Lack of reparations clouds end of truth and reconciliation commission

Lack of reparations clouds end of truth and reconciliation commission

By staff writers
24 Mar 2003

Absence of reparations clouds end of reconciliation commission

-24/3/2002

One of the most painful chapters of South Africaís history has drawn to a close as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the former chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), handed over the final volumes of the Commissionís report to the government on the countryís Human Rights Day.

Marking the end of seven years work by the Commission, which was set up by Nelson Mandela, for months from 1996 community halls, assembly rooms and offices were the venues for the commissionís hearings.

Thousands of people appeared in public and on national television and radio, some of them even facing the people who tortured them, abducted their children, or killed their loved ones. Thousands more gave interviews which were transcribed and recorded for the archive.

In exchange for recounting their terrible experiences during the apartheid era, people classed as victims were promised reparations for what apartheid did to them. However, this promise has so far not been fulfilled, threatening the reputation and the ultimate success of the commission.

More than 1,000 perpetrators who admitted their crimes were also offered amnesty in exchange for the truth. They received their amnesty immediately, leaving victims who are still waiting for their money feeling cheated.

Archbishop Tutu and his commissioners have recommended £240m would cover the cost of the reparation payments for more than 20,000 victims - an average of £12,000 each. While the ANC government, which started the whole TRC process, says it has money put aside for payments, the reserve runs to only £75m, around £3,750 each.

Tutu believes the full amount should be paid quickly. Handing over the final report at the grand Union Buildings in Pretoria, the seat of South Africaís government, he said: "Our deepest gratitude must go to those who have been designated victims. They have waited long, too long, for their reparations. As a nation we have a legal, but more importantly, a moral obligation to honour paying reparations."

The government will debate the final report next month and will decide on its reparation policy from there, but a group known as ìKhulumaniî, Zulu for "speak up" that represents the victims believes it is coming too late and doubts the governmentís commitment to paying up.

Payments should have been made when the interim report was handed over two years ago, but a court case brought by the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) delayed publication of the final report. The government said it would wait until that was delivered before it would look at any reparations.

One of the most painful chapters of South Africaís history has drawn to a close as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the former chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), handed over the final volumes of the Commissionís report to the government on the countryís Human Rights Day.

Marking the end of seven years work by the Commission, which was set up by Nelson Mandela, for months from 1996 community halls, assembly rooms and offices were the venues for the commissionís hearings.

Thousands of people appeared in public and on national television and radio, some of them even facing the people who tortured them, abducted their children, or killed their loved ones. Thousands more gave interviews which were transcribed and recorded for the archive.

In exchange for recounting their terrible experiences during the apartheid era, people classed as victims were promised reparations for what apartheid did to them. However, this promise has so far not been fulfilled, threatening the reputation and the ultimate success of the commission.

More than 1,000 perpetrators who admitted their crimes were also offered amnesty in exchange for the truth. They received their amnesty immediately, leaving victims who are still waiting for their money feeling cheated.

Archbishop Tutu and his commissioners have recommended £240m would cover the cost of the reparation payments for more than 20,000 victims - an average of £12,000 each. While the ANC government, which started the whole TRC process, says it has money put aside for payments, the reserve runs to only £75m, around £3,750 each.

Tutu believes the full amount should be paid quickly. Handing over the final report at the grand Union Buildings in Pretoria, the seat of South Africaís government, he said: "Our deepest gratitude must go to those who have been designated victims. They have waited long, too long, for their reparations. As a nation we have a legal, but more importantly, a moral obligation to honour paying reparations."

The government will debate the final report next month and will decide on its reparation policy from there, but a group known as ìKhulumaniî, Zulu for "speak up" that represents the victims believes it is coming too late and doubts the governmentís commitment to paying up.

Payments should have been made when the interim report was handed over two years ago, but a court case brought by the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) delayed publication of the final report. The government said it would wait until that was delivered before it would look at any reparations.

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