Thursday, December 25, 1997 at 11:14:40

See Jewish Affairs, vol. 52, no. 1, Autumn 1997. This was a special issue devoted to "Jews and Apartheid" and contains several articles of relevance, including "Apartheid Injuries and Diaspora Privileges" by A Abramovitz and "Judaism, Apartheid and the Sojourner Myth" by Steven Friedman of the Centre for Policy Studies.

Arnold Abramovitz, Simon's Town, SA

Friday, December 26, 1997 at 19:20:19

I would like to apologise to all my fellow South Africans for not being more aware of what was happening in this country and, even more, not for doing something more tangible about it.

I grew up not being aware of all the repression and inhumanity going on in South Africa. I was still at primary school at the time of the Soweto Uprising in 1976. At the time I could not comprehend or possibly not want to understand what was happening in South Africa.

At university I became increasingly alienated from mainstream (White) political opinion, but, still, while in the process of developing a consciousness of what was happening around me, I failed to put thoughts into action. God will judge me for that.

At Stellenbosch, while being a post-grad student and also lecturing there, I felt very proud of my attempts to conscientise my fellow White, Afrikaans-speaking countrymen in terms of there being an alternative democratic way out. I should and could have done much much more.

Having access to so-called banned material, I got to know the road to Crossroads and Khayelitsha fairly well. Acting as a very hesitant courier, now, pales into insignificance in the context of what was happening in our beloved land. Support for and involvement with the democratic and community-based organisations also seems so insignificant today. I could have done more ...

The most painful event of the time, for me, was the death of an IDASA friend, Pro Jack. A kind and very intelligent soul, Pro, provided me with a glimpse of what was really happening beyond the police and army barriers and roadblocks. Pro was killed in his mother's house by unidentified gunmen - by means of a shot through the window. Why, God, why? I could have been there for Pro and should have been more involved.

It is with great pain, heartache and remorse that I complete this confession. One day, I pray, God and my fellow countrymen and -women will find it in their hearts to forgive me. I beg forgiveness and understanding.

God must never allow something as horrible as what has come to pass to happen to South Africa again. Be vigilant, all citizens of our beloved motherland.

Andre van Deventer, Brits, SA

Saturday, December 27, 1997 at 08:51:15

I apologise for my total ignorance of most of the political happenings in Apartheid South Africa, but especially my acceptance that 'things are the way they are because that is how they are meant to be'. As an educator of matric students, I have pledged a committment to making them aware, through their literature studies, of the atrocities committed during this time, so that hopefullly, history will not be repeated in this country. I am totally committed to reconciliation in this country and have followed the whole process through e-mail and in the press, with great interest. I will also dedicate my Linguistic studies and my Masters Degree to the events of the TRC.

Your example to the world is outstanding.

Irma Smith, Bloemfontein, SA

Tuesday, December 30, 1997 at 14:24:18

I am honestly of the opinion that the TRC is facing it's ultimate challenge with the manner in which it is going to deal with PW Botha and his testimony or failure to testify before the Commission.

The legitimacy of the TRC is also at stake with its handling of the blanket amnesty to 36 ANC members without full disclosure to the Amnesty Committee of the TRC.

The way the TRC will resolve this problem will determine whether the Reconciliation process will be seen as being legitimate or a circus as PW Botha is describing the TRC.

These two matters will eventually also determine whether I will be signing the TRC register or not. It will also determine whether I view the TRC process as healing or further dividing our broken nation.

DS de Beer, Ermelo, SA

Sunday, January 4, 1998 at 02:52:04

I am a Dutchman with many relatives in RSA. For so many years I defended these Afrikaners, their way of life and their Apartheid. I used to contrast the history of discrimination of other countries and would pose the question, "how is South-Africa different?" How is it different from the Canadian treatment of their native population? How is it different from the treatment given by the caste o f returning American blacks in Liberia to its native peoples?

This comparative list would be long and based on its foundation in fact often silenced those who were critical of those whom I loved. I stopped this defense when it became painfully clear to me how truly evil Apartheid was and for the suffering it caused.

This awareness came about through the work of the TRC and through those who preceeded it long before. I was ignorant and now ashamed at my superficial understanding of it all. You have a great country, keep it great by keeping your people together as you do by this very effort.

Borre Winckel, San Juan Capistrano, California, USA

Sunday, January 4, 1998 at 16:04:03

We sincerely regret, in spite of opposing apartheid all my political life, of not taking a more direct and constructive role in bringing about the necessary change in South African political structures.

Trevor and Coral McGiddy, Sandton, SA

Monday, January 5, 1998 at 13:02:58

As a student in political science it is not only my profession which makes me interested in the work og the TRC. Also as a private person I noted the work and was following the efforts made by the TR C to handle the past of South-Africa. In addition I would like to express my respect for the work which is done by the TRC to shape a common future for all people in South-Africa. And the work of the TRC is undoubtly necessary and at the same time of great value. I would like to express my support and respect to the work done by the TRC. With the best wishes to the successful fullfilment of the work of the TRC.

Jochen Peters, N-9016 Tromso, Norway

Monday, January 5, 1998 at 14:05:17

As South Africa move towards reconciliation, let us all bury our past and boldly stand up to be counted amongst other countries that we are leaders of Africa by example. This the only way we can heal our past and reconcile with each other as a Rainbow nation, which is prepared to work collectively to rebuild the country as a whole!!

Nyambeni Thivhulawi (Mr.), Cape Town and Venda, SA

Tuesday, January 6, 1998 at 13:27:35

I am a British male who emigrated here with my wife in 1974. I am deeply sorry for not questioning the evil political system that was in place and from which we unquestionably profited, without though t for the oppressed people of South Africa. It was very easy to effect ignorance in coming to a new country, but this is no real defence as we have been here so long now. Our daughters as they grew up were quick to point out the roots of our racism, for which I profoundly apologise. Previously dis-advantaged friends (yes it IS possible!) have also helped to change my perceptions completely and some have shown a remarkable and gracious capacity for forgiveness. You see, apartheid made us not to think straight and certainly not to question, and therein lies the real evil. I hope I can still make a worthwhile contribution to this land for the benefit of all its wonderful peoples.

Dick Copperthwaite, Johannesburg, SA

Thursday, January 8, 1998 at 07:15:42

I am so moved by the work of the Commission and the capacity of the people of South Africa to forgive and work toward a peaceful future for all.

As a white person, I left South Africa in 1978 because I didn't know how to change a system I found abhorrent. I found I wouldn't be able to explain to my children why I chose to stay in South Africa. So, I left, but I want to express my regret at my lack of faith that the system could be changed. I ask forgiveness that I didn't stay, and that I didn't do more to bring about the "New South Africa".

My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Anne Adelson, Toronto, Canada