FAITH COMMUNITIES HEARING - 17-19 NOVEMBER 1997 - PART 2
DATE: MONDAY 17 NOVEMBER 1997
HELD AT: EAST LONDON
MS V GCABASHE: Thank you. General Secretary, you mentioned the problems that besiege our communities like socio-political problems, religious problems. My question to you is how in your church are you addressing those situations?
REV. S MOLISIWA: Madame Chair, we have the associations of these churches from ...[inaudible] mountains down to the coast, South and East, from Cape Town to Kwapuma. We network with them all. The problems we are from time to time faced with is the problem as the Archbishop had put it that the culture of fund-raising and the culture of giving seems to be not very real so that we can address these problems. But in fact I understand that one. I actually become very pained to see that we participate in some other structures put in place by the government, but some departments of governments and the ministers. Where we participate in involvement, but when situations or resources are made available, we have been made to experience a very bitter situation because we are unable to address these problems that we are faced with because the problem is we are unable to raise fast enough good resources, but where we should get resources, we experience bitter, bitter, bitter, treatment when it comes to having such help. We get problems.
MS V GCABASHE: My next question and indeed my last. You have come up with a phrase that is very close to my heart: African Renaissance. I have heard that you have had a problem of funding. Could you just briefly share what your own, what if you had that funding, what does African Renaissance mean to you. What would you do to promote this? Barring the fact that you don't have funds to do it, but what are your thoughts?
REV. S MOLISIWA: Madame Chair, AIC constitutes in excess of 15 million adherents. 15 to 20 million adherents. That is AIC in South Africa and there is - we vary with the number of the followings that individual churches have, but those that are able to club as our council in small groups, we are able to, without correct statistics because those resources of streamlining our statistics, we do not have. We would want to see a project coming up, a project of a centre where we would be able to begin a theological college that would enable to bring awareness to our people and from that particular point, we would be able to filter into these other real, real, domestic problems of poverty, homelessness, even jobs from that particular centre. We would want to see a centre coming up. Thank you.
ARCHBISHOP T W NTONGANA: I wanted to add on to what the General Secretary of CAIC has just said about a centre. We attempted to get a centre some years back at Orange Farm. Then Orange Farm was still - people were not quite sure if it will be a place where people will live and so we missed an opportunity because of my late brother (of course to accuse somebody who is silent in his grave is very wrong, I'm not happy when I have to do it) but I am pressurised to do it because we were there and money was there to make a deposit on the plot there. We could have even ploughed on that plot, there was a house and electricity and water, but one other Bishop turned it down and said no, this is a farm, this is out. You know there were very few Cuckoos there then, but now when you go to Orange Farm, you see that we missed an opportunity of having established a centre there that would cater for the African Independent Institute what have you, and we do have CAIC which was the brainchild of both of us and we begged with TEEC that they give us ...[inaudible] that we start this one for our people, because they haven't got a standard of education so as for them to take theological studies with the TEEC, most of our people in the SACC know about this. As a result the Khanya Institute was born, but it has experienced problems because some other Bishops who want to fill their stomachs of course I don't want to get into that.
CHAIRPERSON: Yes it would be a very good thing not to get into that because they don't have a chance of answering back.
REV. M XUNDU: Can I ask a question? Our aim here is to show what has been done by the churches in the liberation, or what is it that they have omitted in their actions. It might happen as a church that you failed to go on and fight apartheid. Perhaps that opportunity is for you to check and see your mistakes. Maybe your people are not supposed to be councillors so that you can be free. Secondly, the African Americans worked very hard in their churches to develop the spirit of Ubuntu, self determination. What activities, what have you done to show that you are actually people who are concerned with development?
ARCHBISHOP T W NTONGANA: I thought I had covered that part because I said [intervention]
CHAIRPERSON: Let me help you there. You are telling the truth. Just switch your mike off. He has already answered that question. Is there any other question? We thank you very much friends. I remember that you were wish us in Cape Town where the church leaders were marching to parliament. I was actually giving Mr Xundu an answer to that. All right Joyce?
MS JOYCE SEROKE: Archbishop Ntongana it looks like the women are in the forefront in your church because they also pray for the people and also heal the people. Why did you leave the women behind?
ARCHBISHOP T W NTONGANA: Chairperson, I didn't want to come here because I knew that the women here are going to have that question. My wife is the President of the women's' organisation. We wouldn't be here, both of us, because you know of our situation, if we can be here both of us. We are not going to expose ourselves in front of the people. You as a person, you know our situation. Why are we here? There are a lot of women. If you also want to be ordained, you can come to us, you can be a Bishop, you can be an Archbishop, we don't have a problem with that. Because the women can pray for the people, they can have their own congregations. It looks like you want to take away our church members from us.
CHAIRPERSON: In conclusion I was saying thank you. You may stand down. As we were talking about women, we are going to ask Mrs Makhene to come and talk to us and tell us about the Women's organisations.
Are you both going to testify? Will you please then stand so that Bongani Finca should administer the oath?
CHAIRPERSON: We welcome you both very warmly. Over to you Cathy.
MS CATHY P MAKHENE: Mr Chairman of the TRC, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the team and the house, we thank you for this opportunity granted us. We really are grateful to the Lord for having given us this chance. As women to come and present to this aghast team how we feel about the situation within the church. I am here to make a submission from the women's perspective within the faith communities. I am honoured to represent such a large body of people, but need to say that I represent them primarily from the present point of view. The group that met to discuss and draw up the submission were all christians. We were given very little time to prepare this document. It was approximately four days, thus precluding us from being a consultative and inclusive, as we should have liked.
All religions are patriarchal based on the rules of the fathers. This was reinforced by the missionaries. The legacy of this tradition is that women remain largely powerless and voiceless. In the christian tradition, spirituality has largely been the preserve of men. The language of prayer and worship is generally male. The symbols and images of God are male. The scriptures have been used to promote male dominance. The ruling sexes of the church are predominantly male. There is prevailing male consciousness. This is somewhat of an anomaly, as the congregations are predominantly female. Women are excluded from christian religious language, in hymns, liturgy and scriptures, people are referred to as men. The sons of God, or brothers, not to mention the militaristic language commonly used too. The language for God is predominantly male. Of course you will hear Lord, King, Master and Father. Not only do these terms entrench patriarchy, but they are also the terms of the ruling class. God is represented as a ruling, controlling male, thus the male is seen as more fully representative of God than the female.
I believe that this male language and imagery has contributed to the churches sanctioning of men dominating women. The early church shaped much of the Christian thoughts which we carry around with us today, much of it plainly misogynist. Women are misbegotten males, painted evils and devils doorways. The great tragedy is that some women have come to believe this of themselves. There is very little affirmation for those women who struggle within the church structure from other women. Women need to encourage and support one another as we seek to find affirmation in the scriptures. When we look in the book of the first Timothy, Chapter 2 verses 11 - 15 and allow me to share this because it really bothers us: "Women should learn in silence and all humility. I did not allow them to teach or have authority over men. They must keep quiet." The scripture is used as justification for the denial of equality of women within the church, but surely the passage on baptism which is found in Galatians Chapter 3, and that needs to be corrected because there is a misprint in what we submitted. Verses 27 - 28: "You were baptised into union with Christ and now you are clothed so to speak with the life of Christ himself. So there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, between slaves and free men, between men and women. You are all one in union with Christ Jesus"
These verses give another perspective on the position of women with God's kingdom. The patriacal nature of church structures regrettably has condoned, encouraged and in some cases, actively enforced the subjugation of women to men, denying them the revelation of their full potential, not only within the church, but politically, socially and economically. It is a matter of debate that our new political constitution grants women far more status than any religious one. Our clergy need to be trained in the understanding of the rights now legally granted to us constitutionally but withheld from us spiritually. We celebrate the changes that are taking place and acknowledge that women are being ordained as ministers, priests and elders within some of our faith communities. However, it should be noted that there are no female Bishops, moderators or Archbishops, so decisions taken with regard to issues pertaining specifically to women remain within the male domain. Things like abortion, rape, birth control, etc. Within one denomination with the ordination of female clergy, despite the fact that this was a majority decision, a conscience clause was introduced. This allows that no congregant was to feel obliged to have a female priest within their congregation or to be served the sacrament by a women. If a women was to serve the sacrament, this fact was to be advertised in advance and a member of the male clergy was to be available as an alternative for those who preferred. The offensiveness of this clause is quite breathtaking! One can imagine the uproar that would have ensued if this sort of clause had been instituted when the racial barriers started coming down. There have been reports of sexual harassment of women by male clergy. When these incidents are brought to the attention of other male clergy, they are largely ignored. Or hushed up so that the church is not brought into disrepute. Women have complained that on seeking pastoral care and advice from male clergy with regard to abusive marriages, they are often sent back to these abuses and sometimes life threatening relationships with the command to forgive and live out their faith in a way that would change their husbands. I don't know how.
The church endorses the abuse of women in the home and fails in the patoral care of these women, often their children too. Faith communities often support or turn a blind eye to cultural and traditional customs that entrench suppression and oppression of women. The cry, "But it's our tradition, it's our culture." Is used to maintain the status quo. The church was instrumental in bringing about the abolition of slavery. Why is it so tardy in emancipating women? It is a sad reflection on our faith that in keeping women in spiritual bondage, men themselves are not fully free. Our clergy need to be ...[indistinct] to the issue of women within the church. There needs to be a greater sensitivity to the needs, aspirations and rights of women within our different faiths and denominations. Our men need to unlearn many of the things that have consciously and unconsciously learned at their father's knees, reinforced by the church's patriarchal attitude. Men are discouraged at every level of their lives from recognising their own feminine attributes as though they were something of which to be ashamed or had no worth. Sometimes you will hear someone saying, "don't cry, did you ever hear your father cry?" In so doing, they deny themselves the richness and fullness that God has created in us. It needs to be acknowledged that women often support and sustained their oppression. They accept without question or challenge the view of God's love for them, taught largely from a totally biased and subjective theology. They sometimes allow themselves to be co-opted, which often results in them behaving like men, to the detriment of all, as well as the kingdom of God. Patriarchy has been so internalised that women will often vote for men in their absence.
Education systems and curricular need to be received and revised within our seminaries and religious institutions. Why is God acknowledged as God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and never of Sarah, Rachel and Rebecca. The new testament with its male trinity has denied us all the understanding and experience of the nurturing care of our creator and has denied women the same sex identity with God. Jesus described God as a woman looking for a lost coin and as a woman sweeping, looking the lost, our saviour discussed theology with the women at the well, healed a women on the Sabbath, listened to women and stayed in their homes. Sought the kingdom with them, and received anointing from a women. Rebuked a man who scorned her on the day after the crucifixion, it was a women who went to the tomb, physically weak, to roll away the stone, but strong in faith and trusting that God would provide whatever was needed for her task. It was to this women that the risen cried with the message, "Go and tell the good news".
The book of Ephesians, chapter 5, verses 22 to 24 needs to be read in the context of verse 21 and verse 25 to 30. "Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband has authority over his wife, just as Christ has authority over the church. And Christ is himself the saviour of the church, his body, and so wives must submit completely to their husbands, just as the church submits itself to Christ" Verse 21 says: "Submit yourselves to one another because of your reverence for Christ". I think we need to revisit some of these chapters so that we can see how applicable they can be in our situation. Verse 25 reads: "Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave his life for it. He did this to dedicate the church to God by his word after making it clean by washing it in water." When studying the scriptures, three things should be borne in mind: who wrote the passage? What was the context within which the passage was written? How old was the person writing the passage?
Marriage vows need to be examined and expounded to words that perpetuate the subjugation of women. It is demeaning and degrading to ask all if one part of our faith community is opposed in this fashion. There exists a classism and racism with the church that has resulted in a differentiation of the facilities provided for pastors. And here I speak as a pastor's wife, your Honour. Usually with an urban bias. Though aimed at the clergy, it also has resulted in the suffering of indignities by the spouse and this is done overwhelmingly. (and the children). Lack of adequate sewerage, water and other basic needs are common, especially in rural areas. Urban areas differentiate between townships and suburban facilities thus reinforcing classism and inevitably, racism. The wives of clergy are often exposed to conscious and unconscious patriarchy that would make a weaker person buckle at the knees. Whilst studying, their husbands are accommodated in seminaries, spouses and their children are not. Often living in conditions that are simply disgraceful because of poor or non-existent stipends. Little or no training is offered to wives to equip them for the contribution that make to their husband's ministry. There is little choice in the matter of wives' ministry. The expectation of the congregation, the denomination of the ministers themselves is that wives will participate actively and fully in the lives and work of the congregation or parish. Ministers are called. They have vocations. Wives are not recognised for their contribution they make, called or not.
Ministers wives, often professional people, have little choice in the decision to work or not. Their financial contribution to the family often exceeds that of their spouses and is often what keeps the family clothed, fed and educated. Should their husbands predecease them, they lose their homes. If provision has not been made to purchase a home prior to his death. Given the stipends most clergy are paid, the chances of that having taken place are usually remote. Newly widowed and homeless and usually with a family to provide for, what support can this woman expect from the church. Often marginalised and isolated by their position as the Minister's wife and neglected by their husbands because of church commitment, many of them are lonely and depressed. With the new political constitution, many young single professional women are no longer members of church groups, simply because of the lowly status granted to them within the church compared with the status they are being afforded in business, commerce and industry. These young women realised that they are achieving key positions in secular society, long denied them within the church. Their voices are being heard finally and they are making meaningful decisions, but not within the church. Although women have had no authority within the church, they have had a profound influence. Women and women's organisations have made a significant and valuable contribution to the lives and work of their denominations, especially in areas concerning family and social issues. Their service has brought no positions of responsibility, outside the domestic. For example, women raise much of the church funds, but are not in a position to decide how these funds should be allocated. That important decision is made by the male church council. It should be noted that Gert van Manen, General Manager of the Ecumenical Development Co-operative Society, which is the financial department of the World Council of Churches had this to say at a conference on sustainable development, which was spearheaded by the South African Council of Churches in April 1996, and I quote: "Our recovery raid on loans lending to the poorest of the poor, is 90% the highest of any financial institution in the world. We emphasis women participation. Women never let their children down. If school fees, shoes and food on their children depended on the success of the business, women will fight for it. Their commitment is ...[inaudible] as compared with males, whose commitment is often more entrepreneurial". There is a need for true emancipation within our denominations. We need to examine our teaching of the scriptures to free them of gender bias. Our political constitution enshrines freedom expressed in the scriptures, but not applied in practice. Attitudes of male clergy and leaders within church organisations need to reflect what is written, but not lived out in our religious lives. If only it was understood that if any of your wives remain in subjugation, then none of us are truly free. Women and men are created to co-operate with, and compliment one another. Not to be in perpetual competition with one another. Eve was created from Adam's rib, not from his heel to be trampled on. Nor from his head to be over him, but from his side, that we may walk together in partnership, in support and encouragement of one another. If women sound shrill and militant at times, it is because we are not heard and so little recognition of our work and value as God's creation is accorded us. There are faith communities represented at this hearing whose female believers are not allowed to worship in the same area as their husbands, fathers, brothers and sons. They are separated from the fullness and richness of their spiritual and family life. Not because of sin or omission or commission, but merely because of their gender. They are absolutely voiceless and powerless and suffer denigration and humiliation because they are women. God hears the cries of the oppressed. When will we?
In closing, Chairperson, we wish to share this creed which we as women feel could be encouraging not only us but the total change. The creed is thus: We believe in God who created women and men in God's image. [Tape 4] [inaudible] created the world and gave both sexes the care of the earth. We believe in Jesus, child of God, chosen by God born of a woman, Mary, who listened to women and stayed in their homes. Who looked for the kingdom with them, who was followed and supported by women disciples. We believe in Jesus who discussed theology with the woman at the well, who received anointing from a woman at Simon's house and rebuked the man guest who scorned her. We believe in Jesus who healed a woman on the Sabbath, who spoke of God as a woman seeking a lost coin, as a woman swept, seeking the lost. We believe in Jesus who thought of pregnancy and birth with reverence. We believe in Jesus, who appeared first to Mary Magadalena and sent her with the message, "Go and tell". We believe in the wholeness of God, in whom there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, female nor male, for we are one in God. We believe in the Holy Spirit as she moves over the waters of creation and over the earth, the woman's spirit of God who created us and gave us birth and covers us with her wings. Amen.
We thank your Honour for this opportunity.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Is there anything that you want to add, Brigalia? We have only - I told you right at the beginning this morning that we have a total of 30 minutes. We have actually already gone beyond that. I will give you another ten minutes.
MS JOYCE SEROKE: Thank you very much for that lucid submission. I will cut down my questions from three to two. You have painted a very sad picture of the position of women within the church. How marginalised women are, there subjugation and the male dominance and the denial of equality. I just want to find out from you, what has the WCC programme, that famous programme of the WCC of the decade of churches in solidarity with women. What has it done for the women's position in the church. Did we get that solidarity from the churches?
MS CATHY P MAKHENE: To answer that, my dear sister, it has really helped to maximise the awareness. The churches are aware and particularly on women. I must say that because this WCC programme is world-wide, quite a number of churches have support it, but at the same time very few of our churches in South Africa really show this solidarity with women. There are very few - I'm not going to discredit all churches now - there are some who have really supported us, because we have quite a number of women now who have assumed responsibilities with their churches, and we appreciate that. But much still needs to be done and we do hope that before the end of the decade, before we go and conclude with celebrations through the festivities, the word will come to all churches that women through the SACC assistance, women have organised themselves into a body which now is called Ecumenical Women's Conference. And we do hope that at the close the decade and at the beginning of new things, particularly after the TRC completes its work, that recognition, programmes that women are going to be doing will be taken seriously by the church. Would you like to add?
MS B BAM: Yes, I would like to add to say that the churches in South Africa, generally and those churches who are members of the WCC, owe women an apology for failing us during these last ten years in supporting us, when in fact the churches have been requested and asked to support us and I think the churches have to announce a public apology, the churches in South Africa, for not supporting us and for not speaking out on our behalf, for not carrying out the resolutions that are related to women. For also not speaking out to support us in this country as so many of us are raped. The churches have been very silent.
MS JOYCE SEROKE: I am sure that you are aware that during the hearings of the TRC, most of the victims who came to give testimony were women, compared to men and most of those women didn't come even to tell us about their own stories, they came on behalf of male relatives. What is this women's movement within the church, the Manyalos and Mother's Union, whatever your call it in different denominations. What solidarity have you given to the female victims who have come forward to the TRC and now that we are winding up and waiting for the recommendations of reparation, what will such bodies be doing in support of these women?
MS CATHY P MAHKENE: Thank you Joyce. Very little is being done by the Manyalo and I need to qualify that because there are certain Manyalo groups nationally who really are involved and are giving assistance to some of isolated cases. The trouble with us, we are so denominationalised, that some people will cater to cases of women they know. And I think this is the problem. I am saying because of the observation and having been involved and visited certain areas, whereby the Manyalos should not be selective. They within the communities, really needs to come together and do something. There are cases that are being attended to, but others are neglected. It is unfortunate. Again, because of lack of assistance from the total church, guidance. Some of the ministers's wives may not realise that it is their duty to encourage some Manyalo women to take more active roles within those communities. It is unfortunate but we need to confess and we apologise for that. We really need to apologise. We have not played the role we should have been as women who are sent by the word of God to go and tell good news. Not just tell good news, but the actions should complement all that.
MS V GCABASHE: From the perspective of the SACC what do you think would be the way forward in terms of the help before reparation?
MS B BAM: I think that the way forward would be for us to create structures within the church. Structures within our dioceses, and parishes that are directed specifically at helping those people who are termed the victims of the system. Now victims are not only those people who have come to give testimony, but what we know as victims in our communities. Victims of poverty, victims of all kinds, so that we have specific programmes that are directed towards rehabilitation. In the same manner as we had programmes that were directed to the victims of apartheid. We had what we refer to as the Dependant's Conference. I think we should revive the Dependant's Conference again and that it should focus on helping those victims that have come to you and still others that have not, but need help.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Virginia.
MS V GCABASHE: Thank you Chairperson. I know that you are anxious to get through with your programme. I have a small concern for my two sisters there. You mentioned in your presentation that women often do not affirm other women. You mentioned the problems that we have and I think this phrase has been said by women over and over again. But it would appear that we don't seem to move from that mould of not affirming other women. I wonder if perhaps that now that we are talking in this session, you could come with a suggestion as to what should be done to enable women to stand up and affirm other women. Because unless we are able to recognise ourselves as women who can stand up on our own, as women who can affirm one another, we will be coming back with the same story of oppression by men. Men oppress us because we create that space for them to oppress us.
MS CATHY P MAKHENE: I understand you very well. We have a great deal of work to do to re-educate ourselves as women. We need to realise that we are called by God to do his work and all the oppressive language that has been drilled into our thinking: you are inferior, you are inferior. Some women believe that they are inferior, so therefore we need to re-educate ourselves that unless we stand on our two fee and do things ourselves, nobody else will do it for us. So therefore even within the church, we need to have programmes whereby women will prove themselves to realise that we need to be counted as producers, no longer as being submissive.
MS B BAM: Virginia, I want to add one little thing, and that is as Cathy says, we have been told for so many years that we are inferior, we are weak, we are emotional, we are not reliable. I don't know why they say we are not reliable, because we are the fund-raisers of the church, so when it suits them we are very reliable in raising the money for the church, but when it comes to leading a church or a position, then we are suddenly emotional and all that. And so that - and now we have started to internalise these things although we don't say it, we begin to think it. And because we are afraid of failing, we don't have confidence in ourselves, we don't have confidence in another women. So unless we can, as individual women, begin to be assisted by the parents of the children who are growing, the young girls that they are as good as boys, and that they are not because of the difference, inferior. We have to start from there. But I think we learn a lot from the church and the politicians, because we support our women politicians. That's why they are there. Because we support them. We must learn also to support other women in the church and not do it only out there.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. I think we want to acknowledge the quite outstanding contribution of women, both in the church and in the time of our struggle and as Joyce was saying, one has been struck by the fact that women coming forward to testify and somebody has pointed out that mostly when they have come to testify, they have come to tell about what happened to somebody else, whereas whenever men came they have come to tell us what happened to themselves.
We have certainly I have, become increasingly aware that without women our liberation would not have happened and I want to salute the women folk and to pay a very warm tribute to the. Coming from a church that has only recently ordained women, I can again testify to how we have been enriched by the ministry of women. We didn't realise just how impoverished we were in our ministry when women were not allowed in our church to become priests and again we just want to say thank you to God and to the women who have brought something that would not have been there without them. I think that things that you raised about sexist language and so on I am always a little amused that women get very upset when you say "God, he" have you ever heard any women worry when you say of the Devil, "He"? They don't mind, I mean you can be as sexist as you like, they think they agree that the devil is a he. I agree entirely that we often minimise the importance of language whereas actually just descriptive of reality, language creates the reality it describes and therefore, we are fortunate in our African languages, because I think on the whole that sort of difficulty doesn't occur in the pronouns, but it occurs in the images that you use, and maybe we become, not maybe, we should become a lot more sensitive and I hope that will be the case for those who are here. I am just a retired Archbishop now and I have no real influence, thank you very much. You may stand down dear ladies. APPLAUSE.
I don't remember giving you permission to clap, I mean it is - where is it? Now we call on the Evangelist Mpanza of Ibandla Lama Nazaretha.
Thank you very much for your patience. I will now ask Mfundisi Finca to administer the oath.
MR M P MPANZA: Even though my speech is prepared in English I will speak in Zulu, because most of my congregation consists of people who cannot speak English. I will speak English now and again. First of all I want to apologise that I am here on my own. I am from a very big congregation. We had a problem, because we received our invitation quite late. The people that were meant to come with me were not able to do so.
I wish to extend our humble gratitude to the National Chairperson of the TRC for having deemed it proper for us to participate in the faith communities hearings of the sufferings, humiliations and oppressions undergone by various communities during the apartheid era. As you all might be aware, Ibandla lama Nazaretha is a unique church. It is ironic that whilst it is one of the biggest churches founded by Africans, it is the most easily forgotten when it comes to matters affecting the nation. Maybe it is due to its over simplicity and humility which has dominated its leadership for decades. It is therefore no wonder that it was only on the 12th November 1997, that we learned that we were also invited to these hearings. For the sake of those who have no background of this church, I will first briefly outline the source of its existence, its teachings and beliefs and thereafter the sufferings, humiliations and oppressions it experienced during the Apartheid period. Without the mentioning of the name Shembe, Ibandla lama Nazaretha is non-existent. The name Shembe, apart from the fact that it is a surname, was the name given to the prophet, Isiah Shembe, by his grandfather, Ntliziyo. The followers of the prophet, Isiah Shembe are therefore commonly known by the outsiders as the Shembeites, or Ibandla lakwa Shembe. The prophet Isiah Shembe was born at Ntaba Mhlope in the district of Escort in Kwa Zulu in about 1865 and when he was about 9 years old, his parents moved to Ntabaza in the district of Harrismith, where he grew up till marriage. The prophet was born from the traditional rural Zulus who belonged to no church faith. He never attended school from his boyhood, and until he was about 15 years old, he had never been in contact with Christians, nor had he ever seen or heard of the bible. At his early boyhood, he had many visions which came to him in the form of a voice from the firmament. Before Isiah Shembe knew anything about Christianity or the bible, he spoke of God with whom he claimed to be in communication, who he knew as Inkosi or ...[inaudible]. This voice which usually came with thunder and lightening directed his life and was the source of all the teachings and beliefs he, at a later stage, instilled in the minds of his followers. Later, when Isiah Shembe had already been in communication with his God, he met the bible. Through the mysterious powers of his revelations, he was able to read it basing his understanding of it on the visionary messages he received from Umbeli Nqangi. Although later he was in contact with the Christians, he never relied on the Christian interpretation of the bible, but he read and understood it as he was guided by the visionary messages. The prophet, although from his boyhood he was always in communication with God, he never joined any church until he got married according to Zulu custom. After having married his fourth wife, God ordered him to leave all his wives, his children and the family at large an follow him. This Shembe eventually complied with. From that time, Isiah Shembe became the greatest prophet this country ever produced.
In 1910, he came to Natal still preaching the word of God, healing and performing all kinds of miracles in his ministry. In 1911 he founded his mission station at Inanda, near Durban, called Ipakamini, which became the headquarters of his church. In 1913 he was led by the Holy Spirit to Ntlagagazi which is a distance of about 80 km from Durban. From that year to this day, AmaNazaretha barefootedly take this pilgrimage in hundreds thousands or millions yearly, to worship God on the Mount Ntlagagazi for the period of two weeks. As I have pointed out earlier, Ibandla lama Nazaretha is very unique if one approaches is from the Christian perspective. Because, although AmaNazaretha use the bible in their teachings, Isiah Shembe as a prophet did not regard the bible as his sole authority of his teachings, but as a reference to his main authority, which is God. As a prophet, Isiah Shembe was converted by no man, but by God. The bible was there to support and confirm his authority. It is therefore through this that it is not very correct to categorise Ibandla lama Nazaretha as one of the independent churches. It was never a part of any Christian teachings, but it is part of the biblical teachings we built through the might of the almighty. This church can also not be categorised under traditional religions, for the simple reason that whilst traditional religions based their teachings on "Izwelabantu" which is the voice of the people, Ibandla lama Nazaretha bases its teachings on "IzweleZulu" which is the voice of heaven which came to the prophet, and through him spread to the all the people. The prophet explored the name, AmaNazaretha, to its biblical roots as being the only name given by God to the believers, namely the Nazareths. The prophet outlawed the drinking of any beverages including beer or sorghum beer. He also outlawed smoking of any kind, albeit they are part of African tradition, for they are incompatible with laws relating to the Nazareths. Isiah Shembe regarded beer drinking and smoking as health hazards and not suitable for AmaNazaretha. He further outlawed pre-marital sexual intercourse, the use of medicine as a form of healing, the practice of divination or sorcery, the use of mediums or spirits, although these form part of African traditions. For such practices are repugnant to biblical teachings. Isiah Shembe allowed polygamy and when confronted by Christians, his reply was simply this: "I was not sent by man, but by God and God did not tell me of a sin called polygamy. Those who sin are the ones who divorce and thereafter take another wife".
From its inception, this church under its founder and subsequent successors in leadership, grew very fast and as Mrs Wells confirmed in her manuscript entitled Shembe, and I quote: "Everywhere, chapels and churches and schools were empty as Shembe approached and the people crowded to listen with great joy. Immorality was driven to shame. Mental snobbery was pricked like a bubble and a simple folk wearing skins or next to nothing accepted the gospel with great joy and were baptised. Then the greatest enemy were the missionaries who then waged warfare against Shembe because they said he was undoing much, if not most of what they had done. They had taught people to wear clothes and now Shembe said it did not matter if the people wore little or nothing, if they were modest and clean." This warfare against Shembe by the missionaries had a very negative impact on the growth of this church. Because of the short time given to me to prepare for this hearing, I am unable to give all the specific incidents that led to the suffering, scorn, persecution and false representations against the church from the time of the prophet to this day. The missionaries had vowed to wipe it from existence and in so doing, they agitated the government of the day to stop all its activities. For example it is a fact that there were laws which were passed in Natal forbidding the Shembe to enter the black reserve, if he did not have permission from the Magistrate. And the Durban municipality forbade him to enter the locations. All Shembe's moves were closely monitored for his was not regarded as a church, but a political movement under the cloak of religion. As Mrs Wells further revealed, Shembe was much hated by the missionaries. She further stated: "I remember a certain European superintendent of missions meeting outside Town Hall in Durban and accusing and denouncing Shembe with much hate. He brought his clenched fist down in his open palm and affirmed 'Shembe works those wonders through the power of the devil!'. Have you ever seen Shembe, or have you been present at healing services, I asked him. 'No' said the Superintendent, "and I don't want to see him. All I want and intend to do is to crush him out of existence".
The government, through the influence of the missionaries was in important, wanted to crush this church out of existence. Shembe was told in no uncertain terms that his was not a church. In 1931 he was called to Pietermaritzburg, where he was told to demolish all his church settlements, that he was not allowed to build any church house or to use the church bells in calling people to the church service. It therefore came to pass that the Nazareths developed a culture of worshipping God whilst seated under the trees and calling people to the church service by shouting loudly, up to this day.
As I pointed out the church had long been instructed never to build church houses or to establish any further church settlements. The church was ordered to demolish even those houses which were already existing. In 1950, the successor in leadership, the Lord of ...[inaudible] built a big church house at ...[inaudible] with the installation of a church bell. He was then confronted by local missionaries and was again reminded that his was a not a church and therefore the building of that church house and the installation of the bell was repugnant to the government. The church building and bell was then confined to a ...[inaudible] only. The question facing the church was how to spread its gospel in the face of the government's restrictions. The prophet had instructed his son and successor in leadership, Johannes, to take many wives. According to Zulu custom, the man is entitled to establish his home when he has a wife, and a man can have as many homes as his wife. Whenever Johannes Galile Shembe wanted to establish a church settlement, he pointed out that he was a man with many children and he wanted the land for his children. When the land was then allocated to him, it became a church settlement and the government was unable to attach him, as the home was always registered in his personal name, so was everything that belonged to the church because the church was not recognised as a church. The struggle in favour of the church recognition was fought for years until in 1985, when the church joined RICA and was assisted by Bishop R.P.B. Mbwela.
The death of the prophet Isiah Shembe in 1935 brought in great joy among the missionaries in Natal. Their aim as the superintendent had vowed was to see to it that no only Shembe was dead, but that everything about him was intact with his bones. They met and discussed the matter and thereafter sent to Galile Shembe a very prominent black leader, Dr L. Dube to convince the successor in leadership that it was not worth his education to lead Ibandla lama Nazaretha which is full of amaQaba, or heathens. As Galile once put it in his sermons, and I quote, "After my father's death there were many people who advised me to abandon this church and join the Wesley Church or American Board. They promised me money to go overseas, where I was to be trained as a minister so that I could come back and become their priest. This church of your father is wrong, it takes people away from the path of God. The first person to say this was a black man. He said, these people will give you trouble for they are not educated, you will not be able to lead them. After two months I met a white man in Durban who knew my father. He said, 'Is it you who took over from the work of Shembe?', I said yes. He then said, 'No man, what can you do, you cannot rule black people. Black people always fight. By the way, you say that you do not drink liquor, you shall see that all of them drink. And if you talk to them, they will fight you. Leave this people, if you want to be a priest, go to American Board, or to the Wesley Church and be a priest there. I did not reply to this white man, but I wondered how his talk came to be the same as that of the black man who had come to tell me the same story."
When they realised that they were failing to persuade Galile Shembe to abandon the church, they devised another plan aimed at a complete annihilation of the prophet and his work form the face of the earth. The story was systematically concocted that the self styled prophet, an impostor, Isiah Shembe told his followers that like the prophet Elijah, would be taken to heaven by a heavenly chariot. He then took his followers to Mount Ntlangakazi to see him fly to heaven. When he was on the mountain, he attached feathers to his body and when he jumped from the mountain, trying to fly, he fell on the rocks an died. He was caricatured in local newspapers read by black society as another ...[inaudible] who had led many blacks astray. At schools which were controlled by the missionaries, the story of Shembe trying to fly was told as a historic fact. We know that children daily suffer the scorn, humiliation and mental trauma by this everyday insult hurled against us, not only by the children, but by our class teachers, our principals, and local priests who came to conduct morning prayers at school. What caused a lot of conflict in us was that we did not know whether the story or not, for it was being told by our teachers, whilst at home it was refuted by our parents. When we reported the story to our parents they became so bitter, and like my mother would start weeping soberly and at the end we all found ourselves weeping.
Like many other children who ended up leaving the school, there was a stage where I also wondered whether it was worth it for me to continue with schooling, because of the scorn I constantly received from the teachers because of Shembe. This ridicule and harassment of the other children at schools caused many of our children at lower classes or backslid from the church, so for a long time, the church became known as the church of the uneducated. Apart form the scorn about Isiah Shembe's allegedly attempted flight to heaven, the Nazareth children, like all the Nazareths do not shave their hair or beard. Any resistance to shave was met with severe corporal punishment and other teachers used to roughly cross shave them so that at the end they looked more or less like Mr T. And we were told to go Shembe schools, which were non-existent. Since shaving is strongly tabooed in the church, the forceful removal of their hair is tantamount to the denial of their faith. This cruel treatment by many teachers, which still occurs even today, caused other parents to take their children out of school. The Nazareths usually do not marry according to Christian rights, for polygamy is allowed in the church. What therefore happens is that to complete marriage, the Nazareth has to undergo three phases. Firstly, the waiting is ceremonised in the church by the priest, but that marriage is not recognised by the government. The second phase is the traditional wedding which is ceremonised by the chief witness who has no interest in that wedding. These outsiders usually come drunk to that wedding and make it nothing more than a mockery. The third phase is that the bride and bridegroom's parents and the chief witness have to go to the marriage office to have the marriage registered. The priest from the church is irrelevant. Isiah Shembe, as a prophet taught his people to respect the authorities, but promised that through our constant prayer and supplication to God, one day God will answer our prayers. In 1920 he composed a Sabbath liturgy, which he instructed the Nazareths that it would be read before God three times every Sabbath day from generations to generations. In the introduction of the liturgy he wrote that it is the hymn of the Sabbath, the hymn of remembrance from generation to generation and the hymn of fasting in order to remind God of our suffering. Isiah Shembe also taught that the Nazareth must lead a simple life and that every year they must walk on foot to Mount Intlangazasi, to worship God and report all their sufferings. So, for AmaNazaretha, whenever they were confronted by the government, for other missionary churches, all they had to do was to ask the congregation to kneel down and have Isiguqa, which is a special prayer to God. Having said all this, it is important that we show the way forward. On behalf of my church, I now extend my hand of friendship to all those who made us suffer and in the words of Jesus Christ, we say forgive them Lord for they did not know what they were doing.
On Sunday afternoon when the TRC national Chairperson, Archbishop Desmond Tutu was conducting a church service, in his sermon he said that we are all partners to God. We are here to assist God to mould this country and to make it fit living here. In my view, the religious community and cannot fail to do this. If only we would clearly understand what our mission is. This is irrespective of whether we are Christians, Nazarites, Jews, Moslems, Hindus or traditional religions. Our main mission is to work for God and working for God means doing what God appreciates. Whilst we are liberated politically, we acknowledge that there is a fast deterioration of humanity in our society, which is reaching an intolerable level. We have to focus our attention as churches and faith communities on this reality. As religious people, we must not allow ourselves to be too influenced by political rhetorics which are only meant to win votes, but we must face the truth. It is our duty as religious people in South Africa to put aside our religious differences and to work for a common goal of making South Africa become a decent country. In doing this, we have to look at the causes of our problems. It seems to me that among us blacks there is a culture of indolence, lack of work ethics and general irresponsibility, which we have to address without fail. We cannot expect other people to do so, less they be labelled as racist. The greatest enemy of a black man is liquor. As long as we are producing the generation of drunkards, we can forget about a decent society. Drunkenness always goes hand in hand with laziness, irresponsibility and uncouthness. We can think of many projects, create many jobs, but unless we address this problem seriously, we are just wasting our time.
I would be failing in my duty as Shembe's representative if I were not to tell the truth as he would if he were here today. It is quite interesting to listen to other people confessing their sins and we tend to regard ourselves as holier than thou, but time will tell and is already telling that there is a lot which is lacking in black society. The greatest mistake we can make is to fail to appreciate our weakness and keep on blaming others for all our inequities. A person with that kind of attitude can never correct himself. There are issues in black society which must be publicly addressed by blacks themselves without fear. Apart from indulgence in liquor, the culture of indolence and general lack of work ethic prevailing among our society is an issue we address very seriously. We seem to be very good in uniting ourselves when we are going to fight, when we are going to burn schools, or necklace other people, when we are toyi-toying, when we strike for the reduction of work hours and six months' maternity leave, but there is such a discord, quarrel and enmity amongst ourselves when it comes to the real socio-economic development of our country. The taxi industry is typical of what I am talking about. Why do these people keep on killing each other? Why can't these people organise themselves peacefully, like whites or Indians? The answer from the politicians is the legacy of apartheid or the third force. My church has a very big following, which has now more or less 5 million members. Because drinking liquor is strongly tabooed, I am very proud to say without fear of contradiction that AmaNazaretha are among the most hardworking, trustworthy and reliable people in the black society, where they are in the majority. It is unfortunate that Christian denominations, unlike the Muslims and other faith communities, for reasons not clear to me, only pay lip service to this epidemic. Ibandla lama Nazaretha, unlike many Christian churches, is able to recruit membership from different communities among the blacks. The secret lies in its simplicity. A person does not have to think of what dress, trousers, suit or shoes he must wear when coming to the church service. All we emphasis is that he must be clean. If he is living at a place where there is no water, he is still encouraged to come to the church service to listen to the word of God. As Dr Bacon once put it, Ibandla lama Nazaretha is the foot of an organic growth of Christianity on the African soil. An institution in which the gospel message is incarnated into African culture, mentality and community life and Africans are there to worship God in an African manner in order to address the mentality and the needs of Africans in a way in which Africans sense their spiritual and social needs. In Kwa Zulu Natal and Gauteng, when the Nazareths are in big numbers, this church has converted many hostel dwellers, thus able to unite the most of the sophisticated township people with the rural people. Because the church addresses the hearts of the people, I have seen many warlords not throwing away their sticks but changing their sticks into staffs, and using these staffs for healing instead of beating. The shields used for fighting are then used for dancing for the Lord. The war cry is then changed into praise of the Almighty. In conclusion, I wish to say that we, as a church, shall endeavour to appeal to the hearts of many to promote decency, hard work and self reliance in developing our country.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very, very much. We are very deeply grateful. I will ask my colleague here, Bongani Finca to put a few questions to you.
REV. B FINCA: Thank you your Grace. The Chairperson has asked me to be very brief and I wanted to do two things. The one is to pay tribute to you for the submission you have made before the commission, and the respect that you have shown the commission by preparing yourself so extensively. This shows that you are recognising the dignity of the Commission itself.
Secondly I wanted to do my own personal confession before you and ask you to forgive me. But I won't do that. I was student in 1969 at ...[inaudible] and I used to pass by bus to Sbonelo and what you are saying about ridiculing and laughing - all the insults about what we used to see as we passed through Phakamile, as a boy I was part of that. I was a victim myself of my own upbringing and somehow I would like to say so, if you could forgive me.
Two questions I want to raise with you. We are trying here to establish a picture of what religious communities did or failed to do in the whole struggle with apartheid. In your own submission, I would like to isolate perhaps you may have passed through it quickly for you to isolate those things. When you look back, you become proud of a contribution in the struggle against apartheid.
Sorry, and just so that I don't come back to you, and also very briefly just to outline without going into detail, those things that you are sorry about. Not generally, but about the struggle waged by this country to eliminate itself from apartheid. Secondly I would like you to comment on the treatment that Ibandla lama Nazaretha gives to women. You are taking the podium soon after the very eloquent submission of how religious communities have really assaulted the dignity of women. How do you see yourselves in that on that question?
REV. M P MPANZA: First of all, our congregation is the only congregation that is actually boasting, it is the very first congregation that when the missionaries came from overseas, trying to change and trying to force the people to abandon their culture and tradition, but we resisted. Instead, we continued to worship God using our own culture and tradition.
In other words, all that is happening right now that is actually opening the eyes of the people to worship God, it's something new but the church that had that concept long ago, it's there. It's our congregation. Right now, it's what the people have realised that it's what they were supposed to do, because Shembe was telling the truth that people are supposed to worship God in their own way. Our congregation is boasting, because when Shembe came he taught the people to respect it is not very easy to see a congregation who is so respecting, like our congregation, irrespective of whether they are men, women, girls or boys. It was one of Shembe's teachings, therefore we are proud to say that Shembe taught us not to drink liquor, we must not smoke cigarettes, we must not use medicine. I remember when I was still very young, when the boys were smoking, they thought that I was stupid because I was not doing what they were doing, I was not drinking. But right now, Shembe's teachings against smoking, it's only now that the people have realised that it's a problem: it's very difficult for them to stop smoking and drinking. Shembe realised long ago that it's very wrong to drink liquor, but it's only now that people have realised that it is wrong. We don't have a problem with alcohol. We don't have people who are smoking, e don't have people who are addicted to drugs, but it is what you will find among our congregation. You know, even if a person is going to our church, he knows very well that smoking and drinking is wrong.
REV. B FINCA: Could we then begin to focus on the problem areas?
REV. M P MPANZA: There is a lot of things that we regret about, especially when our leaders died. Sometimes we didn't have time to tackle the problems in time. If our leader died, we didn't have provision on how to appoint a new leader, so we would find ourselves in problems, because we would be taken to court and a lot of money would be wasted, because we didn't take care in our constitution, we didn't make provision of electing or appointing new leaders, therefore we would experience conflict. So I can say it is where we actually lacked the necessary procedures.
REV. B FINCA: The last thing about the Ekuphakameni congregation, what is it that they do to show that they respect women?
REV. P M MPANZA: We don't say anything about rights, we just talk about respect. Respect is something I have already said that we respect each other, we respect the young, we respect the elderly people. We are people who have respect. We say nothing about respecting other people's rights. We know that if a person is assigned to do something, each and every body has got his or her own assignment, but whatever they do there is always respect in it.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
REV. B FINCA: I would like to thank you for all you have said about your congregation. Most of it is true. A person who normally visits your church at the end will have a question of what happened to the other people. I don't know how can we spread this spirit of your congregation in our community, in our society, more especially the black community? There is something that I would like to ask. This leadership of yours, it looks like it is something that is associated with the kingdom, the culture of the kingdom. Because I can see from Isiah, Galile and their children that there's a time whereby God would come out and point out the leader who is not coming from that family. I wish to say that the leadership of Ekuphakameni has got nothing to do with the royals. I think it's actually following the guidelines from the bible. What is more important here is that before that I want to say that a person who is a leader in the royal family is a person who is a prince. In Ekuphakameni, there has never been any person like that who would become a leader. Galile was not a prince, it's only ...[inaudible] who was a prince. When Galile died, it's only his brother who became a leader. After his brother , it was their son. If I'm saying it's following the guidelines from the bible it means, even from Israel, Jacob was appointed and after that it happened like that. All their children became the priest. If God has chosen that anyone who is a brother or son to that family becomes a leader, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's the first thing that happened in Ekuphakameni. It's not our culture or tradition that's been used there as a procedure. I think that it's something that came from heaven.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much Mr Mpanza. You have given us your story so clearly therefore we are able to get the details of your teaching. Thank you very much. The next witness will be Dr Mokwebo of Die Belydende Kring. And I want to point out that he has been very gracious in agreeing to come in at the end, as he has done.
DR MOKWEBO: Chairperson, together with me is the Executive of the Belydende Kring. On my immediate left is our chairperson, Dr Henry Thyse, and next to him is our Vice-Chairperson, Mrs Julia Tladi and also a member of our movement, Dominee Kwaho, who is also a member of this delegation this afternoon.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Are they all going to testify?
DR MOKWEBO: No, I'm going to be the one who makes the submission, but they can all speak in answering questions.
CHAIRPERSON: Well, then you are all going to testify. Will you please stand and Bongani Finca will administer the oath or affirmation.
CHAIRPERSON: I do want to express our appreciation to you for accepting our invitation and we know the contribution that you have made in the time of the struggle and in sharpening people's perceptions and insights, theological insights but also thank you very much for your graciousness in agreeing to come in at the end of the day, tired, when you were expecting to be called tomorrow. Thank you very much. Over to you.
DR MOKWEBO: Chairperson, we appreciate as the Blydende Kring, to have this opportunity to make this submission, even so late and we are not in uniform. We appreciate the possibility and opportunity afforded us to make the submission. We are going to try to on the one hand, speak to our submission by highlighting some areas which we feel need to be highlighted, maybe others we will not be able to elaborately go into as a result of the fact that you have a our faxed submission before you.
The Belydende Kring was formerly called the Broeder Kring and established in 1974 in Bloemfontein in Mangaung. An organisation that worked primarily and exclusively targeting the Dutch Reformed Church family which was consisting of the four racially divided churches: the NG Kerk which was formerly for whites only; the NG Sending Kerk, which was established for coloureds only; the NG Kerk in Afrika, which was for Indians; and the Reformed Church in Afrika, which was for Indians. An organisation ...[inaudible] from within all the racially divided churches who had experienced that these churches were based on a biblical, astrological justification of apartheid as the will of God for South Africa, propounded by the NG Kerk which was called the Moeder Kerk and others were called the daughter churches. These individuals were critical of that system. They spoke out - remember the days of Dr Alan Boesak who was also a member and some point the chairperson of our organisation, and many others who spoke out very clearly opposing that system, outside the churches, but also inside the churches, went to meetings with the NG Kerk and all our churches, spoke to the grassroots in the churches, had meetings with women's organisations to try to indicate that this situation which we found ourselves in wherein we were experiencing also suspicion from our communities by being called the church of Amabulu. There is still that kind of hostile attitude and we had to indicate that we are not the church of Amabulu, secondly that the white church, NG Church is not speaking for us.
That is why we build our church buildings, our resources in both our skills and also our buildings to make sure that we rebut apartheid theology, as was manifest in the mission theology that led to the establishment of all these churches. The experience of most of our members was also that the black churches, other churches, were also held hostage psychologically and financially by the "Moeder Kerk" so that for those critical in both the white church and the other churches, the experience of being left vulnerable and exposed to the activity of security force officials, some of whom came from ranks of elders in the NG Kerk. Some of the experiences made by members of the BK because of this kind of stance included among other things, as we have said, being ostracised by both the church and the people. In the NG Kerk, you were called a traitor because you were betraying the Volk. People like Beyers Naude. Remember a person like Reverend Conradie who died under mysterious circumstances and we hope the commission will help us unravel the way that he passed away. But he was seen increasingly, also by his family, as somebody betraying the Afrikaner Volk by having been a member of a black church or organisation.
And those in the these churches were seen as bringing suffering by being a member, that's most critical, against apartheid. In this situation, Chairperson, the BK provided a haven where people who were suffering because of their stand, found a home. And we built a very wonderful community of people across the divide of racial lines who began trusting each other, supporting each other both financially and in a human way. We went to families and we've got families and people with whom we are in communion because we believe that the unity struggle which we waged should also ...[inaudible] and the pains of becoming one should such be experienced by us if we have to preach it out and live it out.
Therefore we faced ostracism from the official churches, both daughter and mother church. Some of our members experienced society cutbacks from such ministers and this led to the division of congregations and division of parishes to exert pressure and create a climate where such ministers would be ousted out by the congregation for being either political, highly suspect or undesirable in both the church and society. Our churches were planted with informers when we were preaching to make sure that such ministers or lay-members who were preaching also in our churches, would be highly suspect and being not accepted within the congregations. Yes some of us faced harassment, physical and psychological torture, intimidation, imprisonment of such people who were critical of the system in the churches. And the sad thing was that the society had believed in the membership of our churches. Critical thinking was dangerous and that to be Christian means to be submissive and obedient and quiet. A sad fact is that we have also division, which meant that some ministers were also allowed to participate for instance in the public media. Some NG Kerk and Afrikaans ministers were allowed to preach on the radio. Others were not allowed because we were critical and there were structures in church to make sure that this doesn't happen. And there were many of our brothers and sisters who were in these structures and this division with a lot of suspicion and lack of acceptance, to make sure that this theology propounded by the NG Kerk be maintained also in the church and also by our church. Radio sermons and programmes on anti-communism were propounded from these groups, also within our church and those people who were not saying this were left out and branded as being communist and therefore to be fought against and be highly suspected. The integrity and credibility of critical persons, as I say, was highly suspect, seen to be dangerous, as communist. Especially by some missionary elements who belonged to the Broederbond.
Chairperson, we need to pause here to plead with the commission, because this strange marriage between the Broederbond and the NG Kerk needs to be also opened up. I am saying this because in one of the meetings in Bloemfontein in 1993, the late Professor Heyns mentioned in the meeting that had it not been for the Broederbond, the question of the new dispensation, the question of the liberation of our struggle would not have seen the kind of dimensions which are happening. Therefore we plead that the full truth about what happened, and why, would be disclosed. The commission to look into the questions of finding the way of the Broederbond and its members in this time. Opening it up and telling us what happened.
As far as missionaries and mission theology was concerned, in the experience of many in our constituencies, these missionaries represented the NG Kerk theology launching pads and strongholds, both within the life and work of church and theological training of our churches. We need to say this, Chairperson, because many mission stations were used as operation points for the military, for planning, for meetings of the generals of the SADF. We have many stories about this that can be told, Chairperson, and it would be very interesting if we can find a way of opening up this point and have it be known by our community in South Africa. The mission theology also represented economic impoverishment of the black churches, because whilst much funding was given in the names of missions, it only ended up in the pockets of the missionaries. Some even had inconvenience allowances for serving in the black institutions. This also was one of the things which we as members of the BK experienced from our own churches. Because whilst our churches made very relevant and critical decisions, it was also being held hostage by the theological and financial grip of the NG Kerk. Many of them would not implement those decisions. We have heard here about how churches pride themselves in terms of making good decisions, but not turned them out complementing them. We took it upon ourselves as members of the churches and organisations to try out and implement some of these decisions and therefore our goals include, among other things Chairperson, to organise for an organic church unity starting from the grassroots in congregations up to the whole structure of a church to that level. To embark on a priestly ministry to the victims of apartheid. Many of our people who were victims in this whole structure - we had to have prayer meetings, visit them, support their families, during this time to make sure that they don't feel left alone and vulnerable to the activities of the police, as in many cases it happened. To pledge solidarity with all organisations who share the same visions and goal with us. That's why we became members of so many organisations. The SACC, the SAT, Abreksa, Christian Institution - precisely because of our commitment of the fact that we felt by doing that we would be able to give form and programmes and participation in solidarity to our goals.
We also had some problems, specifically to address this situation, Chairperson. We had a fund which we called the ...[inaudible] Support Fund, out of which we helped families and ministers who salaries were cut by the NG Kerk because of their stance. Our issue was not simply just to help them, but to support the kind of witness we stood for as ministers, as lay people in these congregations. This fund was transferred to the new United Church, before we became one. As one of the programmes that was needed to assist the church that in its unification, they must be able to address the question of poverty and the poor congregations and try to break the dependant umbilical cord on the white NG Kerk. We also had a programme to empower women, which is called the BK Women's Programme, through which the question of gender was discussed and in any way, that's how we changed the name from Broeder Kring to Belydende Kring, because in 1983 in Free Town in Johannesburg, the women constituents of our membership challenged us so critically about the sensitivity about women's issues to a point when we even felt that even the name that we carry, we could not continue to be Broeders. But we were also being confused with the Broederbond, and that was used against us as being people who are not honest in terms of secrecy, having secret meetings and so on. So we had to change our name from being Broeder Kring to Belydende Kring. We also had a scholarship and bursary programme. On this one, Chairperson, I would say that our experience has been that as a black church and other churches, with all the amount of money that was used for our training, for the past - since 1908 - until 1980 or 1988, we never saw any production of meaningful leadership in our churches, through the assistance of the white churches. But when we started this whole scholarship programme, we were able to produce more than 20 people with PHD's who have leadership and skills for our churches. Unfortunately some of them were not accepted by our churches, because they were regarded as having been trained abroad in America and imbibed the spirit of freedom and liberation theology. But this ...[inaudible] to our church and churches and our community and most of these people are holding very important and senior positions in the life of our church and also our society.
We wish to point out, Chairperson, that we are very disappointed that the situation of the NG Kerk as a submission of this statement, according to us has not changed much. In the publication of the document "Op reis met Apartheid" does not move the NG Kerk towards the kind of confession that would facilitate church unity with forgiveness and reconciliation and enable to facilitate it. We are saying this, specifically Chairperson, because presently in the Free State and Northern Cape there is a lot of dissent, a lot of struggle between the former NG Kerk and ...[inaudible]. And this struggle to accept unity is traceable to some professors, some ministers and some farmers in the Free State of the NG Kerk who are ...[indistinct] this initiative of unification. Victimisation of congregations continues and ministers and general chaos and destruction of congregational property still continues in this whole struggle and therefore in a certain sense, we as an organisation are still not yet over this question of being one. We are still ...[inaudible] the struggle. Where apartheid still rides in our church and our people are every Sunday, we work closely with ...[inaudible] of our church to make sure that the input and the resources that are available outside of the churches were made available also to our churches.
In conclusion Chairperson, whilst we appreciate the opportunity afforded us by the TRC to make this submission, we wish to point out the following:
The continual denial of the NG Kerk to officially make a submission to the TRC holds hostage many Afrikaner civilians trapped in apartheid. So the point that we want to make is the official denial of the NG Kerk to officially make a submission to the TRC holds many Afrikaners hostage and the TRC as a form of confession as is pregnant with controversy. Whilst also the TRC is a judicial Commission, we wish to put on record that as far as NG Kerk is concerned, it is not primarily the physical implementation of the apartheid that constituted a gross violation of human rights, but the belief system, the theology, the religion that created the conditions where many perpetrators could operate with innocence, with joy, needs to be castigated. Even where no physical injury or torture could be measured or claimed to have occurred. We wish to point out also that reconciliation in our understanding and belief is costly, because it requires justice to be done and be seen to be done. Confessions of truth done with no sense of guilt, feeling, remorse and apology, with intent not to repeat these wounds, sounds very hollow and does not seem healing to both perpetrator and victim. Indeed we look forward to the day when our ...[inaudible] will indeed be seen to be seeking for justice and justice alone to be done.
In this light therefore we wish to recommend to the TRC that most of our members have suffered humiliation and - when they visited funerals and weddings of people who dying or dead in the NG Kerk and they were left out, they were cast out to sit at the back seat. We think that the NG Kerk owes an apology for this kind of treatment even to our members and also members of our communities in the Black Dutch Reformed Church. The TRC NG Kerk confesses to having created a climate and conditions that made it possible for people to do the heinous deeds they did without any due regard for a life of the victims they victimised. And in conclusion Chairperson, that the TRC recommends that the present process of Land Reform and Restitution and Reparation, those are critically focused on the NG Kerk with possible intentions of symbolically compensating many families of ministers and lay people who have been victimised in terms of salaries and pensions as a result of NG Kerk actions as policies as we have mentioned about.
We deem it would be in the interest of the TRC process so the nation can hear some of the stories that need to be heard at some stage, if it is possible, but these stories abound of people who refused to be at the mercy of the NG Kerk for all during this time.
God Bless Africa, guide our leaders, guard our children and give us peace with justice. Thank you Chairperson.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Will you please just switch off your - .thank you very much. Thank you for your presentation and thank you for your concern about trying to note the fact that we have time constraints and again I just want to express our appreciation that you ready to come forward. Bongani Finca?
REV. B FINCA: Chairperson, I am not going to raise a question, I will use my time just to pay tribute to BK for the sterling work you did during the dark days of apartheid, which is very well documented. Your own personal sacrifices, especially yours, and many people who are members of BK, those who worked in the rural areas, outside the glare of the media and publicity. I think you challenged a number of us within the reform family.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Thomas?
MR T MANTHATA: I am sure that I am not going to sound very confident to you. I want to maintain that you have since found a common bond between yourselves and those in the Dutch Reformed Church, namely that of faith and language and that from that basis, I think you are better suited than anybody to bring about reconciliation amongst yourselves and this can even best be achieved very easily when you are likely to find or to create common projects amongst yourselves, because the primary thing that the TRC is after is so much reconciliation. Not just, you know, simple, sweet reconciliation without hackles, but hackles will be there and we accept the difficulties that you are talking about or you are referring to, but we nonetheless feel that there is this kind of a common bond between you and the Dutch Reformed Church that is of the white side, which can enable you to find a new way forward.
DR MOKWEBO: Are we supposed to comment on that? Chairperson we are not under any illusion that the question of reconciliation is a costly one. However, we are thankful about the fact that the United Reformed Church opened up the possibility at its Synod meeting in Bloemfontein this year, when they asked for the possibility of there being a TRC process in the relationships between the white church and the United Reform Church. But in that context, maybe we can meaningfully start facing each other and confronting this experience which we are going together. I am therefore not pessimistic that the possibility exists. I would, however, also caution to say that the experience which is happening in the Free State now and the Northern Cape, continues to bedevil this hope, because many of our membership are saying, "You can't trust these people. On the one hand they tell you that if you are critical, even under the new dispensation, we will withdraw your salaries, they still cut back your salaries." How can you - speaking of reconciliation experience this kind of situation? On the other - most of the problems we had to support this kind of witness which is very vital for reconciliation, has been ...[inaudible] of our churches. We are not seeing very much being done about this. They are in the hands, on the tables or in the files of our church, but we are not seeing them being actualised and implemented and therefore it is only when our churches, especially the United Reformed Church, in our view because of our members have also agreed that they are going to now serve fully in the commissions and the lives of this newly born church, are hopeful that within this kind of situation we can make the kind of input which will create conditions where we can meaningfully enter into the kind of discussions which will make it possible that some ways can be found about creating bridges and reconciliation within the churches.
The sad thing, Chairperson, I must mention is that also we may succeed in our own experience because most of our churches were pockets within the larger problem of apartheid churches, but if you don't find churches in the coalition in the white church, who are willing to pay the price, who are willing to say we are not just critical in giving lip service to being critical, but we are willing to pay the price and sacrifice of what negotiation entails. That creates the possibility of having bridges in those contexts where we can meaningfully build bridges between us and themselves.
DR HENRY THYSSE: Excuse me, can I say something in Afrikaans? When I speak Afrikaans it comes from here and not from - you know.
Ek moet erken in skaamte dat ek kom uit 'n gemeenskap en uit 'n kerk familie wat legitimityd verleen het aan 'n regering wat apartheid die lig laat sien het. Ek moet erken ek kom uit 'n gemeenskap en uit 'n kerk familie uit wat legitimityd verleen het aan 'n drie kamer parliament systeem. Ek moet erken dat ek kom uit 'n gemeenskap en 'n kerk familie wat 'n verontmenslikende en 'n mensondeerende, dis nou "dehumanising and humiliating" dat ons toegelaat het dat so 'n systeem nog kon voortgaan. Ek wil net beroep doen van hierdie platvorm dat Belydende Gereformeerde Litmate nie weer moet toelaat dat ons deel he aan so 'n systeem, dat ons die muishonde van die wereld weer moet wees nie. Ons moet 'n Suid Afrika daar stel wat vir die wereld gaan wys dit is hoe ons Ubuntu of medemenslikheid kan uitleef. Ons het dit binne ons as kinders van Afrika om dit vir die wereld te wys. En daarom voel ek dat on kan maar nie net hier kom, en selfs die NG Kerk kan nie maar net kom en se ons belei, ons is jammer dit was 'n klein voutjie, maar dat ons beslis iets daaromtrent gaan doen en dat die kerke iets daaromtrent gaan doen. En ons kan nie se ons is jammer nie en se nou moet ons maar wegspring en die een, en ons word verwag om almal saam weg te spring, terwyl die ander persoon reeds 100 meter voor ons is, en nou moet ons almal saam wegspring. Daarom sal daar erens gelykstelling moet plaasvind. Hoe dit gedoen word het baie mense voorstelle gemaak, wat die BK heelhartiglik ondersteun die afgelope twee dae. Ek wil 'n beroep doen on die NG Kerk familie, dis die vier apartheids kerke, dat hulle sigbaarheid moet verleen aan die eenheid van Kristus, nie vir mense nie, dat hulle sigbaarheid moet verleen aan die eenheid van Kristus, dat ons nie die volgende millennium in moet gaan as verdeelde gereformeerde belydende familie, en ek weet dat daar oorwegings is en dis nie geestelike oorwegings, dis nie godsdienstige oorwegings nie, dis ander oorwegings. 'n Mens wil amper se 'n verskuilde agenda waarom hierdie eenheid nie sigbaar is tot noe toe nie. Want ongelukkig is sommige van hierdie kerke, die NG Kerk familie sommige van ons lidmate, sommige van ons Predikante nog steeds besig om na die vleispotte Egypte, alhoewel dit nie vleispotte is, te verlang in die hoop dat hulle die ou systeem op 'n stadium weer in na 1999 kan voortsit. Daarom is my verlange dat nie NG Kerk familie werklik waar alles in die stryd moet weg, om die sigbaarheid, om die eenheid van Kristus sigbaar te maak. Baie dankie.
CHAIRPERSON: Baie dankie vir u oproep en u woord, ons waardeur dit baie. Wil u ook iets gese het?
DOMINEE KWAHO: I want to appeal to the Dutch Reformed Church to take us seriously. If I say us I mean the blacks particularly of the Dutch Reformed Church family. To stop interpreting the lives they want against the lives God wants us to live. When you talk with the Dutch Reformed Church you find people who can ...[inaudible] and seemingly who are very serious confessing, but some of us who have been living with them, learned that they are good in confessing but to continue with their confession, to implement their confession is another struggle. And should you remind them of what they confessed you are seen to be a dangerous element. Die "Swart Gevaar" - you name them, they have been mentioned here.
So my appeal is, let them be faced with God, not with us. Let them be faced with God.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. We obviously hope that all of us are aware that we stand under the judgement of the cross of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ and as we said yesterday, we all are aware that we have fallen short of the glory of God and that we each must stand before this heavenly throne and be as honest as we can be and open to the movement of God's holy spirit, each in our different denominations and our different faith communities, thanking God for the grace that God has provided each one of us, and the challenge that God has issued [TAPE ENDS] [inaudible] that need to be addressed, but that there are still things that we still need to do, the acknowledgement of the past and the commitment to bring about real change in the circumstances especially of those who were the victims and we have heard many wonderful things since we began yesterday and we want to give thanks to all of those who have participated and who have made themselves vulnerable in coming here and we hope that that appeals that are made will be received in the spirit in which they are made because I hope that we will all be aware that we do not come to put people in the dock, we must put ourselves in the dock. Each one of us must be ready to examine themselves and as I said yesterday, we want to confess our sins, not the sins of another and let the other be moved too, to be willing to acknowledge the wrongs that they have done and that we should be ready to repent, be ready to ask for forgiveness, ready to give forgiveness where it is required of us to do that and that we should hold hands and be ready to tackle the problems that we all are aware of in this beautiful country.
Thank you very much indeed for your participation, your contribution which we know will continue for the good of God's church, for the extension of God's kingdom and for the service of God's people. Baie dankie.
Can we just have a moment's silence before we break and then I'm asking Joyce to close with a prayer?
MS JOYCE SEROKE CLOSED WITH A PRAYER
ON RESUMPTION - 19 NOVEMBER 1997
CHAIRPERSON: We welcome you warmly with both hands. We appreciate your presence here. We greet Bishop Maganyane, we thank him for coming here. We thank him for being here with us today.
To this meeting, the third day of a special hearing of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
REPEATS WELCOME IN AFRIKAANS AND XHOSA.
We want to begin straight away and we want to call Imam Solomon, representing the Muslim Judicial Council. We thank you very much for coming. We will have a total of about twenty minutes. Say ten to fifteen minutes of your presentation, and the rest of the time being for questions.
Because it gets quite warm in here, I will allow - there are some people who have taken off even before - but I will still allow you the gentlemen to take off their jackets if they want to do so. Thank you very much. Will you please stand to take the oath or the affirmation?
IMAM GASSAN SOLOMON: Thank you very much. Chairperson of the commission, members of the commission, ladies and gentlemen, good morning, goeie more, shalom, molweni.
On behalf of the Muslim Judicial Council, I wish to express our appreciation for this opportunity in the spirit of hope to make a contribution to the truth of the past and peace and reconciliation for the future. I also wish to congratulate and thank the TRC under the leadership of Bishop Desmond Tutu for undertaking the noble task of probing the conscience of the nation in order to put our heartforth freedom on a sound spiritual footing where our different political parties, structures of government, business, the press, our different traditions and civil societies of all might rediscover the fullness of humanity together in a single nation.
Chairperson, history has planted Islam and Muslims in the Cape in South Africa more than 300 years ago. Under conditions that were not unfamiliar to the majority of people in our country. Muslims were brought to South Africa either as captured freedom fighters against Dutch colonialism in the far East, as slaves to European masters or as indentured labourers. The socio-political relations of domination at the time ensured that Islam remained a subjugated religion of a minority, enjoying neither equality nor the right to free expression. As slaves and political exiles, besides the right to worship freely, they were denied the erection of places of worship and burial ground. This is probably one of the reasons why the graves of the notables are spread far and wide into the then "bundus" of the Cape Peninsula, including the well known Robben Island. It was only in 1804 that the Betravian Republic granted the Muslims two specific privileges: apparently in anticipation of their loyalty against the invading British. The first burial grounds, the Kanabaru in the BoKaap was one. The second was a promise of a site to build a Mosque. Chairperson and Commissioners, a Mosque is the life of a Muslim community, is a vital institution. It is there at the centre of social interaction and not only a place of formal worship. A Mosque in the Islamic sense is a sense of learning and instruction, not merely in religious norms, but also of the functioning of the individual in his or her social milieu. In essence, it becomes the semanating of communal and social life and as such, an important institution in the development of the community's culture.
It was under these circumstances and its effect that the Muslim Judicial Council was formed in 1945, primarily in the interest of Muslim unity. But also, to voice a protest against oppressive laws and governmental policy. Dr Cherrister of UCT, in his book "Religions of South Africa" states according to the original statement of purpose, the MJC was founded in the interest of all non-Europeans, who should at all times irrespective of race or creed, join forces against the oppressive forces which are endeavouring to retard their progress in all spheres in this country.
In 1961, the Muslim Judicial Council, in conjunction with the Muslim Youth Movement, Cape Town, Claremont Youth Association, Cape Vigilant's Association, Young Men's Muslim Association and a number of Muslim Religious leaders and individuals launched the Call of Islam declaration and I quote: "For too long a time now have we been together with our fellow sufferers subjugated, suffered humiliation of being regarded as being inferior beings, deprived of our basic right to earn, to learn and to worship according to the divine rule of God. We can no longer tolerate further encroachment on these, our basic rights and therefore we stand firm with our brothers in fighting the evil monster that is about to devour us, that is oppression, tyranny and baska." The declaration continues to express opposition and resistance to the Group Areas Act, pass laws, job reservations and substantiates this position with the relevant scriptural support from the holy Koran. The Call of Islam Declaration was followed by a packed meeting at the City Hall, Cape Town on the 7th May 1961. It was at this meeting that the Muslim Judicial Council declared apartheid in any form could not be condoned by Islam. On the basis of this, Achmad Davids, a Muslim historian and writer, stated in an article to the Centre of African Studies on studies in the history of Cape Town, that the Muslim Judicial Council was the first religious organisation in South Africa to declare apartheid a hierarchy.
It is within this context, Chairperson, appropriate to mention that during the 1984 Tri-camaral Parliament election campaign, that the "don't vote" charge of the MJC developed into the popularised declaration made by Muslim speakers at meetings held under the auspices of the UDF to vote for apartheid is "haram". Dr Gerrie Lubbe in his dissertation on the history of the Muslim Judicial Council states that by bringing these political terms and issues into the category of the forbidden which is the meaning of "haram", overwhelming acceptance was achieved through the use of a very concrete language known to every Muslim. To name a political system as unsuitable for human consumption was certainly most unique, but very effective. Chairperson, I have mentioned the meaning of a Mosque in the Islamic faith. It was the Group Areas Act which hurt and angered Muslims most in the 1960's. Muslim youths in 1964 reported that the powerful religious body, the Muslim Judicial Council convened a national conference to protest the Group Areas Act, a threat to their Mosques. Amongst the nine resolutions adopted at the conference were the following: That Muslims throughout the Republic should never abandon their Mosques. Where Muslims were resettled and new Mosques were built, the Mosques were ...[inaudible] the congregational prayer was previously performed, to continue with it and other daily prayers. Muslims should, under no circumstances, apply to the government for a permit to perform prayers in Mosques that have been left in proclaimed white areas. Muslims should under no circumstances compromise on these religious principles. From these resolutions, it can clearly be seen that the Muslim community viewed the Group Areas Act as an attack on its religious freedom. It was felt that the respect and sacredness of the Mosque were violated when the people who had to use it were forcibly removed from it.
During the late sixties, the growing political awareness amongst the Cape Muslims intensified with the death of the well known and popular Imam Abdullah Harum. He was detained for almost four months under the infamous "Terrorism Act". His death sparked off wide criticism both inside and outside South Africa. Imam Abdullah Harum was the Imam at one of the Mosques affected by the Group Areas Act, the Mosque in Claremont, Cape Town. He was the chairperson of the MJC at the time of his death and his death brought about unfortunately a polarisation between the conservative and progressive members in the organisation of the Muslim Judicial Council.
In the seventies the MJC issued a very strong letter against the apartheid regime, protesting against the killing of our children and the brutality of the security forces during the riots of 1976. This protest letter received wide coverage and considerable backlash from the authorities, so much so, that the secretary of the Muslim's Council Office were raided by the Security forces. When the UDF was formed in 1983, in order to spearhead the opposition to the Tri-cameral Parliament constitutional proposals, the MJC decided to affiliate to the movement on the basis that the Muslim community is part and parcel of the oppressed and has a common struggle with the oppressed.
"The MJC believes that it cannot divorce itself from the rest of the oppressed and those with the same ideals in the formation of a united democratic front, to oppose a system of apartheid in South Africa" - Muslim News, 1983.
A protest march aimed at the release of President Nelson Mandela, then jailed ANC leader in August 1985 was banned in terms of a Magisterial Order. The march continued despite the ban, to Pollsmoor Prison. Violent clashes broke out between protesters and police and several religious leaders of various faiths were detained. One of the detainees was the Chairperson of the Muslim Judicial Council. The MJC then issued a strong statement on the unjust detention of its Chairperson and all other religious leaders. The statement further condemned the cruel, brutal and inhuman actions of the armed forces as well as their presence in the black townships and declared that the policy of apartheid, segregation and oppression was un-Islamic, abnormal and contrary to the laws of Allah.
In the mid eighties the MJC called a mass meeting at the ...[inaudible] Salaam Complex in Athlone in protest against the Trojan Horse incident. Over 7 000 people attended and subsequently the Mosque was placed under siege by the Security Forces and one person was murdered, or killed, by the Security Forces and several injured in the ensuing clashes. President Nelson Mandela, whilst in prison in Pollsmoor in March 1985 wrote a letter to the MJC in which he concludes with the following: "I want to point out that there are two evils which have confronted society right down the centuries." He then continues to elaborate on these evils and says about the Muslim Judicial Council: "In my mind the current situation in which I cannot express myself fully and fairly, except to let you know that I consider the Muslim Judicial Council to be fully committed to the elimination of these evils. This is the reason why the MJC is an inspiration to us all, Yours sincerely, signed N.R. Mandela".
In conclusion, Chairperson, I am not here to praise the Muslim Judicial Council. Its documented records speak for themselves. However, conservatism which is almost natural to religious organisations took its toll also on the MJC and certain ambiguous tendencies were experienced within the MJC with some fundamental issues in the historic struggle for freedom in South Africa. The MJC could and should have done more. We regret this, we sincerely apologise for this shortcoming. Conservatism in other quarters of the Olamah Groupings in other parts of the country tended towards reactionary. They obstinately refused to be moved from their record of silence on any political issue which would appear to be anti-State and consequently did not join the overwhelming consensus of Muslim organisations in declaring participation in the apartheid Tri-cameral Parliament elections against the spirit of Islam. This can be construed as complicity in the apartheid crime against humanity. Pressure by radical youth groups and a wide range of organisations succeeded, however, in getting the Natal Olamah to issue a statement on the eve of the Indian elections, in that it is unacceptable because they perpetuate racism and segregation. The Transvaal Ulamah, however, were consistent in their silence. We do take collective responsibility for this unfortunate omission and apologise to those whose aid and assistance we have failed to respond in time of great need.
Finally, Chairperson, in spite of the all the inherent weakness of the TRC, we believe that it does contribute towards the process of dealing with our past, and more importantly, laying the foundation for new morality based on a culture of human rights. The success of the TRC, however, is directly linked and dependent on its ability to reveal and uncover the truth. In this, the Muslim Judicial Council is prepared to co-operate and I hope and pray that they perform that function.
I wish to end by quoting two verses from the Holy Koran, which are relevant to the Truth Commission: Koran, Chapter 2, Verse 42, "And do not cover the truth with falsehood, nor conceal the truth when you know what it is." Secondly, Koran, Chapter 17, Verse 81, "And say truth has arrived and falsehood has perished for indeed falsehood is by its nature perishing".
Chairperson, Commissioners, on behalf of the Muslim Judicial Council, and the Muslim Community, particularly in the Cape, I thank you for this opportunity.
CHAIRPERSON: Imam, thank you very, very much indeed for coming. My colleague, Piet Meiring will probably ask a few questions on behalf of the panel.
PROF. P MEIRING: Imam Solomon, thank you so much again for coming. Thank you for a very comprehensive statement. We have your statement, we received the statement yesterday, and there was also one late last yesterday sent to us by the Muslim Youth Group, all of that will form part of the body of the material of the TRC and thank you so much for that.
There's one question I wanted to ask. At the end of your submission, you told about your commitment in helping to work towards the future of reconciliation and peace. Can you elaborate on that? What is the specific challenge, the specific thing that the Muslim community and Muslim Judicial Council will be able to contribute towards reconciliation? Will you be able, for instance, and willing to work together with the other faith groups, with the Christian churches, in the process of reconciliation in the Western Cape and all over the country too?
IMAM GASSAN SOLOMON: In response to your question I can say from the outset that at the moment, and since its inception, as the records state, that the Muslim Judicial Council, regarded working with other faith communities as important in South Africa. At the moment the Muslim Judicial Council is working together with other faith communities in areas where our society needs it most. Anti-crime for instance and generally in inter-faith activities. Therefore we will support that now and in the future. The Muslim Judicial Council, even though it has no policy yet, on how we feel for instance that we should take reconciliation forward and particularly from the hearings of the Truth commission. We believe that victims are very important in this particular process here. We are at the moment discussing our position regarding reparations. We are also discussing at the moment our position regarding the wealth tax, for instance. I cannot at the moment pronounce the position of the MJC, but soon we will come out with our statement regarding this.
REV. K MGOJO: (Side 2) [inaudible] by Dr Faried Esack that the Muslim community in general, especially Muslim business people benefited during the time of apartheid. And if it is so, how is the Muslim Judicial Council going to influence the Muslim community, especially the business community, to be involved in reparation when this process takes place?
IMAM GASSAN SOLOMON: I cannot agree completely with the submission of Moulana Faried Esack, Dr Faried Esack, in that the entire Muslim business community can be placed in the same position as other privileged communities.
The Muslim business community undoubtedly was part of the oppressed community and suffered as business persons, through those disabilities. Whereby they had to be very innovative in order to conduct business in certain areas or certain parts of the country. There might well be that some of them were quite smart and who have succumbed and who might have made us of the opportunities which were given to them or which were there during apartheid in terms of cheap labour, in terms of exploiting workers and so on and so on. For that we are sorry. But we cannot generally place all the Muslim business persons in the same status as other privileged groups in the country. The Muslim Judicial Council, as I have said is still at the moment considering and debating its position regarding the wealth tax, but my own opinion would be that we should come to an understanding and it is not unfamiliar to us to give charity or wealth tax. It is not unfamiliar to Muslims for wealthy people to give to charities. And we, and I'm sure that the MJC will probably support something like that.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. We are deeply grateful and we will be sharing your insights with our colleagues as we consider what recommendations to present to the President.
Thank you, you may stand down. We now want to call Bishop Barnabas Lekganyane to come to the witness stand, please.
As I have already done at the beginning, I want to welcome you very warmly on behalf of the TRC. You are one of the outstanding leaders, religious leaders, in our country. Your church is one of the largest and it is clear you have a very significant influence on a very, very large section of the population of this country. This was shown by the fact that a former State President has been to see you, at the time of your Easter celebrations, and other political leaders. We are looking forward to hearing from you the submission that you are going to be making to the TRC as we look to what happened in the past and in what manner you may have suffered and what contributions you believe you may be wanting to make, or able to make to the healing and reconciliation of this beautiful country which we all so love very much. Thank you Ndade.
Is it Bishop Lekganyane who is going to testify, or are you going to do so? Just switch on - now I'm not quite certain. Bishop are you going to say anything?
EMMANUEL MOTOLLA: Chairperson, the Church Council has resolved that Reverend Emmanuel Motolla, who is in the Bishop's council, will present our submission before this commission. Emmanuel Motolla, he is going to take the oath
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, your council is free to determine how you want to do this but if at the end of this we are asking questions, is the Bishop going to reply?
EMMANUEL MOTOLLA: Chairperson, the speaker Thomas Mahope will reply to the questions.
CHAIRPERSON: Only he?
EMMANUEL MOTOLLA: I will reply to the questions as part of this panel.
CHAIRPERSON: We want to know who, you see, if it is the two of you are going to be spokespersons.
EMMANUEL MOTOLLA: That is correct, yes.
CHAIRPERSON: Now I don't know, some of your congregation are here. I don't know whether they will b e happy to go away without hearing a word from their leader.
EMMANUEL MOTOLLA: Chairperson, thanks for your concern, but that has already been addressed, the congregation is aware of the situation and I can assure this commission that they are more than happy.
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, all right, I wish I had such a congregation. Thank you very much and will the two of you then please stand.
ADMINISTERS THE OATH.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much then. What we have is a total of 30 minutes and perhaps, if you are able to make the submission in about 20 minutes or so to give ten minutes for the question and answer at the end, we will be very grateful. Thank you very much.
EMMANUEL MOTOLLA: Chairperson, Archbishop Tutu, members of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, brothers and sisters we greet you in the name of peace. The name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We firstly apologise for any inconvenience caused to this very commission for our failure to have entered into this submission yesterday because of some certain technical problems, particularly the flights that really delayed our appearing before this honourable commission. We thank the commission for inviting our church to publicly share our experience and suffering during the dark years of apartheid.
Our contribution in the spiritual war against hatred amongst fellow South Africans and our ambition for the future of our country:
Chairperson, the Zion Christian Church was born after the Anglo-Boer War just before Union in 1910. The founder of the church, Bishop Agnus Barnarbas Lekganyane had by then become acutely aware of the attempt by missionaries to erode African value systems and cultural beliefs. He realised that unless Christianity was interpreted in a context suitable to the African lifestyle, cultural and political development, Africans would, in due course find themselves as a nation alienated from its roots, rich history and religious foundation. Without the infrastructure available to so-called "main stream" churches at the time, Bishop Agnus worked tirelessly for the spiritual upliftment of his people and by 1948,when he passed away, let me pause to say: May his soul rest in peace, the Zion Christian Church was approximately 120 000 people strong.
In spite of the propaganda war which was waged against him and his followers, fellow Africans in the mainstream churches in those days derided him and expressed sentiments like ...[inaudible]. Agnus was less concerned about comments from his critics. In 1924 when one of his followers asked him what colour he thought God was Agnus retorted and said, and I quote, "We are made in the image of God and if this is true, then I assure you friends that when we enter the kingdom of heaven, you will find a God of your colour". When his critics read this they immediately spread a rumour to the ethic that Lekganyane claimed that he is God. The reason for this was simply that people at that stage clearly believed that God was white and nothing else. Mention must be made of the fact that Lekganyane missionary work started in the rural areas of the present day Northern Province. He showed great respect for African chieftancy. And because of this, many chiefs allowed him to preach the gospel of Christ in their areas. So great was his respect for African chieftancy that when he established the church, one of the very first buildings he built was a guest house for chiefs, who called from time to time to join him in prayer, for rain and good harvest.
When the ANC adopted its first constitution in 1919, and established the upper house of chiefs, Agnus was among the first people to applaud, because in his view and I quote: "When our educated young leaders recognised our historical background the African was on a path to somewhere".
In 1927, when the status of African chieftancy was downgraded by the Native Administration Act, Agnus refused to recognise that African chieftancy was subject to the whims and life of the white government. To him, the African chieftancy was an institution not to be tampered with, least of all by a foreign people who understand very little or nothing about African culture. From the beginning, our church viewed habits such as drinking liquor, smoking tobacco or dagga and violence as against the gospel of Christ. As such, tobacco, dagga, now lately including narcotic drugs, liquor and all forms of violence were and are still prohibited in the Zion Christian Church. Agnus proclaimed peace to all people on earth. So dedicated to peace was he that he even taught his followers to precede their greetings by proclaiming peace to each other. From 1910 to date, when we greet each other, we first proclaim "Peace" and then proceed with our greetings. Similarly, our sermons are punctuated by proclaiming peace on earth, a doctrine for which we are now so popular.
By 1948, the church had spread to virtually all corners of South Africa and it was growing even faster in the urban areas. At the same time, apartheid was tightening its grip around the neck of the Africans. At that time, Bishop Edward Lekganyane was the spiritual head of the church. Young people asked him if they were free to join African political movements, agitating for the betterment of their lot. Edward advised them that as long as their extra-church activities were not in conflict with the practices of the church, they were free to participate. Most members of the church then felt free to participate in the broader community resistance programmes against apartheid. In 1959, Bishop Edward built a primary school in Morea. The school was opened to members of the community, of the area at large. Already at the time, Lekganyane was urging for the economic independence of African people. He requested the church council to establish a mill which at the time employed 150 people. Subsistence farmers from nearby villages sold their harvest at the mill, which continued to grow to this day. The present staff complement at the mill is 180 people who would otherwise have been unemployed.
In 1969 the church realised the acute lack of transport in Pietersburg and its outlying rural areas, for African people. A bus company was established to serve the area. Until 1985 the company received no subsidy from the government and was running at a loss, hopelessly. The church, however, felt that the needs of the community were above profit and continued to run the company out of its coffers. Education is seen as a high priority in our church. Immediately after the University of the North was established, the church resolved to establish the Khotso Bursary Fund, which assisted children from all backgrounds in their quest to achieve higher education. Due to its own growth and demand for higher education by its youth, the church established a new Bursary Fund in 1985, known as the Bishop Edward Lekganyane Bursary Fund. The present annual budget thereof is R2 million. The fund is unique in that it considers the disadvantaged background from whence we come. For instance we recognise that due to our past history, most black children find adjustment in the traditional white tertiary institutions sometimes uncomfortable. When such a child fails to achieve desired results, the church does not withdraw the bursary but rather encourages the child to achieve better results with the funds support.
An adult literacy programme in 1988 and basic skills such as bricklaying and baking were started in 1996 and from our observations are doing well. The annual budget for both is R1,5 million. In 1974 the church established Marabathuta High School with boarding facilities. The church then invited the government to run the school for the benefit of all children from surrounding areas. The church presently subsidises the school to the tune of R150 000.00 annually and the amount is expected to grow in the coming years. Recently, we built a clinic in ...[inaudible] which caters for 400 out patients, representative of the entire community, not only Zionist. The facility cost the church R2,5 million. The clinic is intended to serve all the people in ...[inaudible], Mamabulo and Molepo areas. According to the Department of Health Dynamics, the clinic is already operational. A post office which serves the general public was also built by the church at a cost of approximately R250 000.00. Telkom was invited to upgrade the telephone exchange capacity of the post office and the result thereof is that all the nearby rural areas have access to telephones, either in their homes or public.
We place on record that we were and are opposed to disinvestment as a means to an end. During the time when companies were disinvesting, the church encouraged its members to enter the business arena to create jobs. We established a forum to assist each group of business people to create jobs. The reason for doing so was that these people were the first to feel the brunt of investor's withdrawal of capital from the Republic of South Africa.
Chairperson, the aforementioned are some of the projects the Zion Christian Church established. Insofar as our vision for the future of our country is concerned, we urge our business community and the government to assist in the rapid creation of jobs. The high crime rate which is presently ravaging our country is partly due to the lack of employment. Our church, like other institutions, encourages our youth to value education as a key to a brighter tomorrow. We are, however, disappointed to notice regrettably that some of our young graduates are walking the streets with degrees, without any prospect of employment in sight. Chairperson, this problem needs to be addressed as a matter of national priority. If we continue to produce graduates who find difficulty in entering the job market, it will soon become difficult to urge children to go to school.
Crime is yet another problem which requires our attention. So serious is this that we feel that the police, the army, and the community at large much join forces to reclaim our freedom from criminals. Unless the three aforesaid forces join hands in fighting crime, Mr Chairperson, I am afraid our future is bleak. We also call upon the justice and correctional service departments to play their role in the war against crime. There is no point in arresting criminals only to let them loose due to lack of proper attention paid to cases by the Justice Department. We also unashamedly call on the government to reinstate the death sentence. On the other hand we discourage our democracy from legalising immorality such as prostitution and gangsterism.
In summation, South Africans - black, white, yellow or any colour - need one another to fight against all evils and most significantly to bring about the betterment of all people across the board. As long as love, peace, acceptance, forgiveness and true reconciliation remain pillars of strength for all Christians, then with God's help everything will be possible.
In conclusion, Chairperson, and honourable members of the commission, I am tempted to quote wise words from the holy book which read as follows:
"How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity. It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of heaven were falling on mount Zion, for there the Lord restores his blessing, giving life forever more". This is from Psalm 133.
May God Bless our country, may God Bless our leaders and its people. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Piet?
PROF. P MEIRING: Thank you very much, I would like to thank you for a very interesting and thought provoking statement you put on the table. I also want to again thank you for the very gracious way in which you received my colleague Tom Manthata and myself in Pietersburg sometime ago to arrange for this meeting. We really appreciate that. I know that my colleagues have a number of questions they would like to put to you. May I restrain myself to one?
The Truth Commission is about truth and also about reconciliation. We are increasingly aware of the important part that the churches, the faith communities have to play in future for reconciliation. Do we have a commitment from the ZCC that you will co-operate with all the other churches, all the other faith communities in future, to try and build reconciliation. You have expertise, you have a number of things that you told us about. You are doing much to uplift the local communities you serve, but with all the richness of your experience, your expertise, will you commit yourself to work with the other churches and faith communities in future to help us with this enormous task of reconciliation in the country?
EMMANUEL MOTOLLA: Thank you Chairperson, thanks Professor Meiring. The Zion Christian Church is essentially about reconciliation. The Zion Christian Church has been preaching reconciliation from 1910. There is no way we can stand away from reconciliation, especially when it is so critical for rebuilding our country. May I also say, Chairperson and the honourable panel, that the door of the Zion Christian Church remains open to all peace loving South Africans, indeed any member of the human race, that wish to come and pray with us or to engage in any positive activity that will bring about improved conditions of people's lives. We, in the few words I've said, commit ourselves as we have always committed ourselves to reconciliation. More than ever now we believe that reconciliation is the turning point of the future of this country. We are not going to abandon ship at this stage, Mr Chairperson.
MS V GCABASHE: Thank you, your Grace. I would like to add my voice of congratulations on the way in which you presented your church this morning. It was an eye-opener for most of us and I was impressed with the projects that you have undertaken and hopefully you will continue to undertake more of these projects.
I have two questions to ask. In your presentation you said that until 1985 you had a subsidy to the transport - you didn't or you did?
EMMANUEL MOTOLLA: We didn't have a subsidy - .indeed we are now subsidised by the government.
MS V GCABASHE: Then my second question is there was a time when you had problems with the United Democratic Front. How did you go about trying to solve that problem? Did you seek maybe advice or help/assistance from the government?
EMMANUEL MOTOLLA: Chairperson, to tell it as it is, as some newspapers call it. We never had any problem with the United Democratic Front. Not at all. It was during a time when there was a lot of disinformation that was doing the rounds in our community. We got stories to the effect that Lekganyane formed a defence force. Newspapers spread rumours of that nature, and we did not ask - we had headlines like "ZCC Defence Force". Not true. This was quoted in the Times. Some newspapers that does the rounds in Pietersburg started these rumours and in the charged circumstances in those days, young activists without checking facts, started massing up and believing that the church was their enemy. Thanks to the wisdom that prevailed in those days, I recall that Seth Ntayi, who is now in the Northern Province Legislative Assembly, played a very significant role in joining us in reducing the tension in that area. The church never had any problem with any political organisation at all and even when we were criticised by political organisations, by any other person, the church did not respond in a way that was unchristian. In most cases, this church simply keeps quiet, when there is no need to respond, because we believe from the teachings of Ingenasi, that when you start arguing with fools, sooner or later nobody realises who is not a fool.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Joyce?
MS J SEROKE: I just also have two short questions. When you started presenting your submission, you mentioned that your founder, Bishop, was worried about the fact that the value systems and cultural beliefs were eroded by missionaries. What is the programme of the church in maintaining these values systems and cultural beliefs, because yesterday, ever since we started this week, there has been great concern about this moral decay within our national community, and perhaps we would like to hear how your church maintains this kind of programme.
EMMANUEL MOTOLLA: Thanks Mam. It is true that when the missionaries came to this country, their agenda was slightly more than just converting us and being good Christians. In fact, Lord Renwick recently said in all those years when he met Bishop Tutu, Bishop Tutu used to say to him, you know when the missionaries came here, we welcomed them. They gave us bibles. In no time we realised that we had more bibles, and they had more land. This is the situation from which this church was born and we recognised that our values were going down the drain and we started building up a religion that was Afro-centric and not Eurocentric and even today, I doubt if there is any church in this country that has the number of youth that this church has. Our latest statistics show that 60% of our membership are people under the age of 24 and I can tell you that without boasting, we do have our problems, we do have aberrations, children who will go out of their way and not respect parents, but this church is a bigger family. A child belongs to the wider community and not to two people. When a child gets out of step and the parents don't take care of that child, in reprimanding him or in creating a spiritual guided way to lead the child forward, the church steps in and we contribute substantially. I think if Nkosazana Zuma was here she would clap her hands. We contribute substantially in making the young people to refrain from using habit forming drugs, including cigarettes. We consider that as a habit forming drug. Including liquor. We feel that these are the things that are decaying the moral values of our children. We are building on that our leadership ...[indistinct] right now, that's from young women in the age of 17 up to the age of 100, we've got a streak of leadership that starts from that level, right up to the highest age, because we are a church that basically relies on the passing of traditional African values by way of mouth, because we don't have books. There are a few books written by Mbithi, and the Ethiopians, but essentially they do not deal so much about African culture per say. We take it from the grey heads you see in this hall today. They tell us which way to go, most of the time. We blend that with the teaching of Christ. We blend that with the modern outlook that we have today, and for as long as it does not interfere in the moral fabric of our people we are happy to accept any suggestions.
MR T MANTHATA: Yes, accepting what has been said already, that you are keeping an open door policy, but realising the times, moral decay and whatnot. Isn't it time that the church can open up and begin to dialogue with other churches without necessarily waiting for other churches to come to it? I mean already there are structures, there are ecumenical structures that are in existence and once the church can enter or work together with those ecumenical structures, then we can begin to spread these that are the tenants of your church.
EMMANUEL MOTOLLA: As I have said, the Zion Christian Church is open to any suggestion. We interact with many religious leaders. We share ideas with many political leaders. We share ideas with economists, but we believe that we have got a specific missionary work to preserve what we guard closely as what belongs to us as Africans.
We've got no problem in meeting any person to help in bringing down the level of moral decay that is permeating our society. We've got no problem with that at all. Any organisation, be it political, be it economic, be it - you'd be surprised Mr Manthata that you know we even have a group of ...[inaudible] coming from KwaManthata in Pietersburg. They come to our church, we welcome them, they dance there and we appreciate they are not members of any church, they are not members of our church. We are glad to work with anybody for the betterment of our people and we have always said that.
REV. M XUNDU: Thank you, your Grace. There is one area in your presentation which I would like you to amplify. Indeed it was a powerful presentation and I want to congratulate you on that, but the area which I'm concerned about is the area of the reinstatement of the death sentence. We are dealing as the commission with amnesty. That is perpetrators which have killed, and yet we talk about amnesty. We are dealing with the ...[inaudible] it was said of old, "an eye for an eye" but I say forgive. Give the opportunity for repentance. It seems to me that we might want to learn from what you are saying and find out how you handle this in this kind of context in which the bible itself speaks strongly: Thou shalt not kill. Because you reinstate the death sentence, somebody is going to be the killer. Somebody is going to switch the button and kill and so you are saying there must be official killings and non-official killings.
I would like to understand you properly when you say that.
EMMANUEL MOTOLLA: Indeed the question of the death sentence is a hot potato debate that troubles the conscience of all people in our country today. Without even going deep into the word of scripture, the constitution itself, the Constitutional Court which is the supreme interpreter of our law, has outlawed it. The reality here, Mr Chairperson, the church feels that he who lives by the sword shall perish by the sword. The church feels that he who disregards human values and rights of other people can hardly claim that reserve as his own for purposes of elongating his existence on earth.
The church feels that strange as it sounds, the death sentence is a necessary evil. However, in its way of doing things, the church has never climbed on any political platform and said reinstate the death sentence. No, no, no the church doesn't do that. The church has communicated its concern to our political leaders and all people who have visited or invited us to one discussion or another. We appreciate the death sentence was a tool that was abused mercilessly in the past. And as a result, many African people have got sad memories about the death sentence. In fact when you say death sentence to any African you bring very, very terrible memories. But if we have to build and protect our democracy, there is now way, Mr Chairperson, we can continue to witness women raped, children abused, people killed with almost amazing insolence, with no feelings of warmth at all. We cannot, Mr Chairperson, and members of the commission, allow the situation that exists in this country right now. You have people who just simply kill people for the fun of killing people. Not that killing people has in any way ever had any justification. You still have judges, even today in this country, who would comment that these people should not be sent to jail because they killed this person in a humane manner. They shot him once, they didn't assault him. Now if you look at the type of attitude we have in this country today, maybe we can look at scrapping the death sentence ten years down the line. Not now. It is a necessary evil. And I appreciate the theological and scriptural wisdom you enfused into your question, but I regrettably have to say we still feel it is a necessary evil. Thanks.
REV. K MGOJO: Thank you Sir. I am very much impressed by this presentation which is full of theological ...[indistinct], like black empowerment etc. But I find something very lacking in this presentation, vis a vis, the presentations of other churches. We have been in South Africa and there are many sins of omissions which were committed. I don't see when I'm reading this thesis, anywhere, where this church says that we think we are sorry because there are certain things we should have done to help the situation in South Africa during the times which were very painful to everybody. The painful journey that you feel that you could have helped the situation and somewhere you have mentioned that most members of the church were left free to participate in the broader community in resistance programmes against apartheid.
I would have liked to have heard about what programmes were those which your church was involved in, in fighting against apartheid.
EMMANUEL MOTOLLA: Thanks Mr Chairperson, thanks Reverend Mgojo.
Chairperson, as a church, the Zion Christian Church did not lead people into a mode of resistance against apartheid. But as a church the ZCC taught its people to love themselves more than ever, to stand upright and face the future, to defy the laws of apartheid. And that all these teachings are not known in the press, in the general public at large can hardly be the problem of the Zion Christian Church. The ZCC taught its people continuously to follow the path of justice, to fight against injustice. Many of our members died in the struggle. We are not going to stand on this platform now and start name dropping because it was a painful experience in our lives. Some of our members are even in the present leading structures of this government, indeed no less than President Mandela acknowledged it when he delivered a speech to our Easter Conference some two or three years ago. We have not, as a church, stood up and said let's go and fight the white government, and for that omission, if it was an omission, because we thought genuinely we needed to teach our people to be able to stand upright, not to hurt others, but to refuse to be hurt by others. And that is why, Mr Chairperson, of all the perpetrators that appeared before this commission, you will realise that you have never seen one who is a member of our church, because if those members of the police force who were in our church, we made them a aware that if they were enforcing unjust laws, finally the law of God will reckon with them. And if by non-participation, it is meant that Bishop Lekganyane did not go and stand up in the street and say, let us fight, let us go to way, then as far as that is concerned, if that is the omission you are referring to, we plead guilty, Chairperson.
But we taught our people, all these people who are members of this church, listen to his Grace's sermons regularly and they are taught nothing less than rejecting that which is evil and unjust.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. We would have liked to go on. Some of my colleagues are wanting to chew me up, because I have had to restrain them thank you for your presentation.
Quite a number of churches, certainly the church to which I belong, complain about how difficult it is to raise funds. Could you give us your secret? (Laughter)
EMMANUEL MOTOLLA: Chairperson, there is no secret at all. It is the basic teaching of pride in our people, self-reliance to appreciate that their future lies in their hands. That if we want to start a project, we are not as you said one time, Archbishop Tutu, we are not going to have God dropping a Calvin Klein from heaven to us on earth, we've got to stand up and work and I can tell you Archbishop Tutu and the panel, or all these people who are listening here, the Zion Christian Church raises funds from its own people and nothing else. If there is any belief that we have a funder who is secretly giving us money, l et us kill that myth today. These people you see here are responsible for the funds that make this church run. This bursary fund we are talking about which spends R2 million per annum to educate African children comes from these people who sweep the floors, comes from these people who dig manholes, come from these people who paint walls in the suburbs, they do not come from any other person, but if I must say Bishop Tutu, anybody wants to give us funds you are welcome.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very, very much we are very deeply grateful.
Bishop Lekganyane and his entourage are about to leave. I was saying we are sorry but also maybe half glad because we are going to have a few more seats available. For those who are still here, we just want to apologise to our brothers here from the Evangelical Alliance for being disturbed a little bit. I am sure you will be able to take it in your stride. We are enormously grateful to you and thank you for all your patience. People I asked last time whether you could try to occupy the chairs up front. Don't become Anglican congregants and leave the back just in case .and I can assure you I am sure that we are going to be getting some more people coming in a little later for other attractions.
Thank you very much. You will introduce your colleagues and then .shhhhh. Yes, please will you
MR NTHLA: Thanks Mr Chairman. My name is Moss Nthla. I am the General Secretary of the Evangelical Alliance. I have on my right, Reverend Colin Lavoy who is on the National Executive of the Evangelical Alliance, but is also a national leader of the Assemblies of God, and only left, Dr Derek Morphew, who is also on the National Executive of the Evangelical Alliance, also heads up the Vineyard Movement.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Will you gentlemen please stand to take the oath or make the affirmation. My colleague Bongani Finca will do that.
CHAIRPERSON: Dear brothers, we are very grateful for your presence here with us and we are aware of the contribution that you have been making in the lives of various people in our country and we sit at your feet now. Thank you.
MR M NTHLA: Thanks Mr Chairman. My name is Moss Nthla. I am the General Secretary of the Evangelical Alliance. I have on my right, Reverend Colin Lavoy who is on the National Executive of the Evangelical Alliance, but is also a national leader of the Assemblies of God, and only left, Dr Derek Morphew, who is also on the National Executive of the Evangelical Alliance, also heads up the Vineyard Movement.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Will you gentlemen please stand to take the oath or make the affirmation. My colleague Bongani Finca will do that.
CHAIRPERSON: Dear brothers, we are very grateful for your presence here with us and we are aware of the contribution that you have been making in the lives of various people in our country and we sit at your feet now. Thank you.
MR M NTHLA: I would like to first take this opportunity, Mr Chairman, to thank this commission for inviting us the Evangelical Alliance to make a submission. We feel it is correct the Evangelical community alongside other South Africans of faith and those of no faith should give an account of their faith and conduct in the last few decades.
As representative of the Evangelical movement, we stand before the commission and a nation in search of truth and reconciliation. With heads bowed in shame for the way in which our movement failed God and South Africans by not standing sufficiently with the poor and oppressed in the years of apartheid. This went against the biblical witness which we are committed to uphold. We are mindful of the fact that many South Africans might well be tempted to reject God on account of the way we represented him, instead of preaching good news to the poor, we found it easier to conform to the ways of the wealthy and powerful. Instead of rejecting racism, we not only institutionalised it in our own churches, but we proclaimed the gospel as though the sin of racism and violation of human rights did not matter to the God we serve.
To often some among us embraced too readily and uncritically the patronage of an unjust government simply because that government presented itself as Christian. This severely compromised the gospel we are called to proclaim. We therefore take this opportunity to express our hope that South Africans will forgive the churches. We have made it that much harder for them to find their God. Having said that, it needs to be said Mr Chairman that the Evangelical community as with other church groupings, had within its ranks at least two traditions. There was a tradition that was prophetic or progressive, as well as a tradition that was conservative. The former sought in word and deed to bring together Evangelism and social concern, personal salvation and social transformation. Indeed, this tradition has helped to produce a lot of good leadership in our society. This tradition might we add, was not part of the hierarchy of the church for the most part, but pastors and lay persons who were largely marginalised by the hierarchy and largely black. Their leadership was neither recognised nor embraced by the dominantly white leadership of the Evangelical movement.
On the other hand the conservative tradition within our movement tended to see faith largely in other worldly terms with regard to society, this tradition found it easy to move from theological conservatism to political conservatism. The tragic result of this is that the defence of human rights was seen to be outside the scope and mission of the church. In fact, Mr Chairman we probably need to say more than merely that the tragic result of this was that human rights were not part of the mission of the church, because indeed, a number of our Evangelical christians began to be part of a broader programme, particularly in the eighties that the government instituted in terms of its programme to win the hearts and minds of South Africans. You will remember that in the mid-eighties, there was a time when the government of the day made a statement that churches, in particular at that stage, I think the Dutch Reformed Church with a lot of pressure from the World Church, was asked to no longer be involved in politics, but to busy itself with spiritual methods. What the government at that stage began to do more aggressively than it did in the past was to then recruit a number of Evangelical groupings to become part of its counter-revolutionary strategy and the phenomenon of right-wing religion began to multiply increasingly in those years.
And so, Mr Chairman it would probably be good if the TRC were to subpoena if it was possible, some of the foot soldiers within our movement who could testify about how it was that such things happened. Needless to say that these tensions between the two traditions marks the history of Evangelicals in this country. Those who stood for justice and human rights were often defrocked and victimised by their own churches.
In making this submission the Evangelical Alliance of South Africa wishes to state that we are a new body in the history of the church in South Africa. Having being launched in 1995, there's an alliance of 31 denominations with membership of over 2 million people. This launch brought together previously existing Evangelical groupings. There was - ever since 1967, an Evangelic Fellowship of South Africa which has existed up till the formation of the Evangelical Alliance.
And there was another organisation representing mainly Black Evangelical's, called Consandi Evangelicals that was launched in '85 and all these groups came together in 1995, bringing on board a number of other ones of Evangelical Churches that were for the most part not part of those two. So it is a culmination then of a history of a search for Evangelical unity that started in the 60's.
At it's inauguration, the Evangelical Alliance of South Africa adopted a constitution that states in it's preamble, that the Alliance recognises the ugly history of apartheid in South Africa and the complicity of Evangelicals by commission and omission in that history. This history was marked by racism and oppression. Having learnt from this, our Alliance is committed to building a community marked by dignity and justice.
The founding of the Alliance takes place in the context of transition to a new non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa. This transition is seen a visitation of the mercies of God and provides an opportunity for a new ...[indistinct] in Church and in society.
The submission of the Alliance therefore takes account of Evangelical practice in the past and anticipates a future in which Evangelical Churches hope to fulfil a prophetic role in which they make their contribution in the national search for reconciliation, justice and human dignity.
It is also important to know that the Evangelicals were unanimous is espousing one or other position in respect to the policies of the past. And I'd like to mention a few points in relation to that and reflect on gross human rights violations of the past. I think it is true to say that the Evangelical theology is by it's very nature, such that a lot of the violations of the past are possible. With few exceptions, the Evangelical community has historically maintained a conservative theology. This is in marked contrast to the history of Evangelicalism world wide.
This conservative theology tended to hold that firstly, faith and spirituality are private concerns and little to do directly with social, political and cultural concerns. The implication of this is that believers abdicated their social and political responsibilities, adopting a stance of neutrality. In the context of apartheid conflict of the last few decades, such neutrality would naturally translate into uncritical support for the status quo.
Similarly because there was little worked out social or political theology, believers who participated in the struggle against apartheid would have tended to so without adequate theological rationale for what they were doing. And going with what was pragmatic, effective and was done elsewhere, that would be normally the way in which Evangelicals conducted themselves. Secondly, Evangelicals held that God Almighty was in control and that in his good time he establishes authorities and replaces them.
So that explains therefor Mr Chairman, the way in which Evangelicals justified doing very little because everything was left to the intervention of God. In fact it probably is not fair to say: "We did nothing, but there was lot's of prayers to bring about change".
The biblical text of Romans XIII, is largely interpreted to mean that the apartheid Government was to be supported and defended. This was particularly strengthened by the anti-communist mood of the times. The liberation movement was aligned to socialism and communism and to that extent - and to the extent that Evangelical movement is strongly influenced from the worst. The anti-communist posture of the worst also became the abiding wisdom and pre-disposition of Evangelicals.
Thirdly, those who became involved against the struggle against apartheid - the theology of liberation has exemplified in the biblical narrative of their exodus, became the guiding paradigm. God took the side of the poor and this raised the struggle of the poor to a moral high ground, making even the aberrations within that struggle hard to critique. And I think in that sense, those of us who participated probably could have done more to avoid some of the atrocities that took place within that struggle.
Secondly, the Evangelical contribution by commission and omission to the conflict of the past. By it's failure to develop a theologian practice that took adequate stock of social reality and relying only on private morality to guide people through complexities of socio-political ideologies and conflicts, the Evangelical community made believers easy prey to the forces of conflict. In fact, believers became socially and politically and culturally incapacitated to act decisively, authentically and in integrity either way.
Looking at the question of how we failed to live up to the faith and how we in that way, contributed to human rights violations. I think Evangelicals attempted to justify the system of apartheid and rationalise their support for it. This led to an embrace of a racist ideology in the ...[indistinct], in the theology and in the structures of the church. And more concretely there's a sense in which Evangelicals served in the military and police defence of apartheid - and I just want to make one example that will explain this.
In the 80's, there was a time when the government identified the young people particularly as being at the forefront of the struggle and there was a time when the government recruited young people by the thousands from a lot of the Black townships, to camps that were all expenses paid by government, inviting Evangelical Pastors and Evangelists to proclaim the gospel to these young people as a way - in a sense, of neutralising them from their political commitments.
A typical testimony would come out of a young person - for example, I remember a story of a young COSAS person who came away from such camps having discovered faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, with eyes shining and saying: "I used to be a member of COSAS, I used to be involved in the struggle and now I've received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour and I'm no longer involved".
So in that sense, there was a way in which Evangelicalism became an antidote that neutralised the people who were committed to a struggle for their own freedom.
CHAIRPERSON: Excuse me, I really don't want to interrupt what is a very moving account but there is just this whole question of time constraint, how much more have you got?
MR NTHLA: Just one page.
CHAIRPERSON: One? Thank you, sorry, you were at a semi-colon.
MR NTHLA: The second concrete way in which this happened was that Evangelicals tended to oppose those who were involved in the struggle against apartheid and vilified them. Thirdly, the apartheid segregationist policies were part and parcel of the institutions and lastly, the legitimisation of human rights violations by the State machinery in the whole anti-communist rationale of the time.
Reflecting on the future, I'd like to take this opportunity Mr Chairman, to just thank the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in sense, for helping to disclose the truth about the past because, because of that, there has been a sense of awakening and a sense of realisation by a lot within our movement - people who felt or did not know or claimed not to know, that a lot of these things have been revealed. And we have seen a marked shift in a number of the people, who in the past would have uninvolved and unconcerned. So, because of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we have been able to find it easy to mobilise local churches in particular, to become more actively involved with the victims of human rights violations. And we've discussed this programme with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to see in what way the churches at a local level, can begin to be involved in reparation.
We've also set up a fund through which we make it possible for ordinary Evangelicals to take personal ownership of the process of Reconciliation and Reparation because - as you will remember, a few years ago at the Rustenberg Conference a lot of our leadership confessed sins of omission and commission and it is an opportunity - in the light of those confessions, to take the process forward and allow ordinary Evangelicals, local churches and various institutions to begin to make personal contributions to the process of reparation through a fund that we have set up.
We continue also to look at how we can bring human rights violations or human rights as an issue, more centrally to the agenda of Evangelicals through a process of education for democracy which we have started. I'd like to pause there and allow my colleagues to add - if I may Mr Chairman?
CHAIRPERSON: Maybe you want to switch of yours.
Is there anyone of you who might want to - Mr Lafoy, yes?
MR LAFOY: Thank you Mr Chairman. Just to add to what my colleague as stated and further develop point number 3 - but briefly. Failing to live up to the faith and contributing to human rights violations, we must confess - as Evangelical Pentecostals, that our leadership frequently participated in government commissions. An example: the John Vorster Commission that led to the closing of the Christian Institute and the banning of Doctor Beyers Naude, effectively demonising the true prophetic voice which has left the church disadvantaged today.
When 25 years ago we proclaimed the direction of the nation, the precipice and the end result? - we were justiced by being told that Jesus Christ will come before all that will happen. The slave mentality of the preponderous groups within our church further empowered the conservative right. Frequently our leadership travelled around the world to counter the SACC so-called propaganda, claiming to speak for 11 million Evangelical Pentecostal christians.
Point 2: On our way forward. We need to say that the reconstruction and development programme in building houses, sports fields and the upliftment of our community is very important but we have a nation with an identity crisis. We have a nation with damaged minds, we have cripple care societies which care for people with broken backs and withered limbs but we do not have a society that cares for people with broken minds.
We have people who hate themselves, hate the Negroid blood that flows in them and if we do not give attention in the reconstruction - not just of schools, but the reconstruction of the minds of our people, then we will miserably fail our country at a time like this.
There's a necessity - finally Mr Chairman, to create a new value system concerning life. We have a value system in South Africa where White life is very important and Black life is nothing. Pro-life people want to protect the unborn child and we as the church support that but those same people did not protect life - living life, in children, youth and elderly, simply because they were Black. And until we create a value system where all life - as created by God, is important, we as the church will fail our society at this point in time. Thank you Mr Chairman.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Yes?
MR MORPHEW: Mr Chairman, I'm going to make five points which will be about five minutes.
My comments relate to Clause 2 of the primary document, which refers to the failure of the Evangelical community to develop and adequate theology of social reality. I wish to reflect on how this was manifest in the White section of the conservative Evangelical community.
In describing this section of South African society, I must acknowledge that there were christians of conservative Evangelical faith and other constituencies already represented before the TRC, which could legitimately distance themselves from the confession which follows. My hope is that this statement will assist in the on-going confession and repentance of the constituency I will describe.
Perhaps the primary value and distinguishing mark of the Evangelical community is the place given to the authority and inspiration of scripture. A high view of scripture is believed to provide a perspective which safeguards the church from worldly thinking and keeps it faithful to it's mission.
The critical question is therefore, to what extent did this value work for the church caught in the ideological struggle of the apartheid era? We have to confess that the Evangelical community largely lost it's way and became as captive to the ideologies of the day as any other part of South African society.
Given a context where ideologies from the right: neo-facist and the left: neo-marxist were present, marxism was routinely demonised and the power of this ideology was greatly exaggerated while the sinister influence of fascist ideology was largely evaded or ignored. This, despite the rich biblical and church historical heritage of terms like: "spiritual warfare", "the unmasking of the gods and of the spirit of the anti-Christ", the tearing down of strongholds in the mind and so on.
This partisan spirituality was nowhere more evident than when the church prayed for the State. Prayers against a threat of communism and revolution were filled with far greater zeal than prayers against the violations of human rights perpetrated at the time.
The Evangelical Church also has a rich heritage of social relevance. The history of church involvement in the development of human rights down through the centuries and the testimony of Wilbur Force type role models, is well-known. Yet the South African Evangelical community somehow managed to suffer from amnesia and opted rather for a form of gnostic dualism where evangelising the soul was unrelated to the transforming power of the Kingdom of God. Instincts of self-preservation predominated over compassion for the poor.
The Evangelical Church prides itself in it's fidelity to ...[indistinct] trinal orthodoxy and is often quick to repudiate ...[indistinct], yet the South African conservative Evangelical community did not lead the way in discerning the heretical nature of apartheid theology.
Scripture is unambiguous in the unity of the church in contrast to the fragmentation of worldly society. Pentecost reverses Babel and Christ's blood creates a new community where dividing walls are broken down, yet many of the denominational structures reflected the divisions of South African society, nullifying the testimony of scripture.
It is with sadness that we have to acknowledge that the Evangelical Alliance and many of it's denominational constituencies emerged from previously divided Evangelical structures only after the election of a new Government, so that the church followed the example of the State rather than providing an example to the State.
The Evangelical community we represent does have it's history of conferences, statements, publications and positions, adopted in the struggle against apartheid. There were individuals and congregations who courageously exemplified a truly biblical witness.
However, in general, our testimony is one of failure to be faithful to the word of God we so highly value. We did not act as the lemon and salt of society Jesus called us to. This failure must be acknowledged before God, to ourselves and to the South African national.
Our ability to be deceived in the past requires us to critically reflect on our understanding of the gospel as it relates to society. The future calls us to discover a practice of missions and evangelism where biblical discipleship takes on new meaning.
It will need to include biblical teaching on social ethics, human rights, the empowering of disadvantaged communities and nation building. We will nee to make our contribution to nation building in the face of new challenges and threats to the emergence of a truly civil society.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Virginia?
MS GCABASHE: Thank you Chair. Let me quickly congratulate you and your team Mr Nthla, for your presentation and also for the open way in which you are ready to admit the problems of the past and your willingness to show that you are ready to become not only a new movement, but also new in your actions.
You have said that movement started in 1995, which means that you are quite young, could you just mention about five of the churches or organisations that are part of this movement - not more than five, you may have a long list but just to give us an idea whom we are talking about.
MR LAFOY: Alliance Church in South Africa, Apostolic Faith Mission, Assemblies of God, Baptist Convention of South Africa, Baptist Union of South Africa.
MS GCABASHE: Thank you. In your presentation you mentioned that during the dark days some of your ministers were defrocked, I would like to know whether you have reinstated those ministers.
MR NTHLA: Some yes, some no. And I think that is also part of the journey forward Mr Chairman, that part of the reconciliation that needs to take place in the churches - we'll have to deal with those wounds of the past where the faith of many was injured. And might I add that the Truth Commission does not help the churches very much in that it gives amnesty up front without consequence to the perpetrator. So in that way, there is a sense in which people feel that the past can be forgotten and we can go into the future without having to deal with it.
I think in that sense, the Truth Commission hasn't been very helpful but there is a journey that within our churches, we are working through to allow churches, local groups, to deal with those issues and find a way in which they can genuinely forgive and forget.
MS GCABASHE: My last comment, I would like to comment on your preamble to your constitution. It is a beautiful preamble, it has every word in the right place but I am hoping that when you say: "a non-sexist", you really mean that you are going be mindful of the gender issues which from your delegation right now, I don't think you are mindful of that. Your comment?
MR NTHLA: In that region - the fact that we were only launched in '95, means we only have three years to date or two years to date to fix that problem but we hope we will be able to deal with it. We have on our National Executive, two women who couldn't be with us today and we trust that in future we will be able to facilitate that.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. I suspect that my colleagues here would have wanted to ask more questions but I'm going to be a little ruthless and say that some of the people you have mentioned as members of your Alliance, are in fact going to be coming forward to make presentations, so the questions that might be asked can be put to them.
But what I did want to say is, I don't know about any other people but I've been very deeply moved by your presentation, deeply moved by the remarkable humility of your candour and I would hope that this - since you are such influential people with a very influential constituency, that the spirits that you have yourselves shown here would be one that could then be reflected amongst your membership because if that is the case, then in a real sense we don't have to worry.
Yes, we've got problems in this country but if what you are saying is something that is beginning to permeate a very important section of our community, then I am even more hopeful than I was earlier and want to give thanks to God that the Holy Spirit of God convicts us in the kind of way that it has convicted all of us.
And we want to express our very deep appreciation to you because it is never easy to say: "I am sorry" and to have to say it in the glare of this kind of publicity is even more difficult and it means that you have received excesses of grace that are extraordinary and we give thanks to God for yourselves. Thank you very much.
We are going to take a break - we are running a little late, but let's go and drink tea all of us and we'll return in 15 minutes time - about half past.
CHAIRPERSON: Hallo, hallo, we have to show people that we can actually listen. We now want to call on Ray McCauley and your team. We want to welcome you very warmly and you will introduce your colleagues and thereafter my colleague here will administer the oath or affirmation and then you will have a short ...[indistinct].
We've got 30 minutes in total and so your submission should be something in the order of about 20 minutes to give us about 10 minutes for the question and answer session, so if you will please introduce your colleagues.
PASTOR McCAULEY: Thank you very much Archbishop, I'd like to introduce - on my left is Pastor Mosa, the Vice President of the International Federation of Christian Churches, Ron Steele, one of our Pastors, Pastor Chris Lodewyk, who is the General Secretary of our organisation.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Gentlemen, you are welcome, will you please stand? I assume that all four of you will at one time or another speak, so - Bongani Finca please?
RHEMA BIBLE CHURCH/IFCC: (sworn states)
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Right you are Ray?
PASTOR McCAULEY: Commissioners, religious leaders, special guest, ladies and gentlemen, I must say that this is a first for me - that half the congregation left before I even started preaching, normally they go about halfway through.
I'm here today in my capacity as President of the International Federation of Christian Churches, it's an organisation that came into being in 1984 and consists in excess of 400 churches countrywide. Rhema, my own church, is a member of the organisation and incidentally also this church which is hosting these TRC hearings. We also have close links with the larger Pentecostal and Evangelical fraternity in South Africa and the South African Council of Churches.
We're often boastful about our spirituality but today we come in humility, as we have to confess our shortcomings of the past. It's sad to admit that we often hid behind our so-called spirituality and ignored the stark reality of the dark events of the apartheid age. And as Pastors we delighted in preaching and teaching about the good samaritan and pointing the finger at others, while all the time we should have applied the lesson to ourselves.
Paralysed by false respect for government authority, most of your White charismatic and Pentecostal church followers were simply spectators to the horrible acts of abuse to humanity in this country. When we should have been comforting and praying for those in desperate need, we sometimes joined the cheering crowds and urged on the gladiators who in this modern day was a ruthless security force machine that crushed any foe that dared to shout freedom.
We must confess that many of us allowed ourselves to be swayed and manipulated by a government propaganda machine that tried to portray freedom fighters as the enemies of the church and of Christianity in particular. We, the White members of our leadership of our charismatic and Pentecostal churches, sincerely seek the forgiveness of our Black counterparts within the church.
Many of these Black leaders tried to show us the error of our ways but pride and often a sense of superiority blinded us. Instead of hearing the cry of their hearts, we rebuked, offended, and even at times ostracised them for their honest efforts to speak truth in love.
We seek the forgiveness of our colleagues within the larger religious community for the times when we lacked the courage and conviction to walk alongside you in your demands for justice and righteousness. We seek the forgiveness of those who are willing to bear the scars of rejection, humiliation, persecution for their campaign to isolate through sanctions, a minority government and by this peaceful means bring into submission. Forgive us for our short-sightedness and selfishness.
The tragedy of this ineptness and sometimes callous attitude of hundreds of thousands of christians will forever stain the history of Christianity in South Africa. The guilt of many South African christians is even greater because of the laws of apartheid and the subsequent abuse of power by a security system. And a police force that at times seemed to come from the pit of hell, was aimed at fellow christians.
Like the madness of Northern Ireland, we saw christians persecuting christians in Southern Africa. Men who sang the same hymns and said the same prayers and belonged even to the same denominations became mortal enemies outside of the sanctuary of God but God's seen it all, not one of those evil deeds of the apartheid era has gone unnoticed.
We know that many christians within our constituency still to this day, find it hard to accept any responsibility for what happened in the past. In 1990, when I attended the historic Rustenberg Conference, I was challenged by the willingness of Professor Willie Jonker to make a bold confession on behalf of the Dutch Reformed Church. This forced me to consider the part that our constituency had played during the apartheid era and it was in a hotel room at Rustenberg, that I got together with other leaders of Pentecostal denominations.
I felt this was an important moment in time for us to confess our failure, to oppose apartheid and take the challenge to our various constituencies. Unfortunately, we could not all agree that it was the right time for confession and only one other grouping joined me in making a confession at Rustenberg.
As much as the Commission's work has to do with the past, I'd like to read that confession made in Rustenberg just over seven years ago. It reads:
"Despite our short history we recognise our guilt in that for some us our opposition to apartheid did not go far enough, nor was it effectively expressed. While others of us adapted a so-called: "neutral stance" which resulted in complicity in the system. Our statements and conviction were often not adequately put in practical action and as a result we were often silent when our sisters and brothers were suffering persecution.
We confess that our silence in this area was in fact sin and that our failure to act decisively against all forms of apartheid made us party to and inhuman political ideology. We therefore confess our failure and repent of our sin, declare our complete rejection of all forms of racism and evil unjust system of apartheid. Please, forgive us.
Further, as part of the family of God, we declare our resolve to play an active and positive role in ensuring that all people receive an equal opportunity to take part in all forms of political, economical and social life in the post-apartheid South Africa. Please, forgive us".
Looking back at those words, I thank God for his generous grace for helping me and the leadership to make that confession then. The reason why I say this is because it cleared the way for us to go forward. I'm not for one moment suggesting that it absolved our people of personal responsibility because confession and repentance is a very personal matter but it helped me to help others to not only face the past but to have a positive vision for the future.
Much of the work of this Commission and the majority of the presentations and hearings, have dealt with the problems of the past but I think we would be naive to believe that these hearings have achieved everything that we may have prayed for and hoped for. In fact, I believe that the TRC is the starting point for true reconciliation in our country.
Confession of past sins - whether of commission or omission, may bring pardon but confession is not complete without two vital components. They are powerful theological words which religion knows well, they are repentance and forgiveness. The act of confession does not mean that the person has really repented, confession is a starting point to a process that should lead to lasting reconciliation. This is why repentance is so important in the vocabulary of the church, it is the through the act of repentance that we see the fruit of our confession.
The thief no longer steals the lie, tells the truth, the cheat becomes an honest person. Repentance means a complete turn around. Sadly, though the repentance is not forthcoming because the confession has not been what we in the church would recognise as a confession of sin. Many people in our society are prepared to admit that apartheid was a mistake and offer a half-hearted apology for the past.
That sort of confession in my mind, is cheap and it fails to get to grips with a true confession which leads to repentance and that in turn leads to meaningful forgiveness, followed by restitution and reconciliation. There is no easy road to reconciliation, in fact we may be deceiving ourselves to even talk about reconciliation for apartheid has been so successful in keeping generations of South Africans apart, that only now are we setting off on a journey to truly find each other.
The road to true reconciliation is signposted with confession of your past sins, repentance, forgiveness and restitution. One of the most beautiful pictures of this is found in the Bible account of Jesus and the Tax Collector, Zakeus. It is a story of an extraordinary conversion by a man who held a privileged position in society, he was wealthy - and if he was alive today, most probably will look like Danny de Vito, but from the story we gather that he abused the trust and authority he had in society.
When he was confronted with his sin he repented and the outcome was a voluntary offer to make restitution to those he had taken advantage of. The evidence of a sincere confession and repentance should always be followed by a desire to make amends wherever possible. We would be doing an injustice to the TRC if we simply remembered it as an event that only exposed the evil of our past. Without this necessary exposure of the past, we would have built our future on lies, deceptions and half truths.
It may be that we have not brought out all the truth of the past but there can be no denying that all South Africans now know that the history of apartheid is not golden but rather that our past is clouded with tragedy and shame. But as dark as our past may have been, I believe we now have a sufficient foundation of truth on which to build a future that will never allow an ideology to rob millions of it's citizens of it's basic human rights.
I think it's most fitting that the churchmen have been given this opportunity to speak at the TRC because I believe that we, more than the politicians or the business world, have the spiritual capacity to rebuild the moral fibre and the dignity of the people in our nation. Christianity, despite the failings of it's followers, offers new beginnings, new life and it's faith that believes in redemption. It is a faith that cares and has compassion for human kind, it is a faith that inspired hymns like: "Amazing Grace", that gave us the words: "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, save the wretch like me. Once I was lost but now I'm found, once I was blind but now I see".
To many of us in this room today the transition to our fledging democracy has been a divine miracle, it has been amazing grace that saved our land from civil war. The shameful wretch of apartheid is behind us, we are finding our way and the scales are falling from our eyes day by day. I have no hesitation in saying that only God's amazing grace is going to carry us further on the road to reconciliation where dignity and prosperity will be freely available to all our people.
A political revolution has taken place in our nation. What I plead for today is that, out of the pain and suffering - cauldron of the TRC hearings, we begin a moral revolution that will break the curse of poverty an pain. A moral revolution that will eradicate corruption from business, government and the services of law and order. Our own President stated that approximately 80% of the police are some way involved in corruption.
A moral revolution that will teach young people right from wrong, a moral revolution that will cherish human life and dignity, a moral revolution that will treat all South Africans - young and old, as valuable and precious in the sight of God. Deliverance from the yoke of apartheid has brought freedom, now we need to honour that freedom by acknowledging that it comes to us with a high price.
South Africans' road to true reconciliation means a new appreciation of freedom. Countless horror stories have been told to the TRC of young men and young women, of mothers and fathers who died and suffered to bring down apartheid. It is a present tragedy that the blood spilt by so many to win freedom, is being trampled underfoot by criminals who terrorise our streets and by white collar crooks who salt away the wealth of our land by devious and unethical business tricks.
And we can point a finger at government departments as well but I'm ready to acknowledge that the church too has it's responsibility to chasen it's congregations to live lives worthy of their faith. It was Jesus who said: "Why do you look at the speck of the sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you save your brother? - let me take the speck out of your own eye, when all the time there is a plank in your eye. You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye"
So I think it is only right that the church has been called to make it's confessions here at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and I'm also saying that we as christians who believe in the higher laws of God, must set the tone and the value system for reconciliation to become a reality within our congregations. There is no place for prejudice and racism within our sanctuaries. The Bible may have been abused in the past to bolster a manmade ideology but let's get back to what God intended for his people and that is peace, joy and ...[indistinct] in the Spirit of Christ.
Church leaders - especially those who still have predominantly White congregations, are going to have to challenge their people to be peacemakers, to stretch out their hand of fellowship. The church has so much to offer South Africa and it must not fail in it's God-given opportunity to share the love, compassion and healing of the gospel.
This is going to have to mean a lot more than just loving - having a loving sermon. As I said earlier: "Heartfelt confession will bring forth truth repentance which in turn produces a new outlook and a changed attitude", this must result in restitution and good works. Faith says the Bible is dead without works. When we use faith and works together, we have a dynamic force for change and for good in our nation.
Restitution or reparation has to happen. There is hardly a White person in South Africa who did not benefit in some way - no matter how small, from apartheid. We benefited in the field of education, business, sports, arts and in everyday life by having better bus services, train services - and I'm the first to admit today, that I got benefits from the apartheid system.
Maybe I didn't get it deliberately to mistreat or deprive others but Black people certainly never enjoyed the rights and privileges that I did when I was at school and when I was a young man. So we have to face the challenge of restitution head-on. The issue of land acquisition is key to giving people a sense of dignity and belonging, and my sincere prayer is, that those church organisations that hold unused property will generously show the hand of true christian charity - this is could be - in some areas, a wonderful example of restitution.
For younger organisations like the one I lead, the challenge is to give back something to our communities and that is not hard to do if there is a willing heart and a willing spirit. The poor are all around us, homeless people are dumped on the pavements and street children wander aimless through our cities' streets - these are all opportunities for restitution.
And because of the past failures in the country, we who believe in the christian faith carry a heavy responsibility to be the shepherds that lead South Africa into the pastures of peace and prosperity. And I personally have a dream of a nation that will hold it's head high, where the dignity and life of each individual regardless of colour, is recognised as a sacred gift from God Almighty.
In closing, we commit our churches and our congregations to boldly walk the road of reconciliation, to build a nation under God that will be a growing testimony to the international world. We applaud the TRC and it's dedicated members for taking on this most difficult task of opening up the soul of the nation, but we believe that the people of faith with loving and caring hearts, will soothe the wounds and help dry the tears of our nation.
I have a very short addendum which will take another minute or two and I'm nearly on time - blessed are the short-winded. This section is added to our statement to give some practical idea of what steps our churches are taking to make restitution in a way that adds value to the lives of those who are marginilised for so many years.
One of these areas - we feel that our network of churches can make a really significant contribution to the upliftment of the less privileged, is in the area of housing. Besides trying to help the homeless and the poorest of the poor with soup kitchens, literacy classes and clinics, we are gearing up for a pilot project in Gauteng where we'll work with the local government authorities to provide a housing estate.
The concept is simply to enter into a partnership with local authorities who will provide land and services while we as the church, will raise the finances for the houses. Besides this, we will call on our congregational members to provide their skills on all the various areas of building and work with the local people on a self-help scheme that will see people building their own homes and owning them.
This project has been on ice for two years because of the difficulties that the local authorities had in getting suitable land for development, but we believe that this will be able to start with a pilot scheme in Gauteng next year. Once this pilot scheme has proved itself we plan to role out the project across the country to other cities, towns where they have churches and where our partnerships can be established with local authorities.
Part of this scheme is also to provide small business opportunities nearby the proposed estates, so that the areas will be economically sustainable. We believe this project - using the volunteer expertise available among the privileged members of our congregations, will make a valuable contribution to uplifting our local communities and of giving Whites in particular a practical way of making restitution.
In the meanwhile, some of our churches have come to the rescue of some homeless groups which have been evicted and have offered shelter on their own property. The measures of course are only short-term and our main focus is on providing permanent homes. Besides our proposed housing scheme, some of our churches in the cities are involved with street children.
In Johannesburg we have the establishment of an orphanage which already is producing wonderful results among the children who were once lost in the streets of Hillbrow. In Mpumalanga Province our churches have been engaged in a water scheme and has seen the establishment of clean fresh water tanks. Boreholes are now available in many villages and this has helped to reduce - in our small way, sickness in those areas which previously came from using polluted water.
Like many, many other churches that have done more than us, we are continually engaged in running literacy classes, doing our best to help in the clinics and particularly getting involved in the informal settlements. We believe that our churches can and will make a substantial contribution to improving the living standards of the poor and the homeless. It is the least we can do for those who are deprived of so much by our failures and sins in the past.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. I don't know whether there is anything your colleagues ...[intervention]
PASTOR McCAULEY: No.
CHAIRPERSON: No, you're not going to add? Thank you very much indeed. Doctor Mgojo?
DR MGOJO: Thank you Mr Chairperson, I just want to commend this presentation. First it starts with confession and it goes deep in the confession, so that by the time the plan is given or the programme, one has already been touched by the sincere confession of the church. We just thank the Rustenberg Conference which became ...[indistinct] a damascus road for you for the experience.
And we thank you too for the kind of programme which you have suggested here, it is not something which it abstract, it's there. I just have one question. In the Black communities - especially in these townships and rural areas, you find that sometimes the signs of the kingdom are missing.
You know that the gospel has to plan certain signs of the kingdoms of hope and I'm saying this because I find that most of the Black communities find it to have been very hard to have the worship in places - the churches where they can assemble together and share this kind of experience. What provision is going to be made by your church to address this as a type of restitution during this time?
PASTOR McCAULEY: Pastor Mosa, would you like to just put input on the changes that we've made and the direction we're going?
PASTOR MOSA: One of the things we've had a problem with in trying to get land and whatever - you know sites in places, is that we come in as churches, we don't have funds and particularly in the past, we didn't have connections with the right people and so on and IFCC has come in to put us in contact with the right people. And where necessary, if they were to stand in as guarantors to the fact that we would be able to execute what we promised to do, they would come in.
Right now, coming from Soweto ourselves - our church being in Soweto, recently we were able to get some piece of ground through the help that we have received - not necessarily financial help, but it was in terms of them putting us in contact with the right people and so on.
PASTOR McCAULEY: Could I just answer that a little bit better and say that from our past history, we were very close in losing our Black constituency and nearly becoming all White at one time - not our local church, but the organisation. On the basis of the Rustenberg, Boipatong and Bisho incidents, my eyes were opened dramatically on the role of the church on a social gospel.
We then began to address these very things that you're talking about and it's a process now that's starting to come into being on the basis of addressing rural areas. How can we get a redistribution programme going from our White churches that have finances, to help the ones who do not have any?
We're in the process right now of doing very practical things, we're restructured everything, we have a broad leadership of our communities where there are respected people - where we never had that before, and leadership that will bring true redistribution of those finances.
And we at this time think that's a major, major way of restitution in our own organisation with our own people, is to make sure that the ones who have had the opportunity to have more finances than the others, to help them now achieve the goals that they have to.
DR MGOJO: The last question Sir, is on the leadership. Is there any attempt made by your church to reflect a type of leadership which would reflect our situation as it is in South Africa - if I finish, I mean racially and gender?
PASTOR LODEWYK: Chairperson, the way has been paved - a few years ago, for every single person as an ordained minister, to stand for any available post. We have a national executive of 24 people of which the majority is Black, including ordained woman ministers up to the highest level.
We have a number of ordained ministers throughout our churches serving right up to executive level, so we have moved in that direction. However, we will endeavour to ensure that a true reflection of the nation is shown within all of the bodies of the IFCC.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Thomas?
DR MANTHATA: Sorry, I am just adding to the list of what you are doing which are very important, they're quite laudable. I am saying: "Can you please consider putting up schools for formal education because in that regard, you are teaching the communities how to fish"? The moral values at this stage which are in tatters, can best be restored when we begin to teach the youth at an early age and let them grow up with sound moral standards, thank you.
PASTOR McCAULEY: A good illustration - and I agree with you 100%, is someone once said: "If you went into the camps where the people have no housing or anything - the squatter areas, and you told them that if the crime did not decrease then we would have a real problem with our economy", that would be the same as telling your children not to kick or hit the neighbours when they visit you.
So a moral revolution I believe, is the major strength and force that we have to look at as the role of the church and religious leaders in the future and one of them is education. And how we see the moral revolution taking place is in the format of a very strong educational programme for the disadvantaged and those who do not have the opportunity to have the same schooling as others do in other areas. And we take to heart what you've said, and we realise that is a major, major challenge for us to put into substance.
REV FINCA: Thank you. Pastor Ray, your submission has dealt very practically with the issue of restitution, in fact I started wondering whether I'm listening to a Pentecostal person because normally you deal with the matters in a very spiritual level and very practically you have dealt with this matter.
I would like to just put a question that I put through to Chief Rabbi Harris yesterday. In our Business Hearing there was a practical proposal of how we could deal with the fact that this country happens to have the biggest gap between those who have and have in abundance and those who are having very little, in fact subsist from day to day. The proposal was that of a wealth tax which was put through by Professor Terblanche, I would like to hear what your comment is personally - if not representatively, of the group you are representing.
PASTOR McCAULEY: I've been very frustrated in addressing and visiting with wealthy business on the basis that I was hoping that would come forth voluntarily, that we shouldn't have to have gone to the place now where we are going to enforce certain things. I think that it is very important that we do that and I wish that certain people would take that initiative without anybody making them do it.
One of the reservations that have come up - which I believe then we should put conditionally into that, is that we need to make sure that the funds are distributed to those who need to get it - I don't want the gravy to get any thicker if it is in anyway there, so I think we'll have to build in some conditions.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. I think Chief Rabbi Harris will be glad to have you join his ...[indistinct] team because he says he's had a bit of a thing since he testified in favour, so you'll have to put on your tin hat. But I just want to add again my own deep appreciation.
I remember how we walked together in Boipatong after the massacre there and how you assisted church leaders to have a chartered plane when we were trying to douse fires in all sorts of places - flying to Ulundi and rushing from there elsewhere, and I just want to pay a very warm tribute to the fact that I have seen how God has worked in and through you, as a changed person with eyes that could now see.
Some of the letters that you wrote to the then government, I wouldn't have written - I mean, I was quite surprised at the language that you used. I just think that we need to give thanks that God is so good to us, God really loves us here in South Africa and we are sometimes not aware of it.
God loves us in a way that is quite extraordinary because when you think of the hell that we nearly experienced in 1994 - people forget easily, this country nearly went up in flames. And we forget that we sighed with relief when we heard that the IFP was coming into the elections and that happened just on - I mean, we were on the verge of total catastrophe and we don't give enough thanks to God and that God said: "I will show you a new thing".
And we must make ourselves available to God and let this miracle happen because God wants it to happen also - not just for South Africa, God wants it to happen for other parts of the world.
God wants to be able to say to other parts of the world: "Did you see the awfulness of apartheid in South Africa, did you see the nightmare they had there - it's ended. Rwanda, yours can end - will end, Northern Ireland - and God wants us to succeed and we ought to make ourselves available to work with God for this great miracle, for the sake of the world. Let's just observe a moment's silence.
A MOMENT'S SILENCE
God Bless Africa, guide her leaders and give her peace, Amen.
Thank you, please stand up. Thank you very much.
Actually, I didn't allow you to clap but yes, I don't mind. We now call on the Baptist Union and Baptist Convention. Order please!
My namesake, will you introduce your colleagues, your friends?
REV HOFFMEISTER: Thank you Chairperson, my name is Reverend Desmond Hoffmeister, I'm the General Secretary of the Baptist Convention of South Africa and I'm accompanied by our President on my right, Reverend Michael Mathikela who is the Pastor of the Orlando Baptist Church in Soweto.
We also have a delegation from the Baptist Union of South Africa - Southern Africa, that is led by Reverend Terry Rae who is my counterpart, the General Secretary of that denomination and I'm going to ask him to introduce the group that he has come with.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
REV RAE: Our delegation is made up of myself, General Secretary of the Baptist Union, the Reverend George Ngamlana former Associated General Secretary and Ex-President of the Baptist Union and the Reverent Peter Hollness who is a Pastor in East London on our national executive and also past President of the Baptist Union.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. I presume that all five of you at one time or another are maybe going to speak, so will all five of you please stand?
BAPTIST UNION CONVENTION: (sworn states)
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. We do welcome you warmly and are very grateful that you have come. You will be aware that we are working within certain time constraints and the whole operation will be about 30 minutes - I have to keep repeating this because you will say: no, I didn't say it to you, I was saying it to those other people - Baptist really - I mean, Baptists can't be restricted. Thank you very much.
REV RAE: We thank the TRC for this opportunity of sharing in the Commission. The Baptists appear before this Commission in two separate groups, The Baptist Union of South Africa and the Baptist Convention of South Africa and we are extremely glad to be able to make this submission together, after a painful division in our Baptist ranks in past years.
On behalf of the Baptist Union, comprising 426 churches excluding roughly a similar number of fellowships with an active membership of 42.000, not including adherence in children. The Baptist Union of South Africa is culturally and racially diverse, Evangelical in it's theological persuasion and congregational in it's system of government, with each local church being autonomous.
We would like to outline briefly what the Union did in speaking against apartheid over the years. Secondly, we want to express our confession in not putting our reservations to practice, both as a denomination internally and then not sufficiently challenging the legitimacy of apartheid policies in actual practice.
We would like to express our repentance for the hurts and pain that the actions of the Baptist Union cause, both to it's own membership and to the wider body of christians and citizens in South Africa.
Finally, we would like briefly to express what God has enabled us to do in putting our own house in order and in building relationships towards reconciliation and forgiveness with fellow Baptist in the convention and within our country as a whole.
Firstly then, during the years of apartheid the assembly of the Baptist Union which met annually from 1877 and made up of delegates from members churches, passed a resolution after resolution against racism and apartheid. And I've asked the Reverend Peter Hollness if he would briefly summarise these resolutions.
REV HOLLNESS: Archbishop and Commissioners, I'll try to be a brief Baptist confining myself to four minutes. My task is to summarise briefly what the Baptist Union of Southern Africa did ...[no sound] We certainly didn't do enough, we were too pietistic and theoretical and we didn't do justice to our own Baptist heritage which is rich in it's prophetic witness to society.
Compared to some, our contribution is modest but nevertheless it should not be overlooked. Many individual Baptists actively opposed apartheid, others exercised a ministry of caring and compassion. Some local congregations protested against iniquitous practices such as forced removals, in one instance by standing in front of the bulldozers and on another by symbolically planting orange trees.
Baptists were prominent in opposing and in fact changing the law relating to military conscription. Whilst principle was often not converted into practice, the Baptist Union consistently and frequently expressed it's rejection of apartheid through assembly pronouncement, correspondence and delegations to the government. Apartheid was rejected on both theological and compassionate grounds, it was sinful and immoral and hurtful, not to mention unworkable.
I quote a few examples to illustrate our Baptist Union position over the past half century. The 1948 assembly condemned - quote:
Social and economic injustice of early apartheid and the breaking of solemn pledges given to the non-european people of the Union. The 1949 assembly condemned the economic and political repression of the apartheid system and urged the government not to remove coloured voters from the voters role and to repeal the Mixed Marriages Act.
The Baptist Union rejected so-called Bantu education and would not operate it's mission schools within this system. In 1957, the Baptist Union threatened civil disobedience when the government tried unsuccessfully to enforce segregated church worship.
The 1985 assembly authorised a letter to the State President, which declared unequivocally that apartheid is an evil which needs to be repented of and urged it's immediate dismantling. It also called - quote:
On the basis of true christian justice for universal franchise, one national education system, the abolition of influx control and the dom pass, equal pay for equal work, the accountability of the South African Defence Force and police forces, the termination of the state of emergency and of detention without trial, the removal of the group areas act and the release of political prisoners and the return of political exiles.
Our assembly resolutions were defective in several ways, notably in their caution, limited focus and theoretical nature. They were however, a sincere attempt to relate biblical principles to South African society. Assembly resolutions did not put all the blame on government policies, many recognised the weaknesses in our own denominational structures and practice.
The 1991 assembly agreed that even though we can't bear all the blame for apartheid, we can't ignore our part in it - it was sinful, hurtful and wrong. The assembly confessed that as Baptists, we too have been guilty. We have sinned in our attitudes and in our actions, for this we humbly repent. We acknowledge that true repentance will go beyond mere words and will manifest itself in a change of attitude and in positive action.
Then followed a commitment to be involved in the process of building a new nation. This assembly therefore urges the Baptist Union and all it's constituent churches to exercise a constituent prophetic ministry and to work for the creation of a new society, based on the biblical principles of respect, justice and righteousness. We shall seek - by precept and by practice, to bring about a moral and spiritual reformation in all aspects of our community life.
Commissioners, it is in this spirit and with this commitment that we appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, thank you.
REV RAE: Mr Chairman, we want to make it clear that those resolutions were passed by the Baptist Union Assembly when the Convention and Union were one body. However, one of our members has said that we might have plastered the walls of parliament with our resolutions but notwithstanding these resolutions, the Baptist Union did not put them into practice both internally or externally.
We confess that within the structures of our own Baptist Union, we practised apartheid. For instance, we established theological training institutions to cater to for the cultural diversity of our denomination and it was only in 1986 that we closed the college exclusively to train Black pastors, in order to train students for the ministry together.
Our national executive was dominated by White members and right up until 1989, had only one Black representative on the leadership body. It follows then that decision making and policy setting for the Baptist Union was done by Whites, most often without any consultation with the Black members of our churches.
Right up until 1987, we kept separate lists for White and Black pastors and White and Black churches. Many of our decisions mirrored the status quo during the apartheid years and for this we humbly repent. Associations within the Baptist Union are also formed on racial and linguistic lines - for instance, within the Baptist Union was the Association of Churches from the Afrikaans community which formed the Afrikaanse Baptiste Kerk, the Black churches formed the Baptist Convention, the Indian Churches the Baptist association of South Africa and the Baptist Mission. As you can see, our denomination reflected apartheid in it's overall structure.
During these years - apart from the resolutions that we passed, we did not sufficiently challenge the legitimacy of unjust institutions in our country or the apartheid policies. We tended to marginalise those who wanted to do more than simply speak against apartheid within our ranks. We did little to alleviate the sufferings of the oppressed people of South Africa. The White members of our denomination benefited from apartheid structures socially and economically.
The assembly in 1991, expressed the Baptist Union's repentance in the following words:
"This assembly of the Baptist Union of Southern Africa gives thanks to God that statuary apartheid has been abolished. We acknowledge that statutory apartheid was but a symptom of tradition, traditional and ingrained attitudes within society and sadly, even within our church.
As Baptist we too have been guilty and to our shame - as individuals and churches, have sinned in our actions and attitudes, we've allowed them to be governed by the pattern obtaining in society. We have conformed when we ought to have confronted.
While we have condemned the legislation, many of us have enjoyed the economic and social privileges resulting from it, for this we humbly repent. We acknowledge that true repentance will go beyond mere words and must manifest itself in a change of attitude and in positive action"
In 1987, the Baptist Union went through a painful division within our ranks. Approximately 60% of the Black churches within the Convention Association withdrew from the Baptist Union, to form a separate body namely, the Baptist Convention of South Africa. We acknowledge that attitudes and actions reflecting apartheid within the Baptist Union were partly responsible for this division.
The Baptist Union has acknowledged that our relationship with the Convention has caused much pain. And heart searching negotiations within our brother - and negotiations with our brother body have not been easy as we have sought to come to grips with attitudes and actions of the past, including our sins of commission and omission.
I've asked the Reverend George Ngamlama, lecturer at the Baptist Theological College, Pastor of the Nancefield Church and past Associate General Secretary of our Union to share very briefly, something of what we are seeking to do to address the sins of the past.
REV NGAMLAMA: Thank you Sir, thank you for reminding me to be brief, surely I will be brief. In looking into our denomination, we had to deal with certain matters concerning ourselves, so I'm going to deal with five points and then come to a conclusion. I'm going to deal with the structure, the leadership, the development and a word to our members and our relationship with the convention.
Looking at the BU structure: We have removed from the BU, associations formed on basis of race from constitutional structures of the Baptist Union. We are striving to reflect the unity of the body of Christ in our denomination.
Under leadership: The leadership of the Union in the past was predominantly White and male. We are striving to ensure cultural and gender inclusiveness in our leadership.
Development of people: We have embarked on a programme called: "Impact 2001" which involves utilising all our available human resources and developing leadership skills among all our people. For our member churches we have initiated BU care - that is, Baptist Union Community Assistance and Relief and I quote: "To motivate and enable Baptist churches to witness to Christ through social concern and social action that will empower deprived communities to address their physical, social and other needs and to provide relief when necessary"
Our relationship with the Baptist Convention: After many years of struggle and conflict, we have committed ourselves to a process which will heal the hurts of the past and to work together in fellowship as brother bodies of Christ. In a joint resolution of the 8th of November this year and I quote "We are still committed to pursuing actively the ideal of structural unity but agree that we continue as two separate bodies for the present time".
In conclusion: As a denomination in partnership with others, including TISA, we are committed to building a nation based on truth, righteousness and justice.
Thank you Sir.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
REV HOFFMEISTER: Chairperson, Commissioners and honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen, our President ...[indistinct] Mathikela and myself, greet you on behalf of the Baptist Convention of South Africa.
The Baptist Convention of South Africa was formed in 1927 as then known, the Bantu Baptist Church. This church was started as a missionary expression of the then South African Baptist Missionary Society, an extension of the Baptist Union of Southern Africa. In 1987, the Baptist Convention declared it's independence from the Baptist Union for what it perceived to be institutional racism in the life of that community at that time.
...[indistinct] segregated church, we share a common existence up to that time with our sisters and brothers and therefore have to speak to that.
CHAIRPERSON: I don't want to butt in, you are not going to read the whole thing?
REV HOFFMEISTER: No, Sir, you can relax Sir, I will stick within my 10 minutes - I am not reading the whole thing.
REV HOFFMEISTER: So, I think the submission will therefore focus on the experience of our church prior to 1987 and also subsequent to that. We as representatives are deeply aware of our constituency that we represent, people that have suffered and experienced a great deal of suffering, people like Fenus Mapetu, Simon Lukwe, Gideon Makanja and the late John Darries, the late Reverend Kumalo, Mahola etc. And we therefore are deeply thankful to the Commission for granting us the privilege to place before this ...[indistinct], the experience of Black Baptists in this country.
I want to elude briefly to the struggle of Black Baptists against apartheid in this country. The struggle for Black Baptists against apartheid was a struggle within the church, it was also a struggle to justify one's fight against that system to a church that was providing the moral, spiritual support for that system. The struggle meant challenging the import ...[indistinct] theological framework labelled as: "Conservative Evangelical".
This framework had an inherent arrogance that gave itself the right to declare that it discovered absolute truth all on it's own, it refused to accept the european cultural, social or political framework within this theology was formed. This led to a debilitating separatist ...[indistinct] mentality fuelled by such concepts as the remnant who were prosecutors and custodians of God's truth and values.
I just want to highlight some of the effects of this theology:
It ...[indistinct] life for Black christians between secular and spiritual and so it made us as Black christians, to separate our faith experience with our life experience. I mention for example, personally as a theological student while studying theology in the 1980's, living within a stones throw away from St Barnabus where many historical resolutions were taken by people like yourself Sir, Doctor Boesak, Naude and Chikane, and how that I could not reconcile those historic developments with theology. That that event did not inform my theology because it was politics and it was separate from my reality.
And so we live the kind of dichotomised life that was reflected in statements like: "You can rather send a man to heaven hungry than to send him to hell with a full stomach". Students at college - you know institutions, were victimised for taking part in simple marches like Pollsmoor, to call for the freedom of our President today, as well as also observing alternative holidays in those days like June the 16th. This was a dichotomy - it was also a dichotomy, it was also a theology that made Black Baptist to embrace the fears of Whites.
I refer to our submission to similar experience in the United States where the great leader Malcolm X talked about two kinds of Black people and those times, the house slave and the field slave and how that house slave developed and ethos, an experience to associate life his life experience with the master so that when the master was sick, he felt the same pain as the master felt and said: "Master, we are sick".
And in some ways we have as Black Baptists - when there was liberation in our country or also significant processes, we were deprived by our theology to enter into those experiences because inheriting that theology was the same fears of White people. The difficult thing for us therefore as Black Baptists, was not that we faced the threat of communism or the threat of liberation theology but the pain of our experience is that our oppression came from our sisters and brothers.
We place ...[indistinct] on record however, even though we have not participated as we should have as Black Baptists in the struggle for liberation, we thank God for our international Baptist community, particularly our African/American Baptist community who made a major contribution to our liberation. We thank God for people like Jesse Jackson, Senator Bill Grey, Charles Adams, W Smith, Wyate Walker, Clifford Jones, Jerry Sanders and even Leon Sullivan, for formulating the Sullivan principles.
The Baptist World Alliance exerted continued pressure on the apartheid government even though they did not do enough. Individuals, such as Keith Clemmence, the present General Secretary of the European Council of Churches as well as Pierre ...[indistinct] a Norwegian church person, the American Baptist Churches in their fight for disinvestemnt was the forefront of this campaign.
In 1987, when we separated from the Baptist Union, we had to go on a journey to discover our rich Baptist heritage of liberation and freedom, we had to embrace people like Doctor Martin Luther King Junior and also the great President Doctor Jimmy Carter. ...[indistinct] the true Baptists have a reputation of being troublemakers - if fighting for freedom, is considered making trouble and yes, Baptists have a history of non-conformance.
Baptists were amongst the first free church type who refused to acknowledge the King and Queen, ...[indistinct] or any other secular person, as the head of the church and for this killed and martyred. And today we accept - it is with deep sadness that we regret that we, both Black and White Baptists have betrayed our ancestors and have not pursued the freedom fight with the kind of vigour and commitment demanded by our own tradition.
We have all been responsible for selling out our ancestors and defrocking our heritage of it's radical socio-political edge, allowing apartheid ideology to co-opt and relegate Baptist theology to racial exclusive church bench on a Sunday morning.
We want to note Sir, that we have had Baptists - we had to make choices and that we as a Baptist community disowned by our practices, those who were conscripts, those who suffered in Robben Island, those were in exile. And in 1977, when we were still part of the Baptist Union that reflected our ethos, it was the 100 years celebration of the Baptist Union of Southern Africa and at that time, to open that occasion the then State President, the Honourable Doctor Jim Fouche was asked to come.
At that same assembly it was announced that Steve Biko had died and would be buried that same Saturday. A resolution was taken that we should not express ourselves in any way, on the death of Steve Biko as that had no consequence to us. That demonstrated to us our ...[indistinct] as Baptists at that particular time.
We have amongst our ranks ordinary pastors like Pastor Lukwe, who - all he did was make the hall of his church available to the United Democratic Front at that time and was threatened by fellow Baptists to stop that kind of action. He was imprisoned, his wife came home and found that they were evicted from their manse, only because they made the hall of the church available to that community.
We have people like Gideon Makanje that was arrested and that was interrogated by fellow Baptists. We have the late John Darries coming from a Baptist World Alliance Meeting and taken from the aircraft at Jan Smuts and taken to John Vorster Square for interrogation. We have a Baptist Missionary on the role of the Baptist Union, arrested in Zambia because he was found to be involved with dubious activities with the South African Defence Force.
The Baptist Union, the Baptists in general have embraced the military establishment, they've elected people that were in high office of the South African Defence Force, to the highest position of leadership. In 1989, the Baptists showed their colours by holding the annual assembly in the barracks of the South African Defence Force in Kimberly.
For these things, we as Baptists today feel ashamed but God has given us a second chance, God has given a vision called: "Vision Jubilee 2010" and God has given to us as Black Baptists, a promise that we believe he will fulfil and it says: "I will restore to you the years that the locust have eaten".
We know that God is going to help us to work towards the economic reconstruction of our country, to help us to re-educate theologically our constituency from a process of dependency to liberation. He will help us also to develop programmes of development, he will help us to develop leadership and to take our place as a reconciled community.
Amidst all of this pain and suffering we have kept our hands out to our sisters and brothers within the Baptist Union, to seek reconciliation on the basis of truth and justice. We thank God that the atmosphere amongst us has increased dramatically to make that possible. We thank God that we've committed ourselves next year to a Baptist Truth and Reconciliation Commission where we can expose our pain and ask those difficult questions - to seek forgiveness, repentance and healing and restitution.
There is much work to be done but we make a promise that as sure as we are seated here and we are sure that the promises that God has given to us, that we will take up our place as a Baptist community in rebuilding our country, in fighting poverty and developing the human resources of our people.
We thank you for these moments even though we had to shorten it dramatically to contribute to what we are saying. We thank God for your leadership Sir, for the TRC and we thank God that we were able in a small way, to participate and endorse in our assemblies the objectives of this Committee both by ourselves and by our international partners. I thank you Sir.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very, very much, I'm very impressed at the restraint that you have shown that your sermons have been reduced in length. Just I think, a brief intervention - Mncebisi?
REV XUNDU: Thank you your Grace.
I do want to commend you for the open way in which you have shared with us your pain and your struggle towards coming together as a church and also making a tremendous confession of the sins of the past. You will have noticed that almost all the churches - the interdenominations, which had persons coming from different divides, shares in one way or another, the great degree of complicity that those who were privileged went on to enjoy at the expense of those who were not privileged.
Nonetheless, one can see from what you have given here, that you are undertaking to address those as far as it is possible and make sure that the scandal of division in the church is not perpetuated through your efforts. I do not have any particular question except to say those words, thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: We probably would have asked questions but I think that your submissions have been comprehensive and have covered the sort of areas that we would be asking questions about. And we do want to give thanks as we have been giving thanks to others for the candour, for the humility and the openness which as I said, we would hope will begin to permeate our society,
And we thank you for the efforts that you are making of being reconciled as the two groups, reconciled on the basis of truth and we will be looking with some interest at your own Baptist TRC. So, thank you very, very much and God bless you. You may stand down.
We are going to have to take an abbreviated lunch for those who - the lunch is for the ones who are guests and then others. We are going to try and have an abbreviated lunch, can we try - I mean it may also be that the logistics up there are not quite what we can offer. I'd like us to come back at a quarter past one. Can we say grace, let's just say grace please.
CHAIRPERSON: Can we call the delegation of the Apostolic Faith Mission? We welcome you and are thankful that you are accepting the flexibility relating to time. Pastor Burger, you will introduce your colleagues and then take the oath or make the affirmation, thank you.
PASTOR BURGER: Thank you Chairperson. On my left-hand side, is Pastor Frank Chikane who is the Deputy President of the church, Pastor George Mahlobo on my right-hand side who is the General Secretary, Pastor Peter de Wilt who is the General Treasurer and then also felt it wise to bring with us two leaders of our church before our unification, that played an important leadership role in ...[End of tape 3A - no follow-on sound]
CHAIRPERSON: ...[no sound] all six of you might in fact speak?
PASTOR BURGER: Yes.
APOSTOLIC FAITH MISSION OF SOUTH AFRICA: (sworn states)
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, we are now entirely in your hands but you will remember the sort of structure, it's a total of 30 minutes with maybe 20 or so minutes given to your corporate submission and 10 minutes or so for questioning, thank you.
PASTOR BURGER: Thank you Archbishop. I have requested a video TV monitor and I hope that it will be brought before I've completed my submission. I will do the submission and then I would like the delegates with me to respond to any questions that may come.
Commissioners, it is in all humility that we are appearing before of you today as the reunited - and I want to say reunited Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa. The AFM was founded at the turn of the century by American Missionary, John G Lake, the AFM then was one. Today we consist of 1.200 congregations, 1.800 pastors and 650.000 members apart from adherence.
We are thankful for this forum, we know it is not perfect but then the AFM also is not perfect. The TRC is the only forum with some credibility and acceptability available to us in which we can publicly apologise to all those who had been hurt by the travesties of the past. It is the most effective way available to us which we can use to offer help and healing to those who had committed unacceptable, often even gruesome deeds against fellow South Africans.
And that offer goes for people on all sides of the line. There are few better ways than this rostrum, from which the AFM can reach all those falling in all these categories, that is why we are thankful for the TRC. As we have said earlier, we were one when the AFM was founded but as time moved on and this fair country became increasingly besotted by political and racial ideology, placing impediments on multi-racial worship, we were ...[indistinct] asunder and ended up being four churches, Indian, Black, White and Coloured.
Our isolation never dampened the yearning to become one again and by the latter part of the freedom struggle, we were close to unity. By the grace of God, at Easter 1996, the AFM was able to celebrate it's new unity during a nationally televised service at Centurion Park. This made us the first church denomination to unify since the advent of our democracy.
There at Centurion Park spontaneously and obedience to God, I on behalf of the former White AFM and Pastor Frank Chikane on behalf of the former composite division - that was the Black, Indian, Coloured section, in public embraced each other and sought forgiveness and transgression for transgressions committed by the AFM churches and members against each other during the years of separation. God in his great mercy, helped us to grant each other pardon.
I've brought along a short edited video recording of this act and I trust that it will be possible to just show it to you before the end of our submission.
CHAIRPERSON: Have you made ...[intervention]
PASTOR BURGER: I've made arrangements, it's in the process.
CHAIRPERSON: It's going to happen, all right.
PASTOR BURGER: Thank you.
What is evident and what was evident on that day - because of the spontaneous character of the reconciliation that took place, was that we didn't only reach structural unity but much more than that. I can honestly say that something at the very heart of our church changed. We would not claim that we had reached absolute spiritual cohesion at that point, such a claim would be arrogant. What we can state unequivocally is that our unity and bonding are growing steadfastly. We can state equally unequivocally that we are committed and determined to the attainment of total unity in all senses of the word.
Commissioners, we can today in all humility state that our original submission to you is a sign of how the bonds in the AFM family are cementing. It is our humble suggestion that our submission is a rather unique document. It is to the best of our knowledge the only church submission to you in which members of all colours of this rainbow nation accept collective responsibility for the past.
Not so long ago we would have regarded someone suggesting that such a thing could happen in our church, a mad hatter. We thank God for letting truth, wisdom and consensus prevail. Let me be unambiguously honest and say that all our members did not agree with unity, some do not agree with our appearance here today. We have had resignations, we have had poisoned mail, we have been labelled: "sell-outs", thus it must be clear to you that we have paid a price for our convictions.
We proclaim fearlessly that we are doing what we are doing today - we believe, is in line with the word of God and have no doubt that the future will prove us correct. We took a look at ourselves and found that in all our ranks we had members who had committed transgressions. For instance, the State being the major employer during the apartheid years, many of our members worked for it. Whichever way we may look at it, we helped to keep the system going and thereby prolonged the hurt of apartheid.
In the more gruesome arena people were slain and injured on both sides of the line, often people died without the approval of the previous government or the struggle movements. There came days when people on all sides became severely frustrated and vented their anger unilaterally. There were traitors on all sides, some did it for money - life was hard, at times hunger pains and cold put out minds the virtues of morality and ethics.
Others did it because they thought they were doing the nation and God a service, fighting what they had been indoctrinated to believe was ungodly. One of the people here with me today was tortured on a Sunday morning by a fellow AFM member who then went off to church, it is sickening but true. But one needs to look at the days we were living in, be it far from me to push blame recklessly onto another establishment. The fact is, that the ordinary man in the street was dependent on the media for information.
The State machinery controlled the print and the electronic media by way of legislation or direct holding, as was the case of the SABC. When Pastor Chikane and I were born, much of this already was the case. So on the one side, Whites were steadily being indoctrinated through liberal doses of contorted and distorted information, while people of colour were increasingly being incensed.
Should we not have been more critical of what we were told, should we not have challenged and resisted more? The questions are many and the answer to all of them is: "Yes, we all failed terribly". However, the fact is that by the time most of us were born, the National Party already was in power. I was born and reared in an environment in which one did no challenge - I'm stating this as a fact, I'm not using it in mitigation.
But Commissioners, this brings me to what we consider the cardinal reason for the AFM delegation being here today. We have admitted the errors of our ways, we have apologised collectively and individually to each other. We have apologised to those beyond the reach of the AFM which we might have caused harm to. We now are faced by the enormous task of getting to grips with questions such as reconciliation, healing, bridge building, poverty, joblessness, creating a mentality of challenging government and keeping an eye on those ruling over us, in a bid to prevent the mistakes and sins of yesteryear being repeated.
Questions, such as investment, education and the most prickly of pears, recompense. Healing alone is multi-ferrous in nature. There is the question of healing needed by those who suffered, the demands of healing needed by those who dispense suffering. The poser of healing of those bereaved by the...[indistinct] system.
The problem of healing those hardened and turned inhumane by frustration and indoctrination. The liberating healing of those embittered because their land and belongings have been seized. There is the effort needed in healing those who cannot come to grips with the past, of those baffled by what is now happening and of those without any framework of reference of yesterday and less of tomorrow. And there is healing attainable only through reparation, be it spiritual, physical or financial.
The finest remedy to bring about all these cures remains the gospel of Jesus Christ. As a united church, we believe we are well placed and consider it our duty at the very least, to do all within the reach of our cable tow to bring about healing. We are today committed to a continuous programme of communications and interfaction, interfacing with the larger of South African society.
Communications have been severely - and to our detriment, overlooked by our church and we are today taking expert opinion on this matter. In line with this, we are actively promoting efforts aimed at helping our members of different colour groups to get to know each other. As this drive of getting to know brothers and sisters across colour lines gains momentum, we are seeing increasing signs of acceptance.
Acceptance in turn is helping us to get to know the history of the AFM better. It is a necessity that the true history of the AFM be written and taught to our members. We believe today that the better a people knows it's history, the more unlikely it is that it will again in future fall into the same pitfalls of the past.
We are finding that as we give ...[indistinct] to this side of our effort, our people are developing increasing empathy and sympathy with those who suffered and with those who caused the suffering. Some suffered because of what they believed to be the right things to do, others are today suffering because of guilt of what they had done to those. In this atmosphere of growing understanding, we are prompting people to venture into areas that had been alien to them before - call it bridge building if you wish.
And it is at this point where we find the real truth emerging. This well nigh jealous pursuit of truth we regard as the single most important ingredient of the elixir of healing, this is hard work but we want to assure you that we are determined to reach our goal. It is in line with this that we are in the process of re-evaluating our training programmes and taking a fresh look at our educational institutions.
We believe we need to give our pastors a clear picture of what we are doing and why, they are the leaders and can give it through to the congregations and societies they operate in. Wee are trying our hardest to make the church more accessible to all. We are propounding our belief that the idea of our buildings for instance being used only on Sundays for worshipping, should be ended.
A church serves it's community, be it a soup kitchen, a crèche or school and in this way the people will feel more at home and it will help to spread the gospel to them. In this way also, our pastors will get a better insight into the grass roots needs of their society and can call on the rest of the church to help in the areas where help is most needed.
Put together, all these efforts are helping to inculcate a spirit of sharing. As an example, it has becoming increasingly unacceptable in the AFM to have a congregation with a hefty bank balance, while only a kilometre away from there is a church in which the pastor does not know where the next meal will come from. The AFM's social welfare department is working fullsteam - in addition to it's other activities, on the question of empowerment and even job creation.
We have self-help schemes but are spending more on schemes that will help people help themselves. Some of our congregations have started Kibbutz-like operations where jobless people and down and outs are taught skills they could apply to earn a living on return to society. We have drug rehabilitation centres, orphanages, old age homes and other schemes.
Onto another avenue, we believe that much of what had gone askew in the past was the result of churches not having observed the fine dividing line between church and State. Many believers were adamant for instance, that the terrain of politics was not for christians and yet the church - the one institution which no government can destroy, meekly followed.
To combat this, we are today encouraging our people to take part in their society, in politics, in what is going on around them. With the aid of expert communications opinion we now employ, we have come to the belief or be it belatedly, that the church had in the past been on tow often because it was ill informed. Today we have heeded communications advice that the more our people are involved in their own environments, the better they will be informed.
Through spreading that information to their fellow christians, congregations and congregants, we be able to take better decisions - decisions taking only after multi-inputs. We have no fear of our people going astray, provided they remain true to their christian beliefs and in this way they will be able to develop higher moral and ethical values. A spin-off of this we believe, will help to combat evils such as the current crime waves spearheaded by violence and dishonesty.
If our prayers are fulfilled, we believe the more peaceable country that will result from this will attract investment which in turn will lead to job creation and a more stable society. We have to admit that we in the past neglected our duty of ministering to those in high office, this led to them ministering their ideology to us and we all know the consequences.
We are confident that as more and more of our people take their rightful place in society - even government, doors will be increasingly open for us to do our spiritual duty in promoting good and Godly government into inspiring those who watch over us, to display qualities that will turn this world into a better place for all.
Whereas before the AFM was blinded to so many aspects we today know we should have been critical of. As we interface with society, as we teach our people and above all, as we make social justice and upliftment pillars in our strategy, the AFM today is becoming a force for healing and nation building.
I thank you Commissioners, for hearing us today and I pray that God will bless you and your work, may he guide your noble endeavours and in drawing up your report which we are confident will benefit our entire beloved nation. If it's possible now Mr Chairperson, I would love to have that video ...[intervention]
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, I thank you very much. I don't know, maybe you should ...[indistinct] we will go and sit over there and then more people will be able to see.
SHOWING OF VIDEO:
PASTOR BURGER: "...[inaudible] we can really be reconciled with each other. What happens here today and that happened during this week in the Apostolic Faith Mission, is a clear testimony that the vertical dimension of reconciliation also spilt over in our hearts and therefore we are able. And I want to say this today publicly, that the AFM has reached more than a structural unity, I believe God has melted our hearts together and that we become one reconciled.
In fact, being reconciled with God compels us to be reconciled with one another. I have something on my heart that I want to do and that is not on the programme and I say honestly I feel this is from God. I want to ask Father Frank Chikane just to come and stand with me.
Pastor Frank, - and I want to address especially my brothers and sisters from the previous composite division of the Apostolic Faith Mission, I have never before - as in the last week or two, really realised how much you've suffered and how much pain and frustration and despair you experienced in decades of separation.
I've listened to you my brother Frank, the last week a number of times in discussions not only about what you yourself have suffered, not only physically but spiritually and emotionally because of the vision in our church. And I stand this morning humbled before my brothers and sisters and I acknowledge today that the division and separation in the Apostolic Faith Mission for decades - although it probably was not an evil invention of some preacher, I acknowledge that we were children and prisoners of our time.
I acknowledge that we for years, did not question brothers and sisters being separated because their skins were not white. I acknowledge it this morning and this morning brother Frank - you were the previous leader of the composite division, I was the leader of the White section and as the representative of the composite division, I do confess this morning before you the unbearable hardships that we caused our brothers and sisters.
I confess that without us knowing that we actually sinned for many years, we sinned against the body of Jesus Christ by separating you and often at times, handled you with - conducted our work as if you were inferior mission objects.
And I ask this morning Frank - on behalf of those gone before and even those today and I know it has been done in isolated cases in the past, I do it publicly today, I ask you to forgive us for all the pain that we caused you"
FATHER CHIKANE: "Well, I would like to take this opportunity of thanking our brother, Pastor Burger - I would like to take this opportunity of saying thank you to my brother, Pastor Burger for what he has done today. There are many people who have been looking forward to this happening in our midst and this shows that the unity we have come to is true unity. And I would like to assure you this day, that we have forgiven one another, may God bless you and be with you.
I must also say that the hurt that we have carried for many years - as I said in the former Black church, has given us an occasion as well to sin in our anger and I want to thank our brothers and sisters who have now come together with us so that we do not ever sin against one another again. From now on we're going to walk together and learn to do it together and be ambassadors of the Lord in this world, may God bless you".
PASTOR BURGER: Thank you brother Chairperson.
CHAIRPERSON: I am not sure that we want to ask questions, we may be wanting to ask questions but I sometimes think that - as has often happened or not often but on a number of occasions has happened in our hearings, we realise that we are in the presence of something that is special, where we really ought to be taking off our shoes because we are walking or standing on holy ground.
God is good, God is good beyond our deserving and we give thanks for what we have seen as having happened. We read about it but now we have participated a little bit in it in a way that would not have come across in the reports that we maybe read in newspapers or maybe saw a snippet on television.
I don't know whether the others of you might just want to say something? I'm maybe being hard on my colleagues - well, there are quite a number of chorus's. I don't know whether you know:
SINGING OF: "LORD, WE LOVE THEE" CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, thank you very much.
We now call Dominees Buys and Maphoto of the Uniting Reformed Church. We welcome you. When I last saw you, you were in Addis Ababa just as Frank, Frank was preaching - he preached a wonderful ceremony in our opening service but welcome dear brothers, you will introduce each other and then Bongani Finca will administer the oath or affirmation.
REV BUYS: Sir, Commissioners, may I present to you Reverend Marcus Maphoto, he is the Assessor of the General Synod of the United Reformed Church.
CHAIRPERSON: You do the honours for him on the other side.
REV MAPHOTO: I take this opportunity Mr Commissioner, to introduce to you my Moderator of the General Synod, James Buys.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
UNITED REFORMED CHURCH OF SOUTH AFRICA: (sworn states)
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, I don't know which one of you - the Moderator, are you going to? I keep repeating my sermon, you have 30 minutes in which to do your thing, 20 minutes perhaps of the submission and some time for interaction with the panel, thank you very much.
REV BUYS: Thank you very much Sir.
I think the submission of the United Reformed Church needs to be placed in a context for it to be correctly understood. This church is quite young, established out of the amalgamation of the Dutch Reformed Mission Church and Dutch Reformed Church in Africa in 1994.
The history of the former churches being churches established because of racial reasons, separated at the communion from the White Dutch Reformed Church in 1881. From 1881 right up to 1994, four racially divided churches existed, named the Dutch Reformed Mission Church, the Dutch Reformed Church in Africa, the Reformed Church in Africa for so-called Indians and the NG Kerk or Dutch Reformed Church for Whites.
We ourselves even having been set of this church as daughter churches, have always - in the sense in terms of our identity, been accused of being in cahoots with the White church and in many cases not much distinction was made between the Mission Church, the NG Kerk in Afrika, the Reformed Church and the Dutch Reformed Church. The history was intertwined for different reasons. On the one hand you had the influence of a specially dominant leadership of the missionaries within these churches, the whole question of the dependency of these churches on the White church and it's impact on it's theological training within these churches.
If I should leave the rest of the history and come to the idea of our unification in 1994. We understood the ideal ...[indistinct] by these churches and especially in this sense that the former Dutch Reformed Church in Africa and Mission Church and our own actions in amalgamating the two churches, as being our own departing from our divided and racial history. And this departure Sir, represents to our understanding, our contradiction of the idea of racially divided churches.
The church consists of about 483.000 confessing members and 683 congregations nationally. In our own submission we would like to clarify a few points, the one being that we understand that speaking to the TRC and making submissions on the question of violation of human rights, of our participation thereof, support thereof or the extent to which we were victims of it, comes from both a social as well as a church context.
The popular slogan of the '80's: "The Church - The Sight of Struggle", is relevant in this regard. Historical and contemporary self understanding of the church, I think was portrayed in this slogan. ...[indistinct] as one of the institutions in society that did not remain unaffected but the all encompassing influence of apartheid. The slogan led to the realisation that the same contradictions that are prevalent in society are present and often reflected in the teaching and life of the church.
And in the sense, our submission reflects a church context representing both the struggle within and the struggle of the church outwardly. We understand that speaking to the questions of the violation of human rights, it concerns both those violations by ourselves or our members as well as violations committed against our members or collectively. In this regard we listed in our written submission, various areas where these matters were raised.
If I morally without going into each of those, we in summary say that we believe that the United Reformed Church - even in it's existence as the former Mission Church and Dutch Reformed Church in Africa, did not do enough in opposing apartheid. It did not do enough in speaking clearly against the evils of apartheid. It did not do enough - in terms of our own programmes and actions, to enable and incite our members to actively oppose and struggle against the evils of apartheid in the extent to which this very policy was the cause and the main motivation behind many of the human rights violations - as has been heard by this Commission in the past couple of months.
I therefore continue on to one of the areas I do think we need to highlight : the whole question of the apartheid war and the chaplancy service - it's on page 8 of our submission. Security forces in this country - the police and army, were mainly responsible for both offensive and defensive actions, in defence of apartheid and against the onslaught of terrorism, communism and ant-Christ. In the cause of this war and the development of the total strategy - total onslaught strategy, the Government initiated the whole idea of winning the hearts and the minds of the people.
Some of the organs being used in winning hearts and minds was amongst others - for instance, the christian cultural organisations. Following on this was the low intensity war with all it's covert actions, the result of which - I think, we have heard quite a lot of evidence and submissions before the TRC, but basically the apartheid government relied very strongly on the moral and spiritual undergirding as a means of enabling the forces to carry out their acts in defence of this crime against humanity.
The chaplancy services of both the police and army became - to our understanding, the means of attaining this ideal and so we had the whole holy war concept that became operative. Although individual members of the synods of the former churches opposed the idea of participation in the chaplancy services, the church continued to avail ministers for this service and through this act the church participated in this holy war and even blessed it.
It did not resist, neither did it guide it's members in opposing it. Thus the church contributed to gross human rights violation, polarisation and the indescribable suffering and grief many people suffered. Precariously we also need to acknowledge that the very presence of the members of our churches in these services - in actual fact, was our own guilt - a part of it, in these violations.
I'd like to go onto section 5 Sir, speaking to the issue of the failure of these churches to live up to our principles of faith. This Uniting Reformed Church does not claim sole responsibility for the insights we have for what is normative in both the questions of faith, morals, ethics, etc. The Uniting Reformed Church is rooted in the reformed tradition. This tradition boasts the fact that scripture alone is normative for teaching and living.
In Jesus Christ, God confirmed the dignity of human kind. Through Christ's life, death and resurrection, God reconciled human kind with himself and each other by breaking down the walls of divisions, destroying ...[indistinct] and establishing peace. Further defined, this church strongly relied on the calvarous doctrine on Church/State relationships. This doctrine clearly teaches the responsibility of the church as an institution and it's individual members.
Calvary teaches that God through Jesus Christ, reigns supreme. Within this theological perspective, the State is a servant of God to the benefit of it's subjects. The State is burdened with the responsibility to restrict ...[indistinct], restrain chaos and fight evil and in this sense, the State is servant of God. To enable the State in it's task, it is invested with the sword as a means of effective or effecting authority of it's calling - according to Romans XIII.
In contrast, the State that diverts from this calling is described as the beast that acts in contravention of it's mandate. Kelvin, in view of his understanding of scripture, was convinced that resistance against the unjust States and tyranny is not only justified ...[indistinct] true faith and obligation. The failure to denounce, resist and incite to resist against apartheid and it's resulting violation of human rights, constitutes our failure, failure to live up to our faith's convictions.
Rather, the church often got involved in debates on the legitimacy and right of resistance against authority. These debates were often dominated by the question of violence and armed struggle and this furthermore happened under circumstances in which ...[End of tape 3]
... the failure of the structure of the church to give the necessary support for youth suffering, other members did so in their personal capacity. For this they deserve recognition and honour. Therefore having acknowledged this, the United Reformed church wishes to use this opportunity in view of acts or commission or omission, to consequently oppose human rights' violations in view of its subtle recognition of the illegitimate apartheid regime's liaison, (indistinct) and negotiations. In view of its silence and conscious and unconscious lack of clarity in word and deed, we confess unreservedly (indistinct) its members' guilt.
We herewith plead for forgiveness of opposed citizens and the Supreme God. I wish to however on this very note indicate that the nature of our confession before this house is not one defined purely for the sake of appearing before the TRC.
In our own struggling with our identity in 1982, and having had the status (indistinct) and the adoption of the confession (indistinct), this very church in 1982 in looking at itself and how it functioned in this society said along with many others, we confess our guilt that we have not always witnessed clearly enough in our situation and so are jointly responsible for the way in which those things which were experienced as sin, and confessed to be so, or should have been experienced as and confessed to be sin, have grown in time so seem self evidently right and to be ideologies foreign to scripture.
This confession sir, you find in the accompanying letter, paragraph 1 to the confession on (indistinct) So we wish to say that even though in the last few days and even in the last times, you may have heard people and churches come before, seemingly the one after the other confessing sin and seeking forgiveness, we would truly hope that this occasion would never denigrate what happened in sense of the confession and we wish to say that in the same sense, in the urgency in which we for ourselves in 1982 defined our own confession of guilt in a sense, that today just becomes a continuation and logical consequence of it.
If I may go on to the matter of decisions and actions with regards or in resistance of human rights' violations, once again if I could shortly just highlight the context of the church. When we speak of our own actions and decisions, we never claim to be the only church who has had certain insights, certain commitments. We understand that the context which exist, was one in which we shared communally with other people.
So for instance, some of the main moments for this church in terms of becoming clear on certain matters, are represented in the matters before you, the attack by the Minister Schlebush in 1979 against the SACC with regards to civil disobedience and the resulting letter of Dr Allan Boesak to the Minister.
The confession of Belhar as stated and the vice-Chairperson will later make some comment on this. The document and its own and clear witness that one cannot reconcile good and evil, one cannot reconcile God and Satan.
The church clearly need to be involved in activities that would transform, liberate society as part of God's mission.
I said earlier on our own failure to remain true to our calling, was the main cause for the struggle within the church itself. In this sense certain moments needed to be highlighted without going into detail.
One being for instance the Christian institute, its own actions and confessions. The extent to which it sought to enable people to clearly understand and act in the society.
The confessing circle within the framework of the former Dutch Reformed Mission Church and Dutch Reformed Church in Africa and what it stood for, (indistinct) and many others, that is the context from which our own understanding grew.
Speaking of the struggle of this church itself, I wish to say that for quite a period one did not see clear decisions in the minutes of Synod, neither actions that would to some extent indicate this church's struggle against apartheid.
We however, recognise that this very same period right up to the beginning of the 1960's was one in terms of my earlier reference, where a very strong dominance of Dutch Reformed Church missionaries functioning in these churches, and it is only since 1961 in the case of the former mission church and 1963 in the case of the former Dutch Reformed Church in Africa, that one has seen the up come of indigenous leaders in the church and so greater clarity within the church's teaching and actions.
You have a list before you of some of the issues dealt with by the church. The members of the former church primarily as students, on a student level, were at the centre of historical events at that time. They took the lead at many campuses and schools. I mention a few with regards to the University of the Western Cape and other institutions.
(Indistinct) youth and student revolt resulted in expulsions and detentions, going into exile. The conviction and imprisonment of members of this church, disruption of academic careers as well as the deaths of others as I referred to earlier on.
During the 1988 Synod the church declared that this policy of irreconcilability leads to polarisation and conflicts and this conflicts was then used by both government and in many church circles as an alibi to maintain the separation of people at all costs.
Decisions of this church itself, contributed to decisions made at the World Alliance of Reformed Churches in 1982 when the question of apartheid was clearly stated not to be only a practical or political matter, but a question of fait and therefore the declaration of the status (indistinct) in 1982. This led to the adoption of the confession of Belhar to which my brother will also shortly refer.
I think maybe I should just pass on to the question of our own contribution in the question of reconciliation. In a very short reference to the confession of Belhar, this church has in the past two years in the strategic planning, has taken on as its vision the whole idea of unity, reconciliation and justice.
Not only in the sense in which it was confessed in 1982 and 1986, but in terms of our own grabbling on how this church can make contributions in the renewal as well as reconciliation in this country.
I just shortly list a few points we have mentioned in this document with regards to the idea of pastoral counselling of victims, (indistinct), the confession of guilt, service of the church in forgiveness and reconciliation, the sense in which a church could be able in continuing acts of reconciliation bring people to public reconciliation, (indistinct) of reconciliation (indistinct) and transforming worship into acts of reconciliation.
Reconciliation services for local, regional and national groups, (indistinct) of rehabilitation programmes holistically seeking the renewal of perpetrators.
We believe that the religious community can contribute to a profound religious or theological statements and the erection of some memorial in remembrance to the martyrs and the victims of human rights' abuses.
But one point I think we would like to emphasise comes under what we think could happen nationally, that is within this country of ours, for the sake of reconciliation but also for the sake of accountability, that there should be a presentation of a report of a civil audit and social comments on the part or the progress in and the promotion of human rights by the authorities, followed by a policy declaration or manifesto, the declaration of intent by the State itself.
We know that there are many organs functioning in a sense as watchdogs of what happens, but I believe that the whole idea of holding government accountable in view of our history, could be one of the means in which we would ensure that what happened in the past, will never again happen in the future.
I thank you sir.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Now your Moderator has eaten up a lunch of 30 minutes, there is actually nothing left but in the interest of church unity I think we will let you have maybe five minutes.
REV MAPHOTO: Thank you. It is an honour and a privilege for me to openly say in affirming what my Moderator has said in short. I wish I was speaking at a time where we are not a Uniting Reformed Church but a United Reformed Church with our fellow Dutch Reformed Church.
We are guilty both of the same type of sin. We have sinned against the nation, we have misrepresented God's word in whatever we did. From the Uniting Reformed Church I must simply say we have been throughout the time, been a testing ground of any legislation from the National Party parliament.
One example as a young student in the church, at training college, on a Sunday an honourable Minister of Religion came to offer holy communion and baptism and he decided not to do that, but tried to explain to us the new coming legislation over the separate development.
Children were not baptised on that day, holy communion was not served on that day but a clear picture was put to us of the benefits that we would get from separate development. I looked upon those present and I knew nobody could question that and it went on, he explained at the end, he offered another time to come and give holy communion and serve holy communion.
The important issue was to use the time to introduce the separate development into the country. We had been total guinea pigs of our mother, to say to the world that you are the only church that understands. If chaplains were needed for the Police and the Defence, it will only come mostly largely, almost 90 percent from the ranks of the United Reformed Church, for both Defence and the Police, but we are aware that we as a church had never had peace within ourselves, within ourselves, within our mother and those were sent by the mother to help us. There has been an undiminishing intensity of war within us.
That is the bedroom war, which ended up with the births of the Belhar confession where we say up to here can no more longer. A status confession has to be declared in which we say any difference on this question of apartheid, can never be reconciled with the Word of God.
Now, we want to say our church as a testing ground served the National Party with many informers. People outside, they know some of the things that we do not know, that some of our ministers were used to serve the interest and we want to openly this afternoon confess to the nation that we have sinned against you. We knew the truth and we avoided to live with the truth.
Some of the things that are not known to us, that our members were involved in, are those things that we want to say to the nation, may God grant us grace. His grace is immeasurable, it can never be measured by a human being. He loves us and we want to say as my Moderator said create a conducive atmosphere for reparations and for the better way forward.
We have sinned against the nation, and we confess of our sins, thank you sir.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
REV XUNDU: Thank you for your submission which I think you gave elaborately and very clearly. I want to say like the others, you have come to confess and come and share to what degree your own (indistinct) took part in the struggle or in taking part in collusion with the system in the struggle against apartheid whilst you yourselves, you had your own struggle.
That struggle has been expressed in many ways and I am grateful that you are able to confess and for the whole of South Africa to realise that you do, you have come to terms with that.
I realise that in paragraph 8, in page 21 or 158, you have listed the things which you are saying are things that take you through the road of reconciliation, as a way of addressing that this should not happen again and I think that those things speak for themselves and I think they are a repetition of some things that were said by other people who gave testimony.
I therefore thank you and I am not wanting to make any more comments.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
DR MANTHATA: In the likelihood of there being quite a number of perpetrators in the pews of your churches, is there any organised way of addressing these people and their families and further with that kind of knowledge, could you be of value to reconciling processes because we shall need the perpetrators who have come to the fore, who shall have been healed, who shall have been counselled, to help this process?
MR BUYS: Our clear understanding of the process we started as I said about two years ago, of which we had two sessions last year, has in this overall vision of the church one that we clearly need to understand, the nature of the remnants of apartheid and of the history of the former churches within this church.
Similarly we understand that it would include our having to deal with our past, having to deal through our own ministry of reconciliation and especially in view of our own paragraph 3 in the confession of Belhar.
Both the victims within the church as well as the perpetrators, the principal area in which this should happen to our understanding if I should speak within the framework of our church, is the devise and development of this programme within regional Synods for it to take effect right down to grassroots level within congregations.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. We are deeply grateful and we thank God that the spirit of God is moving you together and we hope of course that eventually you will be one church as God intends you to be. You may stand down, thank you very much.
We now call on Dominee Swanepoel of the Dutch Reformed Church. Good afternoon brothers. We wish to extend a hearty word of welcome to you here. We are very glad and happy that you are here. We are glad that you decided to be present at this hearing. Will you please introduce your colleague as well?
REV SWANEPOEL: Mr Chairman, together with me is Dr Willie Botha and he will sit here to hold my hand.
CHAIRPERSON: Will he perhaps participate in answering questions or is he just there to make sure, okay, I see, that explains it all.
The Rev Bongani Finca will assist you in taking the oath. Come on, get busy.
REV FREEK SWANEPOEL: (confirmed)
CHAIRPERSON: As I have already said, we are very glad because of your presence here with us today. We thought that we might be disappointed because you might have been absent, but you are here. We thank the Lord that He had worked in you to bring you here to us.
I would therefore like to hand the microphone to you. Let me just find out about the - I don't know that we have enough of these contraptions. Do we have enough of these? Those who will not be able to follow in Afrikaans, you will need the headsets.
INTERPRETER: There are 50 headsets available all and all.
CHAIRPERSON: And which channel?
INTERPRETER: English will be on 2, and Afrikaans will be on 1.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you brother Swanepoel.
REV SWANEPOEL: Mr Chairperson, I wanted to start in English but only to say thank you for the invitation and that we can take part in this hearings of the faith communities and we truly believe that this will strengthen the essential process of reconciliation between faith communities and I believe thereafter also in a broader community.
But then Mr Chairperson it is written in Psalm 45 that the tongue can run smoothly and so thank you for the opportunity that I can do it in the language in which my tongue runs the most smoothly, in Afrikaans.
Mr Chairman, we as members of the Dutch Reformed Church form part of the people of South Africa. We were born here and we wish to stay here to participate in this wonderful beloved country of ours.
We have been here for more than three and a half centuries, we are part of this history. We are regarded as the greater portion of the negative of this history, but on this day we wish to come and to commit ourselves on this day to playing a positive role in reconciliation in this country.
I believe we can say that our people have positively assimilated the change in government in South Africa and that we are set to contribute constructively in this country to a place to create a place of freedom, justice and human dignity for everybody.
We also wish to come here before you and say that we think differently about ourselves, that we wish to play our role in the shape of a servant according to the example set by our Lord.
We also wish particularly to strive more than ever before to comply with and obey the commandment of neighbourly love towards all our peoples. We say today that we have a calling to promote redemption and that it means that we wish to continue to listen to the stories of other people, that we really wish to go to great lengths to see their pain and need and that we wish to cooperate in the healing of the community and the solution of problems.
Therefore we are called on this day to say that we admit to our own weaknesses, but to also say that we have been called unconditionally to accept and forgive other people.
And now we know that we as a church wish to cooperate meaningfully towards reconciliation in this country, we have to start with ourselves. Therefore we have to do everything in our power, to have the process of church unification progress in our own midst. You heard that the previous group said they wished that we were a united church and we wish to state from our side, the same today.
We are also wishing that we have progressed further along this road. The actions of our church are determined to a great extend by Synod decisions and we have to say that very clearly stated decisions have been taken by our Synod, but we know that these words have to be translated into actions increasingly today.
A question which will definitely be asked today is whether I am speaking, I am able to speak on behalf of the whole Dutch Reformed Church. No, I cannot, just like other people, I have to admit that there are two groups in our church.
I believe that if I speak about reconciliation here today, with regard to the wrong which we committed, I am speaking on behalf of the greater portion of this church. A group which is increasing daily.
I would like to summarise our role in reconciliation in two words, reformation. We are a reformed church which means that we wish to be open to the Lord to change us through His Word. We also wish to be so in these times but there is also a new word, that is currently enjoying status and that is transformation, something which we also wish to implement in our structure so that we can become increasingly a reformed church.
The second matter we will refer to is that we wish to do this together with other churches. It is not something that we can do alone. It is only recently that we started thinking together and planning together with other churches and we wish to state our need here today that we are here to learn from other churches to hear what they are saying, to take the hands that have been reached us to assist us as well.
We also with to recognise today and admit that there are other faiths in this country, and although it is difficult for us as a church to worship with other faiths, we would like to admit that on the basis of common goals for reconciliation, we wish to cooperate and are prepared to cooperate without coming to the point of comparing spiritual points of view or saying who is wrong and who is right.
Mr Chairman, if I refer to the practical implications of reconciliation, I would like to start with the building of people.
Reconciliation is always a personal thing and here the gospel has to enjoy precedence. There is a need of spiritual equipment among our people and also certainly among other people.
With regard to human dignity, fellow humanity, common humanity and neighbourly love, we wish to assist our people and also other people where necessary to learn values such as acceptance, patience, respect, honesty, diligence, etc.
We wish to afford every person an equal opportunity to take a place in this society of ours and therefore in addition to literacy programmes, we also wish to implement programmes which are already in place, to teach people skills.
During the Synod of 1994, we gave recognition to the RDP programme and we stated that the church wished to link up with that as far as possible and practical. We recognise the large extent and scope of poverty. We are also concerned about that portion of our society whose situation has not shown any marked change. The church knows that it cannot just preach reconciliation, but that here it also has to go into action so that basic requirements for life are provided for everybody.
From the norms of our church, we wish to continue to contribute our share through equal payment for equal work and to strive for just wages. Without expanding too much on what is being done, we wish to say that we are thankful that our social services in this respect, have been expanded into the other communities.
I wish to continue with my fourth point and state that without contact among persons, there cannot be reconciliation. Therefore these programmes will also have to enjoy precedence on the road ahead, so that there will be spiritual contact between people so that they will be able to hear each other and thus also to establish and strengthen the essential mutual trust amongst people.
Our daily management has also been discussing a day of reconciliation which we would like to discuss with other groupings as well. I would like to refer to the future and the past as well.
It is impossible to build a solid future without having honestly dispenses with the past. Similarly the unique problems of the present times, such as violence, corruption, lawlessness and meaningless murders of innocents, cannot be overcome if the past and the future is not fairly judged.
It can therefore be expected and must be expected of the DRC to speak honestly about the past if its inputs are to be acceptable. It should also open the door to us for forgiveness and mutual acceptance.
I therefore wish to testify to the struggle that the DRC had to wage within itself in order to reject apartheid and to do away with apartheid in its decisions. In 1982 the Synod rejected apartheid as sin, to reject racism as sin.
The Dutch Reformed Church stands by its admission in 1986 that the church had erred seriously with the Biblical foundation of the forced segregation of people. In 1990 it confessed that the DRC should have rejected this point of view much sooner than it actually had n the occasion of the Rustenburg conference of churches where Willie Jonker declared our personal guilt and responsibility for the political, social, economic and structural injustices in this country.
Here in this meeting today I can also just say that we wish to support these decisions and prove that they are true by our attitude of working at reconciliation and also by listening to what other churches tell us regarding the past.
In 1994 the General Synod gave credit to members, officials and church gatherings who have voiced a clear descent against apartheid in the past. You would have read about our fellow brothers, like Dr Beyers Naude who had been accepted among us.
The church also admitted that in this struggle of its doing away with apartheid and rejecting apartheid, it also entered into discussions and meetings with brothers and sisters of the Dutch Reformed Church family as a broader family.
Then just to complete the picture, we also would like to refer to the persistent statement of this point of view which from time to time gave rise to a loss of members and officials from our church. We experienced that people left us because of this.
I can also testify to a spirit of reconciliation which has developed in many of our congregations in these days and which is still ongoing. Honest efforts have been made through confession to close the past and to step into a new future.
The most poignant of these took place at the GCOWE consultation in Pretoria where 180 ministers and members of the Dutch Reformed Church at the end of the meeting, made a written public confession. In this confession statement was made with regard to wrongful attitudes and deeds of the past and they also committed themselves to working with other churches towards redemption, unity and justice.
The movement for reconciliation is growing in our church on ground level. The church also continually and with empathy focused on the large numbers of people who were unjustly disadvantaged during the times of apartheid and to assist them in their poverty and suffering.
A lack of understanding, unwillingness and disobedience among members and officials with regard to the need in the community, were also admitted and confessed to before God.
The Dutch Reformed Church apologises to these people and admits that its voice of protest had not been loud enough and to prove and admit that what had been done was not adequate.
It is said that one must have a dream. One of our members, Johan Heyns' dream was that the church should use less water during christenings, and rather used the water to build homes. Therefore this church also has a dream. It is a dream of a country where people will accept each other and where every human being will also make a contribution to peaceful co-existence.
As a church we wish to be guided in this regard by the Word of God which says try to be at peace with everyone. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Dominee Swanepoel for your contribution. My colleague Dr Mgojo.
REV MGOJO: Thank you very much brother Swanepoel. It is nice to be with you here. It reminds me of the days when you came with your church to become an observer in the SACC when things were tough and with others you did pave your way and I remember it was a day of celebration when we received you in the SACC as an observer church.
Thank you very much for your input. The history of your church has been a painful one indeed. But I must say that it has not been very different from other churches. Some of the experiences which you experienced in your Dutch Reformed Church, are the experiences which have been felt even in the English speaking churches.
I think that needs to be clear. What I want to ask here, miracles do happen. You have seen when we met with the Apostolic Faith Mission, the church which was affected as your church has been affected, do you think that there is any way or do you feel motivated by what you have seen from that church where confessions were made publicly between the household of that church and then reconciliation had also to be processed within that church in public so that the church can be one, even before they can try to move out to promote reconciliation in the outer world?
I say this because of the testimonies which were made here by some of the people who came out of the mother church. They came out very bruised and hurt, because of what happened there.
You as the mother church maybe you need to take a very big initiative to see that confession may be and asking for forgiveness from those churches as the mother church can take place. Do you feel that you are able to do that as the Dutch Reformed Church, to address this which has been mentioned here by the Belydende Kring, I don't know how to pronounce the Afrikaans words, and also the United Reformed Church this morning?
You are speaking about the people who were very hurt on the way, thus covering the great mission of your church in this country, thank you.
REV SWANEPOEL: Thank you Mr Mgojo. I do want to admit that without hearing each other in confession, there can be no reconciliation. Alongside with our confession to God and reconciliation which God grants us, it is necessary for a church and its members to do public confession.
We are currently in the process with a consideration of the confession of our church. I hear they speak of the mother church, we would rather consider ourselves to be sister churches in these days, and we are sending a document around amongst our people to have a confession accepted.
With this I want to say that we are attempting although public confession in my view, must be a part of the process and I would believe that at the right time we will achieve this, so from our side we can come to the fore at a certain time to apologise for that which we had done wrong, so that we can take hands and walk into the future together.
CHAIRPERSON: Bongani Finca?
REV FINCA: Thank you Mr Chairman. I have two questions to direct to you Dominee. My observation and I don't know whether it is correct, but through reading in the media, the press, my observation is that many in the Afrikaans community have not fully embraced the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
I would like to have the benefit of your comments as a leader of a denomination that is primarily working in that community. You are in touch with people at the grassroots. You have a better feel of the pulse of the community. Am I right that there is a problem generally in the Afrikaans community with the work of the TRC and if so, what are the real problems with the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission?
REV SWANEPOEL: With regard to members of the Dutch Reformed Church, I would like to react in the following way. That which had appeared before you, was the pain and the sadness from the heart primarily of one group of people. In that regard, they might well have felt that it was not fair or equitable although from my side, of course I know that the injustice was one sided.
That is the only way in which I can explain the situation. People might have felt, Afrikaans people, that that which had come from the old order was considered to be entirely wrong and that was all pushed to the side. I must say to you that there are a large group of people who do not want to accept the work of this Commission, and who do have a negative attitude towards the Commission.
But I do believe that the voices of those who would say that as believers and as a church we have responsibility to make a contribution wherever reconciliation occurs, that would be the case, and that is why in our church we continue again and again to ask. It is my view that this Commission had been given and our denomination prays for the Commission.
We do not pray that the Commission must fail, we pray that your work and what I have seen in the past two days and which I appreciate very much, that we pray that God will bless this. Certainly a large number of our people do not accept your work, but there is a group who pray that your work also as individuals will be blessed.
REV FINCA: My second question is on the number of applicants who come before the Amnesty Committee of the Commission to apply for amnesty and who in their testimony to the Amnesty Committee actually blame the teachings of their church and say that they were misled by their church, into believing that the things that they did, were actually in the service of the interest of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that the church blessed their weapons of terror, that the church ministered to them, encouraged them.
Does the Dutch Reformed Church feel that there is any room for repenting together with those who apply for amnesty?
REV SWANEPOEL: Rev Finca, I would begin to reply in this way. We have indeed taught our people wrongly with regard to apartheid as a Biblical instruction. If you teach them that this is the way of the Bible, in fact you instruct them how they should act, and in this regard certainly the church has confessed that it is guilty and we are experiencing an inner struggle to change around and turn around in this regard.
When a person appears before you, applying for amnesty, it is indeed true that he can say that this gospel was taught to him in this way.
Certainly there had been different messages sent at a later stage, but people can certainly make this claim. Whether we would want to do something with these people, alongside these people in their process, most of these people prefer personal accompaniment and pastoral ministry from their ministers, there have been no request for a larger process brought to us, but I hear what you say and we could certainly consider such a process.
Up until now, these people had been individually accompanied by their ministers in their local congregations in a pastoral sense.
CHAIRPERSON: I wanted to say that we have deep appreciation for all that you have said. It is certainly difficult for any one of us to confess something and to ask for forgiveness.
To be able to do so is only possible because of the grace of God. Grace which God so voluminously pours out on us. You have personally spoken of your many efforts with regard to the relationship of your denomination towards this Commission and how you would have liked to have made a presentation from your denomination.
For that reason we are very grateful that you have indeed decided only just now recently, that you indeed as a church would be represented and that you would represent your church.
I want to give thanks to God because as you say, what has been happening here, has truly been wonderful and we can all just, all we can really say is thank you to God that God has led so many to doing that which we all find so very difficult to do, especially when we have to do it in public.
Your church has a tremendous role to play, it has had an important role in the life of this country from the beginning. It has had a very significant impact on the lives of very, very many and I have no doubt at all, that God is intending to use your church powerfully for this nation.
I have sometimes, one of the wonderful things about Afrikaners particularly, is that they are not subtle. That might sound as if I am not praising you, but what I mean is that unlike other people, the Afrikaner is one who once they see the light, have no half measures.
When you are committed, you are committed to the hilt whatever the cost, and we saw it with the many people that you referred to whom for quite a while your church has ostracised and you church did a wonderful thing in 1994 because there are not very many churches that have publicly until recently, publicly said we erred. Beyers Naude and all of you others who were prophets, we are sorry for what we have done publicly and I think we need to acknowledge that.
Again the grace of God is wonderful and that you responded to the grace of God on that occasion and that now the prophets who have sidelined, have been welcomed back into your community. I am saying they are an example of people who once they have seen the light, as it were, take the bit between their teeth and you have a problem reigning them in.
And if I may say so humbly, I am so glad that you have seen the light and we know we could almost say to the devil watch out, here comes the Dutch Reformed Church.
But I am sort of half (indistinct), but I think I mean to have you as it were, on our side, is a tremendous thing and we give thanks to God. There is a lot of healing to be done, there are many horrible things that have happened and we are glad that you are part of the process of healing in this land.
Someone said to me perhaps today, one of the things we should do is perhaps just to keep a moment's silence and remembering many people, but to pray in thanksgiving for people like Johan Heyns, but what this person was saying was they wished we could pray that God would bless the Police to find the people who did what they did to Prof Johan Heyns.
Perhaps I must ask you after a moment's silence, to offer a prayer in the broad under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
REV SWANEPOEL LEADS THE COMMISSION IN A PRAYER.
REV SWANEPOEL: Oh God, our Lord, thank you that we can worship you everywhere and that you can be heard everywhere.
Thank you Lord, that we can pray here now and ask for your blessing, that we can ask for truth, for reconciliation, for restitution and for healing.
We pray Lord, for every person and every family that had been hurt, that had lost people that they loved. Our hearts ache and we confess that great wrongs have been done. We pray Father, that you will strengthen our hands to bring healing while we know ourselves that only you can strengthen our hands.
Thank you for every church that came and spoke here and bring blessing Lord on the work of churches in this nation. I pray oh Lord, for your blessing on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Chairman and all these members and the other members busy at other venues.
We pray for their report, we pray that you will give them health and energy, that you will guide them and bless them so that what we receive next year, will help us to go forward to heal, to reconcile and to move forward through your power.
We pray this in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, amen.
CHAIRPERSON: We now call Prof Nico Smith. You are looking very smart. Dear friends, we welcome you. You are one of the examples of what I was talking about just now.
Nico Smith as we know, you left a very comfortable job because God caught you by the scruff of the neck and made you go and live in Mamelodi and we give thanks for the witness that you have given and we welcome you. We welcome brother Moss, but yes, well, we know him from another time.
Will you stand for taking an oath?
PROF NICO SMITH: (sworn states)
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. We are in your hands.
PROF SMITH: Honourable Chairperson, I am very thankful for the opportunity the Commission has granted us to submit this open letter and I am very thankful that I am last on the programme. In Afrikaans we say "agteros kom ook in die kraal."
But I take it that being the last person then, oh, not quite, oh, I just thought that the rest of the afternoon belongs to me.
CHAIRPERSON: You've still got only 30 minutes.
PROF SMITH: First of all I would like to apologise for Dr Beyers Naude, he is at the moment in Holland and he would have liked to have been here this afternoon, but unfortunately he couldn't.
And I would also like to apologise for Dr Nico Botha and Dr Tinjiko Maluleke, they phoned to say that they are in the midst of the exams at UNISA and it is impossible for them to come. I am very thankful that brother Moss Nthla is here, he is one of the fellow compilers of the letter, and he would also like to say something about the letter.
Chairperson, before I read the open letter, I would just like by way of introduction, to say something about the origin of this letter.
It was after the previous night when a certain Brigadier made a statement to the Truth Commission in which inter alia he revealed how Dr Fabian Ribeiro and his wife were assassinated. It touched me very, very deeply not because of this Brigadier's witness but because of the very sad reality of our country.
Dr Ribeiro and his wife were our neighbours in Mamelodi, a very beloved medical practitioner in that community and the afternoon when they were killed, five o'clock in the afternoon, they called me and said come immediately and here were those two people, dead.
I said my God, but it cannot be possible, who did this? The next week a pamphlet was distributed by the South African Defence Force saying this was the work of ANC terrorists because they are communists, they want to implement a revolution and they know how beloved these two people were and therefore that is the way they do it.
And then a few months ago this Brigadier said that two assassinators were hired to kill them. The next morning in our tea room at UNISA I spoke to my colleagues and I said how is it possible, we were all pastors of churches, preaching every Sunday and in many of our congregations, members of the government were present Sunday after Sunday.
Many of these willing executioners of this government were members of our congregations, and in other churches. What happened, how must we explain it? Didn't we understand the gospel properly, didn't we preach the full gospel, didn't we know? No, we knew. We had to admit first of all that we had failed to spell out the consequences of the gospel of Jesus Christ and therefore we didn't touch the conscience either of the members of the government or the willing executioners of their plans.
We were also afraid, we had to admit, we were afraid. I was afraid many a time when they wanted to put me into jail. Sadly enough that we had to admit that because the earliest history of the Christian church or the pastors of the Christian church, the apostles, especially Paul, they were not afraid of jail. They went from one jail to another but we were unfaithful to the gospel because of our fear and we had to admit that.
And we said, well, what can we do about it? And we said, well all that we can do is to admit and to confess and say we didn't do our work properly. We have failed the gospel and we have failed the Lord of the church.
But when I got back in my office, I thought well, that is an easy way to get off it. I started to draft a letter and I thought churches may issue statements of confession, church leaders may say many things, but the real people who must say what they feel about what happened in our country, are the pastors.
The pastors of all the different congregations, they had the responsibility to speak to the hearts and the conscience of the people in our land. So all the pastors have failed and I therefore drafted an open letter to pastors of all churches in South Africa and I took it to Beyers Naude and I said Beyers, please read this letter and tell me what you think about it.
He read it and said I will sign it. I am willing to sign it. Also I could have done more, also I failed. And then we called together four other colleagues and we sat down and then moulded the draft into a final document which I will submit to you and that is how this letter came into existence.
Chairperson, I would therefore like to start to read this letter, it is not a long letter, it is only one and a half pages.
An open letter to all pastors in South Africa. To us as preachers of the Word of God, the responsibility is entrusted to proclaim at all times, the gospel of reconciliation with God and our fellow human beings in Christ.
This responsibility entails the prophetic denouncement of all forms of injustice, oppression and violence committed against any human being. As we read and hear what happened in South Africa during the years of Nationalist Party rule we as preachers of God's Word, are confronted with the question how could it possibly have happened while we as preachers of reconciliation, justice and peace were preaching this message from our pulpit every Sunday?
But the question which disturbs us even more is this, how was it possible that those who intentionally committed murders and sabotage against fellow citizens, could have been as is now becoming evident, members of churches and even regular churchgoers?
Was there nothing in our preaching, litigious and sacraments that disturbed the conscience of those who were directly involved in all the evil deeds committed?
Therefore we have indeed more than enough reason to feel deeply guilty for having spiritualised and even gagged the gospel to such an extent that those in government and those responsible to execute government policy, didn't feel confronted by our preaching.
We are guilty of having allowed the rulers to execute the ideology of forced separation for the sake of so-called law and order without offering united resistance as preachers of justice and peace.
We admit and confess that we too were blinded by an ideology which presented itself as justifiable from the Bible.
We lacked the gift of discerning the spirits because we had not real desire to receive this gift. In the light of the above, we want to confess publicly that we as preachers were co-responsible for what happened in South Africa. In fact our guilt should be considered as more serious than that of any other person or institution.
We who were supposed to be the conscience of the nation, didn't succeed in preventing the most serious forms of abuse of the human conscience. As a result of this, the criminal violation of people's human dignity and even the destruction of human life, continued for too long.
But this confession of guilt is not intended to be vague and general. We confess our guilt by mentioning specific examples of our failure to be faithful to the gospel. We first of all acknowledge and confess that for many of us, especially those in the white community, life was very convenient and comfortable under Nationalist Party rule.
Many of us therefore couldn't and wouldn't see the oppression and violation of millions of people in our country, hear their cries for justice and failed to take action.
We furthermore acknowledge and confess that when we sometimes did feel uncomfortable about the way the government and other institutions persisted in its abuse of power, we did nothing because of fear.
We thereby allowed evil with the cooperation of Christians, to continue its devastating work against the people of God.
In the same breath we commit ourselves to call upon Christians to be careful in their support of political leaders and their policies. We furthermore commit ourselves to challenge Christians concerning their political and socio-economic responsibilities.
We also want to make amends for neglecting the needs of the poor and the oppressed, therefore we commit ourselves to the task of guiding God's people towards involvement in actions to eliminate the socio-economic inequalities of our country.
We have evaded this responsibility for too long. We furthermore commit ourselves to the task of encouraging people with the gospel of hope. Especially in these days when many have lost hope and are despairing of the future of our country.
This we will do by replacing the longing for the previous so-called better days, by dreams of an even better future. The same gospel therefore, also urges us to commit ourselves to engage in the reconstruction of our society.
Although we recognise that some ministers have stood bravely in the struggle for justice, it is our hope that every church minister who reads this document, will recognise the challenge facing us all, which we dare not push aside.
We are compelled to make a choice. Either we confess our guilt in order to be set free for greater and more faithful service to the gospel of Jesus Christ, or we ignore this challenge to confess our guilt and thus declare ourselves not guilty of what happened in our country.
If you are willing to identify with this document and commit yourself to a process of unified action and a process of healing and rebuilding our nation, send your reply before the end of 1997 to the following address.
This document with the signatures will be submitted to the TRC and we express the hope that it would serve as a unified response from ministers. We hereby also wish to extend this invitation to spiritual leaders of other religions to participate in the submission.
Thereafter a national conference of all those who have signed this document, will be arranged in order to discuss the implications of our confession.
Chairperson, after we decided on this final document, Beyers Naude and I offered that we will send this letter to as many pastors as possible and we started to collect all the names and addresses of as many as we could get hold of.
Now, we were saying to one another, if only we could get a 100 pastors to identify with this letter, we will perhaps feel like an Abraham in the Old Testament to start bargaining with God and say well, there are at least 100.
The good news is that we received 396 signatures and just before I came to the table, Dr Don Degrushi from the Congregational Church asked me to add his name, so there is at least righteous person in the Congregational Church, because we didn't receive any other.
The bad news is that we have sent out on our own account 12 000 letters to pastors. 12 000 letters, we received back 51 undelivered, address unknown. We received in total 605 responses to the letter, 396 signatures and the other 290 responses.
Honourable Chairperson, I am sad to say I couldn't believe that any Christian could write such letters as we have received, some of them. Even less I can believe that any pastor in this world could put something like that on paper and send it to us.
It is therefore that I would like to say something about the reaction of the pastors to this letter, but let me, may I then just first read from whom we received signatures saying we identify with this letter, from pastors from the different churches.
From the Apostolic Faith Mission, seven pastors. Africa Enterprise, one. Church of the Province of Southern Africa Anglican, 50. Arbeidsbediening Interkerklik, 1. Baptist, 6. Baptist Convention 1. Baptist Union, 3. Church of the Nazareer, 4. Dutch Reformed Church, to my own surprise, 88, one of the highest. Evangelical Lutheran, 7. Evangelical Presbyterian Church in South Africa, 1. International Fellowship of Christian Churches, 1. Helderberg Christian Fellowship, 1. Jubilee Community Church, 5. Laudium Community Church, 1. Lutheran Church, 3. Methodist Church, the highest of all, 97. Morawian, 1. New Life in Christ Fellowship Centre, 1. Nuwe Hoop Gemeente, 1. Presbyterian Church of South Africa, 17. Rhema Ministries in South Africa, 1. Roman Catholic Church, 28. Volle Evangelie Kerk van God in Suid-Afrika, 1. United Congregational Church of South Africa, 3 and yours is then 4. Four righteous pastors. Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa, that is the two brothers who were here this afternoon, 56 of the pastors. Vineyard Church, 1. World Wide Church of God, 1. And then some pastors overseas who read about the letter and sent their names, there were 8 of them.
Now, Chairperson, 12 000 letters and the letters were also published fully in the Afrikaans and English newspapers. So I can't believe that any minister can say I didn't know about this letter.
The question I would like to put to the church leaders who were submitting their confessions here, what is happening in the churches? Are the pastors not interested? Don't they care? I can't believe that the pastors will still consider me and Beyers Naude as communists, rebels, trouble makers or whatever it may be.
Or do they just look at it and say no, I am not interested in a thing like this. Why out of 12 000 letters only 396? It is saddening to thing that that is the reality about the church at grassroots level.
And if pastors are not willing to make a confession, how on God's earth can they ever expect that the members must do so?
And therefore in conclusion, I would like to mention three things. First of all, in spite of all the good things we have heard during the past three days, and I am thankful I didn't intend to be here for three days, but it so happened that I had to be here and in spite of all the good things that I have heard, I would like to call upon all these church leaders to go back to the drawing board in the light of this letter, the response to this letter, and to do their homework. Are they convinced that what they have said here, is the conviction of the pastors in their church?
I would very humbly suggest that all the leaders who made submissions will send their documents to every local congregation and say please read this to the congregation, and if possible you as a pastor, sign it so that we as the leaders of the church may know that this is not only the conviction of the few leaders, but the conviction of every pastor in our church. That is the one thing.
A second thing I would like to put on the table is, I would once again, I have done it so many times already, and I want to do it once again, before I do this, can I just add, I have read again through the Rustenburg Conference decisions we have taken.
Honourable Chairman, Rustenburg was a wonderful conference, but not much crystallised out of it. If you read those beautiful decisions we had taken, very few if any were really implemented.
Is this going to be a second Rustenburg Conference? Many decisions by church leaders, no implementation? I put it to the church leaders.
The second thing, I would once again as I have said I have done it before so often, call upon the leaders of the Dutch Reformed Church in God's name to leave, to free themselves from the bondage of the Afrikaner Broederbond.
I can't see how there can ever be real reconciliation with the black churches of the Dutch Reformed Church family as long as those churches know that the leaders of the Dutch Reformed Church belong to the Afrikaner Broederbond which after 1994 put on a new jacket and called themselves Afrikanerbond, it is still the same thing.
It is still a secret organisation, you are still not allowed to have a look into their documents as strange as it may be. You are still not allowed, and many pastors of the Dutch Reformed Church - I was a member of the Afrikaner Broederbond for 10 years. In my time 60 percent of the Dutch Reformed Ministers belonged to the Afrikaner Broederbond, and I believe that it will perhaps still be the same.
Why must the Dutch Reformed Church burden herself with this albatross around her neck? Wouldn't they, the leaders be willing to free themselves from that bondage and call upon all pastors of the Dutch Reformed Church to say let's get out of it.
And the third thing I would like to put on the table, yes and before I put the third one, I would just like to mention that just before I came to this commission, I received a very painful letter from a young Dutch Reformed Minister whose life was ruined recently by fellow Dutch Reformed Ministers whom he knew are members of the Broederbond.
And he said for God's sake, just mention it to the Truth Commission, and that is why I feel that I have an obligation to put this on the table.
And thirdly, yes, I would like to identify myself and say let the executioner of the assassination on Johan Heyns come forward. Let us hear why, who commissioned him? Why did they decide that he must be killed?
Perhaps the Truth Commission can put it officially and say let the person who gave the command or the person who executed the assassination, let him come forward. It can even be behind closed doors, but I think it is a shame on our country that something like that could happen and that they tell us it is impossible to find the one who did it.
Those are the three things I would like to put. I thank you for the time. I don't think I have used 20 minutes. My colleague, I know that he would also like to say something, two minutes you say.
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, well okay, two minutes.
MR NTHLA: Just to say Honourable Chair, that the reason I feel that it is appropriate to identify myself with this letter was that it was a challenge directed at the local pastor and that I believe is the place where we must start not only to uncover the full story about the past, because in fact the reasons that the churches were very afraid to become involved, was that the pastor very often even though the apartheid Security Police were a part of the church, or a part of the leadership or even pastors themselves, it was very impossible for young people to continue to practise their faith in honesty.
So, there was such a fear that gripped the churches and I think that it is important for the pastors to admit their failure in that regard.
But secondly also in terms of the future of reconciliation, the pastor again becomes an important agent to help us move beyond the confessions that we make, to practical ways of changing our habits of the past and so on.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Piet Meiring?
PROF MEIRING: Brother Nico, brother Moss let me just say one word of profound gratitude for the letter you wrote. When we learned about the letter, read about it I thought for one time I am sorry I am sitting this side of the table, because I would have wanted to add my name 100 times.
It may be that there are more people who did add their names. In our office there is a letter if I remember correctly, from the Congregation of Bosmont in the Cape where the whole congregation, I think about 300 members added their names. So it may be that there are many, many people who really identified with this.
But thank you ever so much for the inspiring thing, when we heard about it we said if Oom Bey has to confess, what about the rest of us.
If you and Moss and the others had to confess, it humbled us, it put us to shame, but thank you for the challenge and the inspiration. Please convey that to Oom Bey.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, you may stand down. We now come to the last of our witnesses to testify, the Theologians from the Gereformeerde Kerk, Potchefstroom. Please come Prof Van der Walt. Whilst you are coming, I just wanted to read a small little message which we got from Bishop David Russel. It comes from the members of (indistinct) Council, meeting in Grahamstown today.
They greet Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the TRC members in the name of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God for this initiative you have taken in inviting the churches to come forward to confess the ways we have sinned and fallen short during the days of apartheid and for our continuing failures in witness.
We wish to identify with the submission made on behalf of our church by Bishop Michael of Natal. May this whole process lead us to a deeper repentance and so to more faithful commitment to God's mission in our land. It is signed, David, Grahamstown.
We thank Bishop David Russel and his council.
We welcome you very warmly. We are grateful that you have been so patient and you come at the end of the process, but you are a very important part of that process. Do you want to introduce your colleague.
PROF VAN DER WALT: Professor Venter is my colleague in the Department of Philosophy, he is actually Head of the Department of Philosophy and I am Bennie van der Walt, I am at the Institute for Reformational Studies at the Potchefstroom University.
CHAIRPERSON: Will you please stand and Bongani Finca will administer the oath or the affirmation.
BENNIE VAN DER WALT: (sworn states)
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. It is over to you Professor. I don't know which Professor.
PROF VAN DER WALT: We have shared the time.
CHAIRPERSON: Yes, all right. Ten minutes each.
PROF VAN DER WALT: Ten minutes about each yes.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
PROF VAN DER WALT: We first want to express our sincere and greatest gratitude for this opportunity, Your Grace, Mr Chairman, especially for the two Afrikaners who are very ashamed of your own past and also what we are submitting here, is in great humility.
We are not theologians as indicated on your programme, we are neither ministers, but we are ordinary lecturers at University of Potchefstroom. We are also members of the Reformed Church of South Africa and we are therefore here in our individual capacities and not officially representing either our church or the institution where we work.
We therefore cannot speak on behalf of either the church or the university and I must say we are sad that our own church is missing the opportunity of this occasion where we have learnt a lot and which have encouraged us to continue on the way ahead.
I will briefly answer on the three questions you have posed and the first one is to what extent have you suffered? Your Grace, the answer is simple. We did not suffer. At least if we compare it with the real sufferings of our black countrymen. We had ordinary check ups by the Security Police, we were ridiculed and rejected by our own people on many occasions, we were mentally tortured, but never physically.
We also by participating in apartheid, did damage to ourselves, because we benefitted from the system and we were not willing to sacrifice our careers in deliberating taking the side of the oppressed people. And for all these reasons and many more, we made a public confession of our guilt, of which you have a copy and more copies are available also in English translation.
May I read only a small part in the original Afrikaans. Confession of guilt. We hereby confess before God and our neighbour that we failed in word and in action in church and society, privately and publicly to testify adequately and unambiguously against the embodiment and execution of the ideology of apartheid which had an invidious and even ruinous effect on the lives of so many of our fellow believers and fellow citizens.
We confess that we were not courageous enough to testify that we did not pray faithfully enough, did not believe actively enough, did not love vehemently enough and did not have enough empathy in the context of individual and social injustices in which our country was plunged for four decades and more.
We acknowledge in great humility that we were guilty of the violation of fundamental human rights and we acknowledge that we had a share in the directionless movement of our country, during times of crisis.
We confess that we are deeply guilty in the sight of God and we seek forgiveness from God and the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but we also plead for forgiveness from our deprived and wronged fellow believers and fellow citizens for what we did to them.
From our side we undertake as far as is humanly possible, to make amends in word and action for the damage which we did to them through the unfair discriminatory system. It is only this small portion that I wish to read, I will continue in English.
May I add Your Grace, that in spite of the fact that only four people drew up this document of repentance, that we were not the only voices crying in the wilderness. We received many phone calls, letters and personal conversations and also in the press, positive reactions from people who said that they would like to sign this document, both from the Reformed Church of South Africa as well as from staff of the Potchefstroom University.
On the other hand, we must also say that we noticed a stubborn resistance of people simply ignoring us by keeping silent. This brings me to the second question, what have you done to oppose apartheid.
We were privileged at the Potchefstroom University in our education also overseas, that we were not educated in a narrow minded church view of the world and of society, but that we were educated in a Christian world view which indicated that as Christians, we had a calling to serve God in all areas of life.
Of course this makes us even more guilty that we have done so little in the past. An important part of this perspective was a Christian social analysis, you can call it Christian footwear and Christian clothing to appear in public and not only pyjamas for your personal life of faith or a Sunday suit.
And of course a Christian world view can easily derail and finally become an oppressive ideology, but from this perspective and from a Christian philosophy, we tried to open the eyes and the perceptions, change the perceptions of especially the white people in our church and also at the university and as far as possible, also outside our university.
I mention a few examples. The periodical Word and Action, Word and Deed, already criticised apartheid from the early 1970's. The publication in 1977 of the Koinonia declaration which had an international impact, and then all the publications of the Institute for Reformational Studies on socio-political issues as well as its comments on important documents like the Kairos document, Church and Society.
But what I would like to mention especially is our conferences where we try to get together people from all walks of life and all the different population groups in South Africa to discuss together issues of relevance for the whole country.
I had experience that during time of racial isolation, this encouraged people tremendously to continue in the struggle and at our conferences we also challenge the Potchefstroom University, we reprimanded it in our resolutions because of its stance, its policy about the admission as well as accommodation policies towards black students.
In all these ways, we tried to open the eyes of church leaders, lecturers, students and people blinded by the apartheid ideology and I must confess opening our own eyes more and more for the damage done by this ideology.
This brings me to a last point, what kind of expertise can we contribute in the future? I think there are three levels, personal, institutional and national.
Me and my family have done a few small things. I am not going to mention that. On the institutional level I only want to mention that we are involved in a variety of ways trying to transform the university and perhaps the Reformed Church of South Africa.
I think Professor Venter can mention more examples. I only want in conclusion to mention one thing on a national level.
I think we should pay even more attention than in the past to the whole issue which this whole meeting concentrated on, and that is what is the correct, what is the correct relationship between religion and society including of course political, economic and cultural and educational aspects.
You may say I am becoming to academic now, but I think we need clear thinking to have correct actions. Let me mention three things. The first thing, I think even during this meeting it was quite clear that the following question needs further study and clarification.
About this relationship between religion and society, on the one hand, we cannot identify religion and politics, then you get the unholy alliance again which we had in the past between church and State.
On the other hand again, we cannot separate religion and society, then you get a so-called a-political Christianity of which we also have examples at this conference because religion is something total, it is something integral, you cannot separate the two.
The question then is what is the correct relationship. Ideas about an independent prophetic role has been mentioned here. I think it is not enough. I think and that is only one suggestion, that we have to work out a comprehensive philosophy of society in which we concretise God's central love commandment so that we can see that justice is the form of love we need in political life.
There is not a clash between justice and love, that stewardship is the central norm in our economic life and what the implications thereof is, fidelity in marriage, etc, etc.
Second example, many Christians think that religion can only have a beneficial influence on society, more or less automatic positive influence. I think it has also become abundantly clear during this whole meeting that this is not the fact. Religion can play a double role. It can also simply legitimise an unjust status quo,it can act as opium because religion is a fallible human response to God. How can we therefore in future, and that is the question, enhance the inspiring, motivating positive impact of religion whilst neutralising it negative consequences. In other words, put very straightforwardly, how can we become more self critical?
And then lastly, and here I am including myself. Many beautiful promises have been made during this whole meeting of what people envisage to be doing in the future. My question is shouldn't it be monitored?
I think we need a kind of feedback in a few years from now. This may be one of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee and because this Committee will no longer be in existence any more, I do hope that the religious communities will take the initiative.
Thank you Mr Chairman, my time is up and I hand over to Professor Venter.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Professor Swanepoel. Professor Venter?
PROF VENTER: It is Chairperson, in itself a significant fact that we are here without mandate or institutional support.
The specific reformed Afrikaner community from which we come, and who were part of that privileged group who used the opportunity given to us by God, to lead this country used that opportunity for selfishness and extremely atrocious forms of oppression, still does not seem ready to confess its leading share in what has happened.
I am struggling with the question whether this indicates that the community such as that wants to continue in some way with the practices and attitudes of the past. I have asked myself many times, forgive me my intellectual style of doing, that is what I have been trained to and what I do every day, how it came that the Afrikaner and especially those in the tradition in which I am, went down the road of the ideology of apartheid.
And I see something in the history of the Afrikaner going back to a philosophy of Jan Jacques Rossouw, who though espousing consensus democracy, elevated the State into the position of God. Rossouw wanted to encompass all civil institutions in the aims of the State, even prescribe a civil religion and interestingly the only crime for which he explicitly prescribes the death penalty, is that you deny any tannate of the civil religion.
Seems to me and it is also clear from Rossouw's work that he went back to the ancient model of the Greek and Roman City States, where the State were God and Socrates dies for having doubted the gods of the State and the charge sheet brought before Pontius Pilot about one Jesus of Nazareth, said he says he is the King of the Jews, which of course relativised he pretended divinity of the Roman Emperor.
Conservative Christians often defend their complicity with an unjust state for their own advantage, using Romans 13 where Christians are commanded to obey the government. Too easily it is forgotten that Romans 13 provides no opportunity for any Christian less a fair policy. It does induce Christians to accept even an unbelieving government as the servant of God for justice which means amongst others, that Christians are not to take the law into their own hands.
At the same time it relativises the Roman Emperor and his pretended divinity to the position of a servant for justice no less, but no more.
As an Afrikaner striving to be a responsible Christian citizen, I felt liberated on election day, 1994. For the first time in decades that I had the vote, my vote counted for me alone. And I did not have to carry the unbearable burden of voting for millions of other people who had neither vote nor voice.
The arrival of democracy however, spells liberation but not salvation. Democracy in itself will not save us from a repetition of the oppressions of the past. Jan Jacques Rossouw's model of the State was eminently democratic, yet he substituted patriotic State education for parental education, he wanted to control public opinion, prescribed a civil religion and proposed full control of the economy.
It was a modernised version of the ancient god States. It is also not for nothing that he rejected Christianity as his civil religion, because he was afraid that people who believe you must love God, your neighbour and your enemy, may just be ambiguous citizens who would not kneel and adore the State finally and might just at some stage or other, come up for justice.
Democracy serves as one of the best instruments to call the State to book about justice, but it is not the only one. A very important instrument for this is exactly what Rossouw did not want, independent, non-political institutions, churches, universities, media which are critical and point to that higher norm which the State is supposed to serve, the norm of justice.
This is what brought us together here, our failure as religious people. My failure as a Christian citizen, my failure as a member of the Reformed Church, the failure of Christian institutions in this country to which I and we belong, to call the previous regime to book exactly on the obedience on that, on the question of obedience to that higher norm.
Democracy I say in itself will not save us. Hitler came to power through democracy. Pending on how one defines democracy, the apartheid State presented itself as a democracy of the Rossouw kind, a Volks democracy, Afrikaner churches, Afrikaner schools, Afrikaner universities in the days of the Reddingsdaadbond, even Afrikaner rugby.
The Afrikaner volk was identified with the Afrikaner State and the State encompassed all the other civil institutions. Afrikaners idealised their volk as embodied in the State.
Thus the Afrikaner churches, universities and other institutions acted as no more than limbs, the hands, the feet, the brain of the volk and the State.
Afrikaner churches married couples or refused to according to the unjustibles of the State. It remained silent when the black members who worked, paid taxes and obeyed the law, were denied their civil rights. They even justified this denial theologically.
It did not protest while blacks were living and working in such circumstances that family life collapsed. It sanctioned white greed through the theological justification of apartheid and remained silent mostly about its atrocious execution.
Let me just mention two examples of wilful cooperation between church and State. Young men who had just completed their studies for the ministry were conscripted into military service, in the chaplaincy services and there were references to that already during the past three days.
In spite of Reformed Church law, which places every minister under supervision of a local church council, almost nothing if anything was done, to protect these young men from the pressures of the total onslaught ideology espoused by their officers. The church did nothing to protect the few of them who dared to ask critical questions and landed themselves in serious trouble.
The second example, a few people in Potchefstroom following up on the national initiative for reconciliation in the 1980's and I suffer from a little bit of premature (indistinct), I cannot remember exactly when in the 1980's and I ask the Archbishop who was involved, but he couldn't help me either.
Those people in Potchefstroom started an initiative to provide study space for black matriculants in the afternoons during the unrest of the 1980's. They requested to use church halls and church buildings from Afrikaans churches in town. Direct communication from the Security Forces and I was a member of one such church council, there was a member of the Security Forces as an elder there, who came up with this story, branded this action as communist inspired because the national initiative for reconciliation, that was the origin of it and of course those were aligned to the communists, and no church council in Potchefstroom was prepared and I am referring to all three of the major Afrikaans churches, was prepared to supply such space.
The ideological blindness was so strong that the elders and ministers totally overlooked the fact that a black matriculant who did use this opportunity, was in fact jeopardising the short term aims of the struggle, how this could be communist inspired, I cannot figure out.
Pleading that we did not know about the atrocities being committed, is simply not valid. Enough persons were supposed to have jumped out of a window at John Vorster Square or died in some other strange ways, for us to have had to ask ourselves the question about the Police methods of interrogation and to have concluded that Steve Biko was not the only one ever to have been killed in Police custody.
And we surely knew what powers had been conferred by the Security legislation and the state of emergency on young men of 18 and 19 years old indoctrinated to see citizens calling for dignified treatment, as their enemies.
We took young men, we gave them guns and we instituted a state of emergency so we made them judges. They could apply the death penalty and they could execute it and they could do so in split second or in 30 seconds, on the spot. That is what the state of emergency implied, they could shoot.
We knew that if we did not know the details of what happened inside, either by silence or explicit support, reformed Afrikaner people acted in complicity with the State. Both academics and ministers who spoke out were few and far between.
Philosophically and theologically we in the reformed tradition, have no excuse either. We have a clear and good tradition of social criticism, based on two principles. All societal institutions are equally subject to God's law and societal institutions should guard their independence conscientiously so as to fulfil their own particular tasks and to witness prophetical to all of society about that law.
Our cosy relationship with the apartheid State went against our very reformed understanding of society. I am a member of the Reformed Churches who finally decided to denounce apartheid as a sin and its theological justification as a heresy but then, did it systematically start to oppose this sin and heresy amongst its own members, was any member ever reprimanded, any theologian called to book for voting for this policy or providing biblical support for this doctrine?
As far as I know, the answer is no. The sinner decided not to confess at least, not here before the TRC. This makes Prof Meiring's question how to get the Afrikaans churches on board the reconciliation process, very acute.
In part the problem lies in our discourse. In a sense we allow them to be separate by using the discourse of separation. There are in fact no Afrikaans or Afrikaner churches, all of them have black members too.
Getting reformed Afrikaners on board the reconciliation process, can be the product of a loving confrontation by their own black members. What does this all mean for the future?
Firstly without a real confession which shows a change of heart, we have a credibility problem. We want to do our civil duty whatever valid critical contributions we can make, will be read in terms of the sins of our past.
It is possible since the apartheid State touched on every aspect of life, it was a totalitarian State that presently we feel seduced into intervening from the side of the present democratic State into every aspect of life so as to transform it, which may if we are not careful, bring us back to the position of a State which intervenes in every aspect of life, but we can only tackle this problem at least from the side of the reformed Afrikaners if we have come clean on having done the same sin.
One reformed colleague, a theologian has criticised us for confessing and I am not referring to him in order to answer him directly, but in order to point to an attitude. He was calling this confession which my colleague Bennie van der Walt read, referring to old cows. Most of you know the Afrikaans expression "ou koeie uit die sloot grawe". If an old cow falls into the trench, well, then let her stay in the mud and die there, why dig her up?
He wants us rather to tackle the present government, focusing on corruption, incompetence and crime. I shiver at these expressions. It is an insult to the bereaved families, those murdered in atrocious ways, those who became the objects of suspicion and even necklacing. It is also an insult to bereaved parents, wives, who lost husbands and sons in military service, not knowing where and how, while we as Afrikaners were pretending to practise a foreign policy of non-intervention and non-interference in our neighbours' affairs.
Our critics wants us to attack the government for crime, corruption, incompetence otherwise he says we shall have to confess again very soon in the future. I fear he is both wrong and right.
He is wrong in since the past is very much still with us in its consequences and alive. There is no such thing as old cows in the trench. And also wrong about having to confess in future, since we already have to confess that we are failing and are insensitive about getting to grips with the present consequences of the past.
The past is very much alive in the demographic distribution of our church members and its geographical delineation of congregations.
The extremely poor are still hidden in the township congregations, while the deacons who do have the means to support them, are concentrated in the white congregations.
I have not yet seen any theological rethinking, also not by our colleague, who is a theologian, I am not of the office of deacon in a multi-cultural geographically divided society although cultural prejudice is at the very heart of the institution of the office of deaconship in the New Testament.
Family life has been destructed by the conditions of life under apartheid. The destruction of (indistinct) of morality is part of our present crime and greed problem. The Apostle Paul recognised the independence of family life when he encouraged Christian wives not to divorce their pagan husbands. All of us have to help emancipate family life as a healthy form of social life, not to be swallowed up by church or State.
We have to support it and not just break it up, even if we don't like polygamy from the side of womens' rights, we cannot just tell polygamist's wife to divorce.
I have seen and signed petitions against our liberal abortion laws but our responsibility for family planning, does not end with petitioning the government. How about the churches putting their deeds where their words are, providing shelters and or schooling for pregnant women who might otherwise consider abortion as the only option?
We are critical, so am I when government interferes with parental controls over their children's education. But thousands of teachers are out of their jobs. Why do we, Christians not hire some of those teachers to teach our children?
If private Christian schools at a fair cost ever had a chance of success, they do now. By taking the responsibility for the education of our children upon ourselves, those who have the means, the government does not only save on school places for the poorest of poor, but also costly control mechanisms.
Part of our divisions of the past came from the way in which Afrikaners tried to protect their cultural heritage. Is exclusivity the only way because we are struggling in some institutions with this? Isn't it time to swop the roles and protect not our own cultural heritage, but that of others and thus create goodwill for our own?
We cry that socialism works nowhere when government intervenes in economic life for the sake of affirmative action and I am nearly finished, Your Grace.
It is a well-known fact that even in hi-tech Japan the bulk of employment comes from small and mini businesses. Where are the Christian businessmen who will train mini entrepreneurs, help them to tools and contract them into their manufacturing line, so that they have a market for their products.
One last remark, government totalitarianism is not the only god, social god on the horizon. Late capitalist competitive totalitarianism is already wreaking havoc in our country. We tend to, we seem to say well if the government cannot do it, then the market can and will, competition will care for us.
We are too happy atheist socialism failed, so competitive totalism must then be the Christian answer. The economy gains investment, the GMP grows, yet unemployment grows too. Suicide amongst young people is on the increase. Selfishness, corruption and greed crimes abound.
Yet, we blindly serve the capitalist god. A new kind of elitism develops. Those that can afford sophisticated technology are well off, the rest are without merit and not competitive enough.
It covers a new racism, poverty and being left behind in the market go together and more or less overlap with the racial divide.
We see no resistance or even analysis of this brutal philosophy from Christians yet, I hope that we will soon see it come.
Thank you Honourable Commissioners for having listened to us. We represent nobody accept that which we believe in.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much Professors and we are grateful for some of the analysis that you have provided. We will take aboard what you have given us and your comments are apt and I think that we need to take account of it just in case we come over euphoric, because of what has in fact taken place here. Thank you very much, you may step down.
Just before we close, I want again to express our deep appreciation to all of those who made submissions to the TRC and those of you who have taken the trouble to come and responded to our invitation to appear at this hearing.
We are grateful for the audiences that we have had over these three days. We thank pastor Chris Venter and the people, let me repeat that, we are enormously grateful to them for having provided us with a venue for the service on Sunday and made available this venue for our meeting.
Thank you to the translators sitting behind the booth there, they have been wonderful. We are enormously grateful to you for your own particular ministry. Maybe we should give you a small hand I think. And thank you to the technicians, you have acquired a substantial presence inside here and we wouldn't be able to manage without you. Maybe we will give you a hand too.
Thank you to the people who have been the caterers, they have done a wonderful job of work, we thank them. Maybe clap them too.
Thanks to my colleagues of the TRC, the regional convenor of this region and those who have been working with him, the Committee members here and a very special thank you to the staff, TRC staff in this region. You have been marvellous. We are enormously grateful to you. If you don't clap for them, then I will - I wanted also to say thank you to the media who have helped to communicate what has been taking place here.
I want to come back to that just in a little while but I want to remind people that December, the 14th is the date when we stop receiving statements from people who believe they have suffered violations, gross violations of their human rights. It is important and if you will please communicate this message to people that access to reparation can happen only because you have filled our protocol form, the TRC protocol form.
If you have not done so, you have still got some time, nearly a month but as it happens, I think December the 14th, is a Sunday, so in fact you have only up to December the 12th, Friday.
If you will please spread this as widely as you can because we want, we don't want anyone who might have a legitimate cause to be eligible for reparation, to miss out on that reparation because they did not fill or provide us with a statement on our protocol form.
I just wanted to say again that the media have been usually very splendid in helping to communicate the work of the TRC, but especially we would hope that they will have honed their skills in order to communicate what has taken place here over these three days because it has been something quite extraordinary.
I am quite certain that if people out there were aware of the movement of God's spirit here, the attitude of the different faith communities and the different denominations, if they were aware of just how people have humbled themselves before the Lord, and received an influx of the Spirit, the things that we are talking about of people being hostile towards the Commission, opposing the Commission, those people might perhaps have a change in their attitude and in their mindset.
But those of you who have been here, might also be apostles. Go out and tell what the Lord has done here because it is ultimately really as people hear that this thing. It has never been a witch hunt, especially not a witch hunt against the Afrikaner, but it has never been a witch hunt against anybody.
It is an organisation, a body that has sought to discover the truth not in order to prosecute anybody. To discover the truth so that we might make a contribution towards the healing of our land, to discover the truth so that we might be able to say this we commit ourselves, is something we will never allow to happen again.
So, thank you very much all of you and we thank God. Let us pray.
COMMISSION ENDS WITH PRAYERS.
REV MGOJO: We thank you for Your Word, Lord, that sustains us. We have seen Your greatness, Your holiness. You have done great, mighty things for us as weak as we are, bowing down to the flesh full of sin, but you oh Lord, never lets us down.
Lord, I pray that the miracles that we have seen on the mountain of East London, we may take them with us. Almighty God, you are the power. What a mighty God we have in you. Bless us now Lord as we go to preach this good gospel to our different communities as a witness of a journey to a new South Africa.
These things we ask in the great name of Our Lord, Jesus Christ who is the only sovereign God, amen.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
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