FAITH COMMUNITIES HEARING - 17-19 NOVEMBER 1997
DATE: MONDAY 17 NOVEMBER 1997
HELD AT: EAST LONDON
CHAIRPERSON: Good morning! Will you please rise?
ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU COMMENCES WITH A PRAYER
Let us pray. God our Father, we come before you as your children. We thank you that you have made us in your image and said that we are sisters and brothers of one another, members of one family, your family, the human family. Sin has separated us for so long, we thank you for the inspiration that you have given to so many to struggle for justice, goodness and truth. Whatever our faith, whatever our denomination.
We request your presence and pray for all those who will be giving testimony here. Please touch their lips and hearts Lord; so that everything they say here can have a great contribution to promote peace and love in our country. We ask you to be with us and give us your blessings. Give us power in our country so that people can really see that we are your children and we have your blessings. Please fill the hearts of thy faithful people and kindle in them the fire of thy love. Send forth thy spirit and thy shalt renew the face of the earth. Amen.
Please sit. It is a very, very great privilege to welcome you all here.
WELCOME IS REPEATED IN AFRIKAANS AND XHOSA
We welcome representatives of the different Faith Communities. We welcome representatives of the different Christian Denominations present here. We welcome representatives from Councils of Churches. First I want to express on our behalf our very, very heartfelt thanks to Pastor Chris Venter and his people who have made available to us this splendid facility. We were able to hold a service here last night, a splendid service, and we have the use of these facilities, I think it is at no cost. Having said that it is at no cost, I doubt they will charge us! We do want to say a very, very big thank you. But I also want to say thank you to all of you coming from the different Faith Communities who have made submissions to the Commission, and especially a big thank you to those of you who have subsequently accepted the invitation to expand you written submissions with a verbal intervention. In many ways we ought to be able to say this is a gathering that is probably the most representative of the different Faith Communities of this land. God has blessed us wonderfully and we should be those who give thanks to the Divine, the Transcendent, who has led us to here. With regard to the Christian Community, this could be said to be perhaps the most representative gathering since the Rustenberg Conference, and possibly have a wider representation of the extraordinary religious Christian Community in this land. May I also express my appreciation as the Chairperson of this Commission, to my colleagues, fellow commissioners and committee members, but especially those who were charged with the responsibility of arranging this particular hearing? Dr Mgojo, Bongani Finca, Mcebisi Xundu and Piet Meiring. I don't know, I mean they didn't seem to have gender sensitivity here. They are all men! The women will have to say that if anything goes wrong, it is clear the influence of women was not there!
But I would like to ask you to give a warm clap to the Centre for their generosity and to all of you for coming and to this Committee for arranging this hearing. Please just give them a clap.
It is almost trite to say that this country is possibly the most religious country, it certainly is a very religious country. Let me not be engaged in comparisons. Now that doesn't say a great deal because religion is not necessarily a good thing, not necessarily a bad thing. It can be a good or bad thing. It was, after all, German Christians who supported Hitler, but then it was also Christians in the confessing church who showed that wonderful resistance to the awfulness of Nazism. And we know that in this country we marched against the awfulness of Apartheid as members of the different faith communities: Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindu and we were marching against a system that was buttressed by others who claimed to be Christian as well.
And so we have a peculiar responsibility as members of religious communities, for we have, I think still a great deal of influence if we wished to exercise it. I hope that it will be clear to the world that this particular hearing has a different quality to it from all the other hearings we have heard so far. That splendid son of the soil, as they say, a great Christian leader, Archbishop Hurley had a lovely story that he tells of three Archbishops standing in front of the altar and they are all beating their breasts and saying, "Lord, I'm not worthy, Lord I'm not worthy". Then the church cleaner comes along and stands next to them and he also beats his breast and says, "Lord I'm not worthy, Lord I'm not worthy". Then one of the Archbishops nudges his friend and says; "Just look who thinks he's not worthy".
But I hope that the story of the Pharacies and the Publican will have informed the submissions and will inform our gathering. You know that in the theology of sacramental confession, you are meant to accuse yourself. You are meant to confess your sins, not the sins of another. You are meant not to justify yourself. A self-calpatory exercise is a futility. You are meant to say what went wrong with yourself and then other people may then say, "Actually, he was not so bad. She was not so bad". Because if you say it of yourself, then there is no need for others to try and be nice to you. We are here, not in order to ridicule anyone, we are here to say to God and the world, we have fallen short of your glory. You have used us as we are and there are some wonderful things that you enabled us to do. There is no church that I know of that will not have something to confess of its shortcomings, and very few that might not have some good things to say. The church to which I belong could never be triumphalistic, could never come here and gloat because the church to which I belong and which I love so very deeply, as just a small example, for a very, very long time, paid different stipends determined by race. It was only very recently that we had an equalisation of stipends. So Anglicans can't come and appear to be "beter koffie". And I'm sure that they are not going to try and do that. But it will be important for us to say where we fell short, what we did do that was good because of the grace of this incredible compassionate God. But much, much more important, what are we going to do for the healing of this land? That is going to be the major challenge. What are we going to do to carry out the ministry of reconciliation that has been entrusted to us?
(Cellular phone rings). It's mine. My apologies. I have this awful thing. If you have this awful thing, switch it off. Thank you very much. What are we going to be doing? We are meant to be able to encourage those with the burden of guilt. Jettison that guilt. Confess. Because God is a faithful God and will forgive us our sins. And to say to those who have been victims of it all, "Be willing to forgive". And we in the churches and religious communities have a wonderful opportunity of counselling, of standing there besides the perpetrators and their families, because they too are still children of God. To stand by those who have been shut up, and it is we the religious community who are going to have to do something about the moral fibre of our country. It is we who are going to have to say to this country, even the most awful perpetrator, still remains a child of God. And that perpetrator has the capacity to change. After all, we Christians speak of a soul who becomes a pall. For all of us are beneficiaries of the inestimable grace of God and ultimately we are going to be the instruments of the grace of this compassionate God. And I'm sure we will tell people that it is not enough just to confess it is not enough just to be forgiven. But there is something called reparation. Restitution. And we are going to be the ones who have to be persuading people to do something to show that you are in earnest about what happened in the past. Thank you.
Thank you very much. General Secretary Hlope Bam please. I will ask - oh I'm so sorry I have not introduced the panel. Mcebisi Xundu is a member of the Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee and he is based in our East London/ PE office. Khoza Mgojo is a commissioner and a member of the same committee and he comes from Kwa Zulu Natal. Bongani Finca is a commissioner member of the Human Rights Violations Committee and he is the original convenor in charge of the Eastern Cape Office of the Commission. Piet Meiring is a member of the Reparations and Rehabilitation's Committee and is based in our Gauteng office. Virginia Gcabashe is a member of the Human Rights Violations Committee and she comes from our Kwa Zulu Natal/Free State office, based in Durban. Joyce Seroke is a member of our Human Rights Violations Committee and is based in Gauteng. Tom Manthata is a member of the Reparations and Rehabilitation's Committee and is based in our Gauteng office. Will you administer the oath?
OATH IS ADMINISTERED
CHAIRPERSON: Welcome and Dr Mgojo is going to be leading you, but I presume that you have a statement that you want to read.
MS B BAM: Not sir, I will speak to the statement, because it is too long.
CHAIRPERSON: Oh, you are so wonderful. Thank you very much. Yes.
MS B BAM: But I'll use the same time set that you have allocated to us.
CHAIRPERSON: Of course, of course, of course.
MS S. BAM: Thank you very much. I would like to congratulate the planners through you for putting me first to speak. I think this is a change of the tradition of the church. But I would also like to remind the committee's planners that we are told that the first human being was in Africa and originated from South Africa, and it was a black woman that brought the whole humanity to its being, so it's not surprising that I am the first person to speak. It would also like to introduce the team, sir that is going to help me to do the presentation and answer questions. On my left is Eddie MacKew, who is the director of our justice ministries, and the next is Reverend Bernard Spong, who is our veteran in media and communication and on the extreme left is Lulama Ntshingwa, who is our organising secretary for this province, the Eastern Cape. I would like to say that I stand in line of great leadership in this position I hold of outstanding people who were the general secretaries of the South African Council of Churches before me. In the name of Archbishop Bill Bernard, John Reece and you sir, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Dr Beyers Naude and the Reverend Frank Chikane. In fact, I had hoped that all of you would be the ones doing this submission as you were part of that history, and unfortunately because of the position you are now holding as Chairman of this, you are not able to do so. But I would also like, with your permission, to pay tribute to all the members of this panel. Without exception today, all the people who are sitting on this panel have been part of the South African Council of Churches, have made a contribution as individuals and have made a contribution as members of their various organisations. I would like to recognise them and say that the very reason they are members of this panel is because they contributed to the work of the South African Council of Churches and to the ecumenical movement in general. But to say, sir, as well, there are people in this audience, many people who I cannot mention by name and I will be speaking on their behalf, because the Council of Churches consists of twenty three members churches, of which three are observer members, and all of them are represented here. And so we are part of that tradition. There are many courageous people, sir, who have contributed to this. I cannot mention all of them, but our submission gives you the detailed names of these people. But I want to mention by name people like Reverend Calatha, Reverend Gawa, who were in this province in the early days whereas people of the church and as church leaders took the leadership of the African National Congress and people like Huddleston, Breytenbach, Desmond and many more others. I would like us to remember today, as we make this submission, our colleagues and I am sure that they will be mentioned by Bishop Michael or Victor Africanda, S. Sothetsi and Delisa Matshoba ...[inaudible].
Thank you very much sir. The SACC has been in operation for twenty seven years, but it is important for us to note that even before 1968, when it was founded, there were some activities that had taken place, and some statements that the churches had made and I think that we have indicated that in our submission and we have made reference to those specific things that have been done. I want to mention just a few, and one of them being the important ecumenical conference of ...[inaudible].
CHAIRPERSON: It may be that there are people who are wanting translation. We have wonderful people sitting over there in case you want a translation or interpretation in heavenly languages. There are different heavenly languages, depending on who is speaking them. Please, if you do have a problem, just raise your hand and they will then supply you with one of these contraptions. Thank you.
MS S BAM: I had started to say that prior to 1968 before we were founded as SACC, there were some important events, and I will simply refer to them without going into detail, because they are very important and part of our history. In 1949, at ecumenical conference at which Chief Albert Luthuli spoke and at which a call was made to a franchise vote. This was a church conference. A very important statement of 1957 by the United Church, which stood against the proposed policy to curtail inter-racial worship. The good thing was that the clause was never enacted. Then of course, the history of the [ ] conference of 1960 which was not a conference called by the SACC. It was called by the World Council of Churches and it is important that at that time the Dutch Reformed Church had already pulled out of the Council of Churches as early as 1940. And of course there is the history of the formation of the Christian Institute of which we were part of the organisation that gave inspiration to that. We were not responsible to it.
There have been some wonderful words of wisdom and the prophetic role remained very important to the SACC. One of the interesting facts in the development is that in fact blacks became very involved and very articulate after 1972. After the Government had decided that the SACC would be a black organisation. I think this was something that was not necessarily bad because prior to that the organisation had been led by white males which is the tradition of the church in this country. And so that enforcement of the government to make to make it a black organisation and recognise, by accident, the black leadership. This made it important because it was the blacks who themselves were part of the community which was suffering and the community that was in pain. There are very important in our history prophetic ecumenical statements that were made and I would like to just quote one of them. There are many, but I could not quote all of them. This one was made by Desmond when he was general secretary between the years of 1978 and 1984. I quote what he said to the Minister of Law and Order of that time: "We must remind you that you are not God. You are just a man, and one day your name shall merely be a faint scribble on the pages of history. While the name of Jesus Christ the Lord of the church shall live forever."
I want to say that it is statements of that nature, of people of courage, who made this movement to be as involved as it remained, because of the burner or hope, where people never lost hope that one day there would be a change in our country. The SACC were able, they were never stopped from teaching, they were never stopped from writing resolutions. They were never stopped from meeting and having their annual conferences. And so their prophecy had a space, in spite of the repression that took place. In 1968 there was indeed a small beginning when a statement was sent out to the world and there were very positive responses. The rest of the world responded very positively. They were encouraged, less perhaps than that response at home. There were all kinds of confusing reactions from some of the South African churches at the time. But a very important project was launched in 1972 to start a project on Christianity in an apartheid society. I am delighted to see in the audience one of the persons who was part of that experience, Reverend[ ] I see you sitting over there. And a resolution on the Conscientious Objectors, this was a statement that came from the 1974 annual conference that was held by the SACC, and there was the wonderful idea of what they called non co-operation in the 1975. Now these, sir, might seem to be statements that were not as progressive or radical, but considering the context of that day and the repression and surveillance of the church, these were very, very important statements.
Then the declaration of Apartheid as a hierarchy, which was not a statement of the SACC. It was a statement of the World Alliance Reformed Churches in 1982. But this was very much the thinking as well as a concept that was shared by the SACC. Then there was a call to prayer at the end for the unjust rule in 1985. There was a very important statement in 1997 that came after the Lusaka Conference when many of our leaders were called to discuss with leaders from all over the world through the World Council of Churches. Then there was the controversial debate which almost really divided the churches, not only here, but also the churches abroad though they remained controversial until the very end of Apartheid. The statement by the ICT, in 1989, which also encouraged many people in the SACC to continue to work the road to Damascus. I do not remember at any time a document that was so important, not only for the churches in South Africa, but for many churches abroad, who took that document and felt that it did not only speak for our situation, but it also addressed many issues of the world, and many warnings that came through the church.
The SACC, as you know, was involved in many activities, and I will simply go through the list of these activities without discussing them in detail, as it will take a long time. I think one of the most important areas of work was in the area of justice issues. We had a division called the Justice and Reconciliation, and were concerned that the SACC and its member churches were on the removals. I hope that the same concern would be now with the churches on the whole question of regaining land, which those people lost. The caring discipleship, the famous work of what was known as the Dependant's Conference and the thinking that went with that kind of work with people like Archbishop Ramse, who were part of that work. The legal department of the SACC, as you know did a lot of work and handled many cases, and worked with many lawyers. One of the biggest cases handled was the Delmas trial and I am glad to see that one of the panellists today was part of that experience. We also had a very important programme in the SACC, the Sanctuary Programme, where many young South Africans, were protected from the wrath of the police. Then we have the inter church aid work of the money that was going to community projects before people talked as much as they do these days about development. Already the money was made available to grassroots communities. The African Bursary fund, which functioned for exactly 26 years and thousands of South Africans, got an opportunity to go to school through that programme. The faith and mission remained a very important part of our work, because it was possible for us to do research work. There were other programmes, as you know that were important at the time. The home and family life programme, the youth programme, the women's day. I'm not going to say anything more on that. And then we had the Visitor's programme, which was important as we had to keep in touch on a regular basis with many people visiting South Africa at the time and they were not always in a position to relate to Government, so we were able to work with them. Then we had a problem of refugees, which we still do to this day because we have many people who are coming into the country who are not necessarily qualifying as refugees, and we refer to them as people who have been uprooted from their countries. Many more other activities we did on the Detainees Parents Committee. We were part of that and we were also part of the National Committee for repatriation of many South Africans who were returning to the country. In the late 90's we were also part or a group called AMSA helping the church and community to monitor elections and try and prevent violence.
Prayer and worship became an important feature because it was the only way in which people could share their pain, to pray with one another and it was through this programme that they were able to sustain the work they were doing spiritually. The programme to combat racism of the World Council of Churches was not our programme, but we got a lot of inspiration and support through that programme because many churches around the world could be informed of what was going on through us. There were many protests that the churches organised, all around the country. It was also a great boost that Archbishop Desmond Tutu as a general secretary in 1984 received the Nobel Prize. The change now occurred in the late 80's because the churches continued to negotiate with the government. Many meetings were set up with the government, but also the churches at that point became confrontational. They had to use that method because the response was very poor from the government. You might recall the famous history, which many of you in this room were part of, when you all went to parliament in February 1988, and it was the most important move that the churches of South Africa ever took. That was then followed by the "standing for the truth" campaign, where again many of you in this room participated. At that time the movement had changed and there were many other interventions and I do want to remind many people in South Africa that the Peace Accord in fact, the midwife to the Peace Accord, was the SACC and its leaders. Finally then that programme then was taken over by the government and other agencies. Then we went through very difficult times during that time, as you are aware, as there were many difficulties that the country was facing. There was already a very hostile reaction from the government after the 1968 statement. The Eloff Commission was probably one of the hardest things that the SACC had to go through. It was good that the SACC had to go through this as it showed a response, which was positive and overwhelming for many of our donor partners. There were police raids, no only in Khotso House, but in homes of many of our staff members, our supporters, many of our church leaders. Constantly people were being detained, tortured, and as I mentioned earlier, some of the people died. Of course, the media was constantly being that they couldn't report all the things that they wanted to report. Bernard will say more on that. Then the bombing of Khotso House, which you know has been publicly owned by those who bombed Khotso House, with a hope that the work we were doing would come to an end and the poisoning of General Secretary Frank Chikane and by God's grace, Frank Chikane lived. It think this is a great story of God's power, because when he was poisoned and everything had been tried, we were informed by the doctors in the United States that Dr Frank Chikane would not live, because they had been unable to really diagnose him. At that point, we were lucky that Bishop Tutu was able to get some of the Bishops from the United States and the Anglicans to go to Frank, and he received his last rights from the Anglicans. I think this is quite an ecumenical experience for him, and I think that's why Frank lived. Needless to report, we had difficulties to get Archbishop Tutu from his retreat, to ask him to do the job. There was an interesting thing that they did once. St Barnabus College, some of you might recall that the police had an idea of spraying a chemical so that those people who were coming to the National Conference would all be affected by that chemical. I don't know how many people in this room remember that. What I do remember, in spite of that chemical, is that Buti Thlagale had to preach that night, and he survived the chemical, as many of us did.
There are many things that we did, sir, it is a long history, which we hope to write. I want to go on some of the things that were important and the kind of impact that I think [SIDE 2] country where many, many of our staff persons, many clergy, many lay people went and were very close with the families, and were counselling these families and giving them all kinds of support. But there was also the constant challenge which was important, that the churches of South Africa all the time had to reflect and to retreat, and really begin to coin a kind of theology that was emerging from the kind of work they were doing. The greatest challenge and weakness perhaps of the SACC was the SACC tended to be always reacting to the government, rather than being proactive. There wasn't the time and the space for people to sit and plan the strategy very, very careful because there was a lot that was going on. The second weakness is that the SACC tended to act on its own, as SACC because some of the churches, though at times supported statements that were made, they did not always support the strategy and the action. It was not possible for the SACC to pull the churches with them on every action and all the time. So there was a conflict always in the family, not always in agreement with the actions that were taken. Very little patience was there on trying to persuade other churches to take part and the feeling is that if only, if only the time had been taken to persuade more churches in South Africa to really be in the struggle maybe we would have shortened the duration of this long, long time of repression in this country.
CHAIRMAN: Excuse me, the total time allocated to this submission is 45 minutes and you have taken 20, and that includes having Xhosa.
MS S BAM: Thank you very much. I was just on the last part of the weaknesses, where we were not at our strongest. As a result of the lack of planning and strategy, we were caught totally unprepared as SACC, for the change. We were not aware that apartheid would come to and end so very quickly. I think finally to say that we were not able to document a lot of very, very important events, the case studies and people's experiences, which we now feel is very much needed as we begin to talk about the history of the SACC. Finally to say as SACC we are committed to working for the healing of the nation, but we do know that there can never be reconciliation in this country without justice. That there can never be reconciliation in South Africa when we have so many people who are poor, without homes. That there can never be reconciliation in our country as long as those who have are not prepared to share with those who have nothing. And I think that this is a challenge to us as a church. That we do not only expect people to forgive, but that those who have must share what they have with the poor. We have really made a commitment, our option is for the poor and we remain committed to the prophetic word, and to the moral reconstruction of this nation. Thank you very much sir.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very, very much. We are deeply grateful for taking us in such a, I was going to say masterly fashion, but now I don't know what is the appropriate term, in this skilful way. Giving us such a wonderful overview. Thank you very, very much. Now you are saying that Bernard is going to - yes please.
MR BERNARD SPONG: Thank you for the opportunity, sir. Obviously I just want to talk a little about communication, which was one of the strengths and one of the great weaknesses of course, of the Council of Churches. There was the whole disinformation and misinformation campaign that went on by the government. There's the way in which that forced the SACC to become an information centre in itself, in the establishment of the press agency. Trying to tell the world what was happening. And it may be that one of the things that happened with the Council of Churches was that we gave so much information to the rest of the world that somehow or other there were people in the country who were not knowing what the Council was about. Okay, we had many things that obstructed this information. We had the obstruction of course of the fact that the mass media was not open to the churches, the Council of Churches' churches. We had the opposition in some ways, in some of the churches, so that the messages couldn't get down to grass roots, and what eventually happened was that the communication network became a communication network more of individuals in many ways. Sir, I don't know, I mean I look at this row of people and think how strange it is to be talking about the SACC, but I wonder whether you would agree with my assessment, but in many ways there was a contradiction in the name and activities. That the Council of Churches was a Council of Churches as one level in that the leaders and representatives of the churches made the decisions, but in fact the action was by individuals from those churches who were actually committed to the cause and the struggle against apartheid and were prepared to make that stand.
That network of communication that stretched overseas brought us many, many partners. People that we would want to publicly to express gratitude to, as I know you would, sir. The people who supported us at the Eloff Commission. The people who would support us by their postcards and their odd words that would flood into Khotso House at various times. It was that network, it was a national network of communication, and finally, sir, one of the things that I would like to say, because I believe that this relates to the future of the work of the communication of the Council and the churches. Because the churches have a network which reaches into every corner of this country, the churches have been able through the years to know the vibe of the country; where people are, and been able to speak this out. And let us hope to God that the present government is going to have ears to hear, in a way that the past one didn't. I think of two instances, sir, I think of your own letter in 1976 to the then Prime Minister, about the situation in Soweto and how many lives could have been saved. What could have happened in our country if only there had been ears to hear, and eyes to see at that time? And the other one is of course the Bisho massacre. Reverend Finca was very much involved with Frank Chikane in pleading with those who were concerned, saying "we know what the situation is, we know what can happen" and then had to see that bloody carnage that happened at that time. The churches are in touch. The churches need to realise that they are in touch and need to realise the responsibility of being in touch, to put that message to the authorities and to the people of the land. I thank you sir.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very, very much. We are very deeply grateful to all of you and to the many others who you represent as you sit there. There are so many who were involved with you and we can see the hand of God in all of what happened. Even in the most awful things. Now we see that we needed to remember that wonderful thing in Revelations: in the fullness of time. In the fullness of time, the things of God happen. Thank you.
DR K MGOJO: Thank you very much for your input, which has been done very well. There is just one question I want to put to you. It was very clear during the time of the struggle that there was the SACC on the other side, fighting for the liberation of the people. We had the government on the other side, fighting the retention of apartheid. Now we have moved into a new era with the people who have been our partners. We know that the SACC has been partners with the liberation movements and the government we have now is made up of those people who were partners when we were fighting for the freedom of this country. What attitude is going to be taken by the SACC in dealing with the new government? You have spoken about the prophetic ministry etc. Is there any change in the direction of the SACC when dealing with this government?
MS B. BAM: Yes. We coined a phrase, which is not acceptable to a number of people. We call it critical solidarity. In fact that phrase came from discussions we have had precisely on discussing how we are going to relate to the present government. The problem we have is that we are coming from a tradition of protest and we have understood ourselves to be the people who are watching the government. The method we are using is not always the method that the country appreciates. We used in the old days the press as the major channel for us to register our protest. Now we are using the channel of negotiation with this government. We realise that if we talk to them through the press, then there is no dialogue. Everybody builds a defence. And so our method is that we negotiate with the government and we discuss with the government some of the things, which we feel the government is not doing correctly. But there is also a lack of ecumenical position on the part of the churches. A number of churches seem to prefer to dialogue as denominations with this government, and wanting their denomination to be the one that the government recognises and works with and that is weakening our position. And so we don't have an ecumenical position, and an example of that is over this whole question of the land. We don't have an ecumenical position. To say to the government we are not in agreement on the whole question of compensation. How do we involve the communities in South Africa on the issues of benefits? In some ways the SACC's position is not as clear because of our membership. We are much more diverse now in our outlook on issues, whereas apartheid was easier, because the beast was there and the beast you could see. But now, as churches, we have different positions. For instance we couldn't address the government ecumenically on the issue of abortion. On issues of homosexuals, and those are some of the issues that are very important to some of the churches, and not to others. There are those who feel that we have to address the government more on issues of poverty, and issues of correctional services. So in other words, our position as the SACC is not as clear as it was, but critical solidarity remains the main concept that we affirm.
DR K MGOJO: Thank you. The second question that I want to put is coming from your very statement about the non-nationalism, which I think that even during the time we were facing this, the SACC did say that maybe the churches need to speak one language. Hence there was the inauguration of the church leaders meeting, which was just a consultation to see that things did happen. The churches spoke in one voice. Is that group still in existence? So that maybe the churches could discourse on these things even before they could go to the world and speak about these issues. Is that organisation still there, of the church leaders?
MS S BAM: In fact sir, it is even larger than it was during your days, because we have had a number of churches who have joined the SACC after the liberation of the country. So in terms of the size, the church leaders' forum is much, much larger, but the impact we can make as church leaders is not as strong as it should be. We are hoping that we have this one common cause and that is poverty. It is our hope that now that we have finally found a common cause that can bind us together and enable us as churches to speak with one voice, we will again be visible and audible to the public in this country.
DR. K MGOJO: Because of the constraint of the time, I want to ask this very important question: There has been a complaint before that we get the support for the SACC from the overseas donors and there was a cry that maybe we need to come back home and challenge our churches back home to support all the programmes of the SACC. Has that begun in this new dispensation? Are there any problems, and if there are any, what are those problems?
REV WESLEY MABUZA: Thank you, Mr Chairman. It is very true that the SACC got a lot of its funding from assistance from abroad. That is still true. Just in October we met our funders or partners, and it became clear that the SACC is in crisis. It is in financial because the kind of pledge they offered the SACC is very little. That is a clear indication that therefore we need to come home and appeal to our member churches. Mr Chairman, as you know, the churches themselves in this country are struggling to survive as denominations. We think that that is going to be a problem. However, we are beginning, as the SACC, to engage the churches to come up with priority programmes. Programmes that will impact on the lives of people and that is a process, but that process is in place. We are engaging the nation in what is called programme audit, so that at the end of the day we take those programmes that will be effective to the congregations. We will need to acknowledge the fact that even local funders as well as foreign funders are most keen to fund the government, so in that case then the government becomes the main funder. And at this point, as you have heard, we are having what we call, you know this kind of solidarity, critical solidarity, with the state. We think that we will need to begin not only with the member churches, but also with the local government, with the local private sector and with the local agencies that can afford to give money to the church. But your question is: are we in a position to be coming to our churches? Yes, it's true. We are debating with our churches to actually fund the programmes that are important to the lives of the people of this country.
DR. K MGOJO: The question now - I'd ask many questions, but we don't have time. You have just spoken, Mr Spong, about communication. I think the mistake that has been made by mostly church organisations is that communication is done in a foreign language in some of the constituencies, which is English! When we are speaking about churches, the majority of grassroots people, the ordinary people, want to see the text in front of them in their own languages. What strategy are you going to use when you are communicating with these churches, since you want support from the local churches?
MR BERNARD SPONG: Sir, the fact is that there is no strategy of that kind. It is one of those issues that constantly comes before us. There are plans, which may be heard in other ways during the time of this hearing: about ecumenical newspapers, about new ways of being able to touch the whole church. And one of the reasons for this kind of thinking is the way in which there are so many language, 11 languages, recognised. The cost for printing, the time for translating, all of this means that in the kind of crisis that you've heard of costs, the SACC finds itself unable to say that it can publish its material in all of these languages. But at the same time, let's say that one of the publications of the SACC recently on the reconciliation services, the ideas of the liturgy for those services that bring people together, to be able to look at reconciliation and symbols of reconciliation. Those services have been printed in the different languages and made available to the people. But no, what we have to do possibly much more in the whole religious constituency, is be able to get into the new forms of information giving, which are the community broadcasting, and be able to go into those places, so that the voice of the church, the voice of religious communities is not heard in a foreign language within the narrow confines of that which is called religious. But in fact it is the voice of the religious community speaking in the areas and arenas, in the arenas of the public, and it is in that way sir, as the church begins to train its people to be able to broadcast, to be able to speak, to be able to write in these ways, so that we don't just confine ourselves to that religious message, but a religious message that is a reflection upon what is happening in the different communities. And that, to me sir, is the only way in which we are going to be able to overcome the great difficulty that you have mentioned.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. I have to ask me colleagues on the panel. Bongani Finca?
REV. B FINCA: Thank you very much your Grace. I would like to raise a question, which I have not seen being dealt with in the submission, and that's about the reconciliation of the church itself in South Africa. My observation and I don't know if it is correct, I would appreciate your comment on it. My observation is that the SACC was not only under attack from the government, the apartheid government, but the most painful attack was that attack which came from churches in South Africa. Churches who opted to be outside the structure of the structure of the Council of Churches. And I think that that attack opened very deep wounds in the church itself in this country. I don't know if the church is going to be an agent of reconciliation, to reconcile the nation. How is it hoping to do that without going through a process of not just papering over those wounds? The Chairperson of this commission likes to constantly refer to the fact that you have to open up those wounds, deal with them and not just put plaster on them because they will what? They will fester. I would like to find out is the church in South Africa ready to confront its own reconciliation in order for it to be an agent of reconciliation?
PROF. DAVID MUSOMO: Thank you Chairperson. One thing that we are in agreement on the panel is that that question is a very painful question for the church. It's a very difficult question to answer. Because the truth of the matter is that we cannot give the answer that should ideally be given by the church, where we recognise that yes, we have not dealt adequately with reconciliation in the church. During the short period of the life of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we have tried to involve more churches in programmes on reconciliation in South Africa and have become, through that process, painfully aware of the lack of preparedness. The lack of will, amongst so many of us, professing Christians in this country to deal honestly and sincerely with reconciliation. We are, however, not giving up hope, we are not despairing. We would want to tie that with a broader development that is happening, where at the All Africa Conference of Churches, the theme was "troubled but not destroyed". We are troubled by the lack of willingness, but we don't despair. We believe that the opportunities are still there for us. We are still alive, we are still under God's grace and it is possible that we could do something. In very small endeavours, we are beginning to confront that challenge in particular communities. It is at this time not really something worth mentioning, but we believe it is with those very small lights shining through, that eventually we will be able to overcome the darkness. But we would say that it is imperative that we repeat the call that the challenge is still on the church within our society today, to do much more than we are presently doing with regard to reconciliation.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. Any other ? Thomas?
[INAUDIBLE. NEXT SPEAKER'S NAME INDISTINCT]
MR T MANTHATA (?): It could have been mentioned, perhaps I've missed it. You talk about addressing the issue of poverty. I would love to know what strategies, actually, is the SACC employing to address the issue of poverty?
MS S BAM: You know, our approach is quite different from probably the way we have worked before. The approach is that this particular programme should be owned by the churches and this is important. That' why we refer to it as the poverty commission of the churches, and I think that I want to emphasise that, because we want that it should be possible for a number of churches who are not affiliated to the SACC to be part of this activity, they don't necessary have to be affiliated. So that is an important strategy. The second one is that because of that approach, the plans of the work and what we do, we get together with the member churches, who are already in their own small communities working on poverty, so that we work from the grassroots to the commission itself. So it's a new approach, a little slower than the ones we have tried to do. We are trying to do it in a way that it would be possible for the poor people of South Africa to participate and they can only do that if the programme itself comes from the level of congregation, rather than for us to design plans of combating poverty on a national level. We realise that is a weak approach. The second approach is that we want to work with the government on this. So we are in conversations with some of the MEC's of the provinces, so that we can have joint projects and programmes on the provincial level as well as on the local level. So our strategies are several fold and of course the third strategy is one of dealing with economic justice, because we realise that we can't isolate poverty from the structures, economic and political structures. That's why we have another programme that deals with that and looks at questions of debt as part of the whole holistic approach to poverty.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
MS JOYCE SEROKE: In your self-critique analysis in the submission, you mentioned that the SACC served the practical needs rather than the spiritual. What is the SACC going to do now about addressing the signs of the moral decay and collapse of our value system that is now prevalent in our society, perhaps as a result of your not addressing the spiritual needs of the people.
MS S BAM: Yes, I was hoping that no one would ask that question. And when it came towards the end, I was very delighted, because we have been asked by the government many times, I don't know how many times, that the churches have a responsibility in South Africa, and the religious groups to really work on the question of the moral reconstruction and the question of values. This is a very, very difficult area and we have not been able as the SACC, I have to say it, to design a project, or design a programme of dealing with it, because it has to go back to families and communities. It has also tied up very much with our history; it's also tied up with our schools. So it is a very, very large programme. We have tried to revive a programme, more in the area of women taking the responsibility of what we call "holistic approach to health". That's very general. And by health we try to embrace precisely those questions of values and spirituality. Because we feel that as women and mothers, we have an opportunity of being with our children at an early age, so that we can in fact begin to plant these values at that age, even the basic social skills. But I don't know, I think that some churches have now started programmes in their own youth groups, and that is the hope. But we just don't have a general programme for the nation on this issue.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. May I just take issue with yourselves for accepting Joyce's premise that the SACC previously didn't address the spiritual needs. What do you mean? I want to differ very strongly! Because the needs, I mean you would not be incarnational if you said we were not dealing with the spiritual needs of the people, but that is not the point I wanted to make. Just maybe two points before you step down. It may be possible in dealing with the question of the reconciliation between the churches, which Bongani was talking about. It may be possible to handle that by our own readiness to confess our weakness. I was speaking about how we in the SACC were often harsh in our condemnation of the white Dutch Reformed Church. Remember we used to say to them: "Why don't you address the government on this or that issue?" And they said: "No, we have addressed them, but agter geslote deure!" Now it struck me on one occasion, this is not name dropping and so on, that I was sitting very early on after Madiba became President, I was sitting with him at a meal and I was telling him some of the things that were bugging us already. And I stood outside of myself and said, "You see, Tutu, you are doing exactly the sort of thing that you were criticising the other people for!" Because it isn't easy, and you've got to accept it, it isn't easy to criticise people you like and people with whom you have been working in the struggle. And I think we should acknowledge that we were often arrogant in the way in which we spoke. It may be too, that we have to acknowledge that we were somewhat self-righteous. I mean our cause was right! But in a way, sometimes we came across; we should say and acknowledge that we might not have made things easy for other people. And in our readiness to be self-critical, we might get other people willing also to acknowledge that there were things that they might have done differently. The last point I want to make is that I am glad I am a retired Archbishop now, because it was easy in many ways to know what was church. You know, when you were in the against mode, it was easy. And as you say, we were able to be united and we had no doubt about our identity. Now, we are at a loss, and God said okay I would like you to leave it to younger people like Mgojo and others let them now deal with what is a critical issue. What does it mean to be church in South Africa today? And this crisis of identity is one that churches are going to be needing help with and maybe one of your major concerns as the SACC. But thank you very, very much and since you are stepping down as General Secretary may we acknowledge you and give you just a special clap. Let's give her a clap! APPLAUSE.
We are calling on - Bernard Spong you look like - no you are not there. Wesley Mabuza and David Musomo, to speak up to about 10 'o clock. So the Institute for Contextual Theology and Theology of Liberation.
One of the wonderful things about this audience, this congregation, is that they are behaving very much like an Anglican congregation. They all want to sit at the back! It might be a help if you came to the front so that people who come late don't have a problem and they can just slip in. I notice that there are Roman Catholics who are also sitting at the back! Can you please very kindly ? Thank you very much. Welcome both of you gentlemen. Thank you for being so patient and also being so generous to say you'll allow this whole thing to be finished by when we have tea! Thank you.
REV WESLEY MABUZA: Thank you very much, Chairperson. I introduce ...[inaudible] who has come in the place of Professor Musomo. He is a member of the executive of ICT. I will do the presentation.
ADMINISTERS THE OATH.
REV WESLEY MABUZA: Sir, we made a brief presentation but we have a much more comprehensive one which will be something that we think will be a contribution to this TRC process. With your permission I would like to proceed. I thank you Chairperson for inviting the Institute for Contextual Theology (ICT) to address this gathering. Firstly, the ICT feels privileged to congratulate the TRC in its achievements in the last two years. A number of acts against humanity have been uncovered within a short space of time. A normal course of justice would have been evaded by the perpetrators of the atrocities. Credit is also due in large part to the TRC method of investigation for all that has been uncovered. Families are now beginning to start a new life with the knowledge that those who killed their loved ones have at last admitted it and in most cases showed where they had buried them, painful as this discovery will always be.
Today marks the beginning of a very important chapter in the truth and reconciliation process, when religious bodies which possess the power to influence the hearts and minds of the majority are called upon to account on how they have used or abused that privilege. Religious bodies, Chairperson, hold considerable sway in society, but they themselves are susceptible to all kinds of influences which at times lead them to commit abuses intentionally or unintentionally. This moment, Chairperson, is also significant because for the first time in the history of our country, religious communities are called upon to give accounts of their understanding of their mission in the context of apartheid and how they hope to do mission in the future. Standing behind blanket statements made by the SACC on behalf the churches during apartheid has not helped us to understand the theological positions of some churches which we saw in practice contradicting the mission of the SACC (I think this has already been mentioned). Incidentally, it was this factor, among others, that led to the formation of ICT, and this leads me to the next point: What is the Institute for Contextual Theology? The struggle in this country was for justice that would lead to liberation, restoration and reconciliation. The church, however, did not have an appropriate theology to underwrite that struggle. As a response to this reticence or inability to act appropriately, ICT came into being in 1981. ICT fashioned itself according to the prophetic tradition and unapologetically advocated the theology of liberation, determined by the dynamics of the Southern African context. ICT counts itself among those working towards the establishment of God's reign on earth. The first general secretary of ICT was the Reverend Dr. Elliat Ngema, who was then followed by the Reverend Dr. Frank Chikane, who is now in the Deputy President's office. Dr Chikane was succeeded by the Reverend Dr. Mangaliso Mkhatshwa, who is now Deputy Minister of Education. ICT wishes to pay tribute to these leaders, who made highly significant contributions to Contextual Theology and to the liberation of this country.
CHAIRPERSON: Where are you going?
REV. WESLEY MABUZA: To fetch some water, Sir. [PAUSE].
Thank you Chairperson, I was beginning to be too serious, actually. As the present General Secretary of ICT, I feel very humble before my predecessors. Whatever I do, albeit in different circumstances, is in continuity with the trend set by my predecessors. ICT operates outside the status quo of both church and state, although the ultimate aim is to serve the State which is wider than the governing group of people and the church which is much more profound than the institutional church. ICT nevertheless is proud to be an affiliate of the SACC. Liberation theologists' biblical imperative is to be found in Isaiah Chapter 61, verse 1 - 4, and is quoted in Luke Chapter 4, verse 18-19, particularly the words: "To set at liberty those who are oppressed. For this reason a group of Theologians met together at that critical time of South Africa's history, and using the process of wide and in-depth consultation, eventually came up with what came to be known as the Carus Document, issued as a challenge to the churches. In its short lifetime, the institute has suffered much at the hands of the previous government and from rejection by most churches who have misunderstood is vision and mission. Both government and the churches singled out liberation theology as the devil's theology and thus accused ICT of serving the interest of .[TAPE ENDS] [inaudible] have a lot in common between communism, barring atheism and Christianity than the church would care to admit. History nevertheless did vindicate the ICT. Some valuable contributions were made by ICT in spite of all these hostilities. For example training of solid leadership during the lean years of apartheid when there was no overt political leadership; change to the theological paradigm in South Africa; publication of the Carus Document in 1985, which accelerated the process, promoting a world-wide theological reflection network. For example, the Road to Damascus was a production of that nature, producing parliamentary candidates and church leaders who had close associations with ICT, providing a forum of sharing of experiences and knowledge amongst concerned pastors, theologians and Christians in general. Throughout its existence, ICT has received overseas funding from organisations and church individuals who aligned themselves with the ideals of the institute. A small but significant contribution also comes from its membership, which is world-wide. It is these contributions which have enabled ICT to maintain its independent status. I now come to the essence of ICT as a prophetic movement. ICT operates outside church and government structures in order that it could provide an ongoing independent critique. For this reason, some people now label ICT as the institute of critical theologians, while others label it as the organisation of spoilers. Both labels have become unpopular these days, whereas in the not so distant past, people gained popularity by being critical or by being regarded as spoilers of the system. But had it not been for those critical theologians or spoilers, little progress would have been made. Today the gradual disappearance of those kinds of prophets of old is leaving a vacuum that is difficult to fill. In its critique of the church, ICT stated that some churches in South Africa were engaging in state theology, which meant that churches supported the apartheid regime, based on Romans 13, while conveniently ignoring Revelations 13. May I, with your permission, just debate briefly and coach what you just said, Chairperson, about the fact that it becomes a hidden thing, when you talk about state theology. It is a very closed door, behind closed doors, that happens which is not overtly seen usually as state theology. And other churches resorted to church theology. A very superficial critique of apartheid lacking in in-depth analysis of the prevailing context, whilst stressing the need for reconciliation and peace, at the expense of justice. ICT wanted reconciliation at the time but not at the expense of the poor. The prophetic movement was intended to be in continuity with these persecuted prophets of the past. Those who never took anything for granted. Instead, they raised questions about the policies of both secular and religious leaders that must have kept the nation lively and awake as a prophetic movement does today. But questions are not raised for their own sake. Their aim is to ensure a healthy public policy and just governance for all. Chairperson, ICT is proud to say that throughout its existence in South Africa, it has done just that. For that, it incurred the wrath of the previous government, or was temporarily disowned by the church and regarded as a stepchild because it made both religious and secular leaders uncomfortable. With the knowledge that the resources of this county are enough to feed its people, it equitably distributed, and that this was not the case as the apartheid government preserved them for a few, we aligned ourselves as ICT publicly with the poor and oppressed. We then challenged and approached on theological grounds anything that threatened the well being of the poor and oppressed, while we looked for a way out of our suffering. It is in this light that we published and campaigned against the status quo. Also with the knowledge that apartheid since it was officially endorsed by the then Orange Free State Synod of the DRC in 1935 and was implemented in full swing by Dr Verwoerd in 1958, and that the non-DRC churches had not done much to oppose it, we adopted the critical stands towards these churches.
At the time, we thought that the problem was the wrong abstract theology, which they inherited from Europe, but now we realise that that theology was used as a scape-goat in a situation where the reality was that the churches, especially white members of these churches, had benefited a lot from apartheid. Regrettably, one feels in hindsight, that when we talk of the problem of the churches during apartheid, we are essentially talking about those who controlled them, our white fellow Christians. We would like the commission to note that this aspect has a lot of implications for restitution and reconstruction. If Christians had raised their voice from the beginning and rejected all privileges, things would have been different. Why ICT's reluctance to support the TRC? Chairperson, I now come to the most delicate part of this presentation. When ITC first received the invitation to participate in this hearing, we wrote back to Dr Piet Meiring, stating ICT's reluctance to participate in the TRC process. This was not intended as a publicity stunt, nor did it arise out of ignorance of what goes on, nor was it motivated by attempts to encourage anarchy, nor a feeling of self-righteousness. ICT's reluctance to lend unqualified support to the TRC process stems from a deeper analysis and scepticism. Let me elaborate briefly: 1. The question of perpetrator and victim. We found the summons of both activists and upholders of the system to account for their actions confusing. To us this meant equating the perpetrator and the victim as if they are equally culpable. Although we did not expect the TRC to pass judgement, we at least expected it to distinguish between those who should give accounts of their deeds and those who should feel free to comment on the situation. This, of course, did not only apply to the ICT and the religious communities, but to our former liberation movements as well. We felt that such an approach was trivialising the process. It has become clear, Chairperson, during some searching's of the TRC, that for some perpetrators, the TRC is a non-event, and therefore of no consequence. ICT's problem was the message this would convey would be conveying concerning the prophetic movement. We changed our mind out of respect for the constitution upon which we all agree, and the very person sitting on this panel.
2. A concern about the society beyond the TRC process. While a lot of hidden activities have been uncovered by the TRC investigating units, ICT is concerned that virtually all perpetrators of such gross violations are getting off with impunity. To the extent that we are not calling for executions or life imprisonment. We cannot be accused of expecting Nuremberg type of trials. Lack of a mechanism that makes the perpetrators take responsibility for their actions is causing some resentment to say the least. ICT's concern, Chairperson, is about what happens beyond the TRC process. Are we all going to look back in the next five years with sadness at the waste of money, human resources and valuable time? If so, we wondered whether all these resources could not have been channelled to other uses which could better build communities which had suffered for so long from degradation and deprivation. It is clear that people on the ground do not understand what the National Reconciliation Act is all about, since racism and exploitation still abound. The bitterness caused by our gory past has not yet subsided. All this cannot be ignored if our future is to be built on a sound foundation. To date, Chairperson and members of the commission, we still have not found an answer to our question. Our AGM this year, however, has mandated ICT's steering committee to set up a task force, whose task would be to work out guidelines for a society beyond the TRC process.
TRC for the churches. We had also thought that churches needed their own TRC, instead of being called to account at this process. Our problem is that the present process arose out of a political settlement. As such, it is limited by the terms of agreement in what it can do. Even the interpretation of the terms so familiar to Christian theology, for example reconciliation, justice, truth, reflect these limitations. Christians know very well what the meaning of reconciliation is and what its implications are. They also know the biblical understanding of justices and what their implications are. The present process has not mentioned terms such as restitution or penance or God's role, which relates to the terms it uses. It would not be proper for us, however, to expect this of the present process. Rather, we though that Christians would talk amount themselves and work out what they could do. The same could be expected of other religious communities.
Lack of economic dimension: We also felt that the present process was silent about the economic dimension of reconciliation. We understand that there are other processes taking place, as well as structures that deal with other issues, but when we talk of national reconciliation, we expect a body with the stature of the TRC to go beyond listening to killings and torture, to include the category of those who benefited directly or indirectly economically. Chairperson, we are thinking here of both black and white South Africans. We did not know at the time that the category of business people would be added. Our focus was not only on business people, but on everyone who had been enriched by apartheid while others were dying in the bush and the townships, and police offices. We felt that these were the people who should be compelled to plough back their wealth towards reconstruction and reparation. In this regard, Chairperson, we align ourselves with the recent view expressed by the Stellenbosch academic, who made a submission to this commission that those who possess more than R2 million in cash and assets should be taxed for reconstruction. But we wish to go further and reduce the R2 million to every R1 million, to increase the slice of the cake. We also want to make a call to others who benefited in the same way to make an extra contribution. These are the people who should be raising the R3 billion needed for reparation. Chairperson, we do not think that this is unrealistic. A number of people are still homeless, poor and crammed in townships which were originally intended to be transit camps to fulfil the white by night dream, promised to its voters by the apartheid rulers of the past. There is no hope that these open jails could ever be dismantled for the next half a century. This is not what the struggle was about. It would be different if we were all starting from scratch. For the majority, unfortunately, things remain as they were. To conclude, Chairperson, at the fifth point.
Lack of clarity about categories: Finally the criteria for creating categories was not clear. Who should really be called to the TRC? Is it the foot soldier or the commander? We thought that all those impositions of responsibility needed to do the accounting. If ministers or leaders of religious communities were asked to make an appearance, why were teachers or university lecturers not asked to make an appearance? There are many ways of killing a nation. One of the most cruel ways of doing this is by attacking the nation's psyche and by so doing, destroy its mind. Putting it to sleep, driving it to drunkenness and violence. Destroying children of future leaders and future builders of the economy of that particular nation. Chairperson, we want to submit that the architects of most of this were academics in the employ of the apartheid system. Certain universities are known to have been factories of all the commodities apartheid needed in order for it to succeed. Besides those who studied at the so-called bush colleges, know what it means to be taught by academics who were actually soldiers or reserve soldiers. These people, chairperson, were not under any duress. They were willingly upholding the geology of apartheid. Yet these have been forgotten or not forced to account to this commission.
Having clarified the points of our reservations, the present process however, is a reality and we cannot wish it away. Therefore, a way forward, very briefly, is a need to devise a mechanism of reconciliation beyond the TRC process, to work out a way of restitution that will not tax the tax payer further, to call on the religious community to have their own TRC, to work
towards the establishment of a national bank by the churches. We believe, as ICT, that our submission will receive the attention it deserves, so that while we work towards reconciliation, the essential channels of justice will not be ignored. Thank you chairperson and members of the commission.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Did you say your colleague was going to participate in answering questions?
REV. WESLEY MABUZA: Yes.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Dr Mgojo?
DR. K MGOJO: Mr chairperson, our only disadvantage is that we didn't get that text. So we shall be asking questions having not studied the text. Having said so, the theology of liberation - how far has the theology of liberation been influenced by what is called "black consciousness" or "black theology"? Are these things related? Is that the basis of this theology? "Black consciousness" or "black theology"?
REV. WESLEY MABUZA: That is correct, Commissioner. We talk of theology of liberation in the context of contextual theology and that would involve black theology, and that would be influenced by all the other dynamics: black consciousness, economic conditions and so forth, in the country.
DR K. MGOJO: Thank you. Would I be right to say that the concern of the Contextual Theology, mostly, related to what is happening now is that you think that there is a lack of restorative justice? You have said that even perpetrators, they just go free, having not been asked to do anything. Is that your basis that it lacks, in fact in your very short submission, you have also quoted some of the flaws of the TRC and when a person reads around this, you find that things have been made easy for the perpetrators. Am I right?
[UNKNOWN]: Chairperson, we are only interpreting and also elaborating on what the membership of the ICT on the ground has said. We work with cells which are contextual theology units. Those are people at grassroots level who reflect on what is happening, who reflect on the feelings, who reflect on everything they are experiencing. What has been coming through is that there is some kind of resentment to the fact that people go away with impunity and people are not calling for the execution of others, they are not calling for the jailing of others, but they are saying some form of mechanism that will show that people are taking responsibility for what they have done would in fact be a step ahead. People have quoted, for example, one of the cases during submissions here at the amnesty hearings, from Derby-Lewis for example. Sorry to mention a name, but we have to. Saying he has gone back to the law, and said that the law does not require me, to even to say sorry, but we know that some other people have said sorry. So we in the happening, but we are saying people want something more feasible out of the process.
REV. WESLEY MABUZA: I just also want to add that I think the main test of any process is its delivery and what is happening at the moment seems to be more delivery for the perpetrators than there is for those who were victims, and in addition as we mentioned in our submission earlier, is that just even looking at face value, there is very little difference of that kind of recognition from those not just who were perpetrators, but the group to which those belong. To show that kind of acceptance of the past and attend to it with the humility it deserves. There is a claiming of rights, almost unequalled even before apartheid, from those who had rights even before. And therefore the delivery is really the one that should determine, rather than ourselves pontificating on whether the TRC is a good process or not.
UNKNOWN SPEAKER: Just to add one more thing, Chairperson. This is one of the reasons why ICT felt that the churches should have their own TRC, because with our church authority, church leaders and so forth, it is possible to get through to the membership, who are people that are part of the community and some of whom are involved in these kinds of atrocities, or whatever was happening in the past.
DR K. MGOJO: Thank you, that is very interesting. Earlier this morning, there was a question which was posed by Reverend Finca about the churches themselves and now there is a suggestion here that the churches need to have their own TRC. How is this going to happen: Will the churches be judging themselves when they have this TRC or not?
UNKNOWN SPEAKER: Thank you very much for that question. We wouldn't know what turn the churches would follow, but I think that the opening address of the Chairperson of the commission has already said that it will not be to sing praises to the church. There are many things we would like to say about the church, but I think some of us would be dishonest if we were to say those things in this kind of forum. We want to believe that we belong to the church. There are contradictions. Our own church, the Methodist Church, for example is now being led by a black person who has to account for the deeds of white leaders, and so these are some of the things that I think can be clarified. The fact that the church can go further than that and the fact that the church has already, in its own way begun to look at, I don't think that the church begins to look at repentance by an act of parliament. It looks at repentance from its own position and I think this needs to be recognised. We want to believe that then we will be free to speak to our own body what we want to say because we want to correct and build it. It is difficult at this stage, to just stand up and say the church was this or that, because we belong to the church, and we are not forced to belong to it.
DR. K MGOJO: Last question, Mr Chairperson, so that the other people can ask a question. ICT has worked very closely with the SACC and many people believe that there was ICT because there was the SACC. Most of the people who formed the ICT are the people who came from that kind of background. How is the working relationship going to happen between the ICT and the SACC?
REV. WESLEY MABUZA: I thank you very much, sir. I think we need to look at how the two bodies operate. The first one operates from the fact that it is more of an institution which is answerable to churches and church leaders and thereby there are some constraints where we like it or not, because there are certain things that the SACC cannot just do without going through the heads of churches, and going through is the operative word. But with the ICT, ICT is a freewheeling body and would like to remain that way and there are lots of convergences with what the SACC does. We want to believe that we compliment what the SACC does and I am sure that the SACC would be the last body to want to see this child die, and so I am sure that I speak for the general secretary. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: I hope that you are not getting too agitated, because time we can sort of adjust. We were going to have tea at 11, but I think we ought to finish this and we'll sort of just move things up, so Bishop Michael it gives you time to recuperate. Any Bongani?
REV. B FINCA: James King Burman I don't know if I'm pronouncing the name correctly, the Chief Executive of the Institute of Race Relations published an article in the Daily Despatch of October 7th, where he makes a stinging attack on Liberation Theology, and how it inspired violence in the townships. I am not quoting verbatim, but he says that the people who come before the amnesty committee now to apply for amnesty for necklacing people in the townships are nothing but victims of the propaganda that came from Liberation Theologians who are now sitting back and not taking ownership. He calls for the churches and for the Theologians who were involved in this to use the avenue of this hearing to make public confessions and ask for forgiveness. I would like you to comment on that. I think he expects us to raise the question and get an answer. I don't know whether you saw the article.
REV. WESLEY MABUZA: Yes, in fact I was hoping that this would not come up, because we have already responded to K. Burman over the air, we had a talk with him. But I just want to say, firstly, I think ICT would not like to associate itself with anything that is becoming an insult to people who are suffering. And one can unfortunately not use very strong words to call K. Burman to order, because you cannot say to someone who is suffering and is having a big stone on that person's neck, and when that person is trying to remove the stone, you say it was caused by others. It is an insult and despising the mentality of people. Our response also was we were not aware that each and every person who was throwing and stone was reading liberation theology. I just think that it was a far-fetched generalisation and unfortunately he has this history of denigrating all the people who were fighting for the people who were oppressed. SACC has gone through his tongue lashing and it is most unfortunate that he should belong to an organisation that is the Institute of Race Relations. I think that we could say more, but I think all I can say in summary is that we will not accept the insult that is levelled at people who are trying to do something against their suffering, but saying they are influenced by other people. It's what the government used to say and now we hear K. Burman saying the same thing.
CHAIRPERSON: I just want to add to what you say. I haven't myself responded to him. I would make no bones about the fact that I tried to be an exponent of liberation theology. I don't apologise for that fact. But I think it is extremely odd for anyone to say that we who were the exponents of this, who then were the ones who were putting the fires out in this country. I mean, we were the ones who actually tried to stop people from necklacing, but more than that, we were the ones who kept begging the government, the previous government when our people were dying, begging them: "Don't do this", and we stood between this country and catastrophe. I would not, myself, I am glad I mean, but I just want to say that it is worse than an insult actually, because people put their lives on the line to prevent this country going down the tubes. We were the ones who were involved with the Peace Accord. We were going around in aeroplanes and all over the place, trying, we would be in Natal to try and stop the violence that was happening there and I mean, if you asked who were the people who were in the forefront, you would almost always have found that it was some church leader or other, who were the ones who were seeking to bring about peace and to be treated with such - no, I have always said to people let us be laid-back. I will try to be laid-back. Yes, Thomas.
MR T. MANTHATA: I would like to know what contact did the ICT have with either the victim or the perpetrator and/or both of them during the activities of the TRC? Or do I understand you to say that because of the confusion that you have, you had nothing to do with either of the people concerned in this whole activity?
REV. WESLEY MABUZA: Chairperson, we have not had much contact, because we are busy reflecting on this. However, the Department of Ministries does have programmes in the Vaal Triangle, they have been going, they have been having meetings with people over the weekends and so forth, and they have been coming back, most of those are victims. We have not had contact with the perpetrators. That's one thing. The second thing that we have mentioned in this submission ins that there is a task force looking at the ways of working out some guidelines for a reconciliation process beyond the TRC process, because we believe that the TRC process does come to an end, but what kind of society do you want beyond that? The people leave. And they are busy working on those, looking at it from different angles: social, theological side and so forth. Perhaps something could be worked out then in terms of who is important in the process.
MR T MANTHATA: Yes, I am saying this because we have been asking people to provide with the healing of the council and of course, further, I don't know how you are going to enter the whole process of reconciling if you do not start it at the beginning and you are going to start it at the time when the TRC shall have ended. OK, fine. I go further to ask how to you envisage the church created TRC? Would you say the church created TRC would, as we talk in the TRC, have an implementing body, or the churches, will they institute an implementing body and that would perhaps be the SACC?
REV. WESLEY MABUZA: Thank you Chairperson. I think that ICT is presenting this proposal with humility. We are not instructing the churches or religious bodies to have a TRC. We are saying that if it is a reasonable option, that could be taken over and the ...[inaudible] would then be discussed. It would not be proper for us to actually state exactly we see. We are presenting something here within a limited space of time. If we were to be asked, for instance, to work together with the churches on this kind of thing, then working with them would present something. But this is an idea that we thought would be reasonable to the churches. That is not just reasonable but necessary. There is a lot that still needs to be said. There is a lot that still needs to be corrected. There is a lot within our own denominations that needs to be worked at. There is a huge amount and we do not believe that this process has started it, but we don't think that it can end there with the churches. For the churches always have an ongoing thing about truth and reconciliation?
CHAIRPERSON: I think I should - is that your last question? Because I'm trying to - there's somebody else here. Virginia wants, and would think that we ought to be going to tea. Are you feeling frustrated?
REV. WESLEY MABUZA: I'm all right.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Virginia?
MS V GCABASHE: Thank you Chairperson.
CHAIRPERSON: You'll be allowed at the very most, two
MS V GCABASHE: My question is very short, so maybe Tom can use my time. You said in your submission that ICT made a significant contribution to the change in this country and you also mentioned your concern for the poor and poverty. Now my question is: What practical programme do you have or envisage in trying to combat poverty in the townships?
REV. WESLEY MABUZA: Thank you Chairperson. I think it's a huge question and maybe two of us will answer it. Let me just say that [intervention]
CHAIRPERSON: Can you make it brief, so it will have to be only one of you.
REV. WESLEY MABUZA: If it's long, then we won't be asked further questions, sir. Let me just say that I think we are focusing on one direction, and we are focusing on the poor. But I think that we also need to focus on the wealthy and the greed in this country and therefore all that needs to be taken into account. I think it should be a holistic approach. There is enough to share. Secondly, ICT is presently engaged in a very, very in-depth study, research study, done on the ground on the situation of poverty, because we realise that poverty could not just be a question of money, it could also be a structural thing. And so, these we believe could be of assistance to the churches in terms of you have to go to the source in order to be able to come back with a proper response. If I may give you a brief example, sir. The brief example is that if you look at taxi violence for instance, which constitutes that kind of in the drivers, you have to go to the source and say it was the removal of people from their places of work and cramping people together, no transport and so forth. So you've got to look at those kinds of things and say how do you address that kind of thing? So we are busy working on that kind of thing.
CHAIRPERSON: Maybe, box me after this ...[inaudible].
UNKNOWN SPEAKER: Just to add Chairperson, we have recently had a workshop and what was coming through at that workshop on the theological side, the biblical side, was that Jesus did not only focus on what people would eat, but he focused on de-wealthing the wealthy and His injunction was to challenge them to share, to give and so forth. And we though we would take that seriously. There is a publication coming up, including that, but incorporating also the case studies that are being done in communities. And apart from that we thought we would join those who are calling for the establishment of a bank by the churches. That is what people are calling for at an international level, but we want to take that seriously as the nation here in South Africa. And lastly, at the AGM it was decided recently, the AGM of the institute has decided recently that we should in fact begin to look at ways of combating poverty, but focusing on ...[inaudible] Yes, there are campaigns that are put in place. The question of looking at the credit bureaux and all those things, but also more importantly, what the government can do about restructuring the debt and also joining the campaign for the jubilee when we get to 2 000. Because there's a huge debt internally but there's a huge debt also externally. How do they restructure the internal apartheid debt? How do we lobby for the rolling of the debt overseas?
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very, very much. There are some points that we would correct in your views about the commission, but we are thankful that you have got this point about life after the TRC, because the TRC has a very short shelf life, and we hope very much, I mean the churches and religious communities and others in civil society will realise that reconciliation and all that is really a national project. It isn't something that's going to be done when we hand in the report to the President on the 31st July. We won't then say to him that the country is reconciled. Some contribution will have been made towards this. Thank you very much. Let us take tea and maybe a 15-minute break. What - I beg yours? You want to make an announcement? Please just wait. The original conveyor wants to make an [intervention]
UNKNOWN SPEAKER: Chairperson, we have prepared tea for 100 people, but we have in this hall more than 100 people. We would request that we all have tea, if it's possible, but we give first preference if it's possible to those people who are quests, coming to make submissions to the TRC today and tomorrow and Wednesday, and if there is tea remaining, then we have ...[inaudible]
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
BISHOP MICHAEL NUTALL: [inaudible] in their different and often exceedingly painful way in the policy of apartheid. It is with all of them in mind that this submission is being made. We need to be concerned about healing, reconciliation, reconstruction, not only within South Africa itself, but also in neighbouring countries where South Africa fought its wars, created serious destabilisation and drew on migrant labour. Many of the millions of landmines lying in the soil of Angola and Mozambique are a telling and terrible reminder of that process in the apartheid period. It seems to me that the churches, which straddle these national frontiers in the Southern African region, can play their part in promoting healing, reconciliation and reconstruction, in partnership with governments and others in this sub continent. Chairperson, it is well known, I think, that the church I represent was clear in its official and public condemnation of apartheid, eventually joining those who declared it to be a hierarchy and a sin. These pronouncements came from a synodical structure of church government in which black and white Anglicans participated together, providing and alternative model in our race ridden society, which helped to point the way to the model of true democracy which our country has at last embraced. During the last eight years of the apartheid regime, from 1986 to 1994, our church was presided over in its life and synodical government by a black Archbishop, who by sheer example demonstrated once and for all how crazy, let alone immoral the alternative apartheid model was for our society. Yet, this same Archbishop, I hardly need to remind you, Chairperson, did not have a vote in the land of his birth. But the picture I have just painted of our church, though true, is far too rosy. The whole truth contains compromise, complacency, and complicity, alongside examples on the part of some individuals of great courage and compassion. The fact of the matter as our written submission makes clear, is that the membership of the CPSA, is varied and complex. Within the perspective of the TRC, it includes a clear majority - some 2 million people - who were victims of apartheid, and a minority were its beneficiaries, including some who were even its perpetrators. I well remember a synod resolution in which it was decided that any Anglican who was in the security police could not be elected to serve on a parish council. The opposition to this decision in some quarters of our church was immediate. Yet we did allow for the appointment of Anglican priests as military chaplains to minister to the pastoral needs of white conscripts and professionals in the South African Defence Force. This came to be a deeply divisive issue in our church, with parents of conscripts complaining bitterly that we did not have enough chaplains to minister to their sons and black Anglicans bitterly opposed to having any chaplains at all. In our diocese of Namibia, there was the particular embarrassment where the bishop there could not possibly approve of South African military chaplains coming to support what he and his people perceived to be an army of occupation. The liberation movements were also supported [TAPE ENDS] [inaudible] between the pastoral and the prophetic in the life and witness of the church. How does the church achieve a balance between these two? In the closing years of apartheid rule, the bishops of the CPSA resolved to appoint no more military chaplains. At about the same time, the call for economic sanctions which you, Chairperson, had issued much earlier in a single handed act of moral courage, was supported corporately by the bishops of the CPSA and indeed by its highest synod, in the year 1989. It could be said, and I would include myself in this stricture, that we took too long to come to this place of a clearer uncompromising witness. We allowed others to proceed us and take the flack. Too late, conceded that they were right and we owe them an apology for our compromising and often complacent half-heartedness and sometimes, for a hardness of heart that could be extremely damaging and hurtful. Archbishop, you yourself bore the brunt of this critique not only in the nation at large, but even from the membership of your own church. May I, on behalf of the CPSA, offer to you a profound apology, ask for your forgiveness and thank you for your extraordinary graciousness and magnanimity. May I also, through you, extend a similar message to all our other prophets, both within the Anglican Church and beyond it, thanking them for their courageous witness in the name of Christ to the truth? Chairperson, paragraph ten of the CPSA's written submission says, and I quote: "That the CPSA acknowledges that there were occasions when, through the silence of its leadership or its parishes or their actions in acquiescing with apartheid laws, where they believed it to be in the interest of the church, deep wrong was done to those who bore the brunt of the onslaught of apartheid. What aided and abetted this kind of moral lethargy and acquiescence was the fact that in many respects, our church had developed, over many years, its own pattern of racial inequality and discrimination. It was all too easy to pass resolutions or make lofty pronouncements condemning apartheid. It was all too easy to point a morally superior finger at Afrikaner nationalist, prejudice and pride. English pride and prejudice was no less real and it was never very far below the surface of our high sounding moral pronouncements. The Anglican Lord Milner must be as problematic to Afrikaner Christians as D.F. Malan, the dominee, is to us. In a strange way, I think many white Anglicans in the CPSA owe an apology to the Afrikaner community for their attitude of moral superiority. I became aware of this need when as bishop of Pretoria from 1976 to 1981; I got to know such fine Afrikaner Christians as David Bosch and Piet Meiring. Perhaps, Chairperson, I could ask Professor Piet Meiring in his capacity as a member of the TRC kindly to receive this expression of apology from an Archbishop of "die Engelse Kerk". APPLAUSE.
But our chief expression of apology must be to our own black membership, and I am using the word "black" inclusively. Here we are speaking of the overwhelming majority of the CPSA, both in Southern Africa as a whole and in South Africa particularly. Interestingly, our black membership increased significantly in the early apartheid years, especially on the reef where the witness against the new ideology was strong. Ours is primarily a black church; it has been and still is in many ways, a suffering church. Suffering at the hands of the church itself. Chairperson, our so-called white parishes like white businesses, and I am thinking of last week's TRC hearings, have unquestionably benefited from apartheid and its political predecessors, in that church facilities, including housing and transport for their priests, they have been bastions of relative privilege. So-called black parishes by contrast, like black businesses, have been decidedly disadvantaged in these respects. Within the black Anglican community, there has been a further disparity in that very often, as in the secular apartheid scenario, the African church has been worse off than the coloured, and the coloured church worse off than the Indian. We have simply reflected in so many ways the economic and social disparities at large. There was a time, as you pointed out earlier this morning yourself, your Grace, there was a time when even clergy stipends were paid on a racially different basis, with all kinds of clever justifications produced for what was essentially and ethically unacceptable practice.
Attempts are now being made to rectify these long-standing inequities within the life of our church. Black advancement into leadership roles has been significant, but still within our church structures, we are significantly dependant on white skill and expertise which can easily look and feel like white power blocking the aspirations of black people. A transformation process is underway, spearheaded by a recently created black Anglican forum. This will promote and facilitate an adjustment process for the CPSA, as it moves into the new millennium, seeming to provide a new authenticity for our life together as a church, setting us free to be more truly African in the broadest sense, to engage in our mission and ministry in a more authentic incarnational way. Chairperson, this is one of the ways in which our denomination sees its commitment to the future of this country and this sub-continent. To be a transformed church under God, serving a transformed society. Central to that task will be our desire to contribute to a continuing process of healing and costly, not cheap, reconciliation. I speak as a church leader now in a province which has seen well over 15 000 politically motivated killings in a decade of traumatic transition. The healing of the resultant wounds, let alone the other wounds, which are the legacy of apartheid, will engage the faith communities and others for a long time to come. One of the things which the Kwa Zulu Natal Leaders Group is planning for 1998, is a series of pastoral visits to places of pain, where in the company of local communities, liturgies of healing and cleansing will occur and symbolic actions will take place to facilitate reconciliation. Similarly, trauma workshops and workshops of repentance and restitution are available in our province to enable people bruised by a divided past to come together in a wholesome healing atmosphere in the presence of skilled facilitators which seem so essential to find new hope for their lives.
I end with a final reflection or meditation on facets of the life of the CPSA, which I represent here today, which I dearly love and for whose failings and frailties I repent before God and this commission. I think of the Mother church, St. George's Cathedral in Cape Town. Site of faithful witness and struggle over many years, beacon of hope to the people alongside the parliament where so many draconian laws were passed. I think by contrast of the faithful Nsekekuni Land, going on annual pilgrimage to the gravesite at the top of a hill of Masemola, their Martyr and ours. I think of the elderly member of the great mothers' union, coming forward slowly and painstakingly to receive a certificate in honour of her fifty years membership and I hear her responding in grateful thanksgiving by singing in shaky voice, a hymn from the depths of her being. I think of a small child coming forward to be confirmed: " Defend O Lord, this they child", and how I am struck by the innocence of her eyes and her folded hands. I think of a colleague as a teenager, taking his critically ill father to hospital, unaware that he would be refused admission because it was the white man's hospital and going to another "acceptable" hospital where there was only room for his father to lie on the floor, there to die, a short while later. I think of this colleague, carrying this pain into adult life, into the black consciousness movement, where he found his dignity was affirmed, and finally finding full healing when as a priest, he was asked to be Rector of a white congregation. I think of our present Archbishop, incarcerated as a young man for three years a political prisoner on Robin Island, and there mysteriously finding his vocation to be a priest. I think of Zeph Motokeng, standing as a brave young layman in synod in the early apartheid years and challenging unsuccessfully the unequal stipends paid to the clergy. I think of Trevor Huddlestone's naught for your comfort and the costly intercessory prayer of the monks and nuns, fighting apartheid on their knees, and yearning for a new freedom to dawn. I think of those who understood none of these things, who were lost in their own limitations, trapped in their own small world. I think and I think, and as I do so, I say Lord have mercy. Nkosi siya ukele. Morene ragaukele. And then I say also: "Thank God for your faithful ones, those who were clear sighted, those who endured against all the odds to the end".
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. We normally try to observe a moment's silence at about midday and the ending of that submission leads us into that period of quiet. [MINUTE'S SILENCE] God bless Africa, guard her children, guide her leaders and give her peace, Amen. Thank you very much. Bishop Dlamini is there anything you're wanted to add? Not? Thank you very much. Piet Meiring?
PROF. P MEIRING: Bishop Michael, it's been a privilege to listen to you. Thank you for a most moving and inspiring and very comprehensive statement. What you've said about the Dutch Reformed Church, I gladly take through to them and think in the spirit of great gratitude and humility they will accept that and it will give them food for thought, because the apology that you brought to the NG Kerk, the NG Kerk owes to a number of people all through the country, and churches. May I thank you from the bottom of our heart, the Anglican Church, for not leaving the NG Kerk behind, but that you kept challenging the church, talking to the church all through the years. Thank you ever so much for that. I have one question. I know that the panel have many questions they would like to put to you. You said in your submission, you spoke about the majority of congregates who were victims of apartheid, but then there was also the minority in the Anglican church, mostly white people, who were the beneficiaries, in some cases even the perpetrators, of the past. We have had this problem in the TRC in the past months. It seems by and large that the black section of South Africa owns the process. It's been difficult to get the white people on board. In some instances, gloriously, white people, white Christians embraced the process. In m any instances we were disappointed. Do you have advice for us? How do we get the white Christians, the people of good faith to really embrace the process of the truth commission, but especially to get them on board for the road for reconciliation after the life of the TRC?
BISHOP MICHAEL NUTALL: Thanks very much. I'll hazard an answer and perhaps Bishop Zamabuhle may be able to add something. I think for those who have been the beneficiaries of the apartheid regime and sometimes even the perpetrators of the system, it's quite a threatening thing perhaps to come before a body of this kind. It's certainly a risky process and I guess that is what is encouraging a lot of white people in this country, including white Christians, to stay away. Insofar as our own church is concerned, I think the fact that it is chaired by who it is had encouraged many of us to accept the integrity of the commission and look at the example that the commission has set over these last two years, in my view, establishes its integrity in a very real way and one would simply hope that people will be willing, even at this late stage to set aside their unnecessary reservations and to recognise that part of their own healing and their own liberation will involve coming forward out of their own integrity and participating in the process.
BISHOP ZAMABUHLE: It would also be a good thing, I think, for our church in this process of healing to be able to meet as Christians and share these problems that happened during the apartheid era, influencing the healing process, because I do feel that it cannot be a one day building up towards healing. It's going to take a long time. But I think it will hasten the process if the church decides as early as possible to come together, black and white congregates in parishes and really talk about these problems. Address these problems that happened and say now: we are opening our hearts to one another, accepting one another in the Lord, forgiving one another. Because I do feel that there is still that attitude of not accepting one another in a true way and opting to embrace one another and work together as a church of God. Not to get affiliated groups for this particular thing and that particular thing, but the church to be together in one spirit.
BISHOP MICHAEL NUTALL: May I add one thing to that, Chairperson. I refer to repentance and restitution workshops which we have been having in our part of the world. Here again, it's quite difficult to encourage people to participate in what is involved in that, but assisted by the insights and contribution of Father Michael Lapsly, we have engaged upon a process whereby people across the parish boundaries, as my brother Bishop was saying, have come together, normally in fairly small groups so that there can be an interchange of depth, have come together over a weekend to undertake an experience which involves actually telling one another stories. And out of that process of listening to one another, finding a new measure of healing and then gathering all that together into an act of Eucharistic worship at the end of the weekend. These have been remarkable successful as a supplement if you like, something complementing our whole truth and reconciliation process in the nation.
REV. M XUNDU: Thank you very much Mr. Chairperson. I want to commend Bishop Michael for the way he presented that submission. It was moving. There are two areas that I just want to have clarity on. One is that the CPSA in 1970 moved a resolution which condemned the World Council of Churches for its support for the program to combat racism and thus by doing so, affirming the policy of the National Party, and those among our congregations who were against the liberation movement. How does the church hope to handle that? To make an apology, or make reparation, because I think inaudible. And the second one is Michael Lapsly as you just said, on arrival at the airport was told that "your license has been withdrawn because you have publicly announced your political affiliation" by a bishop of the CPSA. Has there been an apology made to him for the way he was handled, which in fact clearly gave the government of South Africa that churches here were not going to take people who have declared themselves to be part of the liberation movement. I think that there could be a significant way that could be done to show that we acknowledge the wrongs we did at the time.
BISHOP MICHAEL NUTALL: Thank you. I think on that first matter of the decision in 1970 in regard to the World Council of Churches grants to liberation movements, the whole issue has gone by default. I am not aware that there has been any revisiting of that officially, within the life of our church. The reason for that resolution, if I recall, it was the first time I attended a Provincial Synod. I was quite young and immature at the time. But the reason for it was that we didn't want to leave the impression that we were lending our support, or that the church should be lending its support to movements that had decided to engage in violence, as part of their strategy and we didn't hear the argument, even if there was legitimacy for that point of view, we didn't hear the argument that the grants were intended for humanitarian purposes within those liberation movements and not for the purchase of arms. We didn't see any distinction between those two. Looking back now, I would wish to say here that I think we erred in that resolution in 1970, because it included a decision to withhold our subscription from the WCC. Subsequently, we were prevented by government anyway from sending any subscriptions to the WCC so we were nicely covered by the government itself, but initially we took that decision and we have to take responsibility for it. And I think it is right that we should acknowledge that that was a mistaken decision looking back now, with the benefit of hindsight. On the issue of Father Michael Lapsly and his license, I think if I may, I would prefer not to comment. That may sound very much like chickening out, but I'm not sufficiently well informed on the circumstances that surrounded that, something that I think happened within the diocese of Lesotho at the time and it has been written about in the biography of Michael Lapsly, that has now been published, maybe it is something that needs to be visited. What I would like to say is that Michael Lapsly as a result of (at least partly) what happened to him in the bombing, whereby he lost both his hands and one eye, has become what I would consider to be a living icon of redemptive suffering in the life of our church and our nation at this time and somebody to be truly honoured and respected for that fact.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Virginia?
MS V GCABASHE: Thank you, Chairperson. Bishop Michael, I'm going to ask you a question which has bothered me, and I don't think it only refers to the church, but it also refers to the situation in general. You said in y our submission that the church has embarked in black empowerment and we hear about this black empowerment everywhere, even in industry. But my concern about that is that black empowerment doesn't usually go with training, and I would like to know what the church is doing in terms of trying to really empower people by giving them skills so that they are able to take up the challenge of that empowerment?
BISHOP ZAMABUHLE: That is done individually by respective diocese through its parishes. The skill training is a priority of every diocese in our church. Each bishop has been given a mandate to see to it that he builds up leadership in his diocese. Taking whatever effort and whatever resources that may be available, so it's a thing that is opened in such a way that every bishop is taking it seriously and therefore we think in the future we will be seeing a good result.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
MS V GCABASHE: Can I just follow that up please? My next question would then be: What happens in a situation where the bishop in the diocese does not encourage or does not see to it? Is there any other higher body that would make sure that this happens?
BISHOP ZAMABUHLE: Maybe - I do think there is a body, the Black Forum, because it spearheaded this, so it's still alive.
BISHOP MICHAEL NUTALL: You have touched on a delicate point being the way in which we organise our life, because of the diocesan autonomy and I hear within your question an assumption that maybe the bishops have too much power or something like that obviously we need to be gracious enough to recognise our profound need to be in partnership with other people across the board and we're slowly learning the need for that.
DR. K MGOJO: Just a very short question, which is easy. I have been very much impressed by your submission about the transformation process in your church, which we hope is going to lead to what we call the African church and I commend you for that. Now the question I have in my mind: what is the criterion or criteria of appointing your priests in the parishes at the present moment as a way forward? Do you appoint priests according to colour? If you have got an opening at Umlazi, they need a parish priest, do you look around the black priests to be appointed at Umlazi or do you just look for the priest all over and say that we think that this one must go to Umlazi?
BISHOP MICHAEL NUTALL: You call that an easy question? Yes, yes, um Chairperson, Dr Mgojo knows the situation in Umlazi because he ministers there himself, so he knows our situation there. Yes. We are better than we have been in the past, I think, in making our appointments freely across the board. We are even better at it at the moment perhaps within what I would call parishes (in the situation that I come from) where the language is English and I don't mean only so-called white parishes, but parishes where the language spoken is English. More and more we are inviting clergy whose mother tongue is Zulu to take appointments either as rectors or assistants in those parishes. For instance at the beginning of next year we have a black African priest becoming rector of our parish at Overport, which is traditionally an Indian area and one of the things that we are discovering as indeed we are discovering the presence of women clergy in our church now is that people, as a result of the actual experience of clergy coming from different backgrounds, are experiencing a new inner liberation which they didn't realise would happen and so it's an exceedingly pleasing process to see. We are not doing it to the same extent the other way around - appointing white priests into black parishes, if I may use that terminology. That is partly for historical reasons because we used to have those parishes or those missions as they were called in the past serviced by white clergy, mainly from overseas and there has been a certain reaction to that. Within the black community itself, with black priests wanting to take responsibility within their own cultural and linguistic ...[indistinct] and idiom for that work. So I think we are going to be moving in the not too distant future, back into a more healthy mixture, but that is the historical reason that mixture doesn't exist to the same extent there. We have moved away from something that was there before in order to facilitate the advancement of black leadership at the request of black leadership in those particular congregations. Of course, the challenge to English speaking clergy whether they're white, coloured or Indian is that they need to learn the language, and something of the culture. And that is something that we are continuing to wrestle with in this time and I hope that as time goes by in this transformation process, we will begin to make further progress in this field.
BISHOP DLAMINI: My diocese has got white Christians as well, but not a single white priest and the black priests minister to everybody, so there is no problem at all. The work of God is going speedily ahead.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you father. Joyce?
MS JOYCE SEROKE: Bishop Michael, I would like to through you, commend the CPSA for coming to grips at last after a long and painful process of accepting women as priests in the church, but I would like to know what is the church doing to empower those women for meaningful participation with in the church?
BISHOP MICHAEL NUTALL: Do you mean women priests or clergy, or women at large? Women clergy. Thank you. Chairperson, as you will know this is a fairly recent development within the life of our church. It goes back to 1992. Perhaps we should have made that decision long before, but like so many other churches in this respect throughout the world, we have been on a journey and all of us have had to come to a profound change of mind when we've come to the point of accepting women clergy should be as free to operate within the life of our church as men clergy. So, we've only been involved in this for the past five years. We now have something like 23 women clergy out of 120 within the diocese, which I'm part of. I like to think that increasingly we are making space for them to participate fully in our affairs. We already have one of these priests as an Archdeacon and as a member of the advisory body to the Bishop and the diocese of finance and trustees. So perhaps the progress has been reasonable within the short time in which we have enacted, but there's still a very long way to go, and part of that long way to go is the need for the mindset to change because so many of us across the board, this is not a white or black phenomenon, but across the board, so many of us particularly those of us who are male but not only men, have got to make a major inner adjustment to this new reality within the life of our church. But as I said just now, I think that a new liberating process is underway for men and women alike in this process.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Thomas?
MR T MANTHATA: Bishop, I'm not asking any new question. This has been raised by Brigalia when she was addressing the issue of poverty. It was raised by ICT and it was raised by Virginia and Joyce. That is the issue of education and the moral decay. My simple question is: does the Anglican church consider reviving or establishing schools at community level because that is where this country will begin to address the issue of moral decay. It is at that level that we can begin to address even issues of crime. Does the church begin to say we can revive church schools at community level? We quite appreciate what we have already, that is the St. Johns, St Marks and Barnabus and so on. To me they are valuable, they perform sterling work, but they are few and far between.
BISHOP MICHAEL NUTALL: Chairperson, I think that what Mr. Tom Manthata has raised is of enormous importance. I am not sure what the pattern is throughout the life of our church, but certainly I think there is a desire to move in this direction. We have recently in the diocese that I come from, seen the establishment of half a dozen schools at local community level, initiated by parishes as a result of a synod resolution asking for exactly that to take place. Together with the foundation of two new bigger ventures than local community ventures, schools more like the ones that you have just mentioned. So we are following up on that tradition and the whole idea is to try and fill that vacuum that has existed ever since the Bantu Education Act came into being and we lost our schools for one reason or another as a result of that legislation and a sense of the need for the church to re-engage in a whole new creative way in the whole education process. And certainly that will be one of the areas in which we will try to exercise our influence in regard to the spiritual and moral life of the nation. May I just add in that regard that for me in regard to moral reconstruction, one of the most crucial things as I see it is for people to helped, young and older people alike, particularly the young, to be helped in this new dispensation of freedom in which we find ourselves to make responsible choices. There are some who seem to want to return to earlier tyrannies and censorships of the past. I say no. We need to accept the reality of the new atmosphere of freedom under which we now operate. But it lays upon us an even heavier responsibility to assist one another, and particularly the young, in the making of responsible choices and earning and living by those choices. And so there are a new set of r's. We talked about the three r's of reading, writing and arithmetic. The three r's of rights, responsibilities and relationships. Rights with responsibilities exercised in the context of affirming relationships. That is where the making of responsible choices really begins to come in and have some impact. And certainly as part of that process we need to be engaging as much as we can with the schooling process.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. I had hoped that in the very moving submission that you made, that we might have had an opportunity of a description of one of the extraordinary moments when God just manifests God's self at that synod when one person got up to confess our complicity in apartheid and it started off with a white person and before the end of that session, virtually everybody in the synod but I don't think we have the time to do that now. I just want to say thank you very much to both of you for the contribution that you have made to the particular process and might I use the privilege of being the Chairperson to pay my own particular tribute to you Michael, who was my, as you said, my number two to Tutu, when you were the Dean of the province, for your incredible support in those days made possible my own ministry. I just want to say thank you in this particular gathering. But also to say thank you to all of those in the synod of Bishops and in the CPSA who gave support at times when it wasn't so popular to give that support. Thank you very much. You may stand down.
We call on the representatives of the Church of England in South Africa. My dear brothers, Bishop Retief, you will introduce your colleague, but we want to welcome you very warmly and say thank you for the witness of your church, and especially of St. James in Cape Town after the horrendous thing that happened there. I am sure there will be some reference to that but we just want to say that we were proud of what you and your congregation did and said in response to that and we welcome you. Thank you for coming. Do you want to introduce them first so that we know who are taking the oath, if
they are taking the oath?
BISHOP RETIEF: Thank you Chairperson for your kind comments and warm welcome. Our presiding Bishop is unable to be with us today and our delegation consists of myself, the area Bishop of the Cape area, and next to me is Bishop Martin Morrison from Gauteng, then the Reverend Elias Majozi, who represents Bishop Jeremiah Ngobani from Bekethembi, and Mr. Noel Wright is the General Secretary of the Church of England in South Africa. We have another representative sitting, Reverend Ernie du Plooy, sitting up there in the audience, but he is there to cheer us on.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Would you then stand to affirm or take the oath?
BISHOP RETIEF: The submission that we're about to make, well I'm going to read with your permission, will last approximately 15 minutes and then we'll be available for questioning.
We thank the truth and reconciliation commission for the opportunity to forward a written submission earlier this year and again at this public gathering of the faith community today.
Introduction: The Church of England was established in this country around 1806, with the first Bishop being sent from England by the Colonial Office in 1847. The church in those days was largely evangelical and reformed in character. In 1870 a well-documented division took place which resulted in the formation of the Church of the Province of South Africa.
These developments had a huge impact on the life of the Church of England. It lost most of its properties and congregations and was finally rejected by the rest of the Anglican Communion. It was left to a small community of Christians, both black and white, to struggle for survival. Coloured and Indian congregations were established at a later stage. It finally emerged from its struggle as the Church of England in South Africa, a small group of people who were committed to the evangelical reformed and Protestant convictions of its forebears.
Development: When I entered the ministry in 1966 there were no more than five churches in Cape Town and only two and half ministers, one being retired. In fact there were no more than twenty-five churches countrywide. I came into a denomination that was very small but committed to the bible as the word of God.
It was strongly pietistic in its ethos and consequently according to the times in which we lived, separatist in its mentality. In the wider Anglican Communion, we had been stigmatised as a recaltratent schismatic group of unreasonable right wing evangelicals. Now to some extent, we have no one to blame for these views but ourselves. We saw our theological position under threat and we acted accordingly. When the government made legislation that accorded with our moral or biblical understanding we supported them. However, on the great issue of justice for all, we were often insensitive. We had not made the connection between gospel and society. One of our Bishops took part in the state funeral for the assassinated Dr. Verwoerd. Another of our Bishops by synodical decision took part in the inauguration of FW de Klerk.
These actions were performed under the influence of our belief that we needed to support and pray for the authorities ordained by God. [TAPE THREE] [inaudible] under other circumstances whoever the dignitaries were, but we now see that these things contributed to the impression that we endorsed the system. We consequently gave the impression that we were supporters of the regime. This impression has caused many of our members great pain in the past and all of us great embarrassment in the present.
Thus, some of the impressions we gave were justified. However, we ignored all these things because we felt we had a priority to preach and teach the gospel, consolidate our work and begin to build it up. By 1979, there were 54 ordained clergy in active ministry and within a further 10 years the number had increased to 96. The denominations are administered as a single unit, with area councils in the Cape Province, Kwa Zulu Natal Province and the Gauteng/Free State region.
There are presently 153 congregations in South Africa, 14 in Namibia and a similar number in Zimbabwe, which are all self-administered. So you can see we're a very small show. The establishment in 1989 of our own theological institution, George Whitfield College, has produced clergy and ...[indistinct] with a new awareness and involvement in the controversial moral, ethical and social issues of the day. Our new academics and generating valuable insights into the ongoing debates and tensions between faithfulness to the gospel and social responsibility, something we deeply lacked in the past.
The struggle years: The apartheid years, with the struggle for liberation caught us completely off guard and unprepared. There were a number of reasons for this:
1. Our tiny group of churches was simply trying to survive. We considered ourselves as nobodies. We had no influence, no outside contacts, apart from a few exceptions, no money, no property of note. Yet we found a ready response to our message in all sections of our society. While the struggle for liberation was deepening, we got on with the job of building our churches.
2. We had no theologians nor thinkers of note in our ranks, having been cut off from the rest of the Anglican communion, we were not exposed to the thinking and debate taking place there, nor were we privy to the wider network of information to assist in raising awareness. Our church was led largely by lay-people because of our lack of clergy. It was only in later years that theologically trained men arose who were able to see things in better perspective and better understood the times in which we lived.
3. Many members of the Church of England in South Africa generally and honestly believed the government's propaganda about the Communist threat. Like most other whites, our white elect church believed that we were in a struggle for western values and freedom, and that the liberation groups were all pawns of the Communist regime.
4. Many victims of apartheid and oppression find it hard to believe whites when they plead ignorance. We ask them to moderate their judgement. Most of you here today will remember that Jesus once performed half a miracle. He touched a man's eyes, who was blind, and he only half saw and described his experience as seeing men as trees walking. He needed a second touch. The truth is that the full extent of the atrocities exposed by the TRC were in fact not known to us. Many suspected but were probably reluctant to believe these stories. Previously when stories of atrocities leaked out, it was usually attributed to Communistic forces trying to undermine the government. The exposures by the TRC have filled many white people and many of us in the Church of England in South Africa with shock, shame and revulsion. Looking back, it is amazing that we were so naïve. Be that as it may, the fact of the matter is that we allowed ourselves to be misled into accepting a social, economic and political system that was cruel and oppressive.
5. A further complication was the development of liberation theology. Now the impact of this particular ideology on evangelicals must not be under estimated. First of all, evangelicals have often been misunderstood and misrepresented in the popular media. Sometimes, of course, it is their own fault because of their unwise behaviour, but fanatics, unschooled rejecters of technological development, bible punchers who are unconcerned with the social needs of people and huge hysterical performances of healing and hysteria are not representative of true evangelicals. But this is the way evangelicals were sometimes represented in the media and by some who expounded liberation theology. We certainly deserved a lot of the criticism we received as evangelicals. But we ask that the difficulties we faced at least be understood, even though not condoned. Some evangelicals saw liberation theology as a sell-out of the gospel of Christ crucified and risen to a secular vision of Utopia on earth. There was a sense of dismay among evangelicals as we saw the gospel of Christ's redemption redefined to suit the mood and the agenda of the day. Many evangelicals felt that while liberation theology had recaptured the important truths of justice in society, it had in the process assimilated an ideology that undermined the basic message of the gospel. That is how we, in the Church of England in South Africa felt at the time. And therefore we in the Church of England in South Africa found ourselves in a dilemma. To get on board the social action programs and protest movements was to identify with the theological emphasis, which we saw as a betrayal of Christ's message. As we distanced ourselves from liberation theology, we were therefore seen to support the system even further. Yet we knew by this time that the struggle for justice was justified. We, however, had different views and were uncertain about what to do. The Church of England in South Africa thought that, because of its smallness and insignificance, because of our lack of debating power, and also because of the reigning confusion of the age, our way forward was to continue with the teaching and the preaching of the word of God and to establish churches and help programs where we could. We declared ourselves to be a-political and in this way failed to adequately understand the suffering of our many black members who were victims of apartheid. Our failure to be involved in the political struggles of our land was a major error in both understanding and judgement and this mistake has caused us a great deal of embarrassment, heartache and pain.
6. In spite of these failures, during those tumultuous years, we established social community projects such as feeding schemes in under privileged schools, a community centre with various activities in Khayelitsha where one of our white volunteer workers was shot and maimed, AIDS centres for adults and children in Kwa Zulu Natal, nursery schools country wide, amongst other things. We held to our conviction that Christ's kingdom is ultimately not of this world. But we did believe as do most Christians, that it must be demonstrated in this world. And yet we remained confused at the every deepening political crisis and the challenge to our own theological pre-suppositions.
7. There were occasions after our annual synods when we communicated with and sought meetings with various government officials to protest privately about various matters. A delegation of senior leaders once met with Mr. P.W. Botha when he was State President to express concern about the wrongs in South Africa. While on several occasions our presiding Bishop, personally encouraged Mr. F.W. de Klerk when he was State President, to hasten change. We found both men receptive to our approach, although we do not know what it accomplished. It was dialogue rather than confrontation. That was our modus operandi. However, we now see that instead of helping our cause, it hindered it. The reason for this was our failure to report back to our local leadership and their congregations and this reinforced the view that we were supporters of the government and not critics. It must also be said that on local levels, stands were taken on certain issues which we failed to publicise or to which we failed to draw attention. For instance, one of our churches in the Northern suburbs of Cape Town opened a pre-school education facility which was open to all race groups. They resisted considerable government pressure to change their policy. In addition in years gone by, protest was may by our previous leadership to the army's activities in Ovambo. And also after World War 2, to the educational policies of the government as they applied to black people. In 1988 the late Reverend Murray Hoffmeyer and I spent two hours with a government commission discussing the question of the Group Areas Act in which we vigorously argued for the abolition of that Act. In addition to that, we also over the years, voiced our opposition to the migratory system which had disruptive impact on families. Now these things are mentioned not to exonerate us, but to indicate that we were not entirely unaware or silent. However, we were too naive to keep minutes and records, because many of these activities took place spontaneously off the cuff, so to speak. Nor did we think it important to inform all our church members of what we were doing. In any event, we recognise and fully admit that whatever we did was too little and too late.
8. It should be noted at this point that when we were able to travel overseas, we were surprised by queries concerning segregation in the churches. Many of our friends thought segregation was practised by all churches, including us. But this has not been our practice. Our understanding of the gospel led us to believe that all l people should be welcome at any worship service. While some denominations may have held to a policy of segregation, the Church of England in South Africa did not. However, it must be added that while our services were always open to all, not all could come. The apartheid laws had created both geographical and language problems so that it remained true that most of our congregations were either predominantly white, coloured, Indian or black. During these times, the leadership of the Church of England in South Africa was not discerning enough to see the significance of this. But since the early eighties, any indications of discrimination in the Church of England in South Africa's constitution, in our national structures and practices have been systematically removed. This is an ongoing process, assisted greatly by new awareness and sensitivity as well as new thinking by all in leadership. Now these reasons are not offered as excuses, but rather as an explanation of whom we were during the struggle years. We do not apologise for our stand on the central message of the bible. However, we do want to express our apology, our sorrow and regret at the things we left undone. We refer to article 12 in our statement of faith, 39 Articles of Religion entitled: Good Works. Quote: "Although good works, which are the fruits of faith and follow after our justification, cannot put away our sin and are subject to the severity of God's judgement. Yet inasmuch as they are done in Christ and for his sake, they are pleasing and acceptable to God for they spring necessarily from true and vital faith and are indeed the evidence of a vital faith, just as a tree is recognised by its fruit". Insofar as the search for justice is part of the Christian's good works, we believe we have failed.
9. The awakening: Our own awakening to the true state of oppression in our nation developed gradually. In the Cape particularly, where contact with the coloured community was easier than with the black community, the heartache and injustice were increasingly conveyed to us. Bishop Martin Morrison worked tin Sowed and Bishop Joe Bell worked in Natal. They were regularly faced with the consequences of the political system and became increasingly distressed. The tense years of the early nineties with the freeing of Nelson Mandela and the subsequent election brought political reality home to us all. The culmination for the Church of England in South Africa came on Sunday night the 25th July 1993 with the massacre at St. James Church, which had from its inception been a non-racial church. Apart from other considerations at the time, we realised with what fear many people in the oppressed communities lived. It brought a new awareness to us. As stated, the subsequent revelations made the truth and reconciliation commission have left us all deeply shocked and our own experience reinforced this sense of shock. The truth had come home to us.
10. Conclusion: As we reflect on the past and look to the future, there are several things we would like to say.
10.1 Notwithstanding that many in the white community saw the evil of apartheid and its out working, many did not and may not have chosen to. That stands as a sombre lesson of how whole communities and countries can be misled by skilful leaders. It has happened before and no doubt it will happen again.
10.2 While we believe that many of the government officials of the old regime were sincere Christians, nevertheless, we were a witness to how the bible and its message can be misused to support an evil ideology. National government used the bible to support its policies, to give the impression that they were a Christian government. But then so did some liberation theologians who finally supported violence as a means of continuing the struggle. They argued that the crucifixion of Jesus sanctioned violence as a method of obtaining freedom. At least we heard that argument. This particular interpretation of the death of our Lord was highly offensive to us and served only to alienate us and other evangelicals even further from those involved in the more visible aspects of the struggle. It is well worth noting at this commission that many evangelicals would have been more involved in the struggle had it not been for the particular theological justification which was presented and which served to confuse us even further. In the Church of England in South Africa, we remain convinced that the primary task of the ordained minister is to explain the true message of the bible without adding his own agenda to it. This message fully explained and applied includes the proclamation that Jesus is Lord over all, including our society and its laws. It further includes the command to love our neighbour with special reference to the poor, the needy, the oppressed and the doing of good works. Not as a ground for our justification before God, but as our expression and fruit of it as explained in article 12 referred to earlier. We in the Church of England in South Africa therefore feel the need to pray the words of the confession in our morning service: Almighty and most merciful Father, we have strayed from your ways like lost sheep. We have left undone what we ought to have done and we have done what we ought not to have done.
10.3 The Church of England in South Africa, especially the whites, must accept collective responsibility for its role in the injustices of the past. Although largely ignorant and unwitting, we were nevertheless passive and compliant. We benefited from the status quo. Up until the early 1970's our largely white leadership, and I'm sure all too many of our white church members being children of their culture, no doubt practised some forms of discrimination either in action of attitude. With hindsight, we should have been more aggressive in campaigning against the evils and injustices of apartheid, more vociferous in opposing violence in all its forms and far more active in our programs of social upliftment and evangelism. We should have been more aware, more vocal and insightful, but we were not. For this we are guilty. We confess our imperfections and are truly repentant. Where we have been negligent, careless and insensitive to biblical injunctions and mandates as we have been, may the Lord graciously forgive us. Where our actions, our silence or our acquiescence has been the cause of added hardship, pain and suffering to any of our Christian brothers and sisters, to any of our other fellow south Africans, we ask for forgiveness. In regard to the black members of our own denomination, we admit that we were unable to fully understand the full extent of their pain and suffering. However, we attempted to provide leadership in terms of financial support for their churches and families, spiritual encouragement and the arm of fellowship. There were occasions when we spoke to the authorities on behalf of our members who were harassed or in trouble. In fact it is true to say that all our presiding Bishops gave a great deal of time and effort, probably most of their time and effort to minister, encourage and assist our black congregations. In our ranks at present, various discussions are taking place to facilitate confession, repentance, reconciliation and healing. Our stance that we were not a political church was an attempt to emphasis our commitment to the central message of the gospel. But it was also a great failure to truly understand and apply the gospel. In this regard, we were guilty of sinning against our Lord and our brothers and sisters. We pray for grace that never again will be fail in our duty.
10.4 We are conscious that any participation we may now have in public debate must arise out of the context of our understanding of our past failure to speak out. Our response to society must arise out of a response to the gospel and not out of political pragmatism. Or a hypocritical desire to create the right impression. As our understanding of the gospel and its implication grows, so must our obedience. This includes a new understanding of the need to seek greater understanding and fellowship with other church groups, even those with whom we may not see eye to eye.
10.5 The Church of England in South Africa remains convinced that its function is to continue to clearly teach and preach the word of God. To this task we re-dedicate ourselves. We have no wish to repeat past mistakes, nor to compromise our message in any way in the future. But Christians now face new challenges. The rebuilding of our society and the establishment of an ongoing culture of justice and compassion is an obvious case in point. To this end, our theological institutions are training a new generation of thinkers equipped to minister within the socio-political political realities of South Africa and to enter into dialogue and debate with those with whom we formerly had very little contact. Another challenge is the ongoing struggle to uplift the poor and needy and to think through the issue of the redistribution of wealth from a Christian perspective. To this end we shall continue to develop our existing programs dealing with education, health and poverty. In addition, there are other ethical challenges of the day in relation to crime and corruption, abortion, pornography, gambling and the proposed decriminalisation of prostitution, to mention just a few. To this end we remain committed to active participation in these debates. One of the most challenging issues is the rise of religious pluralism. We agree that respect and tolerance are called for and we welcome the opportunity for other faiths to state their case. If I may pause here for just a moment to say the during the days of the trauma of the massacre in our church, there were representatives of the other faiths who were there at our doorstep as soon as they could get there to express their solidarity and condolences with us, for which we are deeply grateful. However, we need to say that we do not feel able to accommodate all the compromises asked for in relation in other faiths. We have distinctive convictions which are non-negotiable. The fact that the bible was used in the past to condone injustice does not mean its true message may be ignored today. We believe in the uniqueness not only of Jesus, but also of the God of the old and new testaments. We believe the message of the gospel to be as relevant today as its was 2000 years ago. We still believe that that message is the message of reconciliation to God first and foremost and that reconciliation of one to another is a fruit of our reconciliation to God. The re-establishment of a moral framework referred to earlier this morning also in our opinion stems from a living relationship with God, the power of the Holy Spirit and the teaching of the bible. We believe in the return of our Lord Jesus Christ to this world and in the setting up of a day of judgement. To this end we work in witness. We pray for courage to hold to the truth and for endurance to reflect that truth in the way we serve our Lord in society and for humility in all aspects of our witness. We do not expect all to agree with us and we pray for grace to accept any criticisms. We pledge ourselves, nevertheless to the search for fellowship where possible, and to work for Christian reconciliation as far as we are able. I conclude by saying that we received very little notification that we were to make a submission and consequently were not able to consult extensively with all concerned parties regarding this document. Nevertheless, the sorrow and repentance that we express today is real. Our desire to truly live for Christ and proclaim his gospel is genuine. Our determination to right past wrongs in our own ranks as far as possible is sincere. In spite of sins and imperfections, we still declare ourselves Christians. We can do no other expect to pledge ourselves to do better. It is our belief that this day and hour calls for men and women of conviction and integrity to apply the message of the bible more accurately and faithfully to our emerging society. Regretful though the past may have been, we know that we cannot live in it forever. Changes have come and no doubt will still come, but the duty of all Christian churches is to preach Christ Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today and forever. As representative of and on behalf of all members of the Church of England in South Africa, I thank you Chairperson for the opportunity to make this public submission on our particular role in South Africa's history. May we all by God's grace grasp this opportunity to secure a righteous and a just future for those who have suffered and especially for our children.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very, very much. I am very deeply grateful. Are your colleagues wanting to make any contribution to this or will they participate in the question and answer session?
BISHOP RETIEF: I think they are participating in the questions that you put to us.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Bongani Finca?
REV. B FINCA: Thank you your Grace. The submission by the Church of England is the main submission submitted to the commission in July. It is very brief and very scant. I see that the submission that you have been reading from just now is really supposed to be the main submission on which we should have formulated our questions. Unfortunately, we are not going to be able to raise any questions which are contained in that submission at this stage, because we have to study it and then prepare our questions. Perhaps, your Grace, we could come back to the Church of England with questions on that main submission once it is submitted to us. For now I'm going to be raising questions which are based on this submission which is a two page document.
You mention in your submission that gruesome attack on your members in worship at St. James and the Chairperson has already referred to that and conveyed our sympathy. That attack shocked the whole country. But I want to ask what impact did that have for your own church, for your own denomination in terms of opening up your hearts and minds to other gruesome attacks which have taken place in the country. Not very far from here there is a church here in Mdanstane, which was equally attacked by the Ciskei Police. People were shambokked and teargassed. Did this event make your members relate to these kind of events which have been happening to other people who are Christians, in this country.
BISHOP RETIEF: The answer to that is most definitely so. It was obviously an horrendous event and an event that traumatised not only our church but actually quite an interesting experience for us in the aftermath for us to be able to see how events like this traumatise people. For instance, not only were our church members traumatised, but their relatives living around the country who knew that they attended the church were all traumatised. The neighbours living in the area were traumatised. The children who were in our service that night - we have scores and scores of children coming on Sunday nights as well as Sunday morning - who happened to be in a different part of the building for their own program were deeply traumatised, but all of their school friends were also traumatised because they knew that those friends of theirs come to our church. So it was a vast network of hurt and pain that was created by that event and we had to try to deal with all of that. Without a doubt one of the first reflections that came home to us after we were able to dust ourselves off, if I can put it that way, is that this is how large numbers of our fellow South Africans were living. It was with this kind of terror and fear and we took great pains to state publicly at the time that we realised that that massacre was not the only massacre that had taken place in South Africa and that we were not the only victims of violence and it gave us a fresh appreciation of the absolute terror with which many, many people lived, especially in the townships where unprotected people lived. Many of them who did not have the infrastructure to be able to cope with it as we had, or the support systems that we had. It did have a profound impact on us in that regard.
REV. B FINCA: Thank you very much Bishop. Again in your submission you refer to the spiritual roots from which your denomination come and how these have influenced your style of worship, your concern for unbelievers and your attitude to justice for all racial groups. Social justice for all racial groups. I want just to question you on the last aspect: your attitude to social justice. How do you spell out your denomination's attitude to social justice? Especially at the time which we are examining, the time of apartheid?
BISHOP RETIEF: Let me try to explain that by referring again to my comment that we came out of a strongly pietistic background and as you will all well know when you are governed by a strong form of pietism, there's nothing wrong with all kinds of pietism, but a strong from of pietism does lead to a sort of separatism. So we were part of that group of people that had separated church and society. Now having said that, I want to also say that it's not that we had no concern for society or the needs of the people around and about us. We were evolving in our thinking and were not helped by the fact that we did not, at that stage in our church's history, have thinkers in our ranks who could help us and assist us. Our theological training was limited and we had a largely lay leadership in those days because of the historical aspect of our church's beginnings and many of those lay leaders, many of them, came from overseas and they had their own view of things and we were younger and not able always to understand what they doing or saying or thinking. It's only as we grew and developed and matured ourselves, that things began to change. But as we did begin to evolve and change, what we would like the commission to know is that our conviction is that all social justice stems out of a prior commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. It is the fruit of being a Christian, it's not the root of being a Christian and it is at that point that we were so stumbled, so confused and bewildered by the arguments of liberation theology at the time, because it seemed to us that the message of liberation theology had changed the very root of the gospel. We may have misunderstood it, but that is how it appeared to us at the time and formed part of our confusion.
REV. B FINCA: Thank you very much. Again in your submission you refer to your position on the bible as the only authority and the final standard of faith and life, which is a very radical statement. What did this affirmation mean for you as a denomination in terms of your relationship with the state which was passing legislation which seemed to be so contrary to the basic tenants of the gospel? And also what did this mean to you for your own lives as a denomination? We have just listened to the Anglican church's moving confession of how with the good theology that they had, they continued to not apply that in terms of the payment of stipends to their ministers in a manner that said there is no ...[inaudible]. Did this acceptance of the bible as the only authority affect what perhaps we could call your mundane life, your day to day life as a denomination?
BISHOP RETIEF: Well, I'm going to try to answer that and then maybe some of my colleges might want to comment on that as well. The bible affects our day to day lives quite obviously and it did even in those days. However, let me just say that our style of operating our church, our denomination, is not the same as say the church of the province of any other Anglican diocese anywhere in the world.. We had no central resources, we had nothing. All of our churches are self-supporting. We had no buildings, most of our churches today are new churches that have been built. Our congregations have been carved largely out of the rocks of the ground, if I can put it that way. If the congregations do not pay the stipend, the ministers to not get paid. That is how we work. We do not have a central payment system, so there was no need for us to enter into the sort of debates that the church of the province had as far as stipends were concerned. Except that most of our black churches were in poor rural areas, where there was no hope of them ever paying for themselves. So they were heavily subsidised by the white churches. So white churches usually paid for their own expenses and for one or two black churches, or paid into a central fund to help the black churches as far as we could. It was always a struggle for money as it is even today. It was mentioned earlier on today, and it always will be. But that was our commitment then and that is our commitment now. And so we continue to try to help at the same time and to try to uplift the various congregations. That's how we operated as a denomination in regard to each other. As far as the laws of the state were concerned, I refer to my comments in our submission where I tell you that we needed the second touch from the Lord Jesus Christ. We had blind spots, we were wrong. We have no excuses except to say that we believed the lies, the subterfuge, that we were blind and looking back now we can't believe that we were so blind, but I suppose that all people who are converted feel like that after they have been converted. And so we are grateful to our Lord, Jesus Christ, for touching our eyes a second time. I do not know if some of the others would like to comment.
BISHOP MARTIN MORRISON: Perhaps just to add to that, Chairperson. I think although we are firmly committed to the bible as the word of God as our source of truth for all of life, there have been times, certainly in our past and I'm sure even in our present when we don't read it properly or obey it as we ought. And I think as was stated in the submission, one of our real faults and sins is that in the areas of society and culture, we were somewhat short-sighted to say the least. And in that way we did not bring credit to the gospel or to the word of God and for that we clearly do repent.
CHAIRPERSON: I am not sure that I shouldn't exercise my power gently [LAUGHTER] but the look on your face is so - I mean it melts my heart. I will allow you a very small question, yes.
UNKNOWN SPEAKER: Thank you, Sir. I just want to hear from this church whether there has been a change of heart. You did make a very serious statement in your presentation from what we don't have, that you believed in dialogue which was your modus operandi, not confrontation. If you look back to what has been happening in South Africa where there were no opportunities of dialogue, what other alternative would you have suggested when you look back? That is number one, number two [interevention]
CHAIRPERSON: No, no, no. You said one.
BISHOP RETIEF: The question is if there was no opportunity for dialogue, what would we do. Obviously you are referring sir to the oppressed masses who had no opportunity for dialogue and you're asking me what would I have done. My honest answer to you is I do not know. We are fairly late thinkers. We are late starters. You've got to view us as being a little bit dyslexic. We are trying to find our feet and it is not our intention in any way to pass judgement on the actions of others. We do not know what we would have done ourselves. Our main concern at the time was in some way to express our concern without betraying what we believe. That was an enormous struggle for us and it is that struggle we are trying to convey to you today.
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, Joyce.
MS Y GCABASHE: You mentioned the trauma and the shock that engulfed the St. James congregation after that massacre and yet I have been intrigued, in fact pleasantly surprised by some of the positive pronouncements that were made by some of the victims of that massacre. How can that church, in fact your whole church, use that horrible traumatic experience, use it positively to bring about the healing that we are now talking about in this hearing?
BISHOP RETIEF: Our response to that event in our church was a spontaneous response with nothing orchestrated or planned and it came out of a church that I believe is committed to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Notwithstanding our weaknesses and our failures as we've tried to explain them today. We do, at the end of the day, love Christ and because of our commitment to the bible we felt that we could integrate what had happened to us into our world view and into our view of God. And so we were able to deal with it and what we believe is true now is that in some way we can in fact identify with other victims of violence. We do have something to say to people who have suffered violence and live in bitterness. We do have an alternative way forward to offer people who have suffered great loss and great sadness and tragedy because of the system in which they live and where they see no way forward. There is a way out and we have experienced that for ourselves. It is rooted in our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and we can share that were we are given permission to do so and where people are open to it. We believe that we can offer a hand of fellowship in suffering which is genuine and true and without forcing any of our views on anybody, we believe that as Christians we can point to another way.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. I think we have in the submissions that we have had, all of us been touched by the movement of God's holy spirit and we give thanks that God has seen fit to not give up on us. That God has been willing to use all kinds of instruments to touch us and through us who have been touched perhaps to touch others. We want to say thank you very much to those of who have come this morning to testify here, all four of the groups that have come and we believe that the people of this country may in fact have heard, or will hear and will see, and that there will be this movement towards our becoming more and more those who are responsive to the movement of God's holy spirit and compassion and love. Now I hope you will agree with me. The time factor is just a little awkward, but if we agree that we will eat lunch say for 30 minutes, and be back at 2 'o clock. Bishop Dandle, I hope your speech will be able to keep until then and we will sort of keep trying to adjust. We may - don't want anyone to feel that they have prepared themselves for a 45 minute session and suddenly they have less than this, but there may just be those of you who sympathise with the Chairperson and are willing to sacrifice in the spirit of this hearing to say well, we will give you ten minutes of our time Mr. Chairperson, so that we get very close to the Finnish [SIDE 2, TAPE 3] [inaudible] about a hundred is it? If there is anything over ...[inaudible]
CHAIRPERSON: We resume now and we want to welcome the presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church, Bishop Mgume Dandala and the Secretary of Conference and there are will you want to introduce? I just want to inform the hearing that Bishop Dandala cut short a visit to Rome where he was part of a delegation of the World Methodist Council which was engaged in bilateral conversations with the Vatican and we want to express our appreciation that you were willing to have done that. Thank you very much.
BISHOP H M DANDALA: I am with the Reverend Vivian Harris who is the Executive Secretary of the Methodist Church and Secretary of Conference and also behind me here as requested by the Chairperson, I would like to introduce three of our Bishops who come from this region: Bishop Simon Gubule of the Queenstown district, Bishop Alec Diko of the Grahamstown district and Bishop Dabula of the ...[inaudible] district, together with the vice-chairpersons from their synods.
DR K MGOJO: Can I ask you and Viv Harris to take the oath please? Could you please rise?
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. It's over to you.
BISHOP H M DANDALA: The Chairman of the commission, the most Reverend Desmond Tutu and the Commissioners. The Methodist Church of Southern Africa appreciates the invitation to make this submission to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I would like to point out, Sir, that the Methodist Church of Southern Africa covers six countries in our sub-continent. Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, Mozambique and South Africa. Sir, our appearance before the TRC is not a mere formality. Rather, it is a quest to offer our apology to South Africa for our shortcomings, when this country was afflicted with apartheid. And to confess our co-operation with that system, both intentionally and unintentionally. We have agonised with the question of whether a conference can confess on behalf of its local societies or not. We believe that it is our obligation to offer our corporate confession, trusting that our societies and members share in the spirit of this confession. On the other hand Sir, this confession does not seek to prevent those of our members who may have violated the human rights of others from making their individual submissions to this body. In fact, we have sought to encourage such people to approach the TRC for that purpose. Whilst the Methodist Church of Southern Africa can claim to have endeavoured to stand with other religious communities in rejecting the policy of apartheid from its codification in 1948, we do not believe that this opportunity is for us to parade our efforts. Rather we wish humbly to face those shortcomings that compromised our witness to the Lord Jesus Christ. We confess that on many occasions we failed to live up to the mission of our Lord, to preach the good news to the poor and proclaim freedom for the prisoners. We have, over many years, struggled with our failures and a number of times through our conference resolutions we faced these and sought to bring them to the attention of our people in a spirit of repentance. In 1960, we offered this confession: "The Methodist Conference of Southern Africa recognises that christian people and groups, whilst responsible for contributing towards the solution of the problems of humanity by interpreting the mind of Christ in the situation of South Africa, they themselves are deeply involved in these problems. We as a church, confess that many of our own members are guilty of race prejudice and are prone to the very sins that we regard as our duty to condemn."
In 1976 we again struggled with our failure. We confessed that in the life of our churches, we had not sufficiently shown the possibility of an alternative to racial discrimination and group selfishness. That our fellow countrymen have not been able to look at our churches and say, "See how these christians love one another". We confessed too that as leaders of the christian churches we had failed to give justice and reconciliation high priority. We pointed to the tragic events of 1976 as having brought home to us the need to hear God's word to us at that moment of our national history and to mobilise all our resources for the urgent cause of our people's freedom. In response to the debate on disinvestment in 1985, conference confessed that in our churches there had been no proper debate and consideration of the disinvestment question because we had allowed ourselves to be restrained by the severity of laws designed to prevent open discussion of economic sanctions. This meant that the only arguments being heard in South Africa were those is opposition to disinvestment. In 1986 conference admitted its own failure to grapple timeously with the issues of great importance to the disadvantaged people of South Africa and acknowledged that well intentioned decisions on their part had sometimes been mistaken for indecisiveness and lukewarm commitment to the liberation of our people. Conference asked for forgiveness for its failure and for grace to respond more adequately. In 1988, when our conference recognised that the concept of a peace church had been rejected by its synod, it confessed that we had failed as a church to give sufficient attention to God's call to be peacemakers and thus to provide an alternative to violent action to change. That we failed to provide sufficient opportunity for consultation and study of the peace church concept. We confessed that there were deep divisions within the church over the issue of the peace church. Sir, we now ask that these confessions presented in the past to the Methodist people be heard and met with forgiveness by the public of our beloved land. These are not the only failures we have to confess, there are many more. We allowed our skewed society values to dictate our actions. We paid unequal stipends to our ministers. We trained our ministers incorrectly and in most cases we did not equip our ministers for the struggle against apartheid. We stationed our ministers racially ensuring that both black and white congregations were locked into their own separate cultural worlds instead of allowing them to be informed by one another. For a long time we did not recognise black leadership in our midst. Sir, the list is endless. We are grateful to God that the holy spirit continues to disturb us. Both our confessions recorded in our minutes, conference after conference, and our efforts to respond to these injustices point to a people who felt caught in the complexity of our common sinful life, unable to find the boldness to move together to the future that we knew God desired for us in this land. The opposition of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa to apartheid was compromised by fear of possible consequences of radical action, but undue sensitivity to the views of its economic powerful white constituencies. By insensitivity to the aspirations of the black majority, by undue respect for the institution of government and above all, by a failure to adequately express at local level the principles which it proclaimed in its official conference pronouncements. A great number of Methodists, ministers and lay persons in all sections of the community, remained silent and uninvolved and many defended their inactivity by seeking to separate these fears of religion and politics. The Methodist Church acknowledges its failure to convince such people of the integral link between the gospel and justice and to make them aware of the socio-economic and political implications of christian discipleship. We continued to examined our life in co-operation with the other churches in the witness of the SACC and later in the work of the Rustenberg Declaration. We are grateful to God that in spite of our shortcomings we were given strength to resist the evil of apartheid. In spite of extreme government pressure, we refused to withdraw our membership from the World Council of Churches. A number of our pulpits fearlessly proclaimed a wholesome gospel that prophetically declared that the people of South Africa will be free. We constantly focused our prayers to the cause of justice and to the discomfort of many, we used sometimes symbols that sought to keep the hope alive for a new South Africa to dawn. A number of our ministers suffered public humiliation at the hands of the government and its agents of evil. A large number of Methodist families suffered at the hands of the tyrannical system, as they responded to the prophetic call to resist apartheid. These, for us, are not a cause for boasting, for the pain that accompanied such witness is still pulsable. In 1978 the Methodist Church of Southern Africa suffered a major blow when it was banned and declared an undesirable organisation from Transkei, one of the areas where Methodism is strongest in Southern Africa. All our properties in Transkei were confiscated without compensation. The most valuable of them were then sold and they are now lost to us. Apartheid effectively wanted to alienate the Methodist Church from part of its roots in the Eastern Cape. The reason being simply the refusal of our conference in 1977 to accommodate the fracturing of the people of Southern Africa according to their ethnic backgrounds and their balkanisation into independent Bantu states. For ten years we were forbidden from ministering to our mothers and fathers. We were forbidden from bearing our own without the permit of the oppressor. To minister to our own people, turned either into a criminal offence or an act for which one could be labelled ...[inaudible] from the Church Catholic. Today we wish to offer an unreserved apology to those who felt that our refusal to minister in Transkei under these stringent conditions imposed by that government was to abandon them. We also wish to offer an apology on behalf of those who felt compelled by the needs of our members there to serve within the Methodist churches formed according to the law of the government of Transkei. The wounds of that blow are still fresh for us, because some of our people were permanently alienated from us as a result. We deeply long for a reconciled Methodist Community, restored to its full fellowship and connection. We thank God for the changes that have come to our land. We wish to state without ambiguity that we are committed to our responsibility to help bring healing and reconciliation to South Africa. We will continue to build racially mixed congregations where individuals are honoured and their heritage welcomed for the growth of all together. We have committed ourselves to joining hands with other christian communities to fight hunger and poverty, which is often, if not always, a direct consequence of our unjust history. We are prepared to be in dialogue with people who may have a claim on some of our property, as a result of having been unjustly removed from their land. We have called on our congregations to use our facilities for projects that will assist those who were denied opportunities to gain valuable skills for their future. We have opened our facilities for healing and counselling sessions such as Kulumani, and we have set as one of the three goals of our connection that the church at every level will encourage the creation of speaking forums where people can speak about their pain and help one another to heal. We are deeply conscious of the breakdown of morality in our land as a result of apartheid and we seek to place emphasis again on values such as family life, that were broken down by apartheid acts such as the migratory labour laws. We have, and we will continue to write liturgies that allow people to look back at their history and see that their heroes were not victims, but people, who like Jesus, laid their lives down for the freedom of the nation. We will endeavour not to flinch or hesitate when required to say a prophetic word that will help our country and all its organs so that we will never allow ourselves to repeat the mistakes of the past as a nation. We believe that it is all the people of South Africa who must have the will to move their country to a destine of freedom, wealth, charity and respect for creation and human dignity. We believe that it is our task that we should appeal to the gospel of Jesus Christ for such a will to be nurtured and strengthened among our people. I thank you Sir.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Is Viv going to add anything or it will happen in the question and answer section? Is there anything you want to add? Thank you very much for another moving testimony. Siyabulele. Mncebisi?
REV. M XUNDU: Thank you very much Mr Chairperson. I also want to start in saying how you have raised our feelings in your submission about trying to reveal the total truth and the position of the Methodist Church as such for all the things that happened in the period of our repression. I do, however, want to put one or two questions just for clarity. You have listed say in page 2 for instance what the Methodist Church did in terms of resolutions. There is a period I want to ask about that does not appear in that submission. Remember in 1970 all the mainline churches and their relations made the resolution which condemned the World Council of Churches for their attitude to support the programme to combat racism. And if I remember correctly, the Methodist Church also made such a resolution. That resolution resulted in probably giving an indication to the government of South Africa and the rest of the world community that the churches are indeed against the liberation movements. Would you like to make a comment on that?
BISHOP H M DANDALA: Yes. You will recall that in my submission I have made reference to the tensions that existed within the Methodist Church itself. It is not my intention to try and speak about our church as a divided body, because we are trying all we can still to help one another to get to a position where we will have a reconciled attitude to our history. The Methodist Church at that time officially did express its uncertainty about the programme to combat racism, but at the same time it affirmed the responsibility of the World Church to raise questions against apartheid and one of the reasons the Methodist Church did not at that time pull out of the World Council of Churches was precisely its commitment and understanding that the World Church has a responsibility to be prophetic about any aspect of life. But having said that, it is with shame that in fact we or some parts of our church felt very strongly at the time that the World Council of Churches might have been interfering in what in their view was not a territory they should intervene in. But that was not the official position of our church.
REV. M XUNDU: Also you mentioned at some stage the painful rift with the Transkeian area. What I want to know is what kind of witness and resistance did the Methodists both ordained and non-ordained try to organise in the Transkei against this unnecessary and totally dictatorial way of seizing literally both properties and also making it impossible for the Methodist Church to pastor in that area?
BISHOP HM DANDALA: You will recall Sir that there were some of our ordained ministers who refused to be part of the church that was created in Transkei by the government of that time and a number of them suffered severely in the hands of the State. You will also remember that the intention of the Transkei government at the time was not merely to mobilise those ministers who at the time were ministering in the territory of Transkei, but it sought to try and lure back into Transkei all Methodist ministers whose birth roots were in Transkei. And so there was a very significant resistance in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa at the level of individuals. Officially the church organised a number of meetings with that government to try and bring that government to its senses on this matter to no avail. Also it would be appropriate to say here as I have indicated in my submission some of our ministers felt that they could not leave at that time. There were some who I would believe took the opportunity and probably used it for their own ends, but as we were in consultations with our ministers in the area, one of the thorny questions that used to disturb them very deeply in their consciences, was whether they would abandon the people God had given to them to minister to at that time. And I know a good number of ministers who were never happy and this is why it is difficult to condemn all of them outright, but the situation compromised all of us. It compromised those who did not go back to Transkei as people who did not care for the spiritual lives of their own people, it compromised those who remained in Transkei as people who did not care for the welfare of the church Catholic, so we all came out of that soiled.
REV. M XUNDU: Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Any other questions? Mgojo? (Laughter) I wonder why? I mean (indistinct) Thomas?
MR T MANTHATA: Subject to correction, Bishop, there was a time in our history when the Methodist Church was a very strong provider of education and that that era was interfered with by the State. I don't know whether that in itself doesn't mark the failure of the church to provide sound moral standards to the black people, more especially looking at the present day situation. I can't understand why the churches don't account for just that loss and that kind of a weakness that was characteristic of it, and this is perhaps is why they have not even begun to tackle the issue of local community schools very strongly. That is whether to revive them and what the obstacles can be and to open up a debate in that direction Bishop. Can you please account for that. Why don't we see failure to provide black people with education as a failure of the church? More so as imposed by the government of the day.
BISHOP H M DANDALA: Indeed Sir, I would agree with you entirely. There are two aspects to this issue. First, I would like us to remember that one of the most difficult things about apartheid was not always what apartheid made the whites do to us, but also what apartheid made us do to ourselves. We have records of some of the debates in our conference at the time when the government was taking the schools from our church. And sadly, but truthfully, some of the people who argued very strongly at the time for the church to surrender some of the schools given the pressure that was exerted on the church, came from our black communities and that is a very sad thing when we look back at our history and or course, needless to say again, the white leadership at the time and again I have indicated to you that one of the problems in the Methodist Church for a long time was the suppression of black leadership, the white leadership at the time turned around and said we don't believe that it's a wise move, but who are we to say when some of the key leading black people say that maybe this will bring education cheaper to all of their people. It is a very unfortunate situation, but it is true that we also burnt our fingers.
But having said that, we should be ashamed, and we are ashamed that we did not put up a stronger resistance to our schools being taken from us by the state. We must confess even more our sins that at that time when we should have been not only vigilant but also at our most creative we were not creative enough to look at how we could have developed other alternatives to bring education to black communities. It is one of the key areas at the moment that is occupying us in the Methodist Church in our discussions. We took a decision a few years ago that as part of our process of getting back to the formation of our people, we must challenge every single Methodist Church to try and get back into early child education and one of the most successful programmes at this point in time of the Methodist Church is precisely that. I have now eluded in my submission to the fact that we have called on all our churches to now start further programmes that will help those people who were disadvantaged through education or lack of education, to be assisted to regain those skills. Therefore in our fellowship, we are very conscious of the great challenge for the church to get back into some form of education again.
MS JOYCE SEROKE: Bishop Dandala, you mentioned earlier that one of the things you were unhappy about was the unequal stipends that were based on the colour of the skin of the priests. What is the situation now?
BISHOP H M DANDALA: I don't want to be frivolous in the presence of this meeting, but you do know that the English structures and language sometimes confuse us and sometimes says things that sound good, but in fact are not quite that. We have, in terms of our books, corrected that misnomer and therefore until you go beyond the books of conference, you will not find inequality in the stipends among our ministers. But when you actually go down to the local churches you will find these. One of the most vexing problems is the problem of a church that has a tradition where ministers have primarily received their stipends through the congregations they serve. Now, what we have done is to try and encourage the breakdown of those dividing lines so that where our ministers work together to serve our people together, those distinctions will be overcome. I can say therefore in the Methodist Church today, there is no inequality strictly according to race, but I can go on and say that there is inequality that arises from the unequal socio- economic situations of our people and the Methodist Church has to deal with this problem.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. I don't know, is there anything that you wanted to add, Viv? No. Thank you for your submission and we are very deeply touched by what you have said and how you have said it and we are aware of how you yourself were moved when you were speaking about what happened when the break with the Transkei happened, that you had some difficulty. We had some difficulties ourselves when you were making that - but we are thankful that up to now the presentations are presentations of people seeking to be the publican and not the pharacy. Thank you very much.
We now call on the representatives of the Roman Catholic Church. Order please! Thank you.
We welcome you very warmly and you will say, you will tell us that there are only the two of you but the house is full of angels here (laughter) who are accompanying you. Thank you very much Bishop. Are you both going to make the submission? So both of you will take the oath.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. We are deeply grateful that you have come and I am even more grateful that you are so understanding about the need to flexible time wise and we are quite certain too that you will be precise and show us how you can say these things in as few words as possible. Thank you very much. Bishop.
BISHOP KEVIN DOWLING: Thank you your Grace, Chairperson. Permit me to introduce on my left Father Buti Thlagale, who is the Secretary General of the Southern African Bishops' Conference, representing South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland. And I am Bishop Kevin Dowling. I come from a little place in the North West Province, that you might know of, Rustenberg, and we are the two devils here and we are thankful that our angels are in the audience praying for us.
Chairperson, your Grace, we in our submission today have decided to follow the three questions which we received from the Johannesburg TRC office last week and I will be dealing with the first two and then Father Buti will be dealing with the last one concerning the future and recommendations.
We are here in the name of the Catholic Church and speaking to our document which we submitted on August the 15th to certain issues in that document. But when we look at ourselves as the Catholic Church in Southern Africa, in South Africa in particular, we have to recognise that as the people of God, the Catholic Church is peopled and will always be peopled by the full spectrum of the South African society. And so you will find in our community in terms of political stance, the right, even extreme right, and the left, even extreme left and everything in between, and therefore we have to admit that we haven't had one single vision or understanding of our society, be it political, economic or social, and we haven't had a single unifying perspective on the issues which we have grappled with in the struggle in the apartheid era. And this perhaps one of the crosses we have to admit, we have to bear from the past. However, at the level of leadership, that is the Bishop's Conference, there has been one voice, although we have to ask, having said that, how effective that one voice has been in terms of expressing a unified stance of the whole church community and the effect it has had on the whole church community in terms of the development of the apartheid struggle.
So to come to the first question we were asked to deal with: To what extent has your denomination suffered from apartheid in the past? We have to say in the first instance that the Catholic Church reflected indeed the divisions of the society in which it found itself. Just as apartheid divided people according to colour, so did it divide the church, our church, into a black community and a white community. There was in effect a black church and a white church. And therefore seeing the issues of the day from that reality and perspective, it was very much a black community affected by the discrimination, a suffering black community and for the most part, a white more affluent community that was to a great extent, marginalised or not aware of the reality of the apartheid system as it was affecting the great majority of our people in this country.
[inaudible] comprised in excess of 80% membership black and the rest white and therefore to a very great extent our church mirrored the fact that this community was, to a great extent, a suffering community. The divisions therefore of parishes according to black and white communities compromised in our church the gospel message of reconciliation, it also compromised a witness of being a united community, responding to the issues of the day. There is a saying that in terms of our relationship with the Nationalist Government, which came to power in 1948, they targeted three main enemies of the so-called "Volk" and people smile at the Afrikaans way this was expressed. There was the "swart gevaar" there was the "room se gevaar" and there was the "rooi gevaar". And in 1948 the Catholic Church was guilty on two counts, but as time developed, we became guilty on three counts and we had to bear the brunt of many accusations about being wolves in sheep's clothing, with the apartheid state questioning which kingdom was being served by this church community.
Another effect of the apartheid system on our church community has to do with education. Today the whole nation is reaping the very bitter fruit of the National Party's policy of segregated education. In 1953 the hated Bantu education was introduced and the government removed all subsidies from the Catholic Church Mission Schools, so as to exercise a form of social control. At that time, the church was deeply involved in education and was to pay a very high price for its opposition to this act. In 1953 the Catholic Church ran 688 state aided schools, and 130 unaided schools and that represented roughly 15% of all schools for black learners. Twenty years later in 1973, after many confrontations and struggles there were only 367 schools left. The Bishops in response to the withdrawal of the subsidy mounted a campaign to try and provide for financial support to these schools from our own resources. It was a very difficult and painful struggle and in the end we had to admit we failed because it was too great a task and the whole quality of education began to fail. So this affected not only our church but also the advancement of black people through education in which we were involved. The same picture is mirrored in terms of our Catholic hospitals and clinics and the other institutions and associations which followed the same path.
The growing commitment to justice within the church demanded a high price. I'll come back to this. But just to cite a couple of things. Archbishop Hurley, as President of the Southern African Catholics Bishops' Conference and Father Smangaliso Mkatshwa had to appear in court. The Conference headquarters, Khanya House, was fire bombed some six weeks after Khotso House by the security police. Many priests were imprisoned and exiled or deported. Many of our church workers were detained for long periods. Religious communities were targeted, Bishops and leaders harassed, houses searched, documents seized and so on. We were part of the suffering community. But when we move now to what did the church as a community do in the struggle against or how did it support apartheid in the past.
Firstly, we came (our church community) out of a context of a struggle to survival in what was basically a hostile context. This from last century. And we viewed with great alarm the rise to power of the nationalist government in 1948. Our conference, the Bishops' Conference was established in 1947 but even before then some of the bishops began to see the danger lurking in the apartheid system which was coming in. For example in 1939, Bishop Henneman of Cape Town said: "In accordance with the spirit of solicitude which the Catholic Church has always shown for the moral and material welfare of the people, I feel it incumbent upon me to condemn any segregation on the grounds of race or colour. Any attempt therefore to introduce legislation based purely on race or colour must be opposed and condemned unjust". That was in 1939. But from 1947 when the Conference was established, the Bishops sought to speak as a Conference on the issues of the day and they began to attach the false theological base on which the ideology of apartheid was based. In 1951 one of the first Conference statements condemned racial discrimination but didn't use the word apartheid, but here we see the fact that we were a church community of the day. We reflected the way issues were looked at in that day. For example, it reflected a paternalistic spirit, the statement in 1952, maintaining that most non-Europeans (was the word commonly used at the time) were not yet ready for full participation in the social, political and economic life of the country, but must be allowed and encouraged to evolve towards such participation. That was an early statement, but by 1957, the Conference had begun to focus much more critically and it in 1957 called apartheid what it really is: intrinsically evil.
Statement after statement followed which focused on abuses by the state, on current issues and it also took on an increasingly prophetic stance by the Conference in terms of the evolving situation. Also it revealed an evolving more democratic process in the way these statements were arrived at. We developed new ways of listening to our suffering majority through consultations, study days, draft documents which invited comments, and then the Bishops made the statement. But we must ask: All these many statements over the years - what was their effect? They were directed primarily as pastoral statements at the people within the church community. As the Bishops tried to help the ordinary people, especially the white community to understand what was happening in the country and how to cope with this in the context of their faith. But even there we had to cope with conservative and right wing groups in our own Catholic Church community, for example the Catholic Defence League and the group called Tradition, Family and Property, which not only fiercely contested the Bishop's statements but in every way objected to them and were not part of them.
However, the Catholic Church, we would say, failed to live up to the principles of its gospel faith. Not so much by failing to proclaim them, but by proving inadequate in communicating them successfully to its church community and to encourage and empower them to live by those gospel values, particularly the white community. It was a difficult task because really it required a conversion process in the full theological and spiritual meaning of that term and the average white church member in particular needed quite a degree of heroism and experience of the black reality to live up to the demands of the gospel in the face of the apartheid juggernaught. People considered their families, jobs and so forth. It needed courage. The critical and condemnatory statements which were issued against the government were not spoken directly to the electorate in terms of trying to produce change (the white electorate) but to the government. And of course the government took no notice of them at all. And so looking at our long list of statements, we could say that our pastoral statements came from a minority church and reached only a minority in South Africa. There are also expressions of solidarity, especially during the years of extreme repression during the eighties during the ...[inaudible] sessions each year. We went as a body to celebrate eucharist with communities that had suffered gravely. For example Sebokeng, Mamelodi, Soweto and Sosangule. We also paid a visit to that infamous electric fence to expose its horrors and to celebrate eucharist with the Mozambican refugees in their camp. We used vigils, processions and other services to help people pray through their distress and also as a means of ...[indistinct] people. And our church buildings took on new meanings as places of refuge, sanctuary and truth for suffering people, for example Regina Mundi Church. Through our YCW movement, we promoted and tried to help young black workers to reflect on the interaction between their lives as workers and their lives as christian believers using the "See, judge, act" method.
Other ways we tried to struggle: We involved ourselves in investigations and exposing the role of the South African Defence Force in human rights violations in Namibia, in particular the Koevoet Battalion. We started and sponsored the New Nation Newspaper, as a means of allowing the voice of the oppressed people to be heard. The Bishops endorsed and supported the standing for the truth campaign. Our church halls and other institutions were made available to the people's organisations in resistance to apartheid. We tried to give those on the run from the security forces sanctuary, refuge. We used also our international Catholic structures to expose world-wide what was going on in South Africa. International funding for development projects and anti-apartheid activities was channelled through our Bishops' Conference. But then we also began to reflect upon our own internal structures. For example, we ran segregated seminaries for the training of our priests and pastors. We saw the need for radical change in order to be effective witnesses in society. So in 1976, we began the process in which we opened in the face of tremendous opposition, our Catholic Schools to all races. Perhaps one of the moves of our church, maybe bold at that time, was to openly support the Black Consciousness Movement. But however much we tried to do, we have to recognise with humility and sorrow that we could have done a lot more and in conclusion to this section, I would just like to basically sum up the stance of our church in terms of what this hearing is all about.
There were times when, as a church, we were deaf to the cry of the poor. There were times when we were blind to the limitations of our own practices. Times when we were more concerned for ourselves as an institution rather than as servants of God's people. Times when we turned a blind eye to evil, when we remained silent. Times when we were more concerned with not having ex-patriots deported, than with drawing attention to the wrongs done. And silence, in the face of ongoing and systematically oppression at all levels, is perhaps our greatest failure. And so in conclusion, I would just like to use the words our church community and our Bishop's Conference issued after the Rustenberg Conference:
"The declaration issued by the Rustenberg Conference has led us with considerable pain to examine our own history. We recognise that its message applies to our church as a corporate body. We must admit with sorrow that although as a church we have often spoken out against the sin of apartheid we are not innocent of all complicity in supporting or going along with it. So we ask forgiveness from all those, both within the church and beyond who have suffered from our actions, blindness and negligence in the past. We reaffirm our commitment to remove all vestiges of apartheid in our institutions and procedures"
And now as we move into where we go to in the future, I would ask Father Buti Thalgale to continue.
CHAIRPERSON: Please switch on your microphone, Father. Thank you.
FATHER BUTI THLAGALE: Perhaps before one makes some comments on the way forward, just to raise a number of concerns or issues that puzzled us.
There's certainly a concern with the political expediency that gave rise to this process of the Truth and Reconciliation. We admit that we cannot undo history or the political comprises that were made in order to achieve a settlement. There is, however, a concern that the victims may have been asked to sacrifice individual justice for truth. We see that many victims not only had to sacrifice justice in that sense but also the truth, for example there are people who still don't know who killed their loved ones, where the body of their loved one is, or who is responsible. Justice and truth, in a sense one can argue, have been sacrificed for reconciliation. We are concerned that some of the perpetrators of gross human rights violations do not take personal responsibility for their actions, but keep on referring to their superiors. We can legitimately say that we are angry that some political parties and leaders of the day have not taken responsibility for the abuses which took place.
Finally, we are concerned that the perpetrators, upon receiving amnesty, are not always willing to make reparations personally. Indeed while the commission might have a short life span, we are also concerned as to how this process will evolve after this. The Catholic Church is committed to promoting the principle of mutual acceptance and mutual recognition. Political arrangements by the State may cater for this, but the State is not necessarily in a position to enforce mutual acceptance and the respect for persons. And so faith communities could cultivate the need to actively, visibly and consistently promote the spirit of reconciliation.
At the same time, we do ask ourselves about the very word we use: reconciliation. In our Catholic understanding of our own history, we rather call for a confession and forgiveness and restitution. The Catholic Church is committed to promoting rituals of reconciliation and to celebrate in those rituals publicly and in so doing will seek the collaboration of the other faith communities. It seems as a practical level there will be a need to identify appropriate public holidays, religious and cultural events, during which these rituals can be celebrated. There is need to bring people from diverse cultural backgrounds together if we are going to achieve this goal of nation building. Furthermore, reconciliation is not only between the victims and perpetrators, but also between the communities. In this regard it seems desirable that there ought to be a body after the demise of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that will co-ordinate the work of promoting reconciliation and perhaps solicit funding from interested parties such as the business sector.
Such a process, we think, could then evolve a national calendar dedicated to promoting peace and reconciliation. The Catholic Church is committed to supporting efforts by government local authorities, non-governmental organisations and community initiatives to promoting peaceful co-existence and good neighbourliness. The Catholic Church on its part will urge and encourage leaders of different faith communities and work together with them. And leaders of the various communities who will be seen to be publicly working together for the common goal.
There's fear that activities with regard to reconciliation in the post TRC era might be left to chance. And therefore the church suggests that indeed there ought to be a process put in place that will take care of this. ...[inaudible] lobby the national government, business sector, unions and communities for symbolic gestures of reconciliation. In particular, the Catholic Church recommends the building of a memorial in the name of all those, all who lost their lives in the struggle for freedom. We are aware that the reparation committee might have a long list of these suggestions, but we think that the erection of a national shrine to the unknown comrades, for example, or public event that will draw people from diverse backgrounds together to celebrate this reconciliation will go a long way towards creating a peaceful atmosphere. We further recommend that in a symbolic fashion, it is still a desirable activity to have symbolic re-burials of some of the people in South Africa who died or who were killed in exile.
Finally, while we recognise that these will contribute towards the spirit of reconciliation, we firmly believe that the crux of true reconciliation can only come about through the creation of a fair and just economic system in which ordinary people can live without fear in their homes, enjoy employment opportunities and take care of their families. This has been the desire of the majority of the oppressed people. We also believe that in attending to these, we will be attending to a component of the kingdom of God on earth.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Would you please switch off your Thank you. Thomas?
MR T MANTHATA: I don't know to what extent does the Catholic Church admit that there could be perpetrators within its ranks, and therefore offered to urge and support these perpetrators to tell it all, as you put it. And of course even to support their families to enable these people do exactly that, that is rather than to tell it with the impunity of reserving some of the facts, just to give it as it is and as they took part themselves in the whole murders and abductions. You know, right through the process of TRC we have been meeting the English speaking communities, assuming that the Catholic Church is largely English speaking, who have always given a front that they were not the oppressors. They were not the perpetrators. So I don't know when you refer to the perpetrators who have not told it all, are you saying that perpetrators from other churches or even perpetrators from within the Catholic Church, even after the Catholic Church itself has given them the healing, the counselling, the support that they should do so?
FATHER BUTI THLAGALE: I am not sure whether I have understood the question well, but I think we see this as part of the public exercise in the first instance. In other words there is a perception apart from singling out whether in the Catholic community there are perpetrators on not. Yes there are perpetrators within the Catholic community, but we are here talking about a perception which therefore applies to everybody that somehow the perpetrators ought to take responsibility for their acts and to be seen to be making reparation. So this would therefore be irrespective of what community in particular you belong to. What we are really saying ought to be addressed is the perception that perpetrators do not, apart from perhaps some individuals, that in fact this is not why they have spoken the truth as they see it, as they experience it, that is enough. And there seems to be an unhappy state of affairs.
MR T MANTHATA: I am sorry to have sounded like I am singling out. That is not the issue. I am just saying that as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and for the process of reconciliation we are requesting all concerned bodies to assist in that direction. I don't know whether this is even necessary because at least with hindsight the Catholic Church has been able to make for what it could have omitted or couldn't see at certain stages. For example the support it gave to the Archbishop Hurley when he came to trial. To Father Mkatshwa when he was detained in the Ciskei. That support was wanting at a very early age when the Catholic Bishops' General Secretary, Colin Collins, was involved in the UCM and he had to end up fleeing the country and at that time he never got the support of the church. I don't know whether there could be any enlightenment along that line.
FATHER BUTI THLAGALE: I do not know about the circumstances of Father Colin Collins and how he left but I think this probably simply reflects the attitudes that were existing within the Catholic Church where probably the leadership of the Catholic Church then was divided and certainly not always sympathetic towards those who opposed the apartheid system and a leadership that merely saw trouble makers within its own community.
MR T MANTHATA: Finally, I see a lot of work having to come out of the church where we have communities as divided as those of the Portuguese speaking community and of the black communities, having to be brought together. I just wonder what at the Catholic Church the efforts are in that direction?
BISHOP KEVIN DOWLING: I think we recognise that we have a long road to go in this direction. Certainly as I hinted at in my part of the submission what require for the ...[indistinct] group in terms of the realities of South Africa is a true conversion process and that takes time and not only that, but it also takes ongoing and really deep exposure to the realities of the oppressed majority of this country.
For example even in terms of myself as a white South African, and this would explain the kind of reality that I am talking about. I grew up in Pretoria. Even as part of our Catholic Church community I used to visit the townships as a young church worker, but that did not impinge on my heart and spirit in terms of shocking me into the harsh reality of what apartheid was doing. I left the country at the age of 17 to go to England to study, then I came back and at the age of 26 I was posted to the townships in Cape Town. And it was then that for the first time in my journey as a christian that I came to experience firsthand in sense of it touching my being, what was happening, what was being done to people. I began to at least partially appreciate the realities of the apartheid system as it affected the oppressed majority by seeing through the eyes of oppressed people and listening through their ears and therefore taking on a whole other perspective. That was a conversion process which brought me, in terms of joining the christian institute in those days in Cape Town, and an increasing stance for justice. That was a whole conversion process that I went through simply because I as a white South African was exposed and experienced firsthand reality, not cut off from it, but with the people and it was they who evangelised me and therefore brought about that.
Now how one translates a conversion process like that (this is my personal view) in terms of whole communities or sections of communities if precisely the challenge facing us. As we said, and as Father Buti has already said, we are committed as a church to find a way to reconcile ourselves as a community and to go a lot further than where we are at the moment. We've got to find creative ways to bring people together in terms of understanding each other and above all, understanding what the past has done and how we were involved in that past, especially through our silence and especially through not standing. But the whole church community requires reconciliation as part of the wider community in South Africa and we've got to find the ways to that conversion process.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Khoza?
MR K MOJO: Thank you Sir. I am asking this question. I know that I am sticking out my neck, but I feel that I must do it. During the time of apartheid, there have been many voices coming from different macedonians. One of the macedonians which I want to put here before you is that one of the gender issues. How far has your church made a journey as far as the gender issue is concerned? Because there have been some people within our community who have been feeling that they are oppressed by certain sections of our churches and our communities, and those are women.
FATHER BUTI THLAGALE: The Catholic Church on the question of, for example, the ordination of women maintains what is generally referred to and described as an extremely conservative position. I think that is still the position. You certainly are aware, Sir, that the Catholic structure as it exists, some of these things are decided not so much at a local level but they are part of the entire Catholic Church in the world. And at present with regard to specifically again the ordination of women, the Catholic Church has reiterated its position that according to its tradition, ordination will only be offered to males and not to women. That is the position of the Catholic Church. However, I think where we, the church, also fails with regard to women is simply the development of leadership or the provision of leadership opportunities for women within the Catholic Church, if for a moment we are to forget the question of ordination. For women to play a more meaningful role, for women to become deacons in the church, for women to run parishes or institutions within the church. Certainly there is a wide area of possibilities and this is where the Catholic Church still falls short.
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, Virginia?
MS V GCABASHE: Thank you your Grace. Dr Mgojo just took the question which I was thinking of putting to our two brothers there. Especially in light of what they have said, or what the Catholic Church has done to face other forms of discrimination right on. Already there is a voice of women in the Catholic Church who are concerned about this very issue of ordination of women. Now I would like to hear whether now that there is a voice, is the church beginning also to take seriously these voices. I take the point that some of your policies have to be decided elsewhere, but I think even in your struggle within injustices in this country, you knew that some of the polices were coming from elsewhere. I would like to bring the question nearer home because we have sisters already here in South Africa who are raising questions about the ordination of women. Is the church going to support the local churches who are prepared to support the women on that?
BISHOP KEVIN DOWLING: Again, that is a very difficult question for us to answer fully in the sense that the process of coming to decisions like that is an international one. It is not left just to a local church community and the policy as Father Buti has already said, has been decided upon at the moment from our structures in Rome, because that is the way our particular structures in terms of decision making and coming to policy directions, that is the way it is done.
We recognise, we have heard the voices you refer to. This is part of our ongoing struggle to try and be faithful to the gospel. How, within the structures in terms of dialogue and coming to positions, how we can actually face these issues constructively and head-on, as we have tried to do with other issues in the past in terms of the apartheid struggle. We recognise that for some people in our community this is an issue of justice. We have heard that voice being spoken to us. How we take it forward is part of the ongoing debate within the international Catholic Church community. The present way, as I said, this will be resolved is through that international community coming through discernment to a position where either the Pope with the Bishops, or the Pope himself in terms of a decision will make such a decision for the universal church. We do not, in the way we operate, take specific major decisions which affect the whole church simply on the basis of a local church, like in South Africa, coming to its own position. Obviously we recognise it well that this causes pain. We recognise that, it is part of a situation which we are grappling with and we will have to continue grappling with this in faith and in terms of how we will resolve this in the end. We still do not know how we can approach this in terms of our international structure from the perspective of what we are hearing here. But the whole community out here obviously is not yet totally involved in that question. However, it is very important for us that we do listen to voices from the community, from whatever quarter they come and try to see whether God is saying something to us and what God is calling forth from us. And we will just have to proceed with that process.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very, very much. We are enormously grateful to both of you for your succinct presentation and we value enormously the witness that the church has shown in this country over the years and we are glad as it were, you are "on our side". Thank you. You may stand down.
Those of you who want to take off your jackets, you may do so. I realise that some have already done so without my permission! I want to suggest to the next three groups that perhaps if we reduced their total time to thirty minutes each, they will not feel too awful. I'm sure that you can put in a great deal into about 20 minute presentation and then give us ten minutes or so for question and answer session. Thank you very much for agreeing democratically to my suggestion. So we call now on the Presbyterian Church, Douglas Bax?
We want to say thank you very much for your patience and your generosity in allowing maybe ten or fifteen minutes of your time to be chopped off. Your face looks like you haven't agreed, but thank you very, very much Douglas. (Laughter)
Will you introduce your colleagues and then [inaudible]
REV. DOUGLAS BAX: Chairperson, Commissioners, our delegation consists of myself, Douglas Bax, Pakiso Tondi and Allistair Roger who is the General Secretary of the church and has come along to support us.
May I just begin by explaining that - oh we have to take the oath.
REV. DOUGLAS BAX: I was going to explain that in consultation, my colleague, Pakiso Tondi ruled that I should begin for two reasons. One, that he belongs to a generation that he is of the generation to which the present and the future belongs, whereas I belong to the generation that is passé. And secondly, because as he put it, "You as a white Presbyterian have much more to confess for white Presbyterians than I do as a black Presbyterian!"
But I would like to point out, Mr Chairperson, that he is the man who is wearing the gold socks, if you are able to see underneath the table! Let me say that everything that I will now say is qualified by the recognition which we all have that the witness of the Presbyterian Church, like the witness of all the mainline churches against Apartheid, was weakened by internal dissent, lacked appropriate outrage and vigour, and apart from a few things, failed to move beyond mere protest to action. At the same time, it is also true, that like the other mainline churches there are, we did make a stand to some extent for justice. Although we may now very much wish that it had been far more resolute and heroic.
When our church was formed in 1897, it was the bringing together of a number of white congregations and Presbyteries, with some of the congregations and Presbyteries of the Scottish Mission Churches. That led to the fact that we actually started off as a church that was to some extent separately organised in that for a long time the Presbyterian Native Missions Committee supervised the black congregation. Sometime before 1940, the name of this was changed to African Missions Committee, but it still remained a somewhat paternalistic way of doing things and only ended in 1962/3. Even then, congregations continued to be racially designated until 1970. On the other hand, from the very beginning, all regional courts in the Presbyterian Church of South Africa have always been fully integrated and in principal all congregations have always been open to all races. We hesitated for a long time to elect black leaders, partly because of this way of running things and one of the causes for shame, really, in our church is that such an outstanding black leader in the Presbyterian Church as George B. Molefe, who was a very prominent educationalist and community leader in Port Elizabeth, was elected only to be Moderator of the Presbytery of Port Elizabeth and never succeeded in Moderator of the General Assembly, which is the denominational Synod. The first black Moderator of the General Assembly was elected only in 1972, to serve in 1973/4 and he was Dr. James R. Jolobe, a prominent Xhosa writer and poet. He was incidentally, originally a member of the so-called, of what was then the Bantu Presbyterian Church.
We have recently elected the seventh black Moderator of the Assembly and he is a black lay-person, a Professor at Umtata. Economically the PCSA has remained a church in which there is a great deal of discrimination in the payment of its ministers. The Assembly sets minimum stipends, but unlike the Anglican church for instance, each congregation pays its own ministers, except that those ministers whose stipends fall under the minimum are assisted from central funds. As most black congregations though much larger are much poorer than white congregations, many black ministers are on the minimum stipend or close to it. By the early 1960's in some qualification of that, it had at least been ruled by the church (SIDE TWO) [inaudible] even whether the ministers had contributed or not. Because in some of the black congregations, they could not contribute. But it remains true that this was the system and only in 1981 was there a move actually to implement the principle of equal stipends. The next year, however, the whole idea was dropped, partly because no black Commissioner would stand up and support it. One must therefore recognise that to some extent that education and certainly the money and the majority factor, because whites have always been the majority in the Presbyterian Church of South and later Southern Africa, led to basically white control in the denomination. Now, before 1948, as far as protests against racial injustice are concerned, I think we have to confess that the Presbyterian Church of South Africa as it was then, was really more concerned with issues like temperance and Sunday observance, than racial injustice as it purports to the Assemblies and Assembly resolutions. Nevertheless, in 1941, the Assembly did appoint a committee to contact other churches to draw up a joint statement calling for a reconstruction of the social order based more fully upon the moral principles of the Christian religion and to present this to the government. And made other statements as well. In 1948 of course, when the white electorate elected to government the National Party with its more crudely racist platform of apartheid, this provoked the Presbyterian Church to more frequent, more outspoken criticisms of the racial situation beginning, let's say in 1949 by supporting the statement of the Christian Council of South Africa opposing Apartheid and in 1950 with the attacking of the disenfranchisement of the coloured voters. Various assemblies appointed took fairly strong protests against various bills and policies of the government, but I don't want to go into that too much because as Bishop Dowling said in the previous submission, the government didn't really take notice of that and in any case, I would add, it to some extent served as a kind of sock to the conscience of the church as well as to the conscience of its members and in a sense almost strengthened the government because the church was doing nothing. The church at this stage, never thought of moving from the comfort zone of such statements of protest to the more difficult and costly path of action. For instance, there was no thought of joining the early demonstrations against apartheid, like the defiance campaign in 1953. The leaders of the church were white and conservative and they would have seen that as dirtying the church's hand with too direct a hand in politics. But there was one man, one Presbyterian minister who wished to go further, in particular that I want to mention, perhaps particularly because this was in this very city of East London. Under the impact of apartheid legislation after 1948, only a very few integrated congregations survived in South Africa, and nearly all of these were in the Anglican and Catholic Cathedrals in the large cities, and even in some of those the races sat separately. But Rob Robertson, the minister in this, at that time very conservative city, resolved to start a congregation that would specifically seek to be a congregation bringing into fellowship across the racial divide white and black and rich and poor. And so he resigned his post in the church that he had here, and started a new congregation in the poor and still racially mixed suburb of North End, in 1962. Dr Dawid Venter, sociologist in the Dutch Reformed Church, and an academic, has said in a thesis that he has written on this, that this was the first deliberate move by any denomination to establish an integrated congregation and so reverse the whole trend towards greater segregation that had been underway for so long. This project received a lot of support from the denomination but unfortunately there was not enough support for it in East London and eventually in 1970 the members of the congregation decided to close down the congregation and joined other congregations in East London in order to make them multiracial. In 1975 Rob Robertson moved to Pageview, Johannesburg, to run a similar congregation there, St Anthony's, and that was to become a spiritual base for christian activists against apartheid and for objectors to military conscription.
From 1968, and particularly from 1979 onwards, the criticisms of apartheid made by the General Assembly became sharper and sharper. In 1970, also, I need to mention that the Presbyterian Church came under tremendous pressure because it was the first church that had to decide its response to the programme to combat racism grants. And the government brought great pressure not only on the churches in general, but particularly on the Presbyterian Church precisely because it was the first one that had to make the decision. To the extent that Mr B.J. Vorster actually invited the incumbent moderator and the previous moderator to go and have dinner with him, where he treated them to a great meal and also some alcohol, in the hope that this would soften things up. And one of those ex-moderators actually led the debate to leave the World Council, but in the end what happened was that the Presbyterian Church, although it decided to cancel its subscription, and we can't really use the excuse that the government had said that it would not allow any money to go to the World Council anymore, because I think most of those present actually felt that they wanted to do this, but it did at least take a swipe at the government that was harder than that of its criticism of the WCC and it also said that it wanted to invite, it extended an invitation to the WCC to send people out to explain its point of view on this. In 1973 the Assembly invited all sessions to display a notice outside their churches that people of all races were welcome to all services, and in 1977, that was interpreted as a directive. In 1973, the Assembly took a step further in its opposition to apartheid by approving the declaration of faith for our church today. But the whole reaction of the church to that was fairly typical, because there was an attempt to make this an official confession faith, or declaration of faith by the church. And out of its conservatism, feeling that it already had a declaration of faith, a confession of faith, Presbyterian confession of faith, there was resistance to this until thirteen years later. Partly as a result of the fact that this was now being used by Presbyterian churches overseas. This was actually made an official confession of faith of the church and so the Presbyterian Church became the only church besides the Dutch Reformed Mission Church, with its Belhar Confession in 1982, to adopt a confessional statement against apartheid, and in that sense officially declare that apartheid was a hierarchy, because this was a statement against the kind of pietism which tries to separate faith from politics by emphasising the lordship of Christ over the political area and also by emphasising the fact that the gospel opposed apartheid.
Another important Presbyterian document against apartheid was drawn up in 1979. That year, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches organised a conference for all its member churches in South Africa on the "Church and Social Responsibility in South Africa" and the Dutch Reformed Church sent out to all the delegates its official memorandum for the conference as its official memorandum, copies of its report adopted in 1975, the so-called Landman Report, "Ras, Volk en Nasie en Volkere Verhouderinge in die Lig van die Skrif" which had a much more innocuous title of "Human Relations and the South African Scene in the Light of Scripture". Well, what happened then was that I as one of the delegates to the Conference drew up a statement which examined the whole basis of this document and was then officially endorsed by the Executive Commission acting on behalf of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, and so it became an official church document that was presented to the conference. It caused consternation and great anger amongst the Afrikaans Reformed Church delegates, but in the end, partly because it was a bit controversial, or very controversial amongst some sections, the conference decided to focus on practical issues instead of facing the underlining theological differences and so got nowhere. This was published in 1979, that same year, in a revised form with a title, "A different Gospel - A critique of the Theology behind Apartheid" and distributed to all ministers to study. It was the first and indeed the only published in-depth examination and debunking of the biblical ...[inaudible] with which the Afrikaans Reformed Churches for so long sought to justify their support for apartheid. And it was used as the basic document by Dr Alan Boesak and others when the General Council of the World Alliance Reformed Churches met in Ottoway in 1982, to get that body to declare apartheid as a hierarchy, or the theological justification as a hierarchy. Pierre Rossouw, the ecumenical officer of the Dutch Reformed Church also later admitted that it had played a significant part in moving the Dutch Reformed Church away from that Landman statement to its later formulation called "Kerk en samelewing" which for all its faults, did at least recognise that the apartheid ideology was a mistake.
In 1979, the Assembly took a very strong stand against the information department scandal. One of the interesting things that happened was that the business committee of the Assembly and the General Secretary at the time refused to print some of the proposed resolutions because it was afraid of government action and asked the convenor of the committee please to reformulate them. He refused, however, and the Assembly supported him by voting in favour of all of those proposals. But I think that the basic issue that the churches had to face, and this was recognised by some of us, was at that we had to move off the safe ground of statements or fairly safe ground of statements, into the area of action. And that was why we began to think a great deal about the issue of military service and conscientious objection. Because so long as christians in our churches protested against apartheid, but still were willing to serve in the police or especially in the defence force, which was there to back up the police by its presence, by its threat of force and by its use of force and still keep the political status quo in place, nothing would change. So in 1971 and repeatedly thereafter, it was proposed to the General Assembly that it should support the right of conscientious objectors on political grounds, that is on so-called Just War doctrine, as well as on passive grounds. And in 1973 it called on congregations to pray not only for servicemen but also for those fighting on the side of the liberation fronts. In 1974, occurred the Hamanskraal Resolution, at the annual national conference of the SAC, which was proposed by myself as a Presbyterian delegate and seconded by Dominee Beyers Naude, that was fought tooth and nail by very prominent members of other churches represented here, whom I will not name now, and in fact was not supported at all by the General Secretary of the SACC, even though Bregalia Bam has mentioned this as a resolution of the SACC, because John Reece was very unhappy about it and blocked communication between us and the newspapers, so that they could not get much copy. This caused an uproar in the Afrikaans newspapers particularly, and the government reacted very sharply and B.J. Vorster saw that they quickly passed a special law that any person who used any language or does any act or anything with intent to recommend, encourage, aid, incite, instigate, suggest or otherwise cause any other person to refuse or fail to render any military service (that sounds typically Nationalist Party Government) [intervention]
CHAIRPERSON: I'm sorry, but I thought we had agreed that you would have a total of thirty minutes, meaning thirty minutes for the presentation and the question and answer session. Now you have, well even if you haven't agreed, you have already got thirty minutes in this, and you have still got your colleague and the question time. I will give you another, I mean we have fifteen more minutes which would mean you have 45 minutes.
REV. DOUGLAS BAX: Well, we started at half past, but let me continue then.
The next year I tried to pursue this matter further, but John Reece and the staff of the SACC actually blocked that. The PCSA itself never took a radical enough stance on the issue of military service, but it did regularly pay special tribute to people like Peter Mar, Richard Steel and other conscientious objectors as courageous confessors of the faith and in 1982 approved a document to be distributed to all congregations to help members of congregations rethink the whole issue of conscientious objection and in 1990 did the same with another document called "The different approaches to the ethics of war and conscientious objection". That year it also adopted the following motion:
"The Assembly expresses repentance that our church failed to make a clear strong stand long ago in favour of conscientious objection to serving in an army that was used to defend the apartheid system by military threat and action".
It also came very close, not only to refusing to appoint further military chaplains, like the Anglican Church, but also to withdraw all its military chaplains and adopted a motion that we should appoint chaplains if possible, to the liberation forces of the ANC and PAC and actually met with those bodies in Harare, and I understand was the only body to do that in order to try and arrange that, although nothing came of it. Let me just say that, let me just quickly end by saying in 1981 the General Assembly moved quite specifically off the base of protest to action by voting to defy the government on three issues. One was the prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, by calling on its ministers to marry across the racial line. The second was the Group Areas and Urban Areas Act, by supporting any ministers who chose to live near their congregations in the other racial area in defiance of the act, or other racial areas, and thirdly by defying the government on the banning of people like Beyers Naude and banned political literature by encouraging ministers to quote them, deliberately quote them from pulpits when this was relevant. This made the Presbyterian Church the first church in South African, apart from the defiance of the proposed church clause by the Church of the Province that Archbishop Clayton threatened in 1957, officially to espouse the principle of act of civil disobedience and this was quite a costly decision because we lost several congregations as a result of that. But several other churches came out in support of the Presbyterian Church then as far as the Mixed Marriages Act was concerned. I think I'll end there except just to say this: that in 1990 the Assembly hailed the promise of a new democratic and more just constitution for South Africa and on behalf of the Presbyterian Church, expressed repentance for all the many ways in which we as Presbyterians have collaborated or compromised with the apartheid system and failed to stand against it with enough prayer, courage, determination and self-sacrifice and instructed that a short liturgy of confession along these lines should be distributed to all congregations in South Africa for use at special services of repentance on Soweto Day.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much Douglas. Pakiso Tondi?
REV. PAKISO TONDI: Thank you Chairperson, Sir. To save time I'm not going to go through some of the steps that we have in answering question number three, because that would be repetition as they have already been mentioned and we share the same sentiments as other denominations, English speaking denominations, that have given some principles insofar as how we can tackle the future. But I'm just going to highlight a few. We support what has been said this morning that churches need, and other faith communities, need to have their own TRC within their church, making confession before God and those who suffered, both black and white by telling and listening to one another's stories and forgiving one another as Christ has forgiven us. This is one thing that we think for us to address the future and make reconciliation a reality, that we need to tackle. And one of the challenges that we think faces not only the PCSA and other faith communities, is the war against poverty. We think we shall wage a war against the abject poverty which is so obvious in our country and we think it shall be our task, because some of the business people are our congregants, to convince them that the wealth that they have accumulated during the apartheid era, it's time that they should show repentance, and bring it back so that it can be used to address this abject poverty that has engulfed our country. The PCSA and the Reformed Presbyterian Church, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and the UCSA need to accept the challenge that has been put to the Dutch Reformed Church and the three sister churches of other races to unite. It is therefore to be welcomed that soon after the first democratic elections in South Africa in 1994, the Reformed Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa's Assemblies agreed to reopen negotiations for union. We thank you for the opportunity, Sir, your invitation that has given us a time to reflect on the past, to rejoice in the positive things which were done to oppose apartheid and to guard against gross human rights violations and also to look at ourselves in the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ and to say to all who suffered in any form whatsoever as a result of apartheid and whose suffering could have been lessened had we, as the PCSA and other faith communities been more faithful to the demands of the gospel: We are sorry and will endeavour by God's grace to be more faithful in word and deed. Thank you Sir.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. We are deeply grateful for that. Virginia?
MS V GCABASHE: Thank you Chairperson. I would like to commend this panel on the way in which you have made your presentation. When Dr Bax spoke about the Hamanskraal SACC Conference, you reminded me of the young Dr Bax who was so vigorous in opposing some of the things that were brought before the SACC, I can see that you haven't lost that spirit. The question I was going to ask has been answered partially because I was going to ask why we have so many Presbyterian Churches in this country when we are trying to come together ? That was my one question. Then my other question was: How are you planning to address the question of white control in your church? I think you mentioned something about white control in the leadership of the church?
REV. DOUGLAS BAX: The reason why we have several Presbyterian Churches in this country is firstly because there were missions from different countries. There was a mission or two missions from two different churches, two different Scottish churches, in what is now called the Eastern Cape. There was a mission from a Swiss Church in the Northern Transvaal and there was a mission from the Paris Evangelical in Lesotho. And then there was a breakaway from well let me first of all say when the Presbyterian Church of South Africa was formed in 1897 there was an attempt to include all the congregations that did subsequently join that church, plus all the Scottish missions, but some of the Scottish missions - one of the Scottish missions, particularly that of the Free Church of Scotland decided to stay out, largely to stay out, and then in 1921 or 1920 rather, some missionaries were sent out to look at the whole issue and they made a recommendation that it would be better if the black congregations first of all formed a church on their own that would much later join up with the white congregation, with the Presbyterian Church of South Africa. So in 1923 what was called the Bantu Presbyterian Church formed, and because the Presbyterian Church of South Africa at that stage was asked if it would release some of its black congregations to join that church, it gave them the option to do so, which many of them did. Some of them subsequently came back. For a long time the Assemblies of the two churches had representatives from each other present at all their meetings and the idea always was that eventually they would join up. There have been attempts to unite those two churches and what is now called the Evangelical Reformed Church which is the church in the Northern Transvaal, but these have failed. Partly because of the making the Transkei independent which aroused quite a feeling of nationalism amongst many people in the Transkei and made people in the Reformed Presbyterian Churches that subsequently became a bit hesitant to join us. Partly because I think of the experience of white paternalism in the PCSA. We hope now that things will move ahead. We have tried in the past and the attempts to unite have always failed.
REV. PAKISO TONDI: In as far as the second question is concerned, I can say that the fact that I'm here together with the two gentlemen is a sign of repentance. There is repentance in the PCSA as far as white domination is concerned. You can see that I don't even belong to their generation. We have just fallen short in bringing a woman, but there has been a great change because of the Presbyterian Black Leadership Consultation which was founded in 1985 and I'm glad to hear that the chairperson says churches also have in the Black Anglican Forum which will help to speed up, to make sure that there is equal representation in some of the churches.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for all of that - making us feel so decrepit. We hope that your children will remember when you were here. Thank you very much. Siybulela. You may stand down. The Congregational Church.
We are not doing too badly. The Congregational Church represented by David Wanless and John De Guchi. Thank you very much and we have to express our appreciation that you have shown so much patience waiting for this to happen. We are grateful.
REV. DAVID WANLESS: Chairperson, Ndade, I present the submission of the United Congregational Church which was prepared by our Secretary Designate, Rev. Des van der Walt and Dr Steve de Guchi. I'm also very grateful that Professor John de Guchi is here to assist me where my faith falls short. In case I overrun, let me begin with the end, if I may Sir, and say what our confession is. Like many of the other churches today, with the benefit of hindsight we need to be honest with ourselves and with the country and confess that for all our statements, sermons and letters and reports about the evils of apartheid, we really did so little to rid our beloved land of its tyranny. We did so little to bind up the wounds of those who were victims of the system and to labour with them for justice. We so often relied on the one or two who were willing to stick their necks out and as a people we were scared and anxious to be bold and prophet witness. And so we apologise to those whom we abandoned in their difficult plight and to the nation for failing in our moral responsibility.
We knew all along that hideous things were happening, and that is often why we said what we said, and did what we did. We recognise that what is being revealed by your commission will have a profound impact on future generations in the country. There are sins to be forgiven, wounds to be bound up, hatreds to be reconciled, buildings to be re-built, pupils to be taught, leaders to be held accountable and this is the task of the church of Jesus Christ. And although we are a small church with few resources, we acknowledge this calling and commit ourselves to nurturing this truth, healing the nation and building a culture of tolerance and justice, so that our children and their children may never again suffer the evil which has so plagued the life of our nation. How, Sir, did we get there? We are numbered among the English speaking churches, although I think the predominant language in our church is Afrikaans, probably the second most common language in our church is Zulu, followed by Tswana. But we prepare to celebrate 200 years of congregationalism in South Africa in 1999, when we mark the arrival of the first London Missionary Society missionaries in Cape Town. And although one can criticise the strategy and actions of many of the missionaries in our country that came from overseas, I think they all understood something of what Dr John Phillip, the first supervisory representative of the LMS meant when he said, "If a minister is guilty of dereliction of his duty and advocating the cause of the oppressed or in relieving the necessities of the destitute, I plead guilty to that charge". And I think many of our ministers in the United Congregational Church would echo those words of Phillip. Phillip was the precursor of a long line of missionary heroes, such as Robert Moffat, Newton Adams after whom Adams College was named, Alden Grout after whom the town of Kwa Zulu Natal was named, David Livingstone, John MacAud, and in our time, of our own memory, the Reverend Joseph Wing whose statements form a large part of our submission.
We are glad to number among the congregational heroes of our faith many prominent people. In fact it was the first president of the ANC, the congregational minister Reverend John Dube who helped to address the questions then arising in 1912, and he then, even then, charged that christianity had an offensive smell to a large number of natives, as people of colour were then known. And with the greatest love and respect for you, Sir, and your achievements as a Nobel Peace Prize winner, we are proud to claim that the first Nobel Peace Prize winner was a Congregationalist, Chief Albert Luthuli, and this year [APPLAUSE] when the church established a Roll of Honour, his was the first name to be enrolled. But like many of the other denominations that have been present here, Sir, we must acknowledge that although resolutions were taken at Executive Assembly level and statements issued by our Secretariat after hours of debating, these were very often the positions of the leadership, and they were not embraced by the average occupant of the pew in the white churches of our denomination. I recall a time when I was a minister in Uitenhage and you, Sir, had done something that had particularly offended the authorities of the day and I said from the pulpit that the day would come when people of South Africa would be grateful for people like Bishop Tutu and later in that week I was visited by two of my deacons, who advised me against making such inflammatory statements from the pulpit. But I praise you for your consistency, Sir, because when you advised or called upon the ANC to suspend the armed struggle, you were then the flavour of the month in Uitenhage and I could smile in the pulpit once again.
But from the beginning we took the position that apartheid was not simply wrong and evil in terms of its results, but of itself, and we were early in the decision after the Presbyterians, to embrace the Ottowa Declaration that apartheid is a sin and its theological justification a hierarchy. And for those from the reformed tradition to label anything a hierarchy in the calvanist understanding of it, gives you some idea of how earnestly we took the opposition to apartheid. Like many of the other churches we were a trans-natioanl church and some of the victims of apartheid were in neighbouring countries. Our church life in Mozambique was devastated by the civil war initiated by Renamo. Zimbabwe suffered terribly through a civil war in which the white minority government of Ian Smith received moral support from the apartheid regime. Namibia was held as a vassal state and Botswana suffered greatly from cross border raids. Besides the violence and destruction of a policy, our churches suffered. Our church in Graaff Reinet was just one example to which I will refer later, of many congregations that had to be uprooted. And Joe Wing, our General Secretary for the first 20 years of our life, said in 1987 that it is the ultimate ...[indistinct] to designate God's green and brown earth as black or coloured or white land. We lost many of our institutions, like Tiger Kloof, which count among their illumine the first two presidents of Botswana, and we share with the pain of other churches in the trauma of the closing of the Federal Theological Seminary which still resounds on our church life today.
The advent of the tricameral parliamentary system was particularly hurtful for the Congregational Church, Sir. Two of our ministers, former chairman in fact, the Reverend Allan Hendrikse and Andrew Julies, led the Labour Party into accepting rolls in the House of Representatives. But the UCCSA Assembly moved swiftly to distance itself from that and in fact that difficulty persists. Just this very year, two months ago, the Assembly had to resolve that in the interim, until we can do it constitutionally, ministers of the UCCSA should not contest elections or accept political appointments at any level. The opposition to the apartheid regime and particularly something that has already been touched on, the programme to combat racism, we never in the UCCSA questioned the rightness of that, even though it cost us our mother church, the Union Church in Kloof Street, which left the United Congregational Church because of our support of this programme to combat racism. And that schism still remains and is hurtful to many in our denomination today. We encouraged our ministers to oppose the Mixed Marriages Act and encouraged the registration of children without reference to their racial classification. The Congregational Church has a long tradition of passivism and so from the start, it was in the forefront of its opposition to conscription and support for the End Conscription Campaign. The UCSA was the only church to make a clear and unambiguous stand in favour of the Kyros Document which was produced amidst the horror of the 1985 State of Emergency. And throughout we have remained mindful of the fact that we had to challenge the laws and policies of apartheid, while at the same time trying to minister to its victims.
And so, we must admit Sir, with the other churches, that it is to our shame that the UCCSA in many places mirrored the apartheid society of the church. We are not unmindful of the fact that there was something hypocritical about condemning apartheid in the State and yet being a racially divided church in ourselves. Resolution after resolution was passed, church programmes were introduced to enable black, white and coloured member churches to be integrated, but with little success. Even attempts to move ministers and to cross cultural and racial settings were not produced with vigour. If I may end, Sir, by going back to the reference I made to the Graaff Reinet church. In 1993 the UCCSA held its Assembly in Graaff Reinet, and after that I wrote and broadcast on the SABC and subsequently incorporated into a book of meditations that I published on behalf of my local church, during which we had this to say:
"During October 1993, in Graaff Reinet, we met to consider the affairs of the church, and the one irony that we could not escape was the fact that we were meeting in the Parsonage Street Congregational Church, which is no longer situated in Parsonage Street. You see, some twenty odd years ago, the authorities of the day decided that the good christian folk of that church were of the wrong racial group to be worshipping slap bang in the middle of the white part of town. They were forced to leave the historic old church building which is today used as a theatre. And they had to move under the Group Areas Act to the more politically acceptable coloured part of town.."
And this story can be repeated a thousand times over in South Africa. The challenge facing this committee and our country in the future is how we go about unscrambling our segregationist omlet and we don't know how to do it. We don't know yet fully how to go about restoring justness and wholeness to this land, ravaged for so long by the false gods of race and creed. Not many white South Africans feel particularly responsible for the collective sins of our apartheid past, but each of us, of whatever race group who have been part of the privileged class, have made individual slights or hurts for which we do need to feel utter regret. Even after showing our repentance by some form of righting past wrongs, many of us will still go on making the same racial mistakes. How will we repair the damage? Listen to God speaking to the Old Testament Prophet Joel: "I will restore the years that the locust has eaten and you shall eat your fill". And then note what St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: "From the first to the last, this has been the work of God. He has reconciled himself to us through Jesus Christ."
And so to end Sir, I suggest that the way forward for every individual and for the nation as a whole is to allow God, who has broken down the dividing walls in Jesus Christ, is to come into our lives, our personal decisions, our national choices. To enable the process of reconciliation and of new beginnings to happen. He has welcomed us back to God's side, and Christ wants to restore the years that the locust has eaten, and I wrote, "So, Reverend Hufkey and your congregation in Graaff Reinet, this is my personal sorry to you and to all the others who have been hurt by actions like mine. I know you find it hard still to walk along Parsonage Street, past the lovely old building. I hope that one day soon, you will be able to worship within its walls again. Until that happens, let us join together with Christ in forgiving all that we must, in repairing what we can and go to the future in the confident hope that the scars will heal and that there will be singing when we are all, praise God Almighty, free at last !
Thank you Sir.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, thank you. John? Thank you. Bongani?
REV. B FINCA: Chairperson, I've got two questions to your relief! You have referred to resolutions and statements and how good churches are in writing these and publishing them and make them known and then hide behind them. I think a number of us will find that statement very true, because if the resolutions made by churches were acted on, we would have been an example of an obedient church in the light of racism. And that confession, I think, resonates with a number of us who belong to the church. In your way forward you then report to us a resolution or a statement which perhaps needs to just be interrogated a little bit. Where you say the UCCSA wishes to place on record its respect for the TRC and its hard work, please be assured of our prayers and support for your task which is so crucial for the future of our land. My question is how much of this is representative of the church that you speak on behalf of ? How many members of the church, I know it's very difficult to say how many, but in terms of how much is the church making its own membership respond to the TRC? And how much of it is ending at the level of the top leadership in resolutions which do now get filtered down to the membership of the church?
REV. JOHN DE GUCHI: Thank you for the question. I think it would be helpful just to give some background in order to answer that question. The majority of the church, the UCCSA, is black. Only 5% I think it is, is white. And the majority of the black membership, I think it is something in the region of 55%, is so-called coloured. The church is, to a large extent, a rural church. Very large concentrations in places like the Northern Cape, Botswana and so forth. And that all reflects something of the old missionary tradition. I mention this because the reconciliation that has to take place within our church is less between white and black, although that of course is important but it's a small white constituency, of the 350 congregations you can understand, not many of those are white, but there is a struggle in terms of the relationship between South Africa and the christians in Botswana and Mozambique and these are very important issues which we don't think should be lost sight of in terms of the work of the TRC. The relationship between South Africa and the other countries of Southern Africa in terms of the role of the church (this has been eluded to earlier today by the Church of the Province so that when we are talking about reconciliation, that is a very important factor that has to be taken into account and secondly, the relationship between coloured members and African members in the church. This is an area, I think, that is still to be worked through, and I am not sure that it has been dealt with at all hitherto today in this Commission .[TAPE 5]..research that has been done recently on reconciliation within the coloured Catholic community in the Western Cape for example, the word "reconciliation" means something quite different to what we are talking about here today. And we need to recognise that and I think this is true within our own church. How to deal with these issues that are issues of the future is going to become quite critical and it has to do with a whole range of issues which I needn't allude to here. The role of the church in regard to this is going to be crucial and I think the fact that the church does exist in all the kinds of communities, is critical. I am not sure whether that answers the question, but I wanted to take the question, the answer, to a different point and maybe you anticipated
REV. B FINCA: Thank you very much Dr de Guchi. My second question perhaps related to the answer you have given to the first one and I wanted to direct it straight to you if I may. It is on the question of the statement which was made earlier by the CPSA in their very moving submission to the Commission this morning. Bishop Nuttal drew a distinction between costly reconciliation and cheap reconciliation. At the time I did not have the chance to ask him to unpack, although I suspect I know what he means, but I do not know how much is being said from churches in their teachings to their own members about the real cost of reconciliation and how much people in this country today think that reconciliation is going to come out just very cheaply. Is there work that is being done in terms of spelling out, unpacking the concept of reconciliation and how costly and painful this process is if we are to follow it in this country.
REV. JOHN DE GUCHI: That is clearly not a question addressed to the UCCSA but more broadly and I'm happy to respond. It does, I think, I think it is clear that reconciliation is a long process and it's already been said many times by the Chairperson of this Commission and others that when the work of the TRC ends, reconciliation still has to be achieved. This is a catalyst and I think today we have been celebrating in some ways the many people who have suffered and died in the struggle against apartheid, who identified themselves as christians, and who, I believe must be regarded as the martyrs of the struggle in South Africa. I think it is very important for us to remember them because it reminds us of the cost, not only of achieving what we have achieved so far, but that what still has to be achieved will be presumably at cost as well. Hopefully, not at as great a cost, but nevertheless, at cost. And we would want to, as a church, identify with what the ICT said earlier this morning, and with what was said by Professor Terblanche; we wouldn't want to comment on the economics of this in terms of its economic correctness, but unless there is a far greater sharing of the wealth in this country, unless there is money that will bring about the kind of drastic reparation that is required, there will not be reconciliation. And in this respect, can I just make one please, we are a relatively small church, but we lost 400 mission schools, we had about 100 churches removed by Group Areas Act. That's a small church, suffered in that way. Other churches which are much larger suffered more greatly in terms of buildings and loss of schools and that's been alluded to by the Catholic Church and others. I hope that in the whole question of looking at the role of the church in the future, and talking about the role of the church in terms of education and other things, that this be kept in mind. I don't think the church is asking for reparation, that would be totally out of place in terms of the enormous reparation that has to be made to the poor people and the victims of apartheid, but it is indicative of the cost that the church has to face, and we need to take courage and strength from those who during that period of time held the faith courageously and to realise that that is the tradition in which we stand and to which we have to align ourselves. So yes, indeed, reconciliation continues to be costly.
REV. DAVID WANLESS: If I could just add to that within our own church life we must freely admit that in all the racial groups there are congregations, communities, where the work of this commission is a non-event, or in fact where it is regarded as being destructive, but I think that there are sufficient of our ministers and leaders who are committed to the whole process of reconciliation, which after all, is a very christian word. And as the church's media officer and the editor of its journal, certainly my commitment is that from this kind of gathering, the message needs to go out that because we have been reconciled by God's action and Jesus Christ, we have got to be reconciled to one another. The most biblical word of all is what you're doing, and that's remembering. It sums up the Old Testament, it's at the heart of the christian eucharist: remember. And by the telling of certain stories, we can't hear all the stories, but if I know that someone else's story has been told, then my story of hurt has been told. And I think that's got to be our commitment of all the churches, that we have got to remember and repent and be watchful.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. I have sort of ritually to look to my right and left, just so that they don't feel I am leaving them out, but I am in fact leaving them out. I want again just to say that somehow we hope that what is happening here can be communicated to our people. It is not easy, but I mean the mood, the texture of the moment - it's not always the words, it's the gestures, the tone of voice, the things that get to touch hearts. Of course we are the incarnational and so it is ultimately human beings who have to keep communicating and we hope that somehow what has been happening here today will in fact get communicated to people out there just for them to know that this is a very, very large part of what we are about. Thank you very much. The last Reformed Presbyterian Church.
I am sorry that to some extent you have to speak to a slightly reduced audience. But know that what you are saying is going to form part of our the transcript and the record of what has taken place here and a fair degree of it is also going out through the electronic media, so I just want to apologise that maybe we have been over ambitious in the number of submissions that we thought we could do. We may have to consider reducing the time fairly drastically so that people can also speak to a fuller hall. Thank you. Who is leading there? Dr Khabela. Are all three going to be speaking? You will be so will you please all rise and take the oath administered by
Thank you very much. Dr Khabela?
DR GIDEON KHABELA: Thank you Mr Chairman. We are one segment of the Presbyterian Church that has been mentioned before. The Reformed Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa is a black church. It originated from the union of two major Scottish missions, the missions of the Free Church of Scotland and the United Presbyterian Church. This union was affected in the formation of the Bantu Presbyterian Church of South Africa in August 1923. In line with the changes in South Africa, the name Bantu was dropped in 1978 in favour of the name Reformed Presbyterian Church. As the name "Bantu" indicates, the Reformed Presbyterian Church was formed as a native experiment. A native church led by natives themselves. It was born out of a debate within the Scottish missions and the debate centred on two differing approaches, namely that there must be one Presbyterian Church in South Africa. The advocates of this view argued that it was wrong for the Church of Scotland to create two Presbyterian Churches in South Africa. Contrary to this view was the opinion that there must be a native church. A native Presbyterian church, led by the natives themselves. In a sense, this was a call for the liberation of African people from domination by white people in a white led church. In the African church, Africans would take charge of their destiny and shape their faith in a way suitable to them.
While today this position may sound in support of the apartheid separate development policy, at that time it was the most radical thing one could do about the liberation of the African people. The advocates of this position argued that there was no community in South Africa in which black and white people lived as equals. There was also no culture of worshipping together between Europeans and African converts. At Lovedale and at Umgwali, two racial churches, the European Church and the Native Church, had emerged within one church. It was thus, within this context, within the context of its experience as a black church responsible for a predominantly black membership, that the RPC responded, understood and acted in the face of gross human rights violations, which happened during the designated period beginning in 1960 and ending in 1994. Now the question that has been posed to us, the question whether the theology and the activity of the Reformed Presbyterian Church contributed to the formation of motives and perspectives of those who are responsible for the gross human rights violations raises to us the issue of the morality of the struggle. It raises a christian ethical question: How does a christian respond when faced with a human rights issue? While the RPC would not abdicate its duty of taking full responsibility for the actions of its members, we would like to point out that perspectives, motives and actions of our members who might have committed gross human rights violations or participated in such actions, within the context of a mob or within the military wings of political movements, did so not because of direct incitement resulting from the teachings of the RPC. There is no particular case, at least known to us, which directly links our church to any actions of human rights violations. It is also unknown to us that there has been any charge that actions of human rights violations committed either by a mob, kangaroo courts or military wings of political organisations or committed in any other form, emanated from the teachings of the church. The RPC as a member of the South African Council of Churches, which reported this morning Mr Chairman, the RPC has acted according to the understanding of the South African political situation by supporting the SACC. Like other member churches of the SACC, the RPC has been faithful in its preaching of peace and reconciliation. An honest attempt to deal with the question relating to the contribution of the RPC in creating a climate or justification for human rights violations, must of necessity call to mind certain important factors which must be seen as having greatly influenced our church. For many years the RPC along with many other mainline churches, adopted a negative or at best, a neutral stance towards the liberation struggle, thereby helping to create a climate conducive to the violation of human rights.
An inherited racist system which eventually matured into apartheid created the social and economic climate into which we, as a church, were born and socialised in 1923. Whether you benefited from the system, or suffered under it, the racist system was a given if you were black. It formed our consciousness of reality and socialised us into a value system which sheepishly accepted racism. Individualism, selfishness, possessiveness and money as the merger of all values. In order to inculcate a culture of docility and acceptance of the status quo by the church, the apartheid regime often pointed at Romans 13. This was done to discourage members of the churches from taking part in actions of civil disobedience. The result was that this often caused the general membership of the church to refuse to follow a leadership that was politically active. Often it was this conditioning that was responsible for the failure of the church to lend meaningful support and protection to those who felt called to act. Religious propaganda that emanated from the apartheid system was effective, Mr Chairperson. It made many of our members feel guilty about any form of opposition, disobedience or even criticism of the government's policy. As a result, the church was silent when it should actually have spoken out. Because of its silence, when it should have spoken, it is guilty of collaboration with the system that caused great suffering to many innocent people. For that we wish to repent and apologise to all those who suffered because we were quiet. The church often took refuge in obstructions which removed them from the realities of life. It often resorted to formulas and formalities which were far removed from the harsh realities of daily lives. Lives of its members, even though it was a black church. The trouble with this kind of religion is that it fails to listen to the cries of the oppressed. It was this kind of abstract christianity which allowed the apartheid regime to carry on for so many years. For that we also wish to apologise unreservedly.
Mr Chairperson, a charge has been laid to the churches and other leaders of churches and theologians by a certain John K. Burman, this has been referred to this morning. I will not dwell on it. In summary, I would just like to say that we reject the accusations that he levels against the churches. The question also, another question which has been posed to the church is: In which way did the RPC fail to live up to those values and principles of the christian faith which oppose human rights violations?
The membership of the RPC, Mr Chairperson, as we have already said, consists mainly of the part of our society who have been victims of apartheid. There are specific responsibilities which the christian gospel places upon a church, which finds itself in the midst of such victims as the RPC found itself in the period which the TRC is investigating. Christian teaching would require such a church to have a pastoral ministry which is relevant to the situation in which its members find themselves in their day to day lives. Although from time to time, the RPC made public statements condemning human rights violations that apartheid committed, it failed to formulate a specific programme of action which would reflect a church which is in solidarity with the struggles of the oppressed. Our teaching, preaching and witness did not differ from that of the so-called multi-racial churches, most of which have reported this morning. For this we must confess and repent. We did not stand firm and unashamedly on the side of those who were the victims of apartheid atrocities. We lived with them. They were our total membership. We lived with them everyday, but we did not embrace their struggles as a black church would have done.
When the apartheid government embarked on a strategy of co-opting black leadership into the mainstream of apartheid through the creation of Bantu Stand, many of our members at clergy and later levels were used to lend respectability to this policy. We recognise that there are members of our church who, much against their will, served as civil servants because they had no option but to seek employment within those systems. But we also have to confess and repent for the fact that there are some who took very senior positions in the Bantu Stand machinery and played very key roles in sustaining and defending this system of separate development. We repent for those who are members of the RPC who have not had the courage to repent for themselves. We also have to repent for the manner in which we failed to support those who took a position of faith and stood up to oppose the system of apartheid. Some of our sisters and brothers were marginalised within the church for their prophetic stance against apartheid. The propaganda which was spread against all those who were fighting for justice in our land, was too powerful. We confess and repent that this blinded our eyes to the truth, and some of us adopted the language of the system in labelling some of our fellow christians as communists and terrorists. The other question posed to us, Mr Chairperson is ...[intervention]
CHAIRPERSON: Uxolo, andifuni ukupazamisa kakhulu. Are you going to read through all of it, or will you highlight in consideration of ixesha. I am aware that it hangs together and it is probably not easy to - don't know what you want to do.
DR GIDEON KHABELA: Yes, I will just highlight a few things Mr Chairperson.
While some of the members of our church, particularly leaders, at a particular time in history stood up and took at a great risk to speak out against apartheid, they did not always get support from the church and from the rest of the clergy as well. I will highlight here and I would like to apologise on behalf of the church to the Reverend Soga here next to me, the Reverend Finca here, and many others who stood up at a time that was very critical in the life of our church, that we didn't give support. At other times when they were detained, we did not visit them. But I would like to say, Mr Chairperson, that the awareness of the evil of the apartheid system grew with the awareness, with the level of awareness in the black community in general. Fear was widespread in the black community, because as you know the apartheid system spread its tentacles deep into the black communities and if you spoke out you were snatched easily. Everyone wanted to save his skin, and we did so most of the time in the RPC, letting our fellow ministers and brothers and sisters who felt called to act at the time to feel both vulnerable and isolated from our community. We unreservedly wish to apologise to them and to the whole community of South Africa.
We also have indicated in our reports, Mr Chairman, how we would like to see the future of South Africa in terms of healing and reconciliation. We would like to highlight a few things, particularly that we recognise that there is a spirit, there is a general spirit of denial in the white community. In particular we have been watching the process of the TRC unfold. In the white community seems that the general feeling is that they did not know what was happening. The apartheid machinery hid its human rights abuses from them. As a result they feel embarrassed by revelations of human rights abuse by the government they supported and feel impatient with the truth of the past. Some of them, we feel correctly or incorrectly Mr Chairman, that some white people in our community want a quick fix reconciliation where the nation will not dwell on the human violations of the past but will hurriedly move forward into the future in the spirit of reconciliation. In the black community we observe, Mr Chairperson, that the question is: Did indeed white people not know what was happening in the country? Or did white people not want to know? It is this understanding that our church feels that it can contribute to the process of national healing by developing a theology of reconciliation. It must emphasise the requirement for reconciliation such as has been mentioned already, economic reconciliation, national healing and the preaching of relevant messages and openness to the truth that has happened in the past and the hurt that has happened in the past. Mr Chairperson, I think I will stop here.
CHAIRPERSON: I hope I have not inhibited you Dada?
DR GIDEON KHABELA: No, you have not.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Because it is actually an extraordinary document as many of these have been and I am actually feeling a little sorry because some of the things that you say about people like Soga and Finca, if you had been good I would say you were read into our record, but we have got it here and we give thanks that your church raised leaders of their calibre. I don't know whether there is something that you would want to add?
REV. D.M. SOGA Thank you your Grace. On the question of whether the Reformed Presbyterian Church has recommendations on how to prevent human rights violations in the new South Africa, we feel that there has got to be visible signs that change has come in our country. If you look at the treatment of our people at government offices. People are made to stand in long queues, subjected to different kinds of weather and the treatment they have to get from our young clerks, leaves much to be desired, and so there is a cry among the ordinary people, men and women of our country, that there is absolutely no difference, you know, from the situation that prevailed under the apartheid system as far as this type of treatment is concerned. So we believe that there has got to be a paradigm shift. Let's make an effort to bring to the notice of the ordinary people that change has taken place, or is beginning to take place. So that people are being treated better than they have been. For so long, people have suffered under the ruthlessness of government officials of the past regime. So we feel that we have got to put pressure on the government to attend to these problems and find a way of introducing better treatment of our people at government offices. For instance, I'm thinking of the Department of Social Welfare where there is a lot of controversy and many complaints from our people who feel that they are being let down by a government they have voted for, so we are gravely concerned about that, and we do promise that we will do our best as a predominantly black church to lend our support to whatever action the government will take, and we will do our part as individuals or congregations where we are based, to try and make a contribution towards addressing this problem.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. I would have hoped that any one in government would take that as - I mean it seems a thing that could in fact be effected fairly quickly, but it means that there is a job for all of us because many of those working there are our children. And we ought to be saying: "Where is Ubuntu?" It's got nothing to do with money or anything like this. These are often old enough to be your parents. Why do you continue to behave in this way towards them? And I think it doesn't have to wait for this commission to make a recommendation, it doesn't have to wait for the government. I think that we, you people with your stature and so on can already be making that difference, but thank you very much.
DR K. MGOJO: Thank you very much for your contribution. I just want to take you back to the formation of your church. The native church led by natives themselves. Was there any clear programme worked out for this type of a church to make it indeed an indigenous church? We should be custodian of the African theology which manifests itself in Ubuntu which has been very difficult to promote in these other multiracial churches. Number two: we have heard a lot about the programme to combat racism where some of the churches did not affirm it or oppose it. I haven't heard anything about your church as far as the programme to combat racism is concerned. Could you comment on that?
REV. D.M. SOGA: Chairperson, I would respond by saying we have not made any direct contribution to that, besides supporting you know the stand of the SACC as far as that is concerned. Unfortunately we have not made any direct contribution to the programme to combat racism.
DR GIDEON KHABELA: The other question, Chairperson, relates to the formation of the Bantu Presbyterian Church as a black church. Your question was, was there any effort to make the Bantu Presbyterian Church truly indigenous? The answer, Mr Chairperson, is that that is the ambiguity of our church. Although it was created as a black church, it was created by the white people, so there was not effort made to make it totally a black church that has its own independent thinking. That is why we say in our report that the understanding of the black situation grew with the level of understanding in the black community. We also state in the body of the report that the leadership of the RPC was white for a long time, until eventually the missionaries were being, the number of the missionaries, were being reduced and the black leadership began to take over. That is when the reflection began about the nature of the church that we are. In other words we cannot say that we have been a native church in the sense that we have been truly indigenous.
DR. K MGOJO: Thank you. But is there any programme now to instil a type of theology in your church which would manifest itself in Ubuntu as a black church?
REV, D,M. SOGA: That is a difficult question, Mr Chairperson. We have not yet reached the stage where we have begun to question ourselves as a church. What we represent exactly. Because we have been influenced by the multiracial churches among which we count ourselves. That is why we say that we have responded to things in the same way as the multiracial churches have. We have not stood back and said how do we respond to this as a black church? We are beginning to do that, but we haven't done it in a very clearly defined way. We hope to do it in the future.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Siyabulela kakhulu for your contribution and again I think the thing that is so noteworthy is the strong self-critical element which I hope can be something that we will be able to communicate as well to all the people of this country that from that basis we make ourselves more open to the possibility of receiving the grace of God and we thank you for your own contribution to the struggle to bring democracy and peace to this land. You may stand down. I am asking Piet Meiring just to say a closing prayer. Perhaps we could before he does that, just observe a moment of silence.
CLOSING PRAYER: Oh Lord, our God we thank you for this day, a day we will remember for many years to come. Thank you for the opportunity to come together with our sisters, our brothers, to stand before you in humility looking at the past, looking at the present and dreaming about the future of our country. Oh Lord, all of us do confess the sins of co-mission of omission of all our churches. Thank you oh Lord, that you have kept faith with us. That you are still carrying us in your heart. We do pray oh Lord that you will forgive us all and that you will take all of us towards a future of reconciliation, of forgiveness of justice for all in the country. Thank you for every presentation of today and we do pray oh Lord that tomorrow and the day after tomorrow you will continue to open windows for us on the past and the present and the future. We commend each of the churches, each of the organisations who presented their submissions today to your care and your love, thanking you for each of them. Amen.
ON RESUMPTION - 18 NOVEMBER 1997
CHAIRPERSON: Please let us stand. Keep silence as we come into the presence of the transcendent one.
Good Morning. Goeie more. I am quite amazed that normally you are so noisy when you shouldn't be and when I give you permission to be noisy, you are suddenly all so very coy and cultured. Goeie more, let me hear you. Molweni. Good Morning. Much better. We welcome you all very, very warmly to this the second day of this special hearing of the Commission the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. REPEATS WELCOME IN AFRIKAANS AND XHOSA.
We also want just to say a big thank you again to all the people of this centre for making available these splendid facilities, we are deeply grateful to you and to Bongani Finca and his colleagues, members of staff in this region for the preparations they have made. I want you to know that we do have outstanding colleagues and staff persons, very dedicated people and I want again to say a big thank you to the committee, the special committee that was set up to organise these special hearings. I want particularly to welcome and give thanks to the representatives and adherents of other faiths gathered here today. First I want to thank you and those whom you represent for the sterling contribution that you have made to the struggle for justice, freedom and democracy in this land. We can all attest to the fact that we walked arm in arm in our demonstrations with Jews and Muslims and Hindu and others and that we are where we are today to a very large extend because of that co-operation during the days of the struggle.
It is also good that we acknowledge the contributions that members of other faiths have made and continue to make in the development and the prosperity of our land. Just think of the many people of other faiths who are doctors and lawyers and engineers who are making splendid contributions, members of the business sector and we want to acknowledge that contribution to. Second, I would want and I'm sure that all of my fellow christians would want to apologise to you members of other faiths for our arrogance as christians when for so very long, we behaved as if we were the only religious faith in this country, when in fact from the year dot, we have been a multi- faith society. You can think of how in the past, hardly any member of a faith that was not christian was given a chance on public radio and television and we made the arrogant claim and a claim that is difficult to justify that this was a christian country. I have never known what we meant by that unless we were merely claiming that the majority of the population were christians, which is not a particularly remarkable fact, but it seems as if we were tacitly claiming in a kind of way that we were probably conspicuous embodiments of christian virtues. But even if you were to say that there was a thing such as a christian country, the experience that we have had in the world is that those that would have claimed to be this, have not usually excelled. It was christians supporting Nazism, it is christians fighting fellow christians in Northern Ireland, and we in this country are a singular, almost a spectacular example of a country which had an immoral and evil system that some sought to buttress by claiming that it was biblically based and that if you said it is a christian country, which christianity? Which is the christian position on for instance, abortion? On homosexuality? On Sunday observance? On capital punishment? There are about as many views on these and other controversial subjects as there are christians.
We claim, quite rightly, that God is the only source of goodness, of beauty and truth. And clearly, christians do not have a monopoly on these. Can anyone doubt that a Mahatma Ghandi was an eminently good person? That an Einstein was a genius? And if God is the only source of truth, of goodness, then these are eminently God inspired persons. And that christians do not have, could never have, a monopoly on this. To acknowledge the reality of the existence of other faiths does not mean that you are a christian and need compromise on the ...[inaudible] that you hold dear. I hold very firmly to what our faith teaches: that Jesus Christ is the unique and perfect revelation of God. And I will not compromise this central aspect of my faith. But that does not mean that I should then arrogantly ride rough shod, boots and all, on what others claim who are not christians to be their holy ground. The transcendent one is infinite and no human being who claimed to be a genuine worshipper could ever claim that any faith comprehends the transcendent utterly and completely, because then that transcendent would not be transcendent. And so we should welcome humbly, thankfully the insights of others. After all, the very bible that we hold so dear could refer to a servant who stood outside the covenant relationship that God had with his people, a sign that God is not limited by our limitations. The love of God embraces all and when we are narrow we limit God to the parameters of our own comprehension.
We should be open to what God may be saying to us through others whom we could not claim to stand outside of God's care. And in any case, just as we worked together for the demise of apartheid, so now we need desperately to work together with all people of goodwill, with all people of faith, as we seek the healing of our land, we strive the reconciliation of those who, for so long, were alienated from one another. And more than anything, we know that our country is looking to the faith community to assist in the rehabilitation of moral values in our land. To work together for the abolition of poverty, to bring prosperity and peace and stability to our land and we thank God that today is possible. So we call on the first to testify, Dr Franz Auerbach. May I say that today we are going to be a little less generous and say that we want each presentation to take a total of 30 minutes. Something like twenty or so minutes for the presentation and then ten minutes for exchanges. But we welcome you very warmly, Dr Auerbach and thank God for your wonderful witness as an educationalist and in your striving for justice in our land. Thank you.
DR F. AUERBACH: Thank you very much. I must apologise that it wasn't possible for the World Conference on Religion and Peace
CHAIRPERSON: Because we have been dealing with religious people, I didn't think that you needed to take an oath, I thought that you were going to speak the truth, but to satisfy all righteousness
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Over to you then doctor.
DR F. AUERBACH: Right. I just want to say that unfortunately, we weren't able to get the submission that we are making to the commission to you beforehand, so I realise that this is the first time that you have an opportunity of seeing it. I do not know therefore whether you want me to use the precious time available to read it or whether you would wish to read it yourself for a few minutes - it's six and a half pages.
CHAIRPERSON: I would suggest doctor, that you highlight for us and then people will read, I'm sure as an educationalist you will be able to give us an overview and just stress the point that you do want to make.
DR F. AUERBACH: Thank you very much. I think then I need perhaps in the context of these hearings to say first of all that the World Conference on Religion and Peace (and I apologise because you yourself Sir, know this better than I do) is not in fact a faith community. It is also not a collective as some people believe of all the faith communities. We have been able to speak, but we've never been able to say that we speak for all the members of all the faith communities with whom we have contact in the form of membership. Rather, we are an organisation of individuals and a few organisations drawn from various faith groups. A collective made up of those who joined by accepting our basic tenant and the commitment of striving for peace and justice. Now, I need perhaps to explain that the South African chapter of the World Conference on Religion and Peace, which in the world was started in 1920, the South African chapter was started in 1984 and it was started specifically in order to bring together those people of different faiths, who were united in their struggle for justice and opposition to apartheid in South Africa, so that in a sense, you can say maybe this was a late start in South Africa, because in the history of apartheid and the history of what your commission, the period your commission covers, 1984 is late. It is not early. So that we wanted to be a part of those who were struggling against apartheid in the eighties in particular and we have felt it particularly enriching that through our commons commitment to justice from different faiths, from christians, Muslims, Jews and Hindus, we have found something to which you have in a sense referred to in your opening remarks, which is that there are many commonalties between different religions and that a belief in justice is a powerful cement that can hold people together.
And therefore, when we came together, we tried in various ways to bring people together for that purpose and one of the, I would say, major ways in which we did that was to organise the annual peace lecture, which we named after you Sir, when you got the Nobel Peace Prize. And perhaps it's worth putting on record what we have written here. The first lecture to have been delivered by you in December 1985, was banned by the State. Perhaps it's worth saying that and I quote: "The police had reason to apprehend that the safety of members of the public and their property will be seriously endangered by a gathering being organised by the South African Chapter of the World Conference on Religion and Peace". I might say, Sir, that at the time I was working at the Funda Centre in Soweto and I remember seeing the State's notice on the door of the office of the building in which I worked, so I had a particular awareness of that at the time. The State also refused visas to six of nine international religious leaders in the international World Conference of Religion and Peace, who had intended to attend the lecture in order to demonstrate their solidarity with the fledgling South African chapter and one of the reasons, it should perhaps be stated, that the lecture was instituted is to remind people of faith to put into practice those sanctions and traditions of justice and peace which are inherent in their respective religions.
During more than a decade we learnt to work together for commons goals while respecting one another's different beliefs and practices. In line with this, we invited representatives of different faiths to deliver the lectures: Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim speakers and last year, his holiness the Dali Lama addressed us, so that many of the people who spoke have been eminent persons within and beyond their own religious traditions. During the eighties, we did campaign for justice and against apartheid in a variety of ways. It is perhaps worth singling out that WCRP protested when some elements in the Dutch Reformed Church declared Islam a false religion and we felt that this should be publicly opposed because there were many ways in which Muslims and Christians, especially but not only in the Western Cape, had worked together in the liberation struggle and this kind of view of declaring another religion false would disturb relationships. So we protested against that and some of the other matters we did is that we took a delegation, that you in fact led a delegation of WCRP to Lusaka with a joint consultation with a liberation movement in exile on religious communities in a post-apartheid South Africa. And we have, over the years, been quite active in bringing together the various religious bodies. In a conference in May 1988 we organised a consultation in Soweto on the subject: Believers in the Struggle for Justice and Peace, and then following a suggestion by Judge Albie Sacks, we did organise in 1990 a conference, proceedings of which have also been published, Believers in the Future, a conference of national religious leaders to discuss the future of religion and state relations in post-apartheid South Africa.
Now, we realise of course in May 1990, these things were easier than they had been before. But that conference saw a very large number of people from a variety of faiths articulating their views on religion, state relationships and following that gathering in 1990, we organised a process of trying to work out a declaration of religious rights and responsibility which was finally adopted at a conference in Pretoria two years later, after very extensive consultations among different religious groups and I think we could well argue that some of the later togetherness of different faiths on public occasions such as most notably, the inauguration of President Mandela, had their origin in these two conferences in 1990 and 1992, where people actually came together to look at religion as an aspect of society without in the first instance looking at whether it was the Muslim or Christian or Jewish or Hindu or other religion.
I do not know what other perhaps I should leave just should make two further points that obviously we do not claim that we did all we should have done in order to bring more members of various faith communities together in the struggle for justice. We were sometimes well aware of the fact that within our faith communities, the support given to the kinds of endeavours that WCRP stood for were not supported by the majority of religious groups. Sometimes some of us felt marginalised by being seen as sort of "way out there". But nevertheless, speaking for myself, I didn't ever encounter hostility within my own faith community. Maybe alienation and I think that applies possibly to some other religious communities as well. But certainly we tried and I guess that is the first step on the path to reconciliation - we never did attempt to cut loose from our major religious communities and while we might have marched with those with whom the majority did not march, we didn't ever sort of say, "We won't talk to the rest of you if you don't march with us".
As to the future, we did undertake last year an interesting process on religious interpretations of reconciliation and we've taken the liberty of attaching the results of that to this submission. It resulted in a proposal on reconciliation and nation building and through quite extensive consultation we produced a three page document on the subject and we targeted it at the day of reconciliation last year, but while we distributed it widely, it didn't have the echo that we hoped it would have, but we believe that it remains relevant and we accept and we hope to make a contribution. We accept that your commission alone cannot complete or even take vastly forward the process of reconciliation because it contains elements that, as a commission, you cannot deal with, but as faith communities and as a joint body representing people in faith communities, we can make a contribution by bringing people together in the process of reconciliation. We realise it's a long process, but we also realise that it's a difficult process and that we have experience of talking glibly of bringing people together and failing to do so. It's not so easy because people still to a very large extent remain locked into their own groups and their own communities. I think, if I may, I'll stop there and leave the rest to debate. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, it's a very succinct account I think and given that you had to do it at the last moment, unprepared, it is masterly. Thank you very much. Bongani Finca?
REV. B FINCA: Thank you, your Grace. I have only one question to raise and I would like to base it on the concluding comments that you have made where you say that the commission is not going to be able to deliver a reconciled nation at the time when we stop working sometime next year. There are some people in this country who think that the commission should be able, in June or July next year, to say , "Here is a reconciled South Africa". You are saying that we point the way to the nation that this is the route that this nation must take in order to travel on the road that will lead it ultimately to reconciliation and that way is owning up to what has happened and disclosing the truth. On the religious communities that are represented in the WCRP, do you find that there is a common trend or commonality in terms of the religious beliefs on the understanding of reconciliation, founded on truth, which is a solid base on which the religious communities can co-operate in taking the process of reconciliation further after the commission has finished its work?
DR F AUERBACH: Yes, I do think that there is a common base. Maybe in order to talk on that I could quote from a document that we did draw up and in order not to waste time, I will just say that looking at the four major religions in the main; Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Hinduism, and I am sure others won't be different. When you put it together, you find that people say if you want reconciliation there are seven steps and in listing them, I ask you to think of obviously only some of these can fall within the ambit of your commission, the rest has to be taken up by society in general. But if we look around the world and see the imperfections of reconciliation of past conflicts, people seem to have incredibly long memories. I personally always encapsulate that by saying don't blame me for what my grandfather did, whatever he may have done. But humanity does not work like that. People get blamed for things that their particular communities did generations ago. However, the seven steps are: becoming aware of having done wrong; publicly acknowledging the wrong doing; expressing remorse for the action or lack of action; making restitution for the harm caused; requesting forgiveness from the harmed person; making a sincere commitment not to repeat the wrong doing; and accepting forgiveness where it is offered.
We found that all religions will agree on that and most religions will tell you that if you don't do them all, you're not going to get there and I believe that it's a task for South Africa as a whole to go on working at that. Even the last one: accepting forgiveness where it is offered is sometimes a very difficult one and I know your commission experienced that in individual cases. There are religions that say that it's a religious duty to accept forgiveness when it is offered, but we also accept that having our human failings, people find it very difficult to forgive. So that if we take all these steps, public acknowledgement of what happened, that the commission has done wonderfully. It is now addressing the issue of some making some restitution and given my own background as a Jewish person alive at the time the holocaust, I know a little bit about efforts in the past made about restitution. But those are only some aspects of reconciliation and I think we need to teach South Africa that this is a long process that we've got to work at. But I think one of the major problems of our reconciliation efforts as I see it is that we don't actually know a great deal as communities of the experiences of other communities in South Africa in the past and therefore we often talk to each other without knowing enough of the background, as I put it; What's at the back of the head? And I believe that it's a very difficult thing to learn that, and what we really need to do is to spend more time listening to one another. But our whole society is still partly organised so that we don't actually meet many people of different groups, so that in a sense, my answer is yes, WCRP will go on working at it and so will other people. We are a small group and we have to date made some important impact, but not nearly as much impact as perhaps we should have done and if we have greater capacity, we can perhaps do more capacity and determination. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Dr Mgojo?
REV. K MGOJO: Yes Sir, I am very much impressed by the work the WCRP, because I knew it when I was in the SACC, but the question I would like to ask. You have said so many good things about the conferences and other things which I applaud you for, but what strategy or programmes do you have for the WCRP which is going to help even the ordinary members down there to understand what you want to achieve. There is a tendency sometimes for the faith communities and churches to think that they have achieved something when they are dealing with things up there on the leadership level, and then the people down here don't hear this message because there is not strategy been set to touch the very people so that the change takes place down there. Is there any strategy set by this group?
DR F AUERBACH: I think I have to say that we don't have a strategy for that, what you might call mass outreach, that we found has worked on a significant level. We do bring people in our particularly in our three chapters in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, we do bring them together, but they are small groups of people and we have not yet found a way of mass appeal and what you are asking is to get to large numbers of people. Now I'm not sure that WCRP as it is structured at the moment there are other members in the audience I don't know whether they have different views. We find it difficult to reach mass audiences. Even at the talking level, I mentioned that we issued an appeal on reconciliation for last December and we sent it all over the place, but it wasn't picked up. So perhaps we are not as good as we should be on that making the message penetrate larger numbers of people. Perhaps it comes from the fact that our influence as an organisation on large religious structures has not ever yet been substantial enough. I'm sorry, that's a bit of a negative message, but I have to be honest about it. I did, after all, swear to tell the truth!
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much Dr Auerbach. We are deeply grateful to you for your contribution. Thank you. You may stand down. Call of Islam? Moulana Ibrahim Bham is not going to be present today, I gather he is unwell. Dr Faried Esack. Why do you want that? I thought we were friends until you went to England!
MOULANA DR FARIED ESACK: In the name of God the gracious, the dispenser of grace. Mr Chairman, the question of representation is not an easy one. Who do I represent? I do not believe that I as a Muslim theologian can represent the Muslim community, neither do I put it to you, can any of the "representatives" here represent their communities. Which Dutch Reform Church representative can speak for Hendrik Verwoerd and for Malanie Verwoerd? Or for Willie Lubbe and for Gerrie Lubbe? Or for Eugene Terreblanche and Sampie Terreblanche? Or for Willie Breytenbach and Breyten Breytenbach? Which Jewish Rabbi can speak for Sol Kerzner and David Bruce. And I dare say, which Muslim theologian could speak for Mohammed Bham, that human rights activist and for Ibrahim Bham, the person who is supposed to have been here and who now heads Radio Islam, the radio that denies women a voice on their stations because men get turned on by the voices of women? And so, I can only speak for myself and I speak for those Muslims who felt that they had to South Africanise their Islam and by that, to develop an empathy with the people of our land and to identify with their suffering and to give their everything to alleviate the pain and the injustice that visited our land.
As the for the past, Mr Chairman, the past apartheid, the injustices are only in some ways about 1948 the Nationalist Party, the Bureau of State Security, Bantu Education, Homelands, etc, etc, but it is also about Christian triumphalism. It's also about the fact that as Muslims were subjected to Christian national education. We were forced into it. It is also about symbols like that that continue to dominate a process like this even. I'm talking about the symbol of the crucifix, it's a bit of an irony, and despite [SIDE 2] the denying of women to open bank accounts or accounts in shops on their own. It's also about women in Kwa Zulu Natal, who have to fold up their mattresses against the walls when their husbands go back to the cities and the mattress can only come down once their husbands come back. The past is also about the control of women's bodies. It's about the denial of the right of children to be children and of adults to be adults. Adults as beings responsible for their own bodies, for their own sexual, personal and social lives. The past is an embracing past. And I make this point because if we do not understand the all embracing nature of the injustices of the past, what will happen is that as religious people, we have this remarkable ability to shift as the winds shift, to change our theology as the wind changes. And so our confessions in front of you, our lamentations about the past, these are mere games of adjustments that we make, as the power structures in our country have changed. And all of our confessions, if we do not recognise the comprehensives of the injustices that have visited our land, if we do not recognise it, our confessions here will amount to sprinkling a little bit of perfume over a heap of cow dung in the hope that the smell will disappear.
As Muslims, Muslims were never singled out during the apartheid era, for any special kind of oppression. We formed part of four fears that the regime persistently articulated: swart gevaar, rooi gevaar, room se gevaar en die Islam se gevaar. But it was part of a combination of these four dangers that Muslims had fitted into. There was one exception in the way in which the apartheid regime treated us, and that is that our Mosques were left untouched under the Group Areas Act. And so you had the spectacle of, currently still visible in District Six for example, of a large area of vacant land and you only see the Mosques. They did leave St. Marks Church there also, but that is because they couldn't possibly leave four Mosques, and demolish one church. But in the other group areas throughout the country, they also demolished churches, and that was the only exception they made for Muslims. Under the Group Areas Act, Muslims, a minority community, were uprooted from their homes, thrown into the middle of nowhere, away from the business centres, Muslim business owners were removed into isolated other areas. And we suffered lot, but we did not suffer as Muslims. We suffered as coloured people, we suffered as Indian people and there are a handful of blacks and a handful of whites. And at the same time as coloured people and as Indian people, we were also privileged. The colour preferential job policy in the Western Cape, for example. The way in which the Muslim business community in Gauteng and Kwa Zulu Natal benefited in many ways from the system. And how, for the vast majority of blacks, for very many blacks, the first line of oppression that they met was often Muslims, the Muslim business keeper or the Muslim housewife in whose house they were employed as a servant. And that is why often people do not understand how you can talk about Islam and a struggle against apartheid in the same breath. Because in our own personal lives, in our homes and businesses, we were no different from those "white" people that we sometimes reduce to as the "oppressor".
As far as our collaboration and resistance to the system is concerned, there is the community at large. In truth, the community at large was a complacent community, feeble in its responses and going whichever way the wind was going at a particular moment. And then there was the religious leadership of the community. The essential attitude of that religious leadership, despite whatever nice words have been coming in the last few years as a part of this theology of accommodation, is essentially one of betrayal. In 1979, Imam Abdullah Harum was murdered in detention after being kept there for six months. Twenty five thousand people attended his funeral, and not a single voice in the Muslim community was raised about the nature of his death, and all the injuries on his body. Not a single voice in the Muslim community from the religious leadership of the Muslim community. And this silence, Mr Chairman, held for seven years, non-stop! At a Mosque level and in a Muslim publication level. Of course I speak with anger. By God, I've got a damn right to be angry! For seven years the silence held. He was a nice man. He was praised for being a good religious leader, but of course we don't know why, we can't say anything about the reasons for his detention. And now it has come out: he was murdered. The Muslim Judicial Council, from 1961 up to the period of 1964 issued five statements condemning different acts of apartheid. A total of five statements and held a single public meeting. The two other dominant cleric councils in Natal and the Transvaal, did not issue a single statement, and did not ever hold a single meeting. On the contrary, there was persistent denial of space and of legitimacy to all of those Muslim activists and organisations that were a part of the struggle. I studied Islamic Theology for eight years in a seminary. Five years of it with the person who was supposed to have been here before me, and who is in perfect good health, certainly by late last night and three years in another seminary. For four years I spent doing my doctorate for ...[inaudible] and I spent another two years doing post-doctoral work in biblical ...[inaudible]. The Muslim clergy described me in their paper as an ignoramus masquerading as a theologian. I am not personalising all of this, I am only saying that this is the way the religious leadership treated those of us who were a part of the struggle. But our history, Mr Chairman, and I want to get to the end, is not only one of collaboration and betrayal. Our community has given rise to remarkable individuals, people who were deeply inspired by our faith Islam, people such as Achmad Timol, who fell down, who slipped on a bar of soap, and then he died in John Vorster Square. People like Babla Selojee, who "hanged himself". People like Jusuf ...[inaudible], a 22 year old person, nine months into his marriage being blown apart by a boobie trap hand-grenade, and people like Moegsien Jina. We have produced many, many activists, the likes of Ebrahim Rassoul, the likes of Achmad Kassiem, Jusuf Patel, Rafiek Ruhan, people who have earned their stripes on Robin Island.
And then there were the Muslim organisations. The Call of Islam which I headed, the MYM (Muslim Youth Movement) and Kibala, the latter especially added an enormous amount to the growing militancy of the eighties. They mobilised the Muslim community and they travelled the length and breadth of the country, organising thousands of people. And the Call of Islam particularly focusing on inter-religious solidarity against apartheid. And I served as the National Vice-President of the WCRP for about six years, and at the same time Mr Chairman, we gave the impression that we got our communities on board. We succeeded in shutting up and marginalising in public the leadership of our communities. We succeeded in embarrassing them and never succeeded in getting them on board. Internally in the community, in the religious circles we remained the marginalised, we remained the mavericks.
As a matter of interest, I wasn't initially intended to be the speaker here today. But as I pointed out to Dr Piet Meiring, the time that people like myself are on the margins, was yesterday, not today. Today people like myself are in the centre of South Africa and that's where we are going to remain.
A word about reconciliation to conclude with. I have been on record as criticising the Christianisation of this process. I maintain, Mr Chairman, that I have a great fear that this commission will focus on nice language at the end of the day, that your own humanity, and I am referring to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, that your own humanity, that your own unbounded grace is going to reflect far too heavily in the report of this commission and that the anger and the pain that our people have experienced, on the one hand, and on the other hand the lies and games that the State and religious figures come to you with, the accommodation tactics, the peppering over of the cracks, I fear that they will get away with it. And so truth, reconciliation is premised on truth, but reconciliation is not only premised on truth, reconciliation is also premised on justice. And so when this process is finished, it is not truth and reconciliation that is finished. It will only be the beginning and I will want to see recommendations in your report that essentially addresses the question of truth and justice as means to reconciliation, because reconciliation is not an end by itself. I do not want to reconcile with those who want to turn over a new page, but they have given me no indication that they have actually read the page that I am putting in front of them at the moment.
Thank you very much, and God bless you all.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Mcebisi? Piet Meiring?
PROF. P MEIRING: I was listening very carefully to what you said to us, especially the last paragraph about reconciliation and the problems of a cheap, glossed over reconciliation, but what I'd really like to know is your advice on real reconciliation. What is the commitment of the Call of Islam and also what is the things that you can put on the table with your experience, with your expertise, that will really help us forward? Because reconciliation is not only to my mind a means to an end, it is also an end. We are the TRC and the process of reconciliation is very dear to us, but from the experience you have and from the experience of the Muslim community at large, what is the specific contribution that you think that the Muslim community and the Call of Islam in particular will be able to make?
DR FARIED ESACK: Thank you very much. Just a point of correction. I was the National Co-Ordinator of the Call of Islam during the years under discussion. I no longer retain any position in the Call of Islam.
I think that essentially words such as peace and reconciliation are vague and empty, if they are not accompanied by a very real socio-economic changes and dynamics that are effected within our society to concretise these concepts. It is all very well for me to have a Malawian (Malawian by the way is a word that is used for black Muslims inside South Africa very often because the early black Muslims had come from Malawi so we talk about our Malawian brothers), it is very easy for example to have a black Muslim with me in the Mosque and so on and then we pray together and shake hands and hug together, and that is the end of the story. But my Muslim black brother would have to go in the end to the street where he sleeps in and I go back to my palace. And so, despite the limitedness of your own mandate, there is the significant question of economic justice as a means to true reconciliation. That is the one thing. The other thing of where people come to the TRC and they come and we lament our tales and we cry and in the end there are no firm recommendations from this commission about how reparations are going to be done, and you end up with "finders keepers, losers weepers", quite literally the losers come here and weep again, and they go out and they are still the losers, and so there needs to be a recommendation on economic redistribution of the resources of our land. Certainly in Islam forgiveness is premised on returning stolen goods. There is no forgiveness without ...[inaudible] without a return of whatever ill begotten gains you have, and so for me this return of the ill begotten gains, radical as it may sound, unfashionable as socialist ideals may be sounding today, for me that is the only avenue to any kind of authenticity to reconciliation.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Joyce?
MS JOYCE SEROKE: You mentioned in your submission the fact that the women in your community are marginalised. I would like to know what steps are being taken to free the women and make them human beings within their own rights?
DR FARIED ESACK: Thank you very much, sister. The battle for gender equality. If you think that it was difficult to get Muslims on board the struggle against apartheid, you don't know what you've got coming to you when you talk about the battle for gender justice. Yesterday, mercifully, the High Court ruled against Radio Islam, when Radio Islam insisted that the IBA had no authority to take action against it. There are we started from a very, very difficult situation. The Christian Church is debating whether women should be ordained. Of course, as the Reverend Father has always said, I mean, Priesthood is a calling. We have always said that the Priesthood is a calling. If it is a calling from God, why on earth can't we leave it up to God to decide whom he wants to call? But at least Christians are debating that, Muslims are still debating whether women should be allowed into the Mosque or not! And so we are in the dark ages. There are small glimmers of hope. In a Mosque like the Claremont Main Road Mosque, the only Mosque in the world where women preach, sometimes on a Friday. The only Mosque in the world and we are proud that it is in South Africa! There is gender activists, deeply committed Muslims who are fighting to retain their identities as Muslims and at the same time to be true to their own identity as oppressed gendered beings, but these are small candles in the darkness, and I don't know, certainly not in our lifetime. I always say, I mean I am also a Commissioner for gender equality, and I certainly say that if there is a job that is going to be around for a long time, then it's Commissioner for gender equality.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Virginia?
MS V GCABASHE: Thank you your Grace, Joyce has asked the question I was going to ask.
CHAIRPERSON: Oh, you wonderful child. Thomas?
MR T. MANTHATA: Thank you Faried. It may be by way of recapping. I may have lost in the midst of all what was being said. Can you give us, you know, a strategy or a form into which all these things can fit in for execution, or for implementation? You have spoken widely about issues that are of real concern. I would have loved to see us narrowing them to, you know, whether it is a structure or what, where these things can be fitted into, where they can be monitored, where they can be seen to be done.
DR FARIED ESACK: I don't know. Like all theologians, it's all very easy to be fuzzy wuzzy on all sorts of ideas and so on and then when anybody asks you for any concrete ideas you are completely lost. At the end of the day, I am just another budding theologian. Um, I don't know but I certainly think that there have been structures in the past that WCRP have initiated; the Forum for Religious Leaders, groups that can get together and on an you see that the problem is that many religious leaders, we have either now serving as Commissioners or as directors in some Deputy President's office, blah, blah, blah, and so we in many ways have lost our own sense of vocation. But the challenging role for example that the South African Council of Churches played in the 70's and more particularly in the 80's, I think there is again a need for those kinds of forums to be established and again to continuously challenge society, draw up a new Kayros Document for a post-apartheid South Africa and in the tensions that we had among ourselves and the programmes that emerged from those tensions, I certainly think that we are people who claim that our inspirations comes from inside or from above, and note necessarily from socio-political dynamics around us, but in the end of the day, I can only say that a forum of religious leaders committed to this kind of truth and reconciliation that I was referring to, such a forum may be able to come up with a more concrete programme that you may want to see.
REV. K MGOJO: Thank you Sir. I feel that I need to ask this question. In your presentation, you did mention that the Muslim community benefited as far as business is concerned. And you also mentioned Natal, where I come from. What contribution do you think that your community could make in terms of reparation? Because most of the businesses of the Muslims in Natal have been supported by those people who are the victims of the system.
DR FARIED ESACK: I certainly think that religious communities in South Africa as a whole, I think that the TRC as a commission, ought to take a far firmer and challenging position on this. In a very direct way, you've got to go to not only Muslim businesses, Jewish businesses and business is business. Business has got no religious colour whatsoever. To go to these people and say that: Look, this is what you have done. As a community of Muslim businessmen or as a community of Jewish businessmen, you have complicity in the past, look at your palatial mansions and just look on the other side of the road and look at the ghettos on the other side of the road or the railway line or whatever. People, as Dr Alan Boesak has always said, people are starving, people are dying of under eating, because other people are dying from over eating. And so the point that I want to make is this, Reverend Mgojo, you need to go to those communities and confront them directly head on and irrespective of how much they claim to have suffered in the past, and say here we are, this is a fund that we are setting up. If you believe that you have benefited from ill begotten gains, put your money where your mouth lies, if not the TRC should in its own final report go for any particular community or any group of people with vested interests who have not participated actively or aren't willing to come on board, such an initiative.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very, very much. And thank you about all those religious leaders who are Commissioners. No thank you. You have been as provocative as always and we are always and we are enormously grateful to you Faried. Mr Trikamjee? Welcome and thank you very much for being here and your patience since yesterday. Bongani Finca will administer the oath or the affirmation as you wish.
MR A TRIKAMJEE: When one talks about lawyers and justice and so on, somehow or the other, as lawyers are inclined to be, and I am no exception, we like to brag about ourselves and when I think about the submissions that have been made up until now by many South Africans across the political spectrum, across the social spectrum and now across the religious spectrum, one can't help avoiding telling you this little story. Because of some of the confessions that have been made, some true, some untrue, of three accused persons being charged for murder appearing in a court of law. And when asked by the presiding Judge which one of them was pleading guilty two of them raised their hands and said we're pleading not-guilty. The third one who was the smallest in size of the three, simply said: "Excuse me your Lordship, I want to plead guilty". And the Judge looked at him and said: "Are you guilty of murder?" He says: "No, no I choose perjury" and the Judge asked him why and he said: "The sentence to lie is so much more lenient than the sentence for murder".
Mr Chair, I must preface my presentation by making the comment, and I think Professor Meiring will confirm this, that the Hindu community was advised rather late, through no fault of anybody, these things happen, in making this submission. And our submission inasmuch as we've made them to you were made under a great deal of hurry and rush and we hope that we have done as good a job as we would have like to have done, in the circumstances. We thank you for inviting the South African Hindu Community, represented by the South African Hindu Maha Sabha, to make submissions to the Faith Communities Hearing here in East London today.
As and by way of an introduction, we want to state that South Africans of Indian origin came to this country from about the 16th November 1860 onwards as migrant labourers to work in the sugar industry in Natal. By 1910, three years before the immigration was finally stopped, 133 437 persons had arrived in Natal. Ninety five percent of these were members of the Hindu faith. Today, their descendants form the core of the South African Indian population of 1 million, the largest Indian group outside India. There was another group as well that arrived here and they were known as the passenger Indians who were basically traders and merchants. The Indian immigrants laboured under slave-like conditions on the sugar farms, working long hours from sunrise to sunset and sometimes over 12 hours on a daily basis. They lived in unfurnished barracks and on rations. Children were not provided with education, nor were proper health and hospital care arranged for sick people. It was therefore not surprising that thousands of sugar workers on the farms and mills, together with their women folk joined coal miners from Northern Natal and crossed the Natal/Transvaal border in defiance of the provincial barriers and in protest against the three pound poll tax imposed on all adult immigrants free from their indenture and who still remained in this country. And then of course, we had Mahatma Gandhi. There were many Hindus, both in Natal and the Transvaal, who took part in the first passive resistance campaign of the 1906 and 1914 era which was launched by Mahatma Gandhi soon after his arrival as a lawyer in South Africa. He later was to devil up Satyagraha, a non-violent passive resistance movement in his struggle for equality, justice and human dignity.
On freedom, Gandhi's conception was the co-existence with the freedom of man. To him, truth was that there was the higher nature in every human being which is the reflection of truth or God. He had implicit trust in the goodness of human nature. Gandhi told us of the bravery and sacrifice of the ordinary Indian labourer, mainly Hindus, but also of other faiths who fought with courage and bravery during the campaign of protest and voluntary jail, of assaults on the resistors by the police and of cruel jail conditions under which they served their imprisonment. As a preamble to this presentation, it is important to note that Hindus regard all forms of life as being endowed with supreme spirit, but at different levels of manifestation. The Hindus firmly uphold the doctrine of Ahimsa, which means non-injury in any form. Thus is can be concluded from this assumption that they are strongly opposed to any form of violence against any living being. Hindus, together with all self respecting human beings, opposed and still oppose all forms of discrimination. Every Hindu, generally has his own personal relationship with God of his understanding. He or she prefers to work and worship without putting strong emphasis on his or her Hinduism. It is also a proselytising religion, seeking individuals to convert into his or her own fold. Some of the frustration and anger aroused in Hindus was that they did not get the support from the State insofar as its religion and cultural aspirations were concerned. Even up to the recent past, Hindus were not allowed to invite religious scholars or cultural artists to promote their values. Hindu marriages were, and are still not given status, and are considered to be illegitimate. The legal system was practised with some measure of bias. Punishment depended on the colour of the skin. Such was the order of the day.
As a community, Hindus opposed human right violations of any kind. After the departure of Mahatma Gandhi in 1914 a number of members of the community deeply involved in the struggle against discrimination and human rights violations, and some of them, and I don't mean to have an exhaustive list here, were Dr Monty Naiker, Nana Seetha, Debbie Sing, J.M. Sing, Mac Maharaj, Soonabjee Rastanjee, Thumbie Naidoo, Dr Kay Gwinum, P.S. Joshee, just to name a few. This does not mean that the Hindu community was not without problems. The Indian community neither supported nor condoned the actions of the apartheid regime. In the period between 1946 and 1948, they launched the second passive resistance campaign after the passing of the pegging act in 1943 and the Asiatic Land Tenure Act of 1946 when over 2000 men and women resisted passively and went to jail. However, when the tricameral system was established, most Hindus did not offer any support to those who took up positions in that parliament. The voting pattern during the elections was a sufficient indication of the lack of support given by the community to that system. However, we regret that some Hindus chose to serve in that parliament. In its early history, colonial power responsible for Indian immigration did not anticipate that Indians would become an economic threat to white settlers. The land procured by Indians after the expiry of the indenture was soon to be efficiently tilled and farmed. In a short time, they became prosperous market gardeners, providing vegetable requirements for the whites. Debates soon ensued in government and local circles to repatriate the Indians back to India. This feeling resulted in the signing of the Cape Town agreement in 1927, between India and South Africa which provided that should Indians remain in South Africa, education would be uplifted, but this remained in breach. And those who wished to return to India would be assisted with a free passage.
From as far back as 60 years or so, the life of the community became severely affected by the introduction of the periodic laws governing land tenure. Each new enactment deprived its people of existing property rights and radically reducing areas in which Indian occupation and ownership was permitted. The most serious and painful of legislation was the Group Areas Act passed in 1950. Settled communities who had built little schools and temples were rudely uprooted by the ruling class and relocated to some distant areas or new areas with very little facilities. Kato Manor in Durban was one of the many affected areas where Indians settled, built homes, started their own market gardening and worked as unskilled labourers. When this area was declared a white area, under the Group Areas Act, the Indian Community received the biggest blow to its survival. To name one of many, the Arian Benevolent Home, which started as a home for the homeless in 1921, was badly affected in the grand settlement plan. It took about 15 years to find an alternative for re-settlement at a much higher cost. In the process, the old, the disabled and the affected children had to endure immeasurable hardships. In all such areas, including Johannesburg, where the Group Areas applied, temples, schools and cultural centres had to be left behind. Some such temples were ...[inaudible] temple in Kingsgate, the ...[inaudible] temple in Umbilo and the ...[inaudible] in College Road, Overport.
It took the Hindu community a long time to rebuild their places of worship. Again, since priority had to be given to providing much needed homes which were relatively small, giving birth to the dismantling of the joint family system and the disruption of the traditional family life. To compound the problem, religious sites in the new areas were generally purchased by the Christian churches because they had the necessary funds. This lead to many conversions to other faiths, especially Christianity. No adequate provision was made for the education of the Indian child by the State, mainly because of its policy of indifference. Through self-help and by contributions from their meagre earnings, 261 State aided Indian schools were built by the Indian community. In this regard, the indentured labourers went through severe hardships in the schooling of their children, because they had to make the effort to make contributions. It is of interest to note that three high schools, Sustri College, Verulam Secondary, and Umzinto Secondary were built by Indian contribution and handed to the State. All along the state aided schools suffered from inadequate funding. A small grant per child had to cover the salaries of caretakers, telephone expenses if any and the maintenance of the building and purchase of furniture which was always inadequate. There were no science and library facilities during those difficult years.
Prior to 1984, no Indian languages, Hindi, Tamal, ...[inaudible], and Arabic were introduced in primary schools. Even after this period, Indian languages remained as optional subjects and are not given serious attention. They remain as a non-examination subject and are taught in primary schools, depending on the number. Another serious setback arose in the cultural life of the Hindu community by the imposition of the cultural boycott by the Indian government for almost fifty years as a result of the discriminatory laws that were passed by parliament in this country. Hence, serious cultural deprivation occurred, affecting the lives even to this day. A great deal of resentment and hurt lies in the manner in which Indians were deprived access to schools which had some of the best facilities and entry into so-called white universities. There were many students, who at great financial sacrifice, had to study medicine and obtain a higher education of their choice, at universities in India, Ireland and England. If justice had prevailed, many more would have qualified locally and been added to the list of academics holding important positions in our society. The first university to open its doors to Indians was Fort Hare in the Cape. Dr A.D. Lazarus became the first Indian graduate in South Africa.
In South Africa the majority of holidays are in conformity with Western Christianism. All of us observe Christmas day, Easter and Sunday as a day of rest. These days are all Christo centric. If we consider that our country is a secular one, then every religion must have its main religious day observed side by side with others. Alternatively, there should be only one national holiday. On the Hindu holiday of Diwali, which falls during the months of October or November, our children at tertiary institutions are still writing examinations on this day, which goes against the religious spirit of Diwali. In a country with a religious majority, minority group rights must be protected. How far do we go in attaining? As a community we are fully in line with the principles of affirmative action. The constitution of this country states that we are a non-racial democracy which is to us all, is in keeping with the highest noble spirit of the land. This spirit needs to be protected at all times and in this overall spirit of non-racial society, concern arises in the minds of our community when one group might be placed in favour over another. This view needs to be addressed for the future.
Even today, we are experiencing gross human rights violations. Sadly, these violations are being classified under the terminology of the word crime. Any society with a high moral and ethical behaviour does not need the strong arm of the law for the enforcement of strict penalties. On the other hand, when the morality of individuals is so low, the laws must be firmly and strictly applied to protect the rights of everyone. Therefore, the secular laws have to be inversely proportional in punishment to the level of morality of individuals. Although our human nature goes against this view, harsher forms of punishment for serious transgressions and violations of the law are essential. Any severe punishment in relation to the crime committed will act as a deterrent to other offenders, than merely an appeal to the moral consciousness. We therefore need to embark, together both from the government and from our side to conscientise on our brothers and sisters on the negative impact that crime had on us. Therein lies our hope for future stability.
In conclusion may I wish to state that we have great faith and hope in our new found democracy. Our strength lies in the way in which we can forget and forgive. The healing of the past undoings, which in some cases will no doubt take time, but our strong belief in the almighty God who protects and sustains us, will give us his guidance and mercy to overcome the challenges that lie ahead. Although we are a nation with differing religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds, our commitment and love for our country and respect for all its diversities will lead us to peace and prosperity. Let light always shine in our hearts and may we constantly walk the path of truth. God bless the Truth and Reconciliation Commission!
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
MR ASHWIN TRIKAMJEE: Mr Chairman, may I just add one or two comments which I feel are necessary to be made in the light of the submissions that have been made?
It is correct and it is only fair that in all honesty we have to accept that in the past so-called leaders of the Hindu community, and I emphasise so-called Hindu leaders, failed hopelessly and miserably in voicing their protest against apartheid. The few who did, did so passively and not actively or for that matter even militantly, while other Hindus who were not able to compromise their beliefs, distanced themselves from the Hindu community leaders and in the process, from Hindu organisations and as much as one hates at a Truth Commission Hearing to talk about oneself, I would be unfortunately one of those, who distanced myself from the Hindu organisations for the very same reasons. And as Hindu leaders they, far from protesting, in many instances supported and condoned the actions of the then ruling government. For this I must apologise on behalf of my community because the community failed to remove these leaders when they were openly failing to exercise their Hindu duty, forget about anything else.
Of course there were perceptions that were created that Hindus were part of the system and these perceptions I would like to submit, were created by the manipulations of the then ruling order, cleverly disguised to create the impression, so that hostility would ferment [TAPE 2] and particularly the black community in this country.
I would like to conclude by saying and by submitting that these people that I have just spoken about on behalf of whom I have apologised, were a minority few in the Hindu community. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. I don't know whether your colleague please switch off your thank you. Whether there is anything you want to add? Please just say again who you are.
MR R KALLIDEEN: My name is Kallideen, Secretary of the South African Hindu Maha Sabha. I would just like to add that in spite of the difficulties and the hardship that the Hindu community suffered over the years, many of our major affiliates have thought of the difficulties experienced by those who suffered in the townships and in those disadvantaged areas. I would like to say that three of our major organisations from a long time have been involved in the Food for Life, and are still involved and on a daily basis, each of these three organisations are handing out hampers in the region of about 5000 daily to those unfortunate people and even in the Transvaal, a Hindu organisation there, on each Sunday is distributing food hampers at Atteridgeville and together with the traditional church of South Africa, Independent Church of South Africa, it is also busy distributing blankets and clothing to the unfortunate people in that part of the world. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very, very much. We are very deeply grateful to you for your contribution. Virginia Gcabashe?
MS V GCABASHE: Thank you your Grace. I would first like to thank you for the presentation that you have made today. It was quite clear to us and I am also grateful that you have two presentations here and the first speaker concentrated on the first presentation, but the second speaker has touched on the second presentation so I'm sure we will be able to engage you in both presentations. And what I would like to say is that it is surprising that in both presentations, they are almost similar, so both of you should be able to be comfortable with both.
My first question is that I do realise how you as people who have come from India have suffered in this country and maybe you have suffered just in the same way as Africans have suffered in this country, although it was their country of birth. I would first like to ask you about the distinction that you make on affirmative action. Both papers seem to indicate that you are not quite happy with affirmative action. Maybe you could explain this a little bit more?
MR ASHWIN TRIKAMJEE: I think it needs an explanation and I'm glad you're giving me an opportunity to giving me an opportunity to do so.
I think that it's not a question of being unhappy as opposed to the perception that has been created in the community out there. The perception being that affirmative action applies to everyone other than black people, and that is a perception that we need to address. As a Hindu community we address it constantly, at every opportunity that we get, in trying to point out that you can't try to compare 35 million disadvantaged people who have been completely deprived, and you try to compare that against the rights of a million people who are a minority. Our submission there is based on perceptions and we need to address it to correct that perception, because if it's not corrected, we feel that it's going to actually create animosity and unpleasantness, which we can ill-afford at this stage. So that is the basis on which that submission has been made.
MS V GCABASHE: You also make a comment about this is in your presentation, that a society with a high moral and ethical behaviour does not need the strong arm of the law for the enforcement of strict penalties. Could you also indicate ?
MR ASHWIN TRIKAMJEE: I think that is a moral argument and it's really a moral teaser for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I'd hoped that you were not gong to ask me that question, but since you have, I must confess that it's a teaser for you. You have, as religious people with strong religious background, you have this belief that, you know, out there you don't really need to punish people and put them in jail, if you can through the medium of our religious institutions, like the churches, like the temples, like the Mosques and everything else, instil a high moral sensitivity within them. If you do that, then we don't have to cry to the courts and to our poor ministers who've got other problems, insisting that they keep changing the laws every day to try and create the impression that the government is getting tougher. If our religious teachings are as strong as they ought to be, we feel that punishment would be a natural consequence and not one where the pressure is being brought on the government, almost on an hourly basis, let alone a daily basis, to continue to change the law to seem as if there is a stronger attitude. So that is basically what we submit.
MS V GCABASHE: You mentioned also that most of the Indian children had to go outside the country for their tertiary education. And then somewhere there is also a fear that you raised that maybe this same thing might have to happen in the post apartheid situation. Could we hear what you are basing this fear on?
MR ASHWIN TRIKAMJEE: That's not a submission that was made by ourselves. I think it is a submission made by Professor Joshee. I can, if you want me to deal with it since it's there, I could deal with it on the basis that that is again a perception. It is an unwarranted perception which needs to be corrected. I think it's unfair for people to cry now and say well, we are going to be deprived. I think you need to look at the overall context of how many people were deprived in this country, to the extent that which they were, it's a relative issue. I think that is a submission which I certainly wouldn't support.
MS V GCABASHE: Would the Secretary like to respond to that? I am asking because you made reference to the feeding schemes in Mamelodi and other African areas, and this statement comes from the same document.
MR R KALLIDEEN: Yes, the document that you are referring to is the document submitted by one small church organisation in the Transvaal and does not represent the views of the Hindu community of South Africa, including that of East London to.
MS V GCABASHE: My last question then is could you indicate what you as the Hindu community would contribute concretely towards reconciliation in this country. In this post apartheid country of ours?
MR ASHWIN TRIKAMJEE: You know, the whole approach of Hinduism as I pointed out in the presentation is one of non-violence and tolerance and we feel that that is basically the road you're going to go through, we have to go through that road again. I hate to echo what my predecessor emotionally and strongly submitted earlier on, that's my brother from the Muslim community, about the bitterness that seems to still prevail in people. I think that that's something that we've got to get rid of because we can't go on a reconciliation if we still harbour levels of bitterness. But I think that your commission will have a two fold purpose. As Hindus we feel that firstly, you've got to remove the bitterness that exists and you can only do so by what you're doing quite correctly and that is getting the truth out into the open. As far as reconciliation is concerned, the Hindu community's approach is a very simple one and that's the level of tolerance of all of us. It is something that we are born with and if we can pursue you to try and inculcate in your report which we don't doubt is going to be the most important document that is going to help this country towards a proper reconciliation. Inculcate in it the whole question of tolerance for the future, then I think that you will go a long way. So the Hindu community is there to pursue, preach and practice that level of tolerance. We do so, because our scriptures teach us that on a daily basis. So it's very easy for us to tell our communities out there what we mean by tolerance. I hope I have helped you in some way.
MS V GCABASHE: Thank you Mr Trikamjee. You seem to pin your hopes on the report that will finally come out of the Truth Commission. You have mentioned it a number of times. Thank you.
MR ASHWIN TRIKAMJEE: Maybe I should tell you why. Maybe it's because I have this is the second time that I am appearing, making submissions before your commission. As a lawyer I made a submission on behalf of the lawyers, and that's why I keep talking about your final report.
Despite what others say, I remain very, very optimistic about not only the quality and the content, but the impact of your report. I have complete confidence in you.
CHAIRPERSON: Maybe we should get you to come a bit more frequently. But thank you very, very much indeed, we are very deeply grateful and we are grateful for the contribution that your community has made to the country. Thank you very much.
We call on the representatives of the Bahai'i, Zephete? Welcome, and would you you are Mr Zephete? And you will introduce your colleagues?
MR Z ZITANDELE: She is Mrs Vera Razavi, a member of the Bahai community here in East London.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. And will you take the oath or the affirmation? Bongani Finca will do that.
MR Z ZITANDELE: I was just reporting to his Grace that you are Mrs Razavi, the wife of Mr Raxavi who was killed mercilessly here in East London in a massacre that is still unsolved. We wish to convey to you our deepest sympathy.
Mr Chairman, first of all, I would like to refer to the submission that we have made in September this year, however, we have got a presentation that we are making which is subsequent to that one, which might be slightly different to what we have submitted.
The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of South Africa, on behalf of all the Bahais we represent, is grateful for this opportunity to share with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission an understanding of the position and activities of the Bahai community in South Africa during the apartheid years. To understand the nature of the response of the Bahais to apartheid, it is necessary to understand the character of the Bahai community, the overall aims and objectives of the Bahai faith, its modus operandi and the global context in which it operates.
The Bahai faith, which is the most recent of the independent world religions, originated in Iran in 1844. Today the Bahai faith enjoys a world-wide following in excess of 6 million people, representing more than 2100 indigenous tribes, races and ethical groups, residing in more than 120 000 localities, in more than 200 countries and independent territories around the world. In South Africa, Bahai resides in some 900 communities, although records indicates that the first Bahais to reside in South Africa arrived in 1911. There was little significant growth until the 1950's. During the mid-1950's, a number of Bahai families came to this country from the United States, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and England, to settle and to introduce the Bahai faith to South Africa. The hallmark of the Bahai community is its diversity, a characteristic which is highly prized and actively pursued. The essential teachings of the Bahai faith focus on unity of God, of religion and of humanity. The pivot around which all other Bahai teachings revolve is that of the oneness of the human race. We believe that this is an essential reality of creation. Its acceptance and application by the generality of the peoples of the world is not only attainable in this age, but is the sole basis for sustainable peace and security of humanity. The very kingdom of God on earth as promised by all the divine revelations of the past.
Bahais firmly believe that this kingdom will take the form of a global society in which all races, creeds and classes of the world are united as a single family. The building of this global society is not a mere outburst of ignorant emotionalism, or an expression of a vague hope. It moves beyond awakening of the spirit of brotherhood and goodwill among men and the fostering of harmonious co-operation among individual peoples and cultures. This pursuit calls for an organic change in the structures of our present day society. A change such as the world has not yet experienced and it is towards this goal that the Bahai faith has been working globally since its inception over 153 years ago, and in South Africa since the 1950's.
Our actions were and remain based on an unshakeable acceptance of the spiritual nature of the individual and thereby the community and that religion is the greatest of all means for the establishment of order in the world and for the peaceful contentment of all that dwell therein. True to this teaching, our approach has been and remains to build communities which strive to put into daily practice fundamental spiritual aspirations such as love, honesty, moderation, humility, hospitality, justice, morality, trustworthiness and above all, unity, thereby influencing change from the ground up. Without the infusion of these values into society, no community however economically prosperous or intellectually empowered or technologically advanced can endure. Abhorring all forms of prejudice and rejecting any system of segregation, the Bahai faith was introduced on a one to one basis and the community quietly grew during the apartheid years, without publicity. Despite the nature of the politics of that time, we represented our teachings on unity and the oneness of humankind to prominent individuals in politics, commerce and academia, and leaders of thought, including State Presidents.
Approaches to individuals and prominent persons were pursued in order to offer to South Africa a pathway to peace and justice for all its citizens. During the apartheid yeas, both individual Bahais and our administrative institutions were continually watched by the Security Police. The surveillance and investigation by the police was due to the racially integrated nature of the Bahai community and its activities. However, it would appear that our numbers were too small and our activities too peaceful to be perceived as a real threat to the government of the day. Our activities did not include opposition to the previous government for involvement in partisan politics and opposition to government are explicitly prohibited by the sacred text of our faith as revealed by Bahalwa, the Prophet founder of our faith, even should that government be suspicious and ill-disposed to the aims and activities of the Bahais as was the case in this country. During the time when the previous government prohibited integration with out communities, rather than divide into separate administrative structures for each population group, we opted to limit membership of the Bahai administration to black adherents who were and remain in the majority of our membership and thereby place the entire Bahai community under the stewardship of its black membership. Happily, such policies were eased and we were able once again to have a racially integrated administrative bodies, which were and are democratically elected by and from the entire body of adult adherents of the Bahai faith.
In the nearly five decades since the Bahai faith was established in South Africa, through strict adherence to the principles of our prophet founder, we have forged ahead and made a modest beginning towards realising our vision of unity for South Africa by creating a model which can be studied and scrutinised and from which, we believe, valuable lessons can be learnt. The systematic development of our human resources was and is a result of great emphasis and spiritual, moral and ethical aspects of individual and community life. These include the sanctity of the family unit, importance of rendering service to the community in pursuit of a craft, or a profession which contributes towards prosperity and lends momentum to the elimination of extremes of poverty and wealth, and the obligation to educate one's children. The fundamental belief is the equality of mean and women, stemming from our teachings on the oneness of humankind, has meant that women in Bahai community have always taken an active role in all aspects of the work of the faith, including national leadership positions. The pursuit of our objectives of unity and equality have not been without its costs. The white Bahais were often ostracised by the their white neighbours for their association with non-whites. The black Bahais were subjected to scorn by their black counter compatriots for their lack of political action, and their complete integration with their white Bahai brethren. The most tragic loss to our community was the brutal execution of four of our adherents at our places of worship, three in Mdantsane and one in Umtata.
As we move towards the new millennium, our objective remains unchanged and our vision remains undimmed. However, our sense of urgency to realise this vision is more acute. Whatever unfolds in the years ahead in South Africa, and the world, the Bahais will continue to endeavour to establish global and national unity throughout the infusion of spiritual value at all levels of society by developing unified communities throughout the land. We offer the model for establishing peace in our country.
Again, we thank you for giving us this opportunity, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of South Africa.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Is there anything that you wanted to add? Mncebisi?
REV. M XUNDU: Thank you your Grace. You have made a very wonderful presentation. There are just one or two things which for clarity, one would like to hear from your, amplifying what you have said. It does seem as if in the time we are addressing, that is from 1960 to 1994, you concentrated mostly on spiritual upliftment without properly addressing environment and what was happening. Sometimes it is said that silence could be interpreted to be collusion. What tacit example can you give of your faith protesting or witnessing in order to change the mindset of those who were oppressing, to convert them towards being good and non-discriminatory?
MR Z ZITANDELE: Mr Chairman, as indicated in the presentation, there was no visible or tangible effort that was explicit, except teaching the fellow brethren in South Africa about the significance of unity and the elimination of prejudice. That was only the message we believed could be touching the hearts of the people that believed in God, that apartheid was one of the issues that were not condoned in the eyes of God.
REV. M XUNDU: What concrete contributions to you think you could make for people outside your faith, not necessarily in ...[inaudible] but in witnessing of the values which you hold so dear, in order that they may themselves begin to see your values and begin to in solidarity with you all, that they may also change like in the period that we're talking about (1960 to 1994)?
MR Z ZITANDELE: Mr Chairman, the contribution that the Bahais believe in is the change of the mindset to each and every citizen of South Africa in believing that the economic problems of this country have got their solutions in the spiritual aspect, whereby we believe that the main focus should now be in education and training of our children towards a value, the life and the values that would lead to the prosperity of the country. And we believe that the base for that is the fear of God.
REV. M XUNDU: You have said in your submission that you were not popular with people either from the oppressed or from the side of the perpetrator for the mere fact that you were not able to witness to your objection of racial prejudice which was taking place at the time. Are you able just to amplify and explain more on that, because we are here saying that all of us have a degree of guilt for not having stood up in the name of God to oppose the forces of apartheid and therefore asking for God's grace and forgiveness. After you have heard some of the people talking, how do you feel about that? Do you feel that there is nothing that your church owes in explaining to that position?
MR Z ZITANDELE: Again, as the adherents of the teachings of Bahaula, the sense of guilt does not strike the religion because we felt that the practise of being together with the blacks and whites was supposed to draw animosity from both sides, blacks and whites, because this was no in line with the laws or the legitimated apartheid. But the Bahai faith believes that it has got to obey the laws of the ruling government, and the only way that the Bahais can help with, is to influence the consciousness of the individuals to believe and also have an insight of the injustices that need to be eliminated. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Bongani Finca?
REV. B FINCA: In the submissions that have come before the commission yesterday, some of them mainly submissions that came last week in the business hearing in Johannesburg, there was a focus on the question of economic justice, or economic reconciliation, very fundamental to the process of reconciliation in this country. But there has been no spelling out of how this can be achieved and you have just mentioned something in your submission, which has not before been asked, and I'm sorry if I'm misquoting you, but one of your principles, one of your doctrines teaches avoidance of excesses of wealth and poverty. I am interested to hear more on that. How do you define excesses? For instance I don't want excesses of poverty, that I know. Excesses of wealth: when does wealth become excessive? I say so, because we are in a country where those who have find it completely impossible to share with those who do not have, because they believe that they don't have enough. And those who do not have grab, grab, grab and never stop, because I don't know about wealth we all just want to accumulate it and have it and it never stops. How does your religion teach avoidance of excess?
MR Z ZITANDELE: Mr Chairman, our religion emphasises a reduction of gaps between the extreme poverty and excess wealth. In this case, the practical method is that those that have, need to assist in the realisation of closing the gaps between themselves and the have-nots. And how this could be done: we say training and education becomes fundamental because if the contributions from the "havens" can be directed towards creation of refined skills with those that do not have, then the economy can be boosted. We have no strict measurement that wealth becomes excessive and poverty becomes extreme, but we are saying absolute poverty needs to be discouraged and excessive wealth needs also to be discouraged where an attempt is made to bridge the gap, but the gap will remain but by trying to reduce that gap, we will have to make contributions to the well-being of those that are poor. Thank you.
MS JOYCE SEROKE: In your submission you said that you presented your teachings on unity and oneness of humankind to President Botha and President De Klerk, and then later on from guidance from your World Centre in Israel, you had to now centre your teachings around blacks and coloureds.
I have two questions here. Did those teachings have any impact on those presidents? And did you feel that when there was no impact on all, then you had to concentrate on the blacks and coloureds?
MR Z ZITANDELE: Thank you Mr Chair. With regard to the submissions made to the presidents, these were meant to create awareness of other dimensions that could be considered when administering the apartheid system in the country, which we were asked to present. Then the measure of the success or the impact of the submissions to the presidents, one may say they might have been on long term, they have not been having any effect at all, but we didn't have any ways of measuring. To the question of concentrating on coloureds and blacks, these were the part of the society that were being affected negatively by the system of the country and we were meant to give a hope that there is a measure of hope that is lying ahead through the teachings of Bahaula, that God is the ultimate answer. That's all, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRPERSON: We are very grateful to you for having come and I reiterate the expression of sympathy and condolence that my colleague has given to you. Thank you very much, you may stand down.
It's tea time now and I gather that you are re-invited to tea, all of you.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. We hand over to you.
CHIEF RABBI C HARRIS: Thank you Mr Chairperson, brothers and sisters and deal colleagues. Firstly, I want to welcome this opportunity on behalf of the Jewish community to participate in our faith hearings. We feel it's a wonderful opportunity to try to heal divisions and to start the process of building a better life. We must examine the past. We must admit failings of the past. But those failings must prompt us all to move us in some way to do something now and in the years ahead to build a better country for the millions of our brothers and sisters who live in this country and who hope for a better future. One of the greatest things which has happened in our country is that principles, values and concepts, which are normally considered abstract have come gloriously alive in these historic times that we're going through. The brotherhood and sisterhood of the human family has taken on increased meaning. Everyone knows "Simunye", we must try to be one. The TRC has given new meaning to wrongdoing and forgiveness. These are not abstract ephemeral notions, but they're notions which get to the heart of the past of our country and to the soul of its future. The inter faith dialogue has moved beyond a mere tolerance and debate to allow us collectively to try and create the building blocks for the future. And the most important concept as far as the communities of this country are concerned is the concept of sharing, which is also not an abstract religious principle. In our country at this time, that the "haves" must share with the "have-nots" is not merely a political, economic nor social certainty, it is a moral imperative.
I would like to pinpoint the failings are far as the Jewish community is concerned of all that happened in the apartheid era. The Jewish community did not initiate apartheid. Many in the Jewish community did not agree with apartheid. Almost everyone in the Jewish community had a kind of awkward tension about apartheid, but most of the Jewish community benefited in one way or another from apartheid. I want to read what Stephen Friedman, the Director of the Centre for Policy Studies recently wrote:
"No Jew who lived in South Africa during the apartheid period can plausibly claim that his or her circumstances today are not in some measure a result of apartheid. Anyone who succeeded in business, benefited from a right to economic activity which was denied others. Anyone who received a professional qualification, enjoyed a place at school, college, university which was denied to the majority on racial grounds alone. Anyone who enjoyed an authentic Jewish family life, Judaism is a domestic religion, did so in a home which persons not classified as whites could neither own nor occupy, save as a hired servant, in which latter case they were not permitted to enjoy a family life of their own. Any member of our community who found a job in a corporation or as a skilled artisan, probably occupied a post from which those classified not-white were barred".
This, of course, touches only on the formal legal stipulations which enabled the Jews along with other South Africans labelled white to get on in life at the expense of others. Apartheid was more than a set of racial laws. Its workings offered whites cheap labour in their homes and factories, subsidised their services and facilities and in general provided them with every tool for personal advancement which was denied to others. Its effect was to ensure that at least under apartheid's latter days, few if any whites, failed to achieve a degree of affluence as a direct result of the fact that others were forced to live in penury. This context creates a profound personal and collective responsibility for every apartheid reared Jew, for it raises the possibility that their attainments today may have been achieved only because of apartheid's role in denying to others what we now enjoy ourselves.
He goes on to say, and I think it's important, to anticipate an objection. "Yes, many Jews who made it during the apartheid era (let's get away from the impression that all Jews are millionaires - it's not at all true. We have meals on wheels for many old and poor Jewish people to this day). Yes, many Jews who made it during the apartheid era would have done well in countries which allowed equal opportunity to all."
Yes, many worked hard to achieve what they now have and employed much natural ability to do it. But can we really say that all of us would be what we are today, in the Jewish community, if apartheid had never existed? Can anyone of us, as a matter of principle, since it is impossible to determine how South African Judaism would have feared without apartheid, declare confidently that we enjoy no skills, capabilities and possessions which apartheid gave us? We bear responsibility today, whatever role we played in the past, however many letters we wrote to the newspapers, however many bursaries we sponsored, however civil we were to our workers or servants, because it is possible, indeed probable, that our personal circumstances are products of apartheid. And if we are responsible for this country's past, we are of course responsible for its future. In that the Jewish community benefited from apartheid, apology must be given to this commission.
The second question's more difficult. What did silence ...[inaudible] Very easy - that poster "The truth hurts and silence kills" which is true, but we need a sophisticated and in depth look at what happened. Now there were many Jewish individuals who were not silent, and we have in our written submission, we mention Professor Asmal Kadar Asmal, the current Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry, who recently saluted the Jewish heroes of the anti-apartheid struggle. He said the Jewish community of South Africa has produced proportionately more heroes in the struggle against apartheid than any other so-called white group and he went on to list a lot of names, which I won't bother to read, you've got them there and they're all well known. It is important to indicate that these were individuals not all of whom were practising Jewish males or females but that they were moved by either Jewish, and more often than not, humanitarian motivations to speak out and some of them suffered very greatly for it. But they weren't there, and I think it's an important part of our Jewish submission that this should not be overlooked. For example, more than half the 23 whites involved in the treason trial of the 1950's and all five whites apprehended in the Rivonia arrests of 1963 were Jewish. Most Jews voted for the United Party, subsequently for the Progressive Federal Party, and eventually the Democratic Party. Whatever might have been the reasons for the voting patterns, it's not worthy that more than half of the 23 whites involved in the treason trial, as mentioned, and the Rivonia trial were Jewish.
Seeking peaceful change, Jews actually wanted to use the vote. The vote as an individual, which unfortunately so many millions didn't have, to try to effect change. Whatever might have been the reason for these voting patterns, clearly in election after election, the truth is that Jews overwhelmingly and continuously voted against the governing National Party, more so than any other white group in South Africa. Members of the Jewish community also participated significantly in various protest groupings such as the Five Freedoms Forum, Jews for Justice in Cape Town, Jews for Social Justice in Johannesburg and the Black Sash. So there were individuals and there were groups. We must explain to you, and this is our obligation, the silence of the general Jewish community as distinct from individuals and specific groups during the apartheid era. What does silence denote? It denotes acquiescence and accommodation. One of the great evils of apartheid (I know there were so many evils) was that it desensitised decent people to the suffering of millions. They just got used to apartheid. The accommodated themselves to it, they were acquiesce in it. Another reason could be cowardice. [SIDE 2] must be appreciated in the Jewish context otherwise it would be unfair. Another reason was plain fear. Apartheid was a very repressive regime, got more and more repressive, until thank God, the democracy came. The Jewish community is very small in numbers. It is a very silly mistake of many people to think that there are millions and millions of Jewish people in this country. There have never been! At its height, it was a community of 130000. At its height. And this was a very small community and of course, it may be a very high profile community, but it's a very small community in numbers, it's a post-holocaust generation. Do you know what the Nazis did to the Jewish people? So therefore, Jewish people all over the world have a sensitivity, one would say a hyper-sensitivity towards survival. At all costs they want to survive. I am not condoning the silence of the Jewish community in the apartheid era, I am attempting to explain it and I am asking for your understanding.
There is always a fear of anti-sematism Before the Second World War, the parliament of this country banned Jews from this country. With the Aliens Act. The Jewish community would be very much larger now if Jews, the refugees from Europe had been allowed in to South Africa. They weren't allowed in. Regarding the Nationalist Party in the early days, 1940's and 50's, there was always the fear of anti-sematism, so fear played a very great part, it shouldn't have done but it did.
The next point is, and I think as these are religious hearings, we should go into it .
CHAIRPERSON: My dear brother, I don't want to interrupt your wonderful eloquent but those poor dears who are trying to interpret are finding it a little difficult to keep up
CHIEF RABBI CYRIL HARRIS: I have to apologise, beg the commission's forgiveness twice. Once because I don't speak English, I speak Scottish and secondly I speak far too quickly. Okay, I'm going to go to the limit of 59 km's per hour, I'll try not to overdo it.
The silence is a question of discretion. A lot of people feel that speaking out can be dangerous and that speaking out can be futile. Now it is true to Jewish tradition that the citizen has never been empowered to surrender the use of his or her moral conscience. Civil disobedience has a long and honourable tradition in Jewish history. And against the argument that it is courting danger to challenge authority and that the exercise may well prove futile, traditional Jewish sources suggest it's not for the protesters to judge the outcome, that wrong must always be opposed, irrespective of the consequences. I want in this company of religious people to quote from the Talmut in Shabbat. It says as follows: "Rabbi Zera once said to Rabbi Simon, 'You must censure the ...[inaudible]. They've done something wrong and you have to tell them off'. He replied 'They won't listen to me, it's a waste of time'. Rabbi Zera retorted, 'You must censure them all the same. You have to speak out'. This accords with the view of Rabbi Agga, who said that the good Lord himself never reversed a decision except once. The Holy One, blessed be he, he said to the Angel Gabriel, 'Go through the city of Jerusalem and on the foreheads of the righteous mark an X with ink and on the foreheads of the wicked mark an X of blood and the Angel of Death is going to move through Jerusalem and slaughter the wicked and preserver the righteous.' Hearing that Justice became before the throne of Almighty God. 'Lord of the universe, what are you doing? What is the difference between them?' God answered, ' What a question is this? These are Holy righteous, and these are Holy Wicked'. Justice replied, 'Lord of the Universe, you are not giving the righteous people an opportunity of asking the wicked to repent'. God said to Justice, 'I know, but even if they protested, nothing would happen, nobody's going to listen to the Righteous, therefore they shouldn't speak out'. Said Justice to Almighty God, 'Lord of the Universe, you know that, but did they? They should still have spoken out'".
In contradiction to this view, there is a commentary, a selection of commentators called ...[inaudible] and they offer a cautionary note on this passage in the Talmut, indicating that in a situation where it is quite clear that the ruling authority will dismiss the protest out of hand, one may be justified in keeping silent. There is no moral compunction to speak out when one's word will be brushed aside. Indeed, the effect of protest may be to harden the transgressor in their misdirected path and make the situation even worse. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valour. It must be emphasised, however, that in Judaism the normative view prevails. It is insufficient to stand apart from violations of human rights and dissociation is inadequate where vocal protest is urgently called for and positive steps must be taken to rectify injustice. The Jewish sources also tell us that Job, the book of Job in the bible, that the reason he was punished by God, was that he failed to speak out against the injustices in his own time. So the Jewish community in South Africa, confesses a collective failure to protest against apartheid. The situation here was not one in which the human rights of the minority were adversely affected. That in itself would have been wrong. It was a situation in which the human rights of the vast majority were systematically and forcibly denied and that is a monstrous aberration. The entire purport of Jewish moral teaching, together with the essential lesson of Jewish historical experience as the most consistent victim among the peoples in the world (have a look at the Jewish history) should have moved the community to do everything possible to oppose apartheid, distancing oneself from the anguished cry of the majority in one's own midst and myopically pursuing one's own interests, whether personal or communal can never be morally justified. The American Jewish philosopher, Abraham Joshua Heshel once wrote, "Indifference to evil is more insidious than evil itself. It is more universal, more contagious, more dangerous. A silent justification. Indifference: it makes possible an evil erupting as an exception, becoming the accepted rule and being in turn accepted." Because of the evil of indifference which so many in the Jewish community professed, we confess that sin today before this commission and we ask forgiveness for it. The pivotal issue of this commission is to turn the inequities of the past towards advantage for the future. That the reason we must endeavour to understand the feelings of the past is so that we can become fully aware of our responsibilities now, to help repair the damage. Please God, to build a better future, not that in spite of the past we must do better, but because of the past, we must do better.
In the Jewish community, we are developing a programme called Tekun. There has been a great deal of hot air yesterday and this morning about what ought to be done, but there have been very few practical examples which are influencing the grassroots, and if I may, I want to explain in a few moments the range of practical projects the South African Jewish community is undertaking under the broad umbrella of a programme called Tekun, which Bertie Lubner and I have the honour of being co-chairman. Tekun is a Hebrew word meaning repairing, trying to put things right. It is a wonderful exercise, we are trying to apply Jewish resources, skills, expertise and know how, to be of maximum benefit to the upliftment programme. One instance in food: the Jewish housewife, when she shops, is asked to buy an extra tin or extra packet. She is buying half a dozen tins, buy a seventh tin. A dozen packets of something, but a thirteenth packet. That goes in a separate part of the trolley, goes to the nearest Synagogue, some of the Hypermarkets have actually got called the ...[inaudible] and we take that to the hungry.
We have many projects, I give you one instance on welfare. Nokatula, which is a home for the physically and mentally handicapped in Alexandria Township is consistently visited by the Selwyn Segal Centre, which is a similar home for physically and mentally handicapped people in Johannesburg. We share expertise and facilities and we all go together to Camp David at Magaliesberg. May I point out that here we are not being patronising. I know it sounds terribly patronising, we are trying to empower people to help themselves, and that's why we are handing over the skills. We have a major agricultural project at Rietfontein. It is an educational experience in farming, based on the success in Israel. Many of our projects, I mention this not God forbid to make a political point! I mention it because the state of Israel has expertise in things like water conservation, solar energy and all forms .helping at the moment seventeen African countries, and we feel very proud that the Israelis want to help us with some of our projects. And they are helping us with this Agricultural Education Centre at Rietfontein. Two weeks ago 100 000 spinach seedlings (I love spinach because it's good) spinach gives you energy Mr Chairman! Spinach seeds were planted and we are all helping with this exercise. We have very many educational projects. We have enrichment programmes which SADTU and COSAS have co-operated with us. Sometimes they have requested, sometimes we have gone to them. Our King David Schools in Johannesburg and the schools in Cape Town are helping in the townships with computer literacy programmes. It's where I'm computer illiterate but the youngsters, bless them, have to be computer literate, and we're helping in East Bank High School for example, in Alex, with many adult education programmes. Basic literacy courses. My wife, bless her, she insists that I mention this (she's a good girl) is the Chairperson of Ossac. Ossac is a black adult education school in Killarney, run in the Oxford Synagogue, we get over 100 every evening. The ages range from 20 to 60. There are domestic workers, security personnel, shop assistants, unemployed people. They do the IEB tests in English and Maths, and we have a 95% success rate, and there is nothing more joyous in the world than seeing somebody over 50 who has been denied an education actually coming every night and studying and the glow on that person's face when they hold their certificate, it is wondrous to behold. We are encouraging education in many ways. Our Union of Jewish Women has programmes in Soweto in HIPPI (home instruction for pre-primary youngsters which is geared to the mothers) and MATAL (upgrading the qualifications of pre-school teachers).
There was, many years ago in Israel, an Afro-Asian institute which actually taught very many in the trace union movement. Very many years ago. Some of the things I mentioning to you have been going on for donkey's years. The Rabbi Wyler's School in Alexandria was founded by the Reformed Jewish Movement over 50 years ago. Rabbi Wyler put in a primary school then and thank God it's still going. We have arranged to take groups of young professionals to Israel to train them in entrepreneurial skills, business development skills, banking skills. We are already on our fourth group there. Every single person who has been in one of these groups and come back, they have actually been given promotion. If they were a bank clerk, they are now assistant manager in the bank. And it's a wonderful thing.
We are using the expertise of ORT which is an international Jewish organisation and we have at Midrand a college of Science and Technology, which is again wonderfully successful. We are doing things for employment and there is a very wonderful lady called Helen Leverman, in the Cape, who does .la Bantu, it's making toys and bead decorations and they are sold all over the world, in Paris, London and New York. And it's a way of getting, including blind people, who can be taught how to string the beads and by the touch on a colour system, and it's a marvellous thing. We have sporting activities, Makabe goes in, and we have soccer in Soweto and they love it. And we have cultural activities. We have joint choral concerts. We have the black choir of Soweto, the Johannesburg Jewish Choir and something called the Welsh Male Choir. We are trying to build bridges, we are going across the board.
I have only given you, Mr Chairperson, dear, dear friend, I have only given you a few examples. I know it's a drop in the ocean, but we are trying to galvanise our Jewish community in order that we can actually help. It is our responsibility to be of help.
Finally, I want to say this. It's our job as religious people, if I may be bold to say so, it is the job of all of us to try to apply the antidotes. This TRC has become famous throughout the world because of the horror which has unfolded in testimony so many months before you. There is no-one who has listened in the radio, or who very humbly has come to sit at the back and listen to the testimony, there is no-one that hasn't been moved to tears, because we have had here a record of inhumanity. The worst things that human beings can do to other human beings and what we need in our country is to now change because of that. To change to the best, to display the best that human beings can do to fellow human beings. Not the hurt and the torture and the shame, but the love and the friendship and the mutual help to lift our country up. If apartheid was divisive, the antidote is building bridges and coming together. A togetherness which will spell the great future of our country. I want to finish by quoting Abraham Joshua Hershell once again. He said an incredibly beautiful thing about mission.
He said: "We all carry within our souls the gold to forge the gates of the kingdom". That's an incredibly beautiful statement to make, that God has blessed each of us, deep within us with the gold to fashion out and to make the gates of the kingdom. If we, together, all of us, all religious groups who are so meaningful in this country and have such an impact at the grassroots, if we can dig deep within ourselves for the gold of goodness within us, and we can make those gates and we can go through them, then we will have in our beloved country of South Africa, please God, a bright and wonderful future.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, my dear friend. Will you please just switch off? Thank you. I ask us to observe a moment of silence.
God Bless Africa. Guard her children, guide her leaders and give her peace. Amen. Thank you very much. I am so glad that you are our friend. That was a very moving testimony and we give thanks to God for you and for the tremendous contribution that you have made in the leadership that you have given to your community in the dark days and in the not so dark days. I am glad that we have been able to be together in both those periods. Khoza Mgojo?
REV. K MGOJO: Thank you Sir. I don't know what to ask from you, because I have seen you in the journeys travelling together. I think you people in the Jewish community, you may under estimate yourself. You don't know that you have the resources, biblical resources, as you have quoted the Talmut, and a lot in the Rabbinic Literature. There's a lot in the Jewish ambiguity, some historians like Josephus, where you get these types of things that you have mentioned here, which do help and sustain your community, based on the religious principles and moral imperatives and humanitarian motivations. I think they are very clear in the history of the Jewish people and one could detail that there is a person speaking from the history of suffering dehumanisation. I am pleased that you did mention that you should have spoken, because by virtue of your community if you read your history, you have been speaking out, starting from the prophets like Amos and others, who were confronted with difficult situations, similar to these ones in their own time, and they did speak out.
I was to commend you for that and your people. I am pleased that you have studied the way which is very pragmatic, in the form of this "Tukun". It is very exciting, but you have been quoting many places, things happening here in the Transvaal in the Reef, and South Africa doesn't end there. Is there any way you can decentralise some of these projects, so that they touch other places?
CHIEF RABBI CYRIL HARRIS: Very good question brother. It is in fact decentralised. I am sorry I gave for my examples, I was concentrating heavily on Johannesburg and Cape Town. It so happens that the Durban Jewish community is also very, very active. On their ...[inaudible] programme the last group, a lot of them came from Bloemfontein, and it's not true, it gives the wrong impression. There is Jewish demographic reason for it: we used to have very many communities out in the country, and we don't for some reason or another, most Jewish people like to live in the city. But we do have to, we are trying with the agricultural projects. We actually are trying to reach out. And it is a national, not a localised organisation.
CHAIRPERSON: He is very pleased that you have something in Kwa Zulu Natal! Any questions. Bongani Finca?
REV. B FINCA: I don't know whether you followed the proceedings of the hearings in Johannesburg last week when the commission was interacting with business, and a proposal was made by Professor Terblanche on how to deal with the fact that apartheid has left us a legacy of a minority of people who live in luxury and a vast majority of people who subsist from day to day. I don't know whether you can perhaps comment on how the Jewish religious community would react to the proposal that was made by Professor Terblanche?
CHIEF RABBI CYRIL HARRIS: That's a very pertinent and important question. Clearly, equalisation is a very, very important issue to have in our country. We have topped the league for the last five years for the difference between the "haves" and the "have nots". The biggest chasm in the world is here in South Africa, not is Asia, not in South America. We have been top of the league. The United Nations gives and the G7 group gives we are top of the league. And clearly there is a responsibility. I am not an economist, I am only a poor preacher, but I am quite sure, and I have already heard favourable comment over the weekend from some Jewish businessmen (I was at a reception on Sunday) and they said it would be only fair and proper if there was a wealth tax in order to redistribute. There were one or two fears mentioned that because - from the point of view of earners and businesses we are the most highly taxed country in the world, in real terms. And there was a feeling that it may prove, God forbid, the opposite. There may be a disincentive. But I personally have always said that - I noticed it in Johannesburg where so many white houses have swimming pools and there is not one swimming pool in Alexandria Township. Not one public swimming pool in Alexandria Township. And we can't have this. It is quite utterly obscene and immoral. And I personally will put my weight behind any such suggestions. Whether my voice will be persuasive enough, I'm not sure. But I really feel that the religious communities have to endorse a practical programme for redistribution.
CHAIRPERSON: Piet Meiring?
PROF. P MEIRING: Thank you Rabbi for your submission, especially the last paragraphs on the future, the contributions made by the Jewish community struck me.
I want to ask you a question, I raised it also with the Anglican Church yesterday. Is it your experience that by and large your congregants, the Jewish people going to Synagogue have difficulty in really owning the TRC process? Are they denying, are they at war with the results of the TRC? Or do you succeed in helping them to really own the process? What can we do to help the by and large the white community to say, but this in spite of how painful the disclosures are, this is our process?
CHIEF RABBI CYRIL HARRIS: That too is a very fair and appropriate question. There's a generation gap in the Jewish community, as there is in most white communities. Old people got so used to apartheid, immune to it, that many of them still don't realise that thank God we now have a non-racial democracy, we have a black majority government in place. The youngsters are the opposite. The younger generation is very into the New South Africa, very cognisant of the necessity of the process. So I have to answer you that there is a dichotomy. We do have difficulty with many things, including the TRC, with those who are over the age of 60. We have no difficulty with those who are under the age of 30. We have some difficulties in the middle group. We are trying very much. The only specific complaint which has been aired about the TRC has to do with amnesty. There are a lot of people who feel that the relatives of victims, when they cry out to you for justice, that there may be, you know the ten commandments are absolutely categoric on "Thou shalt do this, and thou shalt not do that". All religions based on morality have a doctrine of reward and punishment. There is a line beyond which we are not allowed to go. How dare we treat fellow human beings in such a way, and therefore the one clear criticism that I have heard from quite a number of Jewish people is that they can empathise fully with those who have been complaining that the amnesty is too extensive. It is appreciated that the TRC may not have come into being at all, God forbid, if a deal hadn't been done on all sides regarding amnesty. But it is nevertheless true that while God is a God of forgiveness, there are certain things which are unforgivable, including some of the things that we have heard about. And that is one of the criticisms I have heard. By and large, the TRC is accepted, it's hearings have are followed. They are followed avidly. You may not have hundreds and thousands of people coming to them. But a lot of people listen on radio, a lot of people do look in at the television summaries and it is being followed with a great deal of interest.
MR L FURMAN: I would just like to add that from my generation, slightly younger that the Chief Rabbi, I think that all that's emerged from the TRC has deepened the sense of shame that we feel at having been silent during that time. I think that we have come to realise that apartheid was much more than an idiosyncratic political system, and the brutality that has been exposed now is very much approximate to the brutality that our ancestors have experienced in the past. But I think that that sense of shame has only deepened the commitment that many of my generation feel to try and heal the wounds of the past.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Thomas?
MR T MANTHATA: In order to be sensitive to this difficult problem of communities seeing themselves to be patronised and so on and so on. Is there a decided way where the Jewish communities are beginning to learn one or other African language, so that they can inter relate with the people without making the people foreigners all the time?
CHIEF RABBI CYRIL HARRIS: I am pleased to answer "yes" as Zulu is taught in most of our Jewish schools in Johannesburg and Xhosa in most of our Jewish schools in Cape Town and one is very, very conscious of the fact and I think very many people have wonderful black domestic help and are beginning to learn the conversational phrases and it is a very, very important part of nation building and bridge building that we do this. Again, we don't do it nowhere near as enough, but we are conscious of it and it is developing and we intend to make it a major educational component of our schools. We have replaced Afrikaans with Zulu, is the answer to your question.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. We are deeply grateful in all sorts of ways and we know that you will all continue, and your community will continue to be making a very significant contribution to the future of this country, especially because of your own history of suffering. Thank you very much. You may stand down.
Thank you very much. Yes. Now the representative of the African Traditional Religious Community, D.K. Koka.
MR D K KOKA: I must here submit the truth that I tried my best to scrape the bottom of the barrel in search of the drops of my guilt by my goals, not me as an individual but in a collective single plurality and I failed to find one in the course of the struggle. This puts me to a point where I say, we can remark that the guilt of the oppressor and the oppressed shall never be the same and shall never be faced from the same angle, for they are operating on different levels and therefore the structuring of forums where the two sectors can express themselves sometimes needs to be reconsidered.
Here, when I was coming to this forum here, at the airport, a little girl who was serving me with the ticket at about 5 'o clock in the morning because I came very early. She was serving me and a white man who was standing in front of me and we were following each other. Then while she was serving, she remarks to me, "Can't you stand in the queue?" and I looked, and there was nobody, I was the last in the queue, because people had not arrived. Simply she meant couldn't I go to the end where everybody stands, instead of going nearer. I examined myself, I said what's wrong? I actually smelled my armpits and though that I had forgotten to put on the deodorant! But truly I had. I didn't forget. The white man in front of me said to her "What is the difference?" and I smiled and though the cheek of it is that I am not just going to a forum to plead her cause, I am actually flying to that forum in order to plead her cause and bring about reconciliation. The only note that went deeper than I had thought is that she does not see me or categorise me as an integral part of her humanity. They I deserve her respect. She is a remnant of the apartheid mentality that breeds falsehoods in the human society, the falsehoods of superiority and inferiority and that man did not belong to the same category.
Here Chairman, let me remark that for the last 500 years, the black community, African people in particular, have been subjected or have been fully engaged in a programme of self defence and self preservation, guarding themselves and their children against Europe's rape and this meaning that is Europe's encroachment and violation of Africa's territorial sovereignty, cultural value systems, political freedoms and autonomy, economic development, religious, philosophical thought and ethics. Africa has been fully engaged in that category. And while engaged in this category, Africa's genius that once created civilisations and cultures was destroyed, numbed or frozen to nothingness.
Chairman, let me just say again, the process of Africa's advancement was folded. Then we got all us engaged from sanctuaries in this battle of liberation. There could be some errors and omissions but not as agreed upon from institutions, but out of sheer human frailty. That's where I said I failed to find my guilt and in the omissions of fully being engaged in the struggle for liberation. Let me point out that apartheid is not in any manner a recent product, but it is a continuity of eurocentric thinking that culminated in the murderous barbarous acts that were committed on the African people, in particular on the Southern parts of Africa. By so saying, this continuity, started on the very, in the 14th century, when the Italian sects laid out a doctrine where they said: being without form and nature, that is man is nothing but matter without form, and being without form and nature, man is not constrained, feted or determined to any particular destiny by an alien supernatural power. In this way, his distinctive characteristic becomes his freedom. He is free to make himself in the image of God or in the image of beast. This was said by the Italian humanists and I, as an African adhering to an African source, if I fail to correct that hierarchy then my Lord, I am guilty. And I, if as an African, if I did not argue my point of the internalisation of God in the human activity, at that moment, then I am guilty. Because that gave power to the apartheid protagonists, who had a freedom of choice. Either to carry themselves and manifest the image of God and his likeness in us. They had a choice and thus they chose the way of the beast. That we are suffering from now.
What is our point at this stage of speaking? I can say, brothers and sisters, we are unfortunately at this moment of our living that we are living in a time of cultural disarray and moral decay. Sound social cultural ethical and spiritual values have been destroyed by the evangelised policies of apartheid without any replacement. As a result, we find ourselves ushered into an age filled with the ruins and fragments of morality. Hence our intellectual landscapes are littered with ...[indistinct] tales of deterioration in human relations, rather thank dramatic narratives of humanness, reconciliation, justice and peace. This reality has been brought out to us clearly in the deliberations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The most inhuman institutions and ideological hierarchies ever recorded in the pages of human history are nothing but slavery, Nazism, apartheid and others that to state here would make the list rather too long. [TAPE 3] ...[inaudible] Apartheid should not be seen in isolation, but must be seen as a final product of the Eurocentric spiritual thinking and faith that separated divinity from man. And therefore it could not have taken any other path
We are here today to look at the actual living products, we are here to look at the protagonists of Nazism and fascism, the rapists and murderers of Bosnia, the genocists of Ruanda, and the epitomes of apartheid in South Africa, these including the third force gangsters who terrorised, maimed and slaughtered thousands of innocent train commuters in Soweto and other places. In those who raped women and killed innocent children, all these including the Gestapo murder squads of Vlakplaas, the Mamaselas, De Kocks, Coetzees and those of the killing fields of Natal. Including all that, we find that all of them "hulle is sonder menswaardigheid". They do not have a humanness, Ubuntu, that is the problem. Now this immediately takes me into the second part of our question: what did we do in the face of what was going on? Did we become conformists or collaborators? What are we to do in the face or in the light of the information that has been brought to us by the TRC? What contribution can we make to right the wrongs and bring about a meaningful transformation of our beloved democratic South Africa? What are our objectives and plans - practical to avoid future recurrence of these historic tragedies? Are we to play the fiddle while Rome is burning? Or are we to stand shivering like a hypnotised rabbit before the python of apartheid? What are we going to do? That is the question. What practical things are we to do? From my tradition of faith and culture I cannot have the freedom of choice and this is based on the concept of communalism that I subscribe to. It is almost impossible for me to isolate or distance myself from the suffering of the human society. We have a very good saying that was written by ...[inaudible] "When you bleed, my handkerchief is full of thy blood, when you twitch with pain, I feel the sting in my loins for you and me, dear black brother, are but one." That sums up our involvement. There is no way that we could not have been involved. We believe here in the commonness of humanity that we all share, we believe in the validity of the human person, we subscribe to the concept that we are all an integral part of each other, we hold onto the philosophical concept of the other for our being in the world presupposes the existence of the other. We are therefore sharing the commonness and the intertwines of aspirations, interests and objectives, purpose and hope. Thus the suffering of one unit of the whole affects me for I am because you are and you are because I am.
This puts me into now the final phase, the philosophy that we come to think that it is inevitable for this country to resort to that philosophy. Let us not forget this very vital point that the TRC is founded on the universal concept of truth, justice, prudence and righteousness. These are in turn attributes of the philosophical concept of Ubuntu, which is a modality of the divine spirit. Here we find that we are to carry this philosophy into the next century and centuries to come. Let me say in short: after the war, the two Germanys were divided, I mean Germany was divided into two. A wall was built, and now a wall has been broken. For the communist Germany to mix with the capitalist Germany, they are enjoying the same economic resources, but recently it was published that the mixing does not work. They can not just go on smoothly, as envisaged. Why? Let us note here that Germany, the citizens of Germany, they need a philosophy, a philosophy that they can all subscribe to. A philosophy that can be touching to the Jew, to the German, to the Hindu, to the Moslem, the black and white, a philosophy that is making us to start to recognise each other as an integral part of each other and not just to harmonise. I can harmonise with my dog, it can lick my lips, it can jump and caress, but the fact is that I am not an integral part of a dog, it is still a dog and therefore we need a philosophy that can bring us together.
This is the philosophy my Lord that I wish to present at this moment in short. It is a philosophy that comes from my faith that on the day of the creation when the spirit of the Lord moved over the waters, it disseminated the waters and disseminated a consciousness in the waters and there was life. And the same spirit came up when God created man when he said let us make man in our own image and likeness, he modelled him from the slime of the earth, from the dust of the earth, and made a statue and what did he do? He breathed into the nostrils and as soon as that breath entered the nostrils, man became a living soul.. Therefore he shared something, something in common with God, for he carried the God head in him. And which is when we asked is a human, is a person there a human man, a statue, a mud, a slime of the earth but as soon as God came "ntu" in our language, that "ntu" meaning God and which is you would say Jehovah, the same as you would say Nata in Egyptian, the same as you would say in all the various languages.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, I thought you were going to give us a little time so we would have had some questions, now you have about five minutes. Do you want to get to a proper full stop.
MR D K KOKA: Yes. Well let me for a final thing to say this is the philosophy of Ubuntu, which we think the TRC as a structure when it stops being a commission but declare itself into an institute to carry on this philosophy of humanness to all over. Can I put a stop there? Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Wonderful. That is a very nice place for a full stop. If you would please switch off your - thank you very much. Thomas?
MR T MANTHATA: How do you see all what you are saying, you know being either crystallised to be handed over to any structure that shall be implementing what the TRC shall have recommended to the State?
MR D K KOKA: We have already tried by all means to actualise it, that is we are giving now lectures even in universities. We are giving lectures and mostly amongst the workers and where companies were, this is being preached, we see a difference. For the whole thing is that the employee and the employer must recognise themselves as but one, belonging to one humanity. What I am saying is a result of the field work that we are doing at the moment.
MR T MANTHATA: Is there no way that this could be so simplified that it could be taught either in the families or even at schools? At the lower levels, because this is where we are being confronted by real moral decay.
MR D K KOKA: This is where we are inviting the TRC as a commission to embrace the philosophy and to work with us in simplifying that philosophy for acceptance. Anyway, just how are we going to say it, because amongst the black community, that philosophy is there, is operating. Among the white community, we are still to prove that they are one with us. And that this philosophy is not a peculiarity of the African people but as created beings, I do believe that the divine spirit was breathed into their nostrils.
MR T MANTHATA: You keep saying "we" are you perhaps an institution of some kind, with scholars or with people who have learnt with clear understanding of what you are talking about, to transmit it to the communities?
MR D K KOKA: I belong to the transformation forum of South Africa, which we are extending into Africa and also I belong to the Ubuntu school of philosophy and all of us we are trying to do research that we take it upon ourselves to propagate this philosophy. Let me say to you we failed in the past, simply because we were not doing our own work. We realise that as long as the lions, we say until the lions can have their own historians, tales of hunting will always glorify the hunter. Until we, ourselves, can take it upon ourselves to bring out our philosophies and concepts we shall always be underdogs.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much Dada we are very deeply grateful are you distributing?
MR D K KOKA: Sorry Mr Chairman. I did not submit my - because I said I'm never sure of what I will say until I have said it.
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, thank you very much. We appreciate - we hope you will be able to remember what you said and can write it down. I just wanted to welcome the wife of the Premier of this province, Mrs Namitha Stofile. Andimboni kodwa. Ungaphakama? Mama kutheni? We are going to have a slight change in the programme. Bishop Leghanyane has arrived in town, but the person who is bringing his mission is I think still in Gauteng or somewhere and can arrive here only about 4'o clock or so, so we will have to switch and have Bishop Lekganyane tomorrow. We'll have to look to see whether we might not have one other group that might be ready to come in today. If not, well we will have a bonus, en ons kan gaan slaap!
Can we stand, now you will remember that we said yesterday that there is lunch first for those who are designated guests and then others. Let us say grace.
CHAIRPERSON: I think I should do this more frequently, and I am very sorry I was unavoidably delayed. I apologise. We will ask now the two representatives, Archbishop Ntongana - four? You have multiplied into four? You will introduce your colleagues and whilst they go up to the podium so to say, Archbishop Ntongana had already indicated to me that he wants to speak in Xhosa, and what is going to happen is that these wonderful people who deal with the technical side, are going to put the English translation through the loudspeakers so you don't need to have the contraption. Thank you very much, we'll see how that works. Let's just see how that works.
Archbishop you will please introduce your colleagues to us.
ARCHBISHOP T W NTONGANA: Chairperson and your colleagues, next to me I have the General Secretary of the Council of African Instituted Churches, the Reverend Molisiwa. Next to him, they have just joined me, I will ask them to introduce themselves.
REV. GCALASHE: I am Reverend Gcalashe.
REV. JONASHE: Reverend Jonashe.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Could you please stand up to take the oath?
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your presence here. We know your contribution to the church even during the time of the struggle for liberation. We are very grateful to you and hand over to you Archbishop.
ARCHBISHOP T W NTONGANA: Mr Chairperson of the Commission, and all those that are next to you. It is a great joy to us and a privilege to be called here. This was a sudden thing to us, a sudden invitation. We could have been a great number is we were invited in time. What would have been very good our children were going to come here with their congregation uniform. I thought I was in Khotso House here when I looked at this platform. I feel at home now. We were very busy Mr Chairperson during the very difficult time, especially from 1976 to 1988. However, because of the SACC, as we are also members of the SACC, our problem was not clear, because we are not standing on our own, but standing with other churches that members of the SACC. I won't be very long, the gentleman next to me the Reverend, will speak in English. My ancestors, my clan, refused that I write down a submission. We are people who believe in ancestors, we don't hide it. We are people who believe in ancestors. We are people of the people. This is why we can heal people. We are able to heal. We pray for people we lay hands on them, we give them water, they are healed. This is the Zionist Church. Some of your own members, Mr Chairperson come to us in the dark and they go back to you in daylight, to your church. That's good to us, because that makes us one. It is uniting because our churches are different.
If the Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Dr Beyers Naude were not there, the cart would not be there. They started the cart together when the empire of ...[inaudible] was destroyed. It was very poor, had nothing. We still are very poor, we still don't have anything. We don't have an office, we have a shack within the office of the bible college, Ikhanya. We are asking for help from anyone who is able to do so. We don't even have a pencil or piece of papers.
CHAIRPERSON: Archbishop, we did not give you this opportunity to make an appeal for your church. Please tell us more about your work.
ARCHBISHOP T W NTONGANA: Thank you. During the time of apartheid, it was very difficult for us because we served people on grassroots level. We work with people on grassroots level. Humble people, people who are illiterate. However, their churches are very big, they live in shacks. We hold churches in tents, in schools in our houses, in our garages. We take out our cars and we hold a congregation in the garage. This is the type of people we work with.
Our gratitude mostly goes to the SACC without them we would not have been able to get anywhere. We used to be beaten up. We would gather as a congregation and we would be beaten up. We were labelled communists. We would be labelled all sorts of names that I cannot use today, because we no longer use such names. It was very difficult. It was hard. They tell us this is not a church. Until our own people who were members of other churches would look down at us and talk terribly. Lastly, we ask for forgiveness for not having fought in the struggle, for not having been beaten up, detained and killed. Fight with the flesh and not the bible. We should have stood up for our people. We are cowards and we admit it. We are cowards because we did not stand up and fight. Some of us were taken and became informers and were used by the past system as we continued to struggle and hunger. I have my own example as I am going to write in my submission, Sicelo Hlomo and the rest, I could not even go to their graves. They referred to them as activists. We referred to their funerals as political funerals, therefore I was not allowed to go to those funerals.
I thank the parties that sheltered us, SACC, ICT, SABC and also the Anglican Church has always been there for us. It was not difficult to stand out at the time instead of what you believed in because there was a law saying if it's you, your wife, your child, the three of you are gathering illegally. You could not utter the words "the government" whatever you were going to say, whether you were going to say it's a righteous government or an ill government, you could not even utter "the government". I am going to use the late President, Jomo Kanyata from Kenya's words. I was there the last week of August. He said "To those that I have sinned against, I ask for forgiveness." He did not say that those who have sinned against me must ask for forgiveness. Please continue Mr Chairperson with your commission. My request is that this commission must not end before the 1999 elections. That is my request. That is our request as CAIC. The gentleman next to me is going to talk about our church and the formation. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Archbishop.
REV. S MOLISIWA: I would like to thank the Chairperson for the opportunity that is offered to us as CAIC to make our own first time presentation in 100 years. I say in 100 years because actually the church I am about to speak about is 100 years old. This church was first founded by Reverend ...[inaudible], Reverend James Dwane, Reverend Mkoni, in the process Reverend Shembe and Reverend Engenas Lekganyane.
I am very disturbed because some of our living ancestors that I - because of the contact that we have with the TRC, we were hoping that they would be here in our presentation. My Bishop Barnabas Lekganyane and thanks that he had arrived, so I have heard from the report, and Bishop Modise, because in fact these two churches to us, they are a church that was founded 100 years ago. The founders of this movement of CAIC was not to divide Africans, it was to unite Africans. It was to unite Africans as a church in ecumenism, it was to unite Africans as faith in the inter faith. And now that we make our presentation in the absence of the two we feel the opportunity has not been quite positive, but we are happy that they are able to come.
Actually, our vision within the broader ecumenical family of churches has been citing the absence of ZCC and the IPC and other churches that are not participating in the household of one church in this country. And I'm glad that the moment had come that this issue be tackled as it is. The Council of African Instituted Churches was formed in 1976 and thanks to the Chairperson of the TRC, Archbishop Desmond Mbilo Tutu, and Doctor Dominee Beyers Naude, and several others that were there to help to bring together the independent churches. We are the former Council of African Independent Churches that actually was able to change from independent rather as a council but opted for the word "Instituted" as one church of God with the other churches. We don't see relevance in being independent in the changing South Africa and the challenges of the changing world. The presentation that we would want to make in a formal way is definitely going to be faxed or sent to the TRC. We would want our presentation, our submission, to be made on record with the others, but from what we have, we are proud to say that we speak as victims. We speak as victims of apartheid. As a church, we are thankful for the elections of 1994 because actually the elections of 1994 covered the whole kind of nightmares that we as Africans had in this country, that were caused to us by the Afrikaner colonials. It is only twenty or less percent, that the religion is to tackle, and that is to come together. We need to come together and face the socio-economic religion and political matters of this country and together we will make it.
I am not going to dwell too much on what we would want to put forward as prejudices and injustices that were done to us. Much as was our President in prison and other colleagues, initiatives of an African were all at halt. Those which managed to get through either were puppetry somehow or other, but everything came to a standstill once we were in we tried throughout the year, but those who were not legitimate and proper initiatives that a black person had to take and thanks to these actions, now that we are able as group of small churches under the bridges of our country, under the trees of our country in the diningrooms, in the sitting rooms, everywhere where a black person would find a shelter to bring together a number of people to worship. We are able to speak as one sitting together and calling on other brothers that according to us, are the "haves" we need to club together with them and prepare a motion and to prepare a council that will be able to speak for the independent churches. The Deputy State President has introduced to the nation a concept of African Renaissance. And we are for it and also say to ourselves that it is time that we as a church, we must begin to start up programmes for South African Renaissance. To be able to work together and move forward to the whole continent. We believe that it is time that the independent church, I refer to independent for other people to really know where we come from. Actually we remain instituted churches, it is time for us for these churches to send missionaries to Africa. Missionaries to the world. When are we going to begin if we are unable to work together and build a strong fellowship on ourselves that will be able to relate to matters that trouble an ordinary human being. We are unable to address matters that are very, very hard pressing individuals and ordinary people. Homelessness, we can't speak as a church about homelessness, because it is our people who are homeless and we are unable to come together and utilise resources and address those matters, so I will repeatedly say that we certainly were the victims. We were the victims of forced removals, of imprisonment, of massacres, of rapes on black women, of denials of basic education. You name them all, we in my President's words, are able to say, sorry to those - to a lesser degree, to a much more degree, atrocities were done to us. We should be a forum that people come to us and apologise to us. But indeed, together in the fellowship we have accept and welcome that people should come forward and tell the world what they did to Africans. Those injustices were done to us. I am not going to take too much time, Chairperson, I am calling on for these big churches and saying to them, "Come, let us work as one". As we approach the next millennium. My last word would be once people start talking to each other, misconceptions are eradicated and better friendships are forged. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Is there anything that your other colleagues wanted to say or will they participate in the question and answer? Thank you very much. Virginia?
MS V GCABASHE: Thank you Chair. I will start with you Bishop, I have just been reminded to refer to you as Archbishop. I am from a tradition where we don't have the hierarchy of Bishops. I would like to ask you, you spoke about he struggle you went through as your congregation, but you did not give us a history of how your church was formed. [SIDE 2]Archbishop, I did not hear you talking about the foundation of your church. If you could briefly tell us.
ARCHBISHOP T W NTONGANA: It is a very long story. However, I though that the Secretary had told you in English because he talked about ...[inaudible]. I was under the perception that he covered all that up.
MS V GCABASHE: I thought that you would tell us that you were from white churches and started your own as the black man.
ARCHBISHOP T W NTONGANA: She speaks English, she's from KZL. Some of the churches that emanated from the white church, some of us were actually chased away from the white church saying that they could not go on in the way that they did. Some were working under white priests who had immigrated into South Africa. They would collect money from the black congregation and they would take this money from the black congregation and give it to the white people and the black man would not get anything.
Ngwenya realised that he must be independent. He then started his own church. However, most of us black people were referred to as heathens. Our people said they would be independent and do their own thing at the side.
MS V GCABASHE: Thank you. I will now ask a question that any of you may answer. I will continue to speak in Zulu. I hope you understand me. Now that you were successful in leaving the white churches because of the oppression that you experienced, I would like to know is there something substantial that you are doing in your churches now that reflects the fact that you realised that you were oppressed. What are you doing within the communities to reflect the way you perceive things.
ARCHBISHOP T W NTONGANA: When you talk about the community I am very glad. If you go to the depths of Soweto even a cat will tell you where Ntongana's house is, because I wanted these people to come and fetch me, even though I was scared for my family, I wanted to stand up and these people to come and fetch me. If you read the New Nation in 1985 or 86, I wrote an article there. It was in English. I said: "If Jesus Christ was here on earth today, he would be in prison." I have this article at home. I am part of the community. I stand for the community. Nothing goes on in Soweto without my knowledge. There is only one thing that our churches cannot handle. Our Bishops do not want to raise funds. They want ready money for themselves, they want other people to raise money and they enjoy that money. If you don't raise funds, how are you going to enjoy money, you'll be stealing other people's efforts. I have answered you.
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