission, that those councillors who have signed here should still come forward to make statements before the deadline of July, because no reparation will be done for someone who has not given a statement and we thank you very much for coming forward.
We shall now call upon Father Ben Photolo to give a submission on behalf of the Gauteng Council of Churches. Our technicians say that they are now ready for simultaneous translation. Those who wish to get the boxes can do so, because we are not going to be translating in the way we have been doing, because it takes time. So those of you who, especially our English speaking friends, we would encourage them to have the boxes and the earphones, because we will now be using the, our African languages. I do not know whether the Council will submit in English, because if it does so then I still feel the translation will have to be done, because there are so many people now and we are taking time distributing these boxes and earphones.
MS SEROKE: Welcome. We would like you to introduce the other people who have accompanied you Father to give this submission.
FATHER PHOTOLO: On my left I have with me Dumaza Kalisha who is a peace worker for the Gauteng Council of Churches, Vaal branch and on my right I have Reverend Gift Morane who is the co-ordinator for the whole Gauteng Council of Churches. East Rand, West Rand, I mean, Vaal and Pretoria.
MS SEROKE: We welcome you all.
FATHER PHOTOLO: Thank you.
MR KALISHA: Thank you.
REV MORANE: Thank you.
FATHER PHOTOLO: Thanks to the members of the TRC for the noble cause you have jointly undertaken of healing the wounds suffered by our society during the apartheid era. Now, the South African Council of Churches through her former regional Council of Churches got involved actively in the battlefield against apartheid. The South African Government during that period of apartheid had a theology of its own. We chose to call it State theology. State theology was simply the theological justification of the then status quo ...
MS SEROKE: Excuse me Father. Just to tell the people that the translation is on number three of, on the boxes. It is Sotho.
FATHER PHOTOLO: Thank you. The State theology was simply the theological justification of the then status quo with its racism and totalitarianism. The status quo reduces the poor to porcidity, obedience and apathy. The State theology misused theological concepts and Biblical texts for its own political purposes. With this gross violation of the will of God in which people should live, the ecumenical and prophetic church was left with no other option but to stage a prophetic intervention and become the voice of the voiceless.
To interpret the script, the Bible in the context of a situation prevailing at the time we chose to obey God rather than man. We entered a stage of the defiance campaigns. On the other hand the State appealed to the conscience of the Christians in the name of law and order to accept the use of violence as a God given duty with their primary aim of maintaining the status quo of oppression. The church could not allow people to be sacrificed for the sake of unjust laws. As our true Christian faith commits us to work for true reconciliation and genuine peace we pointed out to the apartheid regime that there can be no true reconciliation and no genuine peace without justice.
In the 1980's South Africa reached a decisive moment in its history. A fundamental reassessment was taking place concerning the basic structures of its social apartheid order. The church pressed on to make structure change possible and sustainable. I am sure you want to know how we did this in our role. We were enforced our campaigns and provided sanctuary for internal refugees and provided material help to families of political detainees and prisoners. Agencies such as NAMDA and Lawyers for Human Rights and Detainees Parents Support Committees came to our rescue in the challenging task. Some of the support came from the oppressed masses and their organisations.
Chairperson, it will not be easy for any person who has not worked in this area to tell exactly what the situation has been like during those years of oppression. The Council of Churches is one of the sources that can attempt to provide the TRC with information which could assist different and respective sub-committees operating within the TRC structure. During the period of the total strategy this area became one of the targeted places. This system worked from the late 70's and became very sophisticated roughly from early 80's until the early 90's. This period involved the application of destabilisation tactics in a fairly generalised and indiscriminate manner.
There was direct military action. We have this here as Operation Palmiet. This operation took place in 1984 during the height of the Vaal rent boycott. This phase gave way to another lasting era from the late part of 1985 until the national peace accord. This phase can be described as a phase of intensified and more selective destabilisation confined, in particular, to places like Sebokeng, Boipatong and Sharpeville. There was also a substantial increase in activity by the apartheid Government sponsored dissident groups. There were secret assassins, the Eagles and organised criminals.
(B), On the other hand members of the security forces led dirty operations against the community. Some of their major attempts made was to coerce people to act as State witnesses in political trials. Young and old people were bought to sell out their leaders. Joint operation between criminals operating from KwaMadela at Iscor compound and allegedly with some members of the police. In the broader community these operations characterised by mass and indiscriminate killings became part of the day every day life of the community in the Vaal and perpetrators were not brought to court.
Another incident that we cannot go without mentioning is the massacre of Sharpeville residents on the 21st March 1960. This event has left an indelible mark in the minds of the people. Another event that freezes the blood is the Sebokeng night vigil massacre at Mr Nangalembe's house where about 38 mourners were shot dead whilst busy praying. Our then field workers informed the police in Sebokeng Police Station in advance about the looming tension around that area and the possibility of attacking at night. Although members of security were cognisant of this case no intensified deployment of police was made for preventative measures.
From the period up to the Boipatong massacre peace never reigned in the Vaal area. Therefore one of the big tasks before us is to bring together the broader Vaal community, Vaal Community and former KwaMadela residents in pursuit of building peace and reconciliation. As the church we apologise for the times when we were silent in the face of violation of human rights carried out by Government forces structures or those aligned with them. We apologise for our silence in not sufficiently condemning the violations of human rights carried out either as revenge attacks or in the name of the struggle. We further more offer our services as Ministers of healing to the victims and the perpetrators from whatever quarter they may come.
So for us the past hearings have been a transforming experience. Those hearings were like starting a new journey of discovery which opened up new avenues of hope. This is the reason why we have come here today to present our recommendations. We have these recommendations. On the strength of our experience in working and discussions with community members and leaders we trust that this document will find support in this sitting of the TRC today. Now, we wish to make our recommendations for the reparation.
Number one, we recommend that children who lost their parents through these acts of terror should receive an urgent assistance for their welfare and education. Two, destroyed properties be rebuilt without discrimination as to the political alignment of the owners. Three, the graves of victims of 1960, 1984, right up to 1992 be built and properly fenced up. Memorial stones to be erected at these sites. Furthermore, a memorial stone to be erected to the many who died in the struggle for justice over the years and among these we mention our own field worker, Saul Sotetsie. Four, the religious bodies together with their reparations and human rights committees should identify a day of mourning for this community. During the mass burials people did not have time to mourn. This is part of the process of healing and reconciliation. Five, a memorial park which would include among other things a museum where the history of the struggle for freedom is depicted. A building or buildings where training would be offered in various skills. Six, we as a church offer to continue with the process of reaching out to bring healing and reconciliation to all groups. In this context we notice that very little progress has been made in the area of bridging the gap between Black and White in this area.
We commit ourselves to work in the area as well as in bringing the various desperate groups in the township together. We commit ourselves to work towards a genuine consensus among all in the Vaal. We suggest that the President of the country should agree on a special day with the national body of churches to have a contrition and a trancing of a nation. We already had one in Sebokeng Hostel led by the Council of Churches. A request to the Government to embark on a massive job creation project. We ask that professional and trauma counselling be provided for all who have been affected by the troubles in the Vaal. On rehabilitation of society we need to focus on disarming, particulary, young people. This issue in the Vaal remains a central point in our attempts of building peace and reconciliation. There will not be peace while young people are so heavily armed continue with revenge killings as is the case, particularly, in Sharpeville. The Council of Churches in the Vaal has already structured itself to monitor that recommendations put forward today are carried out.
In 1991 the church in this area was put to trial by the Lekwa Town Council, Town Clerk, Mr Louw. Allegations were made by the Town Council, by the Town Clerk on behalf of the entire council that we were terrorists carrying AK47. At that time the clergy marching to the council offices to hand over a memorandum were arrested, charged and sentenced to three years suspended sentence. We therefore in the spirit of reconciliation request that the criminal record placed on our heads be removed. We feel being severely ill-treated by the unjust apartheid regime. People like Father Jeffrey Mosolane, Reverend Lord McCamal and the rest of the, of the banned Delmas trialists like Manthata there should get the word "sorry" from those who persecuted them. All those who were involved in acts which violated the human rights of others we encourage them to apologise. I thank you Chairman, Chairperson.
MS SEROKE: Thank you Sir for your lucid submission. I will now ask Mr Manthata if he has got any comments or questions that he would like to raise.
MR MANTHATA: Thank you Madam Chair. I have only two questions to ask. It is true that the church is the centre for bringing about reconciliation. Mr Nangalembe and Mr Mkiwane have already alluded to that point. It seems as if it is necessary for the church to tell us, I do not know whether I am rephrasing it. Okay, let me suggest this, whether the church would consider this. The kind of work that you have been given, do you have to find yourselves in a position where you are going to be directly and practically involved in it. In other words is it going to be just more than talking? Is it going to be more than just preaching? Now a person will say what would you say if a suggestion was to say that all the denominations in the Vaal Triangle establish schools where they will teach morals, schools where they will teach ubuntu, because you have already indicated that the youth is affected, they are criminals and yet they claim to be political activists. Now what would you say. Can we not go back to where the church was before, that is in the 1940's, 50's and 60's before the Bantu Education. What would you say, Ministers, about this idea?
FATHER PHOTOLO: Thank you Chairperson. First of all I would like to respond on the issue raised by a former councillor which is a question that you brought direct to us now. I think it is one of the challenge that is facing the church, to bring people together. However, we have not, it should not be like a myth that things can be done with magic dust, to bring people together and then they just start working together. There are stages, actually, on reconciliation. One of the stages which we as a church, we caucused about was unless the former councillors come forward and apologise to the community of the Vaal about the past and appeal for, to be reinstated in the community then I think our poor people are always ready to say welcome brother or sister and is a challenge that we are also putting to the police that they must do the same thing, but we want to say the church, we, the doors are open from today, as a challenge, we are going to do that as one of our programme of action, but we need people to open up. Not to wait to be called, but you see the situation and it must disturb you and you must go and search and knock at the door and say how can you help us on this issue.
Secondly, on the issue of the history of the church in the 50's. It is a fact that the church was in control of social structures and so on, running of schools. However, today the political situation has changed such that it is so difficult to do some of the things that the church was doing before. We are in the process under our programme of peace and reconciliation, engaging on the programme of disarmament of young people, teaching morality, actually education to young people about life, how life should be led and so on and I hope that that is a ministry that we will continue to do and provided that the people are prepared, also, to join that journey. It is so difficult today, people have to be forced to do certain things that they enjoy and find out they are so good for them, but is one of the call of the church to make sure that we go on and on trying to teach or spread this message.
Thirdly, about the issue actually raised by the Nangalembe family. We were just chatting at, during lunch time to say to them we hope from here we should have a cleansing ceremony at the Nangalembe house where all victims of that circumstances should come together and we can have actually a practical cleansing ceremony to heal that wounds. So these are simple things that we say from today we are going to start to do. Hence, we are calling for a day of contrition where we say let the whole nation come and bite its head and say we are sorry for what happened, because we have got moral guilt of what happened. Some were quite, distances themselves from what was taking place, but today, all of us we are pleading for mercy. Thank you.
MR MANTHATA: We thank you. I do not want to conduct a dialogue, but as you have mentioned, Minister, the greatest disaster that will fall our nation is to leave everything in the hands of the Government. The moment we say the Government can do this and the churches cannot do this, we are negating the basic tenets of democracy. No one institution should be left alone to do what is a national task. That is why a person asked can you review or revisit what was good, the greatest fortune or luck is this that we have a Government that cannot stop you from doing that. I Thank you.
MS SEROKE: In summing up I would like to commend the Vaal Council of Churches for this submission and to say that we are going to take it very seriously and we are mindful of the admirable role the church has done in the past, but we are saying to the church this is now the time for more commitment if we have to save this nation and because the church has got resources, it has got existing structures we are looking to the church for help and that Mr Manthata has said, our Government needs to be given a hand. When we were at the follow-up hearings in Boksburg the Bishop of the Anglican Church for that diocese raised a very important point when he said that it is remarkable that people of different races can now meet together in cinemas, even on Sundays, but our churches are still so segregated.
That is a challenge that I am giving to the Vaal Council of Churches. I know we are going to give the excuse of distance, how do people travel from here to those White churches and the White churches are going to talk about the violence and be scared to come in like we had Ds Meyer today, but I feel that is a challenge which we must fulfil. If we can go to cinemas together, what stops us from worshipping together. Thank you very much.
Is from the Khulumani Support Group and we will now invite Mr Duma Khumalo. I know it is not nice to be last, but we must say thank you that we also have a chance to give our submission. Welcome Mr Khumalo. Would you introduce the gentleman who has accompanied you?
MR KHUMALO: The gentleman with me is Tadiso. He is also a member of Khulumani.
MS SEROKE: Thank you.
MR KHUMALO: Thank you very much.
MS SEROKE: You can go ahead Sir.
MR KHUMALO: Okay fine.
CHAIRPERSON: He is going to read. This man is going to read the statement.
MR KHUMALO: Yes Sir.
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, put it in the middle.
MR KHUMALO: Okay, thank you Mr Chair. We as the Khulumani Support Group, the group that is mainly composed of victims found within the Vaal Triangle would like to thank very much at the Centre for Study of Violence for having considered the people of Vaal and, in that sense, helped us to form this group that is existing today with a membership of more than 200 victims, I should say. The Khulumani Support Group is very much aware of the objective of the establishment or the being of TRC, mainly being the healing process a part of it and the reconciliation and the rehabilitation. In this regard we will take a chance, in face, to consider the intervention of the TRC before and during the hearings in our area.
Firstly, the fear that was within the people in the Vaal Triangle of coming forward and tell of their experiences concerning the events and the incidents of the apartheid era. The being of TRC did help many of our people to break the shells of their griefs and fear that they had lived with in the past many years.
Two, we would like to thank, again, the being of TRC with its intervention for having brought about the dignity of the people that was lost during the political era in our country. People had no one to listen to, to their griefs nor pay attention to some of those griefs until the establishment of TRC came into being. Then many of the victims came forward and started, for the first time, to talk about their past griefs. Now the relationship, again, that have been lost between the people of the Vaal Triangle came into being, again, after the TRC had been introduced into our country. Therefore, we are very grateful that it had really intervened to the situation that was within our country and in our area.
Our political parties in this area or most of the participants in this political area did not understand exactly how politics should be carried our or their differences in politics should be carried out, but all the same it came through the intervention of TRC that people started understanding that their differences in politics could not tear them apart and not make them one community or one nation. So we are very grateful in this regard. Even to many of the churches that did take part in participating in politics, some of these churches did end up now serving the interests of political parties instead of being independent and religious organisations and we thank the TRC for having put the light through its intervention that now people in the churches have started realising now that they are religious organisations not political ones.
As the Khulumani Support Group we would now like to get to the type of reparation that we think might help the individuals though we see the critical situation that our people are in. Financial assistance, we believe, for many families which have lost their breadwinners could be of vital, okay, and the counselling to those who lost their memories and still live with their griefs could also be of some help. Bursaries for educational aspects in these families could also help in the reparation to these peoples' lives. The reburials as well to those who were never buried by their families and we know that many of our victims went out of our country and were never seen again in this country.
Now, for the community we believe that if this counselling could be introduced to many of our community centres where we know that many of our people have been traumatised by the events of the apartheid era. We believe, again, that if there could be the memorial places built in our community to help our people to overcome their past experiences. For the community we believe, again, if there could be some development centres built in forms of projects to the community so that they should assist in overcoming poverty and in income generation, because we believe these are many of the things that make our people even to suffer today.
Now we have got many areas which we believe or focus to them for this healing and the reconciliation process of the TRC. We merely have thought of the hostels whereby we believe that many hostel dwellers are not in good relationships with the people in the locations or in the townships due to the past political conflicts. We believe there is a lot of reconciliation needed to reunite the community in the Vaal Triangle. The squatter camps, most of the people who live in these areas are those who flew and many were evicted from their townships and have no good shelter and still live with the fears and the griefs of the past. They also need to be provided with some focus of interest for healing and reconciliation and being reunited again to the people or the part of the community that lives in the townships.
Now when we come to the townships directly, most of the political conflicts started from the townships and they left many residents traumatised. Some still live with this traumas and the community is torn apart, therefore it needs a lot of reconciliation. Now, when coming to the accomplishment of this healing and reconciliation process we, as the Khulumani Support Group, we thought of the churches as the first organisations who are very neutral, in a sense, to those churches which did still maintain their religious being. We think they can play a very vital role in bringing about the healing of the victims in a spiritual way, because that is where the most pain comes from and the reconciliation, because many victims, as well, hoped that this healing process could be done through their Pastors.
We believe, again, that the Health Department should bring the therapists, the doctors and the social workers to the community so that they should face the people and assist in healing those who got affected by this political, the past political experiences and we thought that even if the Education Department could now stand affirm in this regard and open broader vacancies for under-privileged youth of this country to get, at least, the basic education to help them and many who suffered in this apartheid era. There should be some special and vocational schools to help in developing the youth for the future.
We believe that the existing departments in the Government sectors should be the mechanism of carrying out the activities of healing and reconciling of the nation and we, as Khulumani Support Group, we request a centre for the project whereby people will be trained, because we already have appealed to the volunteers to help us, but we do not have the place and the capital to carry out our objectives. We do have some few of the recommendations that the period that is allocated to TRC is very much little compared to the work that is the TRC facing, focusing mostly on the investigation part of it. May it be therefore recommended by Khulumani Support Group for some extension, say to help the investigation unit to carry out its task fully and the amnesty issue as well, people who were convicted still believe that they have or they have already served and they have not submitted their applications for amnesty and I believe this is due to the time that has been allocated to TRC. People or many of the members of our community have not been recruited enough to understand the objective of TRC and we have the issue of disappearance.
We recommend that the process should go on and the families assisted even after the TRC, that the political parties, as well, should come forward and tell the truth of the people who had been lost through the struggle and if TRC could be given more time we believe. We believe that it could help with this disappearance process of regaining the people from outside the country or wherever they may be, that they should get a decent burial in their own families. We think with this, this is the little that we have as our submission to the TRC. Thank you.
MS SEROKE: Thank you very much. I will hand over to Mr Manthata if he has any questions or comments to make.
MR MANTHATA: We thank the Khulumani Support Group for their submission. I think it is just as clear as other submissions have been. I do not know whether I have heard your submission well. You seem to either doubt or divide the churches in terms of their application to the problems that have been and still are. Do I understand you to be saying that the churches themselves still need a body like Khulumani to reconcile it amongst itself or amongst its fellow denominations?
MR KHUMALO: We were referring to the past era where all churches did not stand against apartheid. Only two or three churches were supporting. The Roman Catholic Church and other churches stood by the people. If I remember very well some of the Ministers were refused entry into their churches after they were released from prison. Now we want those churches to come. They should ask for forgiveness and they should also render some help to the community. I do not know whether have I put my point clear.
MR MANTHATA: Okay. My last question would be does Khulumani see itself as a community group or does it see itself as an organisation that goes about picking up people from the community and thus creating a situation where the community is at the other side and itself on the other side?
MR KHUMALO: Khulumani is a community based organisation. I will give you this example. There are cases that do not fall under the TRC cases. We take them and we go to the Legal Aid or Wits Law Clinic, because we went to Legal Aid and we negotiated with them as to whether will they help us with such cases and they agreed and the second point is that we received volunteers who volunteered to provide adult education. Now to prove that Khulumani is a community project we do not put people aside.
The third point. If we look at this apartheid Stem, it is a very big Stem. Now there is what we call group psychology. We do not select people, we do not ask people what did your son do, we take everybody who comes to the group with problems to express him or herself as to what kind of assistance can we offer.
MR MANTHATA: I thank you.
MR KHUMALO: I also thank you.
MS SEROKE: Thank you very much for your clear and concise submission and earlier on I spoke of the TRC depending on support structures within the community and I think Khulumani is at an advantage, because you have good training from the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation and we hope that with those skills that you have acquired from these centres you will be able to become a very strong support group of the TRC in the various communities of the Vaal even at the end of the life of the TRC.
In terms of your request for extending the structures, I mean extending the life of the TRC for, extension of the life of the TRC so that their investigations, the investigating unit could go further and further, we will make that, but we know that our present Government has got budgetary constraints and the fact that the Act said this job should only go on for 18 months, then it was extended for another six months, it was explained to us that there was a purpose for this, because the TRC is unearthing the painful traumas of the past and if we go on and on and on doing that we will not have time for national unity and nation building, but having said that, we will pass on that as part of the recommendations. Thank you very much ...
MR KHUMALO: Thank you.
MS SEROKE: ... gentlemen, for coming.
MR KHUMALO: Thank you.
MS SEROKE: No, Tom is going to summarise now. Our last item now on the programme is the summary of the days proceedings and that is going to be done by Mr Manthata. I, over to you Tom. You must bring the ...
MR MANTHATA: I thank you all. You have had the patience to stay and fortunately my work is going to be made easier by the submissions made. You know, the work to capture what went through has been a problem where people were just talking off the cuff, but where people have presented papers as it happened, the work becomes, you know, less and that is why the best we can do is just to request people like Mr Nangalembe to ...
MS SEROKE: Nangalembe.
MR MANTHATA: ... Nangalembe to please have his submission in writing so that, you know, we can give due respect and recognition of their efforts. What went on or what came out very loud and clear is what came initially from what Mrs Seroke read re or with regard to the statements in this area. The statements in this area looked at in the light of the sufferings and the struggles of this area are just too few to reflect the history of this area. So the request for more statements defies expression. Let there be more statements coming from this area as it has been even indicated to Mr Mkiwane, can the ex-councillors please submit statements, because until we have their statements we have not got a true reflection of the history of this area.
Another thing that came out very clearly, and has just been repeated by Khulumani, is the need for a trauma centre in this area. This area cannot afford to be taking people in and out of Johannesburg for emotional and psychological healing. This area requires a trauma centre which, of course, as it has been said already, it can even be extended into a multi-purposed centre and what comes out, again, or what came, what flowed again from this was realising the historical importance of this history both in terms of building the country and in terms of dividing the country, it was recommended that let there be an inter-community visiting processes. Can the community begin to visit one another and/or can the communities have a centre where these communities can, amongst others, involve themselves in the kind of historical discussions that can, perhaps, give a better and constructive political perspectives of this country and/or historical perspective of this country. This came from Rev Meyer and it, yes, Rev Meyer and, of course, this too was, added to this was this whole thing of inter-community visits, let alone dialogues, and this was even a, a challenge was even given to Mrs de Bruyn by Mrs Joyce Seroke that if they do not know the handicraft that the Black women are involved in can she please visit Soweto where she can see how creative and inventive African women are and from that point to begin to build bridges of reconciliation.
Next was the involvement of the churches and the State in the moral and mental reconstruction of the youths in this area. Since the youth became so confused that they do not know or attach the moral, the political moral significance of each and every political party in this area and from that confusion flowed the criminal element or the criminality that is rampant in this area. This has come out very clearly almost, even from the church people themselves saying that the youth in this area needs that kind of a task of debriefing and demilitarisation.
What came out next very clear is this whole issue of readmittance or reacceptance and rehabilitation of the ex-councillors. Whether we are saying the start will be an apology from their side or whether, however you see it, but the need may even supersede whatever conditions you can put before the project itself. Fortunately in this regard, the churches have committed themselves to this cause. We have, okay, the churches themselves have just put it in their own submission, the commitment to do just that. That is to bring about reconciliation, to bring about sound morals and, of course, sound teachings.
They may still be at the level of debating whether this is the task of the church or of the State, because if the churches have to do this job at the level at which these churches run is going to be very difficult. It is just going to be one of those things that are going to continue not giving proper importance and imperative in that direction, but suggestions are that, which of course will flow not, the suggestions are not saying this must be done by the Council of Churches, the suggestion is that can the denomination themselves, severally, begin to look into that, because once you undertake to have the schools, you can follow the morals of the children right up to high school and this is how our leadership was produced, but it will be stressed once more that you shall be renegading if you are going to leave that to the State, because the State once given that power alone, sooner or later the State shall be so circularised that you will begin to find children mouthing nothing else but political slogans that are empty or morality.
I do not know whether I have summed up, you know, all what transpired, but should there be any that is omitted can you please have the courage and the goodwill to approach us to remind us, because the recommendations that are going to be given to the State must be a true reflection of the sentiments and the thinking of the nation. I thank you Madam Chair.
CHAIRPERSON: I want to thank all the speakers and all those who have made their submissions without waste of time. Let me ask for an apology for those who had the desire to entertain us, those who are going to sing and because of time they could not. We will go now to the item, announcements and then after announcements we will ask Father Lennon to close us with prayer.
There is an announcement which comes from Vaal Victims of Violence or VVV that on Wednesday next week at ten o' clock all members of the Vaal Victims of Violence should meet at Small Farm, next week on Wednesday, ten a.m. at Small Farm which means at the Roman Catholic Church at Small Farm.
There is another announcement which I want to make from Gauteng Council of Churches that they are inviting all churches in the programme for holding services. They are asking all, irrespective of your religious affiliation, they are busy doing healing and reconciliation programmes. They are asking that people should come and attend at the following days. That is on the 22nd of June 1997 at three p.m at Ethiopian Church, Adams Road, Everton. I said on the 22nd of June 1997 at three p.m. at Ethiopian Church at Adams Road, Everton. Again, on the 29th of June 1997 at two p.m. they will be having, is it a Prayer Service? Yes, it is a Prayer Service for hostel violence. That is a follow-up which they are doing from, emanating from the service they had last time which was successful, that all members of the community who are here and all stake holders are invited on the 29th of June 1997 at two p.m. at Sebokeng Hostel. That is to say they are asking all people to attend all those services. That they should the Gauteng programme, Gauteng Council of Churches programmes that everyone should have a light and tell other people who are behind.
And then also just to finish, as the Chairperson this occasion I would like to thank everybody about, one, with the attendance and all those who have actually invited to this occasion and to make sure that they actually understood the objective of today and also all those stake holders who actually made sure that this attendance is very successful and also the people who have actually managed to cater for us, ourselves for food. I would also make sure that I also thank for the arrangement of communication so that everybody knows about this hear and understand the objective of today. I will also thank everybody and the Commissioners who managed to attend this kind of workshop and to make sure that they report back in terms of the signal of accountability to make sure that our people understood and they actually are accepting that.
Thank you everybody for everything that it has been happening this, to this proceedings and also the discipline amongst our youth. It is very clear that our youth are the, they are the future leaders of our Government and that they need to be responsible and accountable and also I will appeal to all those who do not manage, who never managed to go to school this year, they must make sure that next year they are registered and get necessary skills so that they empower as one of the, as most of the people in the country. Thank you very much. I will give this opportunity to Mrs Seroke. I am finished. Okay.
MR MANTHATA: Perhaps on behalf of the Chairperson and his Committee, this hall is supposed to be rearranged for the seating for the examinations on Monday. Can we please make a humble plea to the churches to please make available their youths to come and rearrange this hall for Monday. It appears the Committee is, has very little or has very few hands to do this kind of a job and, of course, Mrs Seroke says the Chairperson has already done what she hoped to do, namely to thank each and every one of you. Over to the Chairperson.
CHAIRPERSON: So, maybe for now we can actually give this opportunity to Father Edward Lennon so that he can close for us.
FATHER LENNON: Closing prayer.
CHAIRPERSON: The headphones.