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Type REPARATION & REHABILITATION COMMITTEE TRANSCRIPTS
Starting Date 10 May 1997
Names Mayor M.L. Mapoula; REV NYAMA; Mr Tjol Lategan; Mr M.C. Mahudu; Yvette Wilkens; Karen du Toit; DEAN FARISANI
MAYOR MAPOULA: We thank Reverend Nyama and we thank the organizers of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Firstly, I would like to correct one thing I am Mr M.L. Mapoula but if you look on the programme you will see it is written O.J. Mapoula. I didnít even know that it was myself.
Iím telling the truth as to who I am because this Commission is for the truth and we even have to put the two names so that when you are going to speak the truth the whole proceeding should be about truth, by so saying I thank you. I thank all these people who have assembled here because the Commission has asked you to assemble here in Pietersburg which is the city of this Province. I understand that sons and daughters of Africa have assembled here today in this process of exposing what they did and what was done to them previously so that in our Country we are ultimately able to say, like myself who has been hiding and doing things underground, I should expose my actions and come forward and say I confess because I did wrong things or somebody has committed violations against me.
In the Bible it explains that people should confess their sins whilst they are still alive because on the last day we will not have the opportunity to confess. I use these words to welcome you because if you try to lie you should know that this lie does not only kill the nation, it kills you as well because on the last day that lie will be counted against you. My fellow citizens I welcome you with these few words that this road for reconciliation makes us confess what we have done in the past because itís not a sin to confess or to expose what you have done in the background.
God will be with you and by so saying I say, may this proceeding be under the control of God and that God should be in your minds and in your hearts so that you will be able to tell the truth in order for our proceedings go ahead smoothly because we usually say South Africa has done miracles. In the whole world we have never seen what has happened in South Africa now. By so saying I say please, come forward and tell us the truth donít be surprised at our visitors. It is possible for us to tell the truth because our history was made of conflicts. May God be with you and build the South African rainbow nation.
I thank you all and by so saying I am saying I am not going to waste time, Iím killing two birds with one stone but Iíd like you to feel welcome so that you can tell the truth in full by so saying. Thank you.
REV NYAMA: Thank you for the correction Mayor I thought maybe we need to speak the truth to show that we are in the true process that is why you started to correct it. Thank you very much for that correction.
May I take a moment to introduce our visitors or our Committee in the TRC. First of all weíve got someone who is dealing with the Reparation and Rehabilitationís Committee and he is Professor Piet Meiring who is a Reparation and Rehabilitation Committee Member. I would like him to stand up for a short while to let Africa know him. Thank you. The second person in the same Committee of Reparation and Rehabilitation is our brother Tom Manthata.
The other person that we have is also a Professor, Professor Janis Grobbelaar who is an Information Manager in the TRC. Now we have a person who is controlling this area, not Pietersburg, this area of the Truth Commission who is Hlengiwe Mkhize, the Chairperson of the TRC. Thank you.
The other staff that we have is the beautiful lady down there by the name of Zena Richards who is the one who is issuing these mikes so you might have greeted her already. The other people that we have from the TRC is our people outside there at the table, those people who are helping you with information and also some leaflets. They are also staff of the TRC and I would like to say thank you to everybody who is here, the media and yourselves.
We do have people who will be in the panel like Mr Lategan, the Mayor and then the rest. You will see them when they come up to the stage. I would also like to welcome people from the Council of Churches, South African Council of Churches and also the Northern Province Council of Churches for being with us in this TRC. We are now moving to the second item which is the purpose of the workshop and this be given by Mr T. Manthata. Thank you Mr Manthata.
MR MANTHATA: Thank you Mr Chairman, thatís Reverend Nyama. The Mayor has already left but I thank him. I thank Mr Lategan and a few dignitaries that we have and of course I thank each one of you. Let it be noted that each one of you matter. We greet you all.
The purpose of this exercise is by and large to make or to find out whether people understand what the new political dispensation is all about. The main thing with our new democracy as we commonly call it, is the awareness of human rights and to start a culture of observance and respect of human rights. To do this successfully we must find out from the people what the past years were like and what those years mean to them. We commonly call them years of conflict which is true because there was a conflict of human rights, respect and observance. People were fighting to have human rights restored to each one of us in this country, so the whole exercise of the TRC having been that we now come to the communities to find out what their experiences have been during this period of making statements to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, this period of having public hearings.
We are saying this so that we can be better guided by you collectively and at the same time we can be better guided by the focus groups that exist within our communities. By the focus groups we refer to those groups that are functional and operative within our communities, for example we know that in rural areas of ours like this some of the key focus groups would be the Chiefs which we call traditional leaders. We would like to find out from the Chiefs what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission said to them and what impact it has had on them.
We even have some of the focus groups such as those that may be looked down upon with shame and fear and yet they exist within our ranks that is, the groups of the witch-doctor. Right through our hearings we had people referring to these people, which gave the TRC the impression that they exist within our communities. What then has the Truth and Reconciliation Commission meant to them?
So it is with quite a number whether it be the youths, the women and by and large the business sector. We talk about the political organisations that is ANC, PAC, AZAPO, the Nationalist Party, the Freedom Front and all those kinds of groups. We speak about the Churches where, perhaps in our area here we have some of the strongest churches like the Zion Christian Church. What impact has the Truth and Reconciliation Commission had on them? What impact has the testimonies of each one of us had on them? Have these things touched them and if so, what kind of action are they demanding or requesting from the TRC in response?
So, the main issue that were are involved in today is to hear, to get it from those people and we want to focus on those groups because these are almost like a water current within the communities who understand what the communities are like. Who, because they have certain duties to perform or to do within the communities, the impact that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has had on them will invariably mean they either change or they speed up. This is what this whole exercise is about, the impact that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has had on you, more especially on how you understand the violations of human rights. That is, you cannot just understand the human rights in isolation, you must understand the human rights insofar as they are either respected or they are violated.
We want to learn from you people about these things and of course the thrust too does not only end up with the knowledge of the human rights whether violated or respected but at the same time, where they have been violated. We are gearing towards reconciliation so these focus groups should by and large be able to guide us in the process of reconciliation. A person who lives in isolation, not because he wants to but simply because he has too many things to do, will rely or depend by and large on those groups whenever he needs them.
Itís like a person who is at work the whole week but on Sunday he goes back to the Church. He would love to learn from the Church what has been happening right through the week that has relevance to his way of life, that has relevance to his peace of mind. Therefore we are saying at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that we are to make recommendations to your Government and those recommendations should come from you people. What is it you want your Government to do for you by way of respect of human rights?
Let me go that far hoping that once we understand this we will be able to raise relevant questions, we will even be able to adjust the demands of the people insofar as we manage to pick them up as focus groups within our communities. We expect each one of you who represents the groups that they come from to please represent those groups properly, to give us their aspirations, the fears and the expectations of those groups in the light of what has been said and done by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in your communities. Thank you Mr Chairman.
REV NYAMA: Thank you brother Tom. Iím sure everybody in this hall understood what is expected from him or her and Iím hoping that everybody will participate accordingly. Can we now go on to the next item?
I heard that tea will be served inside this hall while we are busy so when you are drinking that tea please do it quietly and continue with the dayís work at the same time. We wonít be able to stop for a tea break, weíll only have a lunch break. Whilst having tea we should continue participating because we are running late. Weíll now go on to the third topic which is the process of the TRC and Miss Mkhize will lead us.
MISS MKHIZE: Thank you very much Chair. I would like to greet all of you and I would just like to make a small correction. The Chairperson of our Commission is the Most Reverend Archbishop Desmond Tutu and I am the Chairperson of one of the Committees within the Commission.
As a Commissioner, I will add to what Tom has already said, we are really grateful that you have again assembled here to share your experiences with us. Given the fact that today is the deadline for one of our Committees the Amnesty Committee. In giving you the update of our work I would like to inform you that the Amnesty Committee is a very, very important Committee of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It is the Committee which gives the opportunity to people who perpetrated human rights violations, in other words people who participated in the killings and murders of other people, people who tortured other people, people who somehow offended other peopleís rights within a political context, to take this opportunity of applying for amnesty by making a full disclosure of what they did, giving their motive and their perspective. If you know that you fall within that category it will really be to your advantage to make a statement today.
Our offices are open all over the country until midnight and staff members will be in these offices of the Truth Commission until about midnight so we are calling all people to come forward and assist.
If I may just share with you, since my task is to reflect on the process, since we started we have benefited a great deal through the works of the Committee. Already in Kwa Zulu Natal weíve had re-burials, in other words people who were murdered and families didnít know what had happened to them because someone else responded to the call and applied for amnesty within the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and investigations were done. They, in their endeavour to make a full disclosure even showed the Commission where they murdered and buried thirteen people. At least families could see the bones of people whom they didnít know what had happened to although the reactions clearly showed that people were hurting and they were angry but because of the work of this Committee those families have had the opportunity to give their loved ones a burial. We participated in that burial and the President of this country participated as well. The value of that is that those people the survivors and the families will rest in peace.
We have as a Committee seen in action that there is a value in coming forward and assisting those who are in the dark as to what happened to their loved ones. Through the work of this Amnesty Committee I will mention another example again in the area of Kwa Zulu Natal. One of the people who had applied and was granted amnesty for what he did in that area has gone back to try to talk to the community. He wanted to do something to make a contribution in that community and although that was a difficult process we see it as one of the important things that we are looking for in this country that communities which were divided, communities which were left hurting deeply over the years can begin to heal so as to be part of this reconstruction and democracy that my brother on my right, Tom was talking about. So that is the reason why, we have seen the benefits of this work and we really appeal to you, adding to what the Archbishop has been doing for the whole week, asking people to come forward.
Since we started within the Commission of the Human Rights Violations, most of you have been part of it and we are beginning to see the fruits of the work of the Human Rights Violations Committee in the sense that we have realized that many young people also suffered a great deal in the past. We learnt from the statements which people made saying this is what happened to me, this is what happened to my son, this is what happened to my child and again it has taught us to even look at children and young people who were affected. Just having those special hearings is important in the sense that it will give us an opportunity to work with communities and work out what should be done for them to heal again and begin being part of communities.
We have also learnt from your statements that women in some instances suffered as women. There were people who were tortured like people who were detained and told that your child has died and later told that your child is being buried, only to fund that they were just hurting you deeply and that your child has survived. Some women were raped and some women were tortured and insulted. All those things have taught us that in this process of the Commission we must look at Human Rights Violations which were done to women as women and the value of what people might not see now. At the end of it all we are expected to write a report which will assist the President of this country to make sure that these things are not part of our country again.
At this point in time we have about ten thousand statements of people who have come forward telling their stories of what happened to them during the dark years is 1960 to 1994 and we are still appealing to people to co-operate with people who are taking statements in different parts of the country. Even here our Chairperson who is sitting with us is one of the people who is assisting in this region with the co-ordination of the statement taking progress and thatís also very, very important.
As we are saying we have ten thousand people but it might happen that in this area alone there are far more people who were murdered, there are far more people who were tortured, who were detained for political reasons and who suffered a great deal mainly because of their political beliefs. So for all those people it will be important to continue making statements. Itís only the one Committee making statements which ends today, the other one, where you come forward and say I was hurt or I was injured, is going to continue for a few more months so we still encourage you to come forward.
The other unit of the Commission, the Investigating Unit also has helped a great deal in terms of assisting the Commission in looking for more information. If a person has come forward telling us what happened to him or her itís always helpful to refer that statement to the Investigating Unit who will look for more information on whatever might be known because as you know as these things were happening in the dark and they were happening in private. Even family members come with very little so this Committee continues to do good work even looking at what happened in the borders of South Africa because as you know some people were murdered in the borders of South Africa.
The mandate of the Reparations and Rehabilitations Committee which we represent today is to really assist the Government as to thinking about what should be done for those people who have come forward and told their stories, who have shared their suffering following what they went through. The big question always is, what do you do for them where do you start giving ... of suffering in our community resulting from the political order of the time from 1960 to 1994?
For us as a Committee we really have no easy solutions, thatís part of the reason why we visit communities as we are doing today to dialog with communities to get their perspectives. We have done that in quite a number of areas, we have met with different groups, we have met with people who have suffered, we have looked at what people say in their statements and we have began to make sense of what we can send to the Government. In all fairness we are beginning to communicate it to the public.
One of the things we have negotiated up until last week is that the Government assist by setting a desk which will look at people and see how they can be assisted, especially those with urgent needs. It is also difficult to think of what will be urgent, given the fact that if one has got needs, needs are needs. We have realized that there are people for instance who, even after the loss of their parents have managed to get education of some kind up to a certain point but for understandable reasons the family can no longer continue supporting that person so we are actually then negotiate with the Government to assist in those cases, to help people access their existing resources.
You must have made a statement of course and you must have been found to be a victim within the Commission, then a letter will be written to you with an explanation of what to do. Local leaders of the Truth Commission will be kept informed of what is happening.
Besides the educational needs, if I may just briefly take you through, some people have got pressing health needs, they need to buy certain equipment for their survival and some people were left in a state whereby they need to be on medication. Again those are the people whom weíve recommended that it would be important for them, once they are found to be victims, to be assisted in one way or another and the body which will be responsible for that we are told is going to be outside the Commission. Itís going to be in the Presidentís office and that for us itís important to communicate so that at least people should know that we are working on the possible assistance for people. I just mentioned two as an example of what needs to be done.
Also of importance is to talk to communities as we are here today to look at what should be done to re-mobilise and re-motivate people to work towards the development of their community and for communities to re-think what can be done for different groups within this society so that people can begin to heal and begin to see themselves as citizens of this area and to benefit from democracy.
Once we get a perspective from people we assist them and share ideas as to how they can negotiate with local leadership with resources to develop whatever programmes which will be ideal in assisting people. For instance in the question of young people, many young people who are involved might be left with no skills and then it becomes imperative for local developers to think of initiatives that can assist in that direction. In some instances young people are left having grown up in a culture of violence and having no alternative skills of dealing with conflict. Once that picture is clearer for the whole community it will then be easier for local leadership to think of ways to de-militarising young people. Those are just some of the examples that one can give.
The same applies to women. It becomes important to look at them and say where did all this leave them? It might have left them with high levels of illiteracy, it might have left them with pain whereby one would need an empowerment group for women to help them to begin to close the past and look at ways of benefiting from whatever initiatives are being introduced in our society today.
One can go on and on thinking of things which can be done and itís our wish that as we get to our perspective today we will somehow channel your thinking and help you to come up helpful programmes because for us as a Commission itís very, very important not to think that when we are called to the Reparations Fund itís a way of encouraging people to be passive. We realize that people who were activists were people of integrity, were people who could do things for themselves.
When we speak of reparations even when we talk in monetary forms the whole idea is to assist people to be on their feet and be able to use whatever theyíre given to strengthen them and empowering them to be able to their things for themselves independently. Thank you.
REV NYAMA: Thank you. I think what we should do is you keep your questions as we will have a minute for asking questions. They are still informing us now of our expectations but we will be given time to ask questions. I thank you for your concern. We will continue to Item 4. Iím not talking about the programme which you have because itís not the same programme as I have. Item 4 as it is in my programme will be given by Professor Piet Meiring in terms of the Focus Group Report. Thank you Piet.
PROF. MEIRING: Thank you very much, we have had a few things on the table in front of us already and if you think of it as a meal today, weíve had the preliminary stuff but the main course is now on the table. We wanted to present you with some information of the Truth Commission where we are at the moment but the main course, the most important part of todayís work is that we would like to hear from you what the Truth Commission means to you.
We want to hear what the perceptions are in the community of the Truth Commission so that when we go home we would like to have a number of notes on what Pietersburg and the communities around Pietersburg think of the Truth Commission. That also answers the question about questions.
What we would like to do now is ask a number of people from the community to give an input representing different sides of the community and I think we have to do it in this way, Iím firstly going to call upon Mr Tjol Lategan who has a very specific input to make. After he has spoken let us allow a number of minutes for a reaction from us, the panel. It may be that some of the panelists would like to ask him a number of questions just leaning more information from what he has said. If some of you would like to interact and ask a question you may do that and then we will handle the questions as they come.
We have a number of people who represent groups of the community. We have on our list Mayor Moshuana but I donít know whether heís arrived yet. Please tell me if you have arrived. He is not here yet but as he comes we will invite him to speak. We have Mr Lategan here who will try to interpret to us what the community thinks of the Truth Commission. Am I right? That is what he would say.
Then we have Dean Farisani who is here already. He will speak for the Churches is that correct? Is Dean Farisani here already? Not yet. We will give him a chance when he comes. At twelve oíclock Mrs Preller over there will fetch two young High School students from Pietersburg who are working this morning but they know that we need them at twelve oíclock. At twelve oíclock two young White students will come and they will talk a little bit about their views of the past but especially their views on the future and on the Truth Commission and what it means to them.
Then we have a group, a representative also from the youth from Jane Furse, Mr M.C. Mahudu. Is he here already? Thank you. Weíll ask you to speak and interpret your communityís views and we would like to interact on that. I also have a representative of the Chiefs in the area. Where is he? We will allow time when he comes. We will go through our list but the whole idea is that people open windows to us, to the Pietersburg community and the communities surrounding Pietersburg, telling us what is living in the hearts of the people as we are very interested to hear that.
First on our list is Mr Tjol Lategan who to most of you is quite well known. Mr Lategan is a local politician and we would very much like to hear what he says. Thank you very much for coming, please make yourself at home at the table and address us please.
MR LATEGAN: Honourable Chairperson, members of the Truth Commission, the Chairperson of this meeting and ladies and gentlemen let me say at the outset it is a privilege to be with you this morning and itís more so a privilege to speak and say a few words especially from the perspective of the community that I belong to, that is the White community. Having lived here for my entire adult life I know the people very well.
The purpose of todayís get-together as I have been told, is to seek ways and means to heal the wounds inflicted by apartheid on the people of this province. Iíve been asked to say something of the impact violations have had and the fears of the White communities or attitudes which need to be changed to achieve that goal and with specific reference to the fears and complaints of the White community. To do as Iím requested is rather a daunting task having myself been labeled by my own people in the past as a sell-out or even sometimes as a communist for trying to reform the views of my own people. In the past and this is well known, I pleaded for simple human rights.
I can go on by giving details of how I was even discriminated against but would like to refrain from doing so for the very reason of maintaining ties and to proceed with that task of reformers both in the Black and in the White communities. May I just pause here for a while by saying Sir that in the olden days I used to give just about all my time to the White community trying to reform them and their way of thinking and now all of a sudden I find myself in the Black community doing the very same thing again but for another purpose this time.
Before one can understand the present position or before you can find solutions for the future I think one needs to understand the past. This is where it is difficult for me because I am to give you a perspective of the White community by not agreeing with what has happened in the past but yet to get you to understand what motivated the White community and the voters more specific for doing, saying and acting as they did. May I also say that I tried to get some of my colleagues who are to right of myself to come but I failed to get them here. As a matter of fact I think Iím the only White person here this morning in the audience but Iím glad to be. What Iím trying to say to you is Iím giving you a perspective of the past.
Firstly we need to analyse and to realize that the democracy of this Province dictates that only a small number of White people eventually settled in the North. By and large they were the people who wanted to get as far away as possible from the British domination and that is why they went as far as this and some of them even went further. Some of them went into Africa and to Namibia because they wanted to get as far away as possible from British domination.
The tragic events of several clashes between them and the indigenous people as well as the Anglo Boer War and their complete outnumbering had the result that the majority of the White population closed ranks and eventually became the bedrock of Right Wing politics in this region. I would want to say that in South Africa one also needs to understand that at the beginning of the century the Afrikaner more in particular, faced the very same plight as the Black people are facing today.
Maybe my friends donít know this but extreme poverty, the aftermath of two wars fought over years, entire families being wiped out, depravation, the language and culture being fased out of extinction, left some marks on the White community and especially in the Afrikaner. Iím talking about a century ago and subsequent events hence when we got the political power we eventually misused it. Iím saying political power tends to bring out the worst in people, misuse or abuse of power.
The further reason that strengthened that tendency is what happened up North in Africa, that is after Uhuru when great numbers of White and Asian people left Africa bringing along with them tales of revolution, of violence, of corruption and destruction. In this Province we were the first recipients of such perception. I donít say itís the truth, Iím saying what they have been telling us coming through Beit Bridge. As a result the political attitude of the White community hardened fearing that a system of one man one vote will have the same effect on their lives whenever the issue of reform was on the table.
The fact that landmines started to explode had a further hardening effect on the White community, hence it was the only region in South Africa where there was a no vote twice when we had to vote on reform.
Chairperson, Iíve spent almost all my adult life trying to persuade White people that all the people living in South Africa are citizens of this country and to accept the logical consequences of such a reality. That has brought deep division in the White community especially in this Province. Politics beset every fibre of our community, in our schools, in our Churches, in our agricultural unions, in our cultural organisations, every bit of the community got politicized and polarized. Sir, I never abandoned my own people, I stayed with them helping them through the difficult times of reform firstly because it was my duty and also because I love them. Iíve never been a broker or an advocate for the Right Wing tendencies yet if my Black friends want to understand the past, they need to understand what the cause of these Right Wing tendencies were.
If you ask me to summarise it in one word I need to say it was fear but racial discrimination one also must understand, was not invented in 1948 it was only formalized into a policy in 1948. Let me also say to you that to be able to escape from apartheid and from the past was even more difficult than to have created it because life itself as we all know, is a continuous process of reform and it cannot be and will never be a one-off business. The ability of a nation to reform is there for a limited time. A Government can only do as much as it is allowed to do by itís followers.
History is full of examples where a Government speeded up the process of reform too much and as a result of that losing power to conservatives. Let me remind you that the most recent example is what has happened in Israel a year or two ago when the new Right Wing Government of ... came into power and we know what is happening there now.
May I use the best example that I can think of which was said by Christ and Iím using this as an example to prove the truth of what Iím saying and the message that I want to carry over. When Christ was on earth the practice of slavery was an accepted practice and we know how wrong it is yet he never pleaded for the system to end. You can go through his preaches, his preaching on human dignity however resulted as slaves being regarded as human beings. He knew that if he had gone too fast he would have achieved just the opposite. Iím saying God knows that there are limitations to the speed of reform. Iím saying this to this audience today to explain to them why it took so long to get rid of apartheid.
Therefore in judging history our Black citizens must realize what could have happened if Right Wing freaks got the power in the Republic of South Africa and we fear, we genuinely fear such an eventuality. Iím saying this and in saying this Iím not trying to justify one bit of the atrocities committed by either side, Iím just saying this or trying to illustrate how difficult the road of the reformist and a true reformist is.
Sir, even today we are not escaping from the consequences of more and more reform because we havenít reached the end of the road yet but let us learn from past experiences and mistakes that have already been made and please, let us not repeat it. Attitudes and perceptions are created as a result of exposures over a period of time. White people have reconciled themselves with the fact that an exclusive White Government in this Province is a non-event.
Let me pause here by saying Sir, on Thursday I had to go to Messina to testify in a criminal court case and somebody had to accompany me that also had to give evidence in the same court case so we travelled together. Just to prove how easily one forgets that person travelling with me was the mastermind of the organisation of the AWB in Pietersburg when Pik Botha held his meeting in the Jack Botes Hall that was broken up by the AWB and which was world headlines. We were talking about those times but what struck me was what this gentleman, an ex-prominent member of the AWB said to me. He said that apartheid was a mistake which proves to me that in the extreme Right Wing there is change in their minds and also an admission that the principle of apartheid was wrong.
Attitudes and perceptions as Iíve said is therefore something that needs and will be changed only by time and exposure to new sets of facts. I must also say that Iím sad to say that in many White circles I note a tendency of negativism or even a despondency. Iím talking about this Province. They seclude and withdraw themselves into their own little corners and want nothing to do with public life anymore and their absence here is the final proof of what Iím saying yet we must understand that. I maintain that this will and could be overcome in time but that will need a great effort. Government also needs to be wary not to repeat the mistakes of the past and Iím going to name a few.
As Iíve already indicated the previous Government was abusing political power and I repeat it, that must not happen again. Blacks will know what the effect of job reservation had on them and how they rightfully hated that system. In this Province we see that capable, willing good men and women are manipulated out of their jobs in the name of Affirmative Action and we need to say that we must to be careful with that. Black people should know how bad it was when political parties which they have favoured were harassed and that was wrong. Political intolerance I say is not in place yet in this country. Multi-party democracy must come to itís full bearing.
The state of the Provincial Administration is a matter of great concern for all of us as non service delivery could cause conflict. Lack of experience and managerial skills is a threat that can upset the process, it could turn us into a third world country and it has an effect of inter-group relation.
Lastly, extremism or fundamentalism has never solved problems. Politics more that ideologies were the prime drivers of the past wrongs and Iím saying you canít say to a jobless hungry person have a bit of politics and be happy. My call therefore on the White community remains to get involved. I say without fear of contradiction that the vast majority of our Black people in this Province are good God fearing people like all of us. Many of them are illiterate, have no or little experience in or of the demands of the modern society and the modern Government and they are poor.
Sir, like St Paul heard a voice of a man in Masedonio pleading for help, we as Christians shall if we listen carefully hear the voice of a fellow human being crying out for help and I say donít let them down. I therefore call on our White community to get to know your fellow Black citizen soon you will find that their needs, their aspirations, their problems and their hopes are the very same as yours even across political divisions. They are also worried about the future, they donít want you, the White people to leave the Province. As a matter of fact many of them come to me and say they pin their hopes on us as well.
There comes a time when we must say goodbye to apartheid in our minds and although there are cultural differences between Black and White it should not deter us from breaking finally with the past and I say not enough is being done to overcome this. I want to call and make a specific call on our Churches, the White Churches or the so-called White Churches and many, many of the organisations to foster the idea of breaking the shackles that kept us apart in the past. There is no future for the Afrikaner in particular in this Province in the corner of the lonely. In my work as the soul member of the opposition in the Provincial Legislature I set myself a task of nation building and reconciliation and of course to strengthen and entrench those democratic values and principles that need to be in place to secure a better life and reconciliation for all.
Sir we have a wonderful country and we have a beautiful Province, we have everything in our favour. We as the people of this Province must learn to work together. Let us purge our hearts of all the bitterness of differences of the past. A wound must be cleaned before it can be healed otherwise it will keep on festering. Let us cleanse our hearts and our minds and take hands and work together. It is in our hands whether we succeed or not. Let us build a common loyalty towards our country and towards our Province and may God Almighty help us all to heal the wounds of the past. In that process we must go forward on the continued road of reform for the better of all the people. Shall we all pray together Nkosi Sikelele i-Afrka. I thank you.
PROF. MEIRING: Mr Lategan may I say to you from my heart baie dankie, thank you very much but youíre not off the hook yet. If itís okay with you Iím going to allow some of the panelists to ask a question or two or to make a comment if they want to. After that I will allow for one or two questions from the community, from the audience. If you did not have a chance already to ask a question donít worry because as we go on I will invite more and more from the audience to speak but firstly I wonder if some of my colleagues would like to ask any questions. It seems as if Mr Manthata wants to say something.
MR LATEGAN: Sir, I think the continued news of atrocities of the past comes as a shock to many of the White people in circles that I move in. They can hardly believe it because none of us knew about it so it comes as a shock and for the moment I think many of them are denying it. You know one feels half ashamed so the natural reaction is, it takes time to digest and like typical human beings you kill the messenger. Maybe you are the messenger and as a result of that many of the White people see you as the messenger of bad news and I think this is also the reason why you donít see them here.
If I want to be honest I need to say to you I donít think the time is right for the White community to accept the full consequences of a Commission such as yours but people like myself and many others in leading positions are trying to convince them as youíve heard me, to come to reality and see you as an instrument to heal the past. You need to take into cognisance the facts that Iíve given you.
MR MANTHATA: Thank you Sir, I will also try to follow the same question based on what you have said to us as a Commission. The Commission was set up primarily for victims but the major question as you have said is itís not so much as what Government is able to do for those people who lost out the most, itís also looking at a wider society. Iím just trying to think that for those people and some of them are here, when they hear that maybe the White community is not ready, it creates a dilemma for us who are messengers to say itís time now to forgive, itís time now to move on. Itís as if you are applying pressure all the time on victims. It creates a difficulty because if so many people have suffered because of their political order how much time will people need to make a decision to assist those who were injured to move forward. ... (interrupted) Let me complete my question, especially given the approach which was adopted by South Africa because of the Amnesty clause. Even people who are found to be perpetrators are not tortured, are not imprisoned thereís just this gracious arrangement whereby they can be granted amnesty so that becomes a dilemma.
MR LATEGAN: Yes. Chair can I just highlight a few of the things that Iíve said to give perspective to the answer that I want to give. You must realize that in this province, the road that the White community had to travel was much longer than for instance in Gauteng because you had to do with extremism.
I can say by the example that Iíve given you that the vast majority of the White people today realize, as that guy from the AWB said on Thursday, apartheid was a mistake so yes, there was tremendous movements from doing what has happened to where they are today by saying yes it was a mistake sorry it was a mistake. So I say that we need a little bit more time here. There is nothing wrong in the minds of the White people. Where it takes a year in Gauteng here it will take a little bit longer because they had to travel a longer way but the way I see it they are now in the neutral stage where they are busy crossing the Rubicon. They are the late comers in the crossing of the Rubicon but there is nothing wrong with their convictions and they are on the right road. They need help, they need assistance to get through this emotional bridge that they need to go through and all Iím saying is, at this point in time itís difficult for them to accept that in those days there were such atrocities as are being disclosed today.
Only a few of them knew about it but the vast majority knew nothing and it comes as a shock and a lot of us are still suffering from shock and after shock by hearing this kind of evidence so all Iím pleading for is please, we are on the right track but we need time.
PROF GROBBELAAR: Mr Lategan, why didnít you know, why didnít the White people know, why didnít the Afrikaners in Pietersburg know? Surely there is enough evidence to have known particularly since 1976. Can we say that people didnít know because they were so fearful, can that be the only explanation?
MR LATEGAN: Let me say to you that I myself who was prominent in the reformist process, I myself I didnít know. I truly didnít know of what had been happening in the security circles or whatever. How was I supposed to know about it? Either the newspapers needed to have told me about it or the media or whoever knew about it, should have told me. If I donít know that somebody is suffering over there I donít hear him, I donít see him and Iím talking about physically Iím not talking about apartheid, Iím talking about atrocities. How would I know and I could I be expected to know about it if Iím not told. I think thatís all I can say to that.
MR LATEGAN: There were a few exceptions that we know about like Steve Biko but then on the other hand there was the bombing that was the same sort of thing so if I say that we didnít know at all, we knew about Steve Biko but we thought that that was just one of the small little incidents, mistakes, a sort of thing where one guy got out of hand but not by and large and to the extent as it now proves to have been. This is what Iím trying to say to you and you must also remember if you want to change the system, if you want to play a meaningful role in changing the system youíd better be there. There were enough people outside screaming and if you wanted to change it youíd better say it inside and there you could do more.
In particular I remember it so well when the Steve Biko thing was reported and when Jimmy Kruger said that it leaves him cold or something like that because at that time there was a National Party Congress in Pretoria. Somebody says it left him cold if somebody had died. What Iím trying to say to you is that Iím trying to explain that the process of reformation is not an easy process, you can ask me I know it.
PROF MEIRING: The last question from the panel will be from Miss Mkhize then Iím going to invite one question from the floor and then Iím going to invite Mr Mahudu from Jane Furse to take his place at the table but firstly a last question from Miss Mkhize.
MISS MKHIZE: Just one thing from me really, what is it that you think can be done to assist many South Africans to move away from denial that something was wrong with the past? I would say, any one person who was in the country heard about numerous children who were killed in schools by security forces, heard about the killings of people in prison, heard about the long term imprisonment of people who were trying to what we you were saying you have been doing, reforming the country. They made public statements as to what they were struggling for, that they wanted all South Africans to live well.
Iím appealing and just trying to get my mind clear on what it is that should be done to move away from denial because if we do not join hands in doing that, we leave a pool of people. I said we have about ten thousand statements from people who will remain angry and bitter inside thinking that people who benefited in the past are still benefiting and theyíre selfishly not wanting to say something was wrong and bring something on the table as to what it is that we can do as a matter of urgency to make sure that people whose lives have been cheap, their dignity is beginning to be restored.
MR LATEGAN: Chair, Iíve explained to you that this is a process and I think what should be done is the following : I think in our churches and most Afrikaners are church going people every Sunday and so on, I think in the churches the church should play a much more vigorous role bringing to mind the need to make peace with what is going on in South Africa at the moment. In other words having a Black Government and having human rights in place and what goes with that. I think our churches are not doing sufficient.
The second point is because so many of the political leaders or the erstwhile political leaders have gone neutral, there arenít many people in the White community or not sufficient people in the White community standing up and saying what needs to be said and it must not be political people, it must be ordinary community leaders, people who are in business, people who are in organisations such as the Rapport Ryers or wherever. Those kind of messages need to come from the community itself. Thatís on the positive side. On the negative side Iíve told you that there are many perceptions which is making it rather difficult sometimes to say to people itís for the better that we have changed. They still perceive it the other way around but as Iíve said itís a process where people have gone a long, long way and they still need to go a long way. All Iím saying to you apart from what Iíve said, time is a healing factor from their side but I think more as we go along and the best evidence that I could have given to you of changed attitudes is the one that I experienced on Thursday. I never thought that this sort of thing is possible. I can give you other reasons as well but that would be political and I would rather not encroach on that.
PROF MEIRING: Mr Lategan thank you very much. That gentleman wants to ask a question. Your question will be the only question and then weíll move along with the programme but keep your questions I will allow for questions as we go along. Your question please?
QUESTION FROM AUDIENCE: (Beginning not audible) They wanted to know from you Mr Lategan, the lady really wanted to know from you what must be done Mr Lategan, in order that the community you are representing must change and reconcile with the people who are the so-called culprits of the apartheid system. As you are a representative what I could ...(not audible) call on the priests in the area, call on the teachers in the area because all those people according to the Government are the many people who are going to bring about the reconciliation of the community so that the community must be able to have friendship towards one another because the main obstacle is to destroy the animosity which was build up by the past. At the present moment what we are looking for is that people must learn to live together and share what is being in need by the Government.
MR LATEGAN: Sir, I think what the speaker said I think he also gave the answer. Itís difficult to add to what he said he repeated what I said and I wholeheartedly agree with him . We need to take everybody through this process and we need to encourage them but you see Sir ... may I speak Afrikaans?
MR LATEGAN: I was taught in public life that to just scold somebody and curse him you wonít get him to join your side, you canít persuade him. The best method of persuasion that Iím aware of is, to state the facts to people in a loving manner and to tell them that they shouldnít go and sit in the corner of loneliness. There are a lot of people around and if you speak to them and you will soon discover they have the same needs that you have. It doesnít matter whether you are ANC or Conservative Party they are people like you, people who are basically Christians who have the same ambitions of the future for their children and the Whites have such an important role to play because so much of the expertise and capital is in their hands and by making themselves indispensable and getting involved in the poor and those who have been disadvantaged, they will get so much appreciation and so much love in return for what they have done.
In the same way that I see this from my colleagues in Parliament who differ from me politically but because we reach out to each other and because we are tied by a love for our country and by certain other factors such as religious persuasion. That is what Iím fighting for and that is what I think our leaders are trying to achieve and which you as the Commission are also trying to achieve. That is what I suggest what you should state in you report to the White community is that they in this manner, through their love can also be carried through this.
PROF MEIRING: Thank you so much for the question you asked, we really appreciate you being here. You may take your seat and then I would like to invite Mr Mahudu from Jane Furse to take his place. Mr Mahudu before you say your piece will you please introduce yourself to us?
MR MAHUDU: Of course Sir. I just want to thank you all for being together here for this important day in my view. I just want to tell the audience that we were born as Blacks in the country where words were already done and we grew up in that type of situation. We happened to challenge the very same situation and Iíve realized that during that time both the South African police force and the defence force happen to be the killing machine of our people, the killing machine to our own unarmed youth, the killing machine to our own unarmed leaders and activists, the killing machine to our own community in general and this state of affairs has left our country bleeding. It has also left our country in a pool of blood, in pain, in sorrow, in suffering, in tears, in death and also in panic and fear. It also left a desire for revenge and total destruction, particularly on our part as the youth. This state of affairs has also left our country with a deepening gap of hatred and also deepening wounds which happen to be difficult to heal.
It also left our country with hopelessness, frustrations and a painful memory as well. When I refer to a painful memory I refer to the type of memory that when you think of your kid in prison, a kid as young as 6 or 8 years being in prison, being tortured, being killed, a painful memory of your brother or sister who happened to be abducted during the night and during the day when you wake up you find him lying on the street bleeding, dead or maimed. A painful memory of our comrades who at the end of the day happened to be detained, tortured in prison and at the end of it all you will be informed that he has died, he has hung himself with a shoelace and that sort of nonsense that I just donít believe. Iím referring to the painful memory of the past Government, the vicious Government, the type of Government who had no mercy for us. When we challenged them being unarmed, they responded violently to us. That painful memory left our country in a seriously weeping state. It also left our country in a state of confusion, in frustration, in sorrow and also agony and of course comrade that was very serious and even now because itís left us with fresh wounds, fresh scars and many more worse things which I can say but some Iím afraid to mention here.
On the other hand there were some other criminal activities which happened to be perpetuated by the very same system amongst our communities turning our MK cadres and APLA cadres into askaries and all those things. We happen to live in this era. The situation came to change not because of their wishful thinking or of the likelihood or whatever, it was because of the pressure and determination and the anger that was driving us in our communities. Finally we happened to have won our country, our liberation and our freedom. Thatís where we are today we are talking to each other as brothers and sisters but there also came some form of crime that happened to disturb our move towards transition or towards the total taking over of power.
We happen to have taxi violence in our areas, gangsters or other forms of crime perpetuation by the very same system which of course in my view is still wanting to cling to the very same power which we were serving earlier on. They tried to infiltrate us in many ways but even if the situation happens to be like that I should think we as South Africans living in South Africa happen to be very lucky in a way because we happen to be the last country to be liberated. As such we have learnt lessons from other countries, countries like Argentina, Zimbabwe, Namibia as to the way they settled their matters and their political disputes. We even happened to learn from our ex-Robben Islanders who of course because of their compassion, the love of our country, their behavioural attitudes happened to compel us to reconcile, to forgive the most vicious Government a country in Africa has ever envisaged. This was because of their behaviour.
You can remember comrade Madiba moving away from his people, going into the laager the Afrikaner laager to an extent of greeting that woman, the wife of Verwoerd. Can you can remember that? Some of our Black community can be criticizing by saying heís overdoing this reconciliation but that was because of the anger we felt. Through that action we learnt something and he made us understand that even if the worse happened we have to come down and face the practical situation here, the realities of our country and of course we are the only ones who have to build it.
One gentleman mentioned that they never even accepted the situation but we have to drive them to be an example to our own leaders. What our ... taught us we have to do. I support you in what you have said Mr Lategan. Last year we were assembling around the rugby stadium here ... (interrupted)
PROF MEIRING: Mr Mahudu Iím so sorry but it seems we have to speed our process a little bit because there are a number of things still to happen before lunch. I wonder if we could do it this way. As you are representing the young people in this area would you mind very much if the panel asks you a number of specific questions on the role and the understanding of the young people?
MR MAHUDU: Okay let me just wrap up my story here. Let me just comment on the question of crime which happens to have engulfed our Province. Those heroic views and other issues that happened to derail them was because of the very same past system which was done by the apartheid Government. You see we, as part of the youth donít have recreational facilities in our community but we are rural communities so as such our youth happened to indulge in drug abuse and so forth. In some other instances they happened to engage in criminal activities because of the lack of recreational facilities.
We can even go further we can look at the question of schooling in our area. We donít have this type of hall that we are sitting in our students lack of ... I personally went through that situation. We happened to go to school under trees meaning when it is very cold or raining thereís just no schooling and this leads to a drop out and for a drop out in many ways leads to criminal activities because they donít have anything to do. This is also one of the other reasons which is also visible in our Province. Of course theyíve got a high failure rate which is driven by the very same thing. Weíve got a high unemployment rate. Weíve got a high illiteracy rate and this situation has been caused by the past system. We want the system to now be changed and we want our Truth Commission to inform our Government that we need schooling, not the type of schooling that Iíve mentioned but proper schooling of the nature where we have several facilities inside the very same school yard. We need educational facilities of all kinds and to be honest we donít have any in our area and we have several high schools which offers the very same stream, general streams and everything. No technical subjects are offered there so what kind of future do you expect for that type of community? I can go further but I may be taking time now.
PROF MEIRING: Mr Mahudu, Iím sorry to ask you to wrap up because itís so interesting and youíve really opened a number of windows to us and I appreciate that very much. Iím going to ask the panel who would like to ask specific questions to you because I think youíre a spokesman from the youth and I know that the panel would like to ask a number of things from you. Who will be first? Mr Manthata.
MR MANTHATA: We would love to be direct and to the point. Is the youth doing anything and if so what? You give a very good picture of a youth that still lives in the past, all those atrocities and whatnot and whatnot. Are the youth doing anything to debrief themselves out of that into a position of creative thinking, creative programmes? The last question would be, in this area in particular as Iíve said right from the beginning, it is reputed for the youths hunting down the elderly mothers and fathers and calling them witches. What are the youth doing in that direction and or what help would the youth request of the TRC to recommend to the Government with regard to those particular problems? Thank you.
MR MAHUDU: Thank you comrade Manthata but in terms of creativity we have different backgrounds. I come from a very seriously rural area where I would say most of the parents are away working in towns and we are left with mothers who are in a way illiterate. They cannot understand how to create something that will empower that individual except only saying go to school. As the youth we are aware of the situation in our country. In some other instances weíve tried to invite them together to form some discussion groups on how to do deal with this type of situation, this dull situation where there is just no activity except going to football over the week-end. In some other instances something from a group such as performing drama, singing or poetry but if you look at what theyíre doing it is still clinging to the past their poetry in highly political, highly volatile they still express the very same thing which has happened to them in the past. In some instances our rural communities there are terribly poor. This type of activity needs financial backing which we do not have.
On the question of witch hunting you have to look at this issue as a traditional level in a way because it hasnít just emerged now, it has been an ongoing process. It went differently in the past because when I grew up I was still very young and I never saw anybody being called a witch and being chased away in the community. This happens when we try to get involved in our struggle but the youth see the witches maybe as the people who are the first obstacles towards their moving and in some other instances they happen to chase them away from the community but I remember when I was still part of the Skukune Youth Organisation we used to have this type of problem but we believed in scientific theory and they must leave the question of witchcraft. We tried to delve on the that question but we never succeeded because it is rooted in their subconscious that we have this type of problem and we need to solve it. So at the moment Iím saying we managed to solve that problem because itís still an ongoing process and to be honest I donít have an exact answer to that.
MR MANTHATA: My last question sorry, one other thing that we noted as the TRC as we move around Northern Province is that there are many NGOís, amongst them Kuruman. What we want to know is do the youth (a) know about those NGOís because NGOís have money and (b) do the youth make use of those NGOís or do they just let them go scott free and focus just on the Government and where the Government cannot deliver, we have the kind of bitterness that is being expressed?
MR MAHUDU: In some other instances these NGOís like Kulumane have just approached us now. It was never, maybe in the early Ď90ís came to us and said that we can do point a,b,c,d, so our youth at the moment I would say are divided in many ways. The question of unemployment is a very serious problem that is hunting us. We as the non-working youths and in some instances tend to be dislodged from our own community because the community tends not to take you seriously and as such you have to do your own things in your own way because if you are not working to be honest, I donít know who to put it for you to understand me perfectly. So this question of NGOís in our areas have just appeared very recently and may I make an appeal that if maybe there happen to be any other NGOís they must make an approach to the youth through schools so that if the Commission. is able to get to schools theyíll easily get access to the community but if theyíre just saying anything because in some villages we donít have newspapers. Thereís just no way that we can get any information. To get the newspaper you have to move some hundred kilometres away so itís not easy in that type of situation.
______________: Yes please. I just want to follow up on the same question that my youth was asked concerning what the Government is doing to the youth myself I think the Government is concentrating more on the townships not the rural areas and that is why we find ourselves failing in many things in the rural areas. If the Government can provide the rural areas with some facilities I think the country or the Province itself will be in an equal status. The second point is about what the youth can do in terms NGOís. Our NGOís youíll find them doing the same thing and as a result it brings a competition then only the fast NGOís will gain and the slower will get nothing and start getting targeted as not being the right NGOís, thank you.
MISS MKHIZE: I would also just like to thank you for giving us a picture of the conditions under which young people in this area have grown up. You have also shown us some of the after effects of that but I would just like to ask you a question on one aspect. You painted a picture of the culture of violence seeing friends, blood all over the streets hearing that some of them have been found dead having hanged themselves with a shoe lace or something, all the stories that you referred to. Can I ask you something? From your own point of view, what is it that the Truth Commission should recommend to make sure that young people like yourself who have grown up within this culture of blood, death and anger and wanting to get revenge, what is it that you think should be done so that you begin to see the world differently? What you are describing is not normal for young people to grow smelling blood, jumping over dead bodies and the people they know being murdered. Iím sure amongst yourselves you do talk and now that we know there is this new era, what is it that you think should be done?
MR MAHUDU: What I recommend to the Truth Commission is that it must advise our Government to really pay much more attention on the question of the youth because the youth still have a very serious psychological problem these days. They also have an emotional problem and these things are very severe to be honest. To be exact on what to do I donít know but I should think some psychological support services of some sort should be given and let there be schooling as well, proper schooling so that theyíll be able to grow within that environment. I think that maybe it will drive them somewhere where I believe they will be very productive to the community in general.
PROF MEIRING: Mr Mahudu thank you very much, youíve given a very good account of yourself and of the youth. We have two other young people here from the White community and while Iím asking you to take your seat again Iím going to invite Miss Yvette Wilkens and Miss Karen du Toit to come to the table to also give us an account of what the young people are thinking in and around Pietersburg. While they are coming Iím so happy to see that our friend and colleague Dean Farisani has arrived. Youíre so welcome a warm welcome to you and we are looking forward to hear what you will eventually say to us but now the podium belongs to the youth at this stage of the day. You will have to introduce yourselves first because I donít know who Yvette is and who Karen is but thanks for coming. After youíve given you piece would you mind very much to off the cuff answer questions asked to you from the panel?
MISS WILKENS: Unfortunately we havenít had a long time to prepare for this as we only found out yesterday but we are very willing to answer any questions you have for us to the best of our ability. Iím Yvette Wilkens.
MISS DU TOIT: It was only at the age of thirteen that I became aware of the fact there was something different about South Africa. I read two books, The Power of One and Tandia and all of a sudden I thought this isnít happening in my country. Whatís this system called apartheid? I was thirteen so yes I led a sheltered childhood.
MISS WILKENS: I attended a primary school in South Africa which changed from a White school shortly after I arrived there so therefore I didnít experience a large part in the apartheid system. I only arrived in South Africa at the age of thirteen when my family immigrated here. The difference between Englandís political system and South Africaís became very noticeable when I arrived. I was shocked at how prejudiced some people were over here. However my parents realized that this country was one of a great opportunity.
MISS DU TOIT: By this time President Mandela was already released from prison and things had started to happen. The old South Africa that I knew very little about was gone and the new South Africa which I knew even less about had begun so I started asking questions and for the first time in my life I realized that South Africa had so much more to offer.
MISS WILKENS: There are so many cultures, traditions and different people and so many new languages in this country of ours. I realized this was a country filled with people that knew nothing about each other except what colour each one was.
MISS DU TOIT: I grew up in the Eastern Cape on a small holding and spent most of my early years playing with my maidís daughter Vanessa. Weíd have tea parties and play games like blind manís bluff and so forth and in my small mind I thought that all children grow up like me.
MISS DU TOIT: I attended a dual-medium primary school and it was an all White school which I never noticed. I suppose it was my ignorance that resulted in me never wondering why Vanessa didnít go to the same school as I did. We are now at Capricorn High School and yes, we still have a lot of privileges that many others donít have so weíve learnt to appreciate them. Weíve made new friends and enjoy their company. We have learnt about the past and itís atrocities and we know about the present and itís struggles so we have to believe that we will win this battle and we must go forward into the future.
MISS WILKENS: Not the dark future that has been painted by so many but the bright future that we as South Africans can make. Our country is very special and hopefully we can heal the wounds of the past and make South Africans grow stronger, happier and more peaceful, thank you.
PROF MEIRING: Yvette and Karen donít go Iím sure that there are a number of questions. Iím going to invite the panel to ask questions and then Iím going to invite one young person from the audience to add another question but first the panel and then one person from the audience. Who would like to ask the first questions? Miss Mkhize.
MISS MKHIZE: Thank you very much for agreeing to come and appear before us at such short notice. If I may just ask you what do you think should be done, how should resources be shared in such a way that in this area we can have many young people like yourselves well dressed, in school, being able to go around being confident?
MISS DU TOIT: I think maybe community projects or something like that to raise funds to skill other people, charity drives at the schools who do have privileges as we do where we can raise money as the youth of South Africa to help our people to have the same education.
MISS MKHIZE: Just another related question. In a classroom situation you have mentioned that in the process when things changed you began to see Black students joining in as well. How do you think teachers and children who are empowered like yourselves should facilitate the integration of children who are coming in whoís first language is not English, their culture is different and their whole world view is not the worst. Just think about the classroom situation, how should relations be structured?
MISS WILKENS: I think the best thing for us would be to take the opportunities like we do have to learn about other cultures, other religions, other peopleís backgrounds so we can understand where they are coming from to help them so they can help us as well. Iím sure there are a lot of other people who could help us and educate us into the way theyíve grown up.
MISS DU TOIT: Capricorn High School is doing very well in integration, extra lessons are given to help the people integrating into our school but as far as we can see all the people who have integrated into our school are doing very, very well. Their marks are actually higher than ours in fact. I think because of the struggles of the past our people are adapting very easily.
MISS MKHIZE: Thank you very much. I just have one last question. There are many young people whoís parents were murdered unfairly in the past and who are left at your age with no parents. How do you think those young people who are hearing about how their parents were treated unfairly, could be nurtured in such a way that they begin to trust the world, to love and to care?
MISS DU TOIT: I think maybe some sort of facility that we as youth could start to help other youths whereby they could be put into special programmes to help them and maybe to teach them how to deal with what has happened, the unfairness of what has happened and to go on stronger into the future.
MISS WILKENS: Basically for the youth to stand together. We should no longer look at the past and the things that they have gone through, we should try to bring them into our lives and show them that in South Africa thereís a lot of good that can still come from what we have.
PROF GROBBELAAR: I was listening to Mr Lategan before you came and he painted a very negative attitude about the potential of the White community in Pietersburg to change on a very short term. When I listen to you, you are presenting us with a very positive view of the future. How representative do you think you are of White youths in Pietersburg?
MISS WILKENS: I think we are very representative of the feeling of the White youth. A lot of people feel as we do and we want to stand together and help each other out because after all if we donít stand together now there is no future for us.
PROF GROBBELAAR: Can I just follow up and comment on your last point. Why should young Black people who are unemployed, who are traumatised by the past, who live with ghosts, why should they forget the past and build a future?
MISS WILKENS: Sorry I didnít mean they should forget the past I mean we should stand together to look forward to the future. To forget something as traumatic as what was presented I donít think anybody could forget something like that but I think we should try to stand together to look forward to the future.
MR MANTHATA: Iíve got two questions that will need your comment. One, are you studying any one single African language so that you can relate fairly well as you are you young, resilient and this is still within your age limit to do? Second, itís more of a comment, we have had youth perhaps slightly older than you coming from Europe who are very enthusiastic to do the kind of work that you are referring to going to schools like St Mark to teach at least for a year or so. Is it possible for our White youths in South Africa to begin to think about that doing that kind of work peace core work within the disadvantaged communities?
MISS DU TOIT: I would like to study an African language in fact Iíve been speaking about it to my parents. I did have some primary education in an African language I know a little bit of Xhosa, not too much itís a bit rusty unfortunately but I would like to study African languages as well as European languages after school to understand and relate better with people. What was the second question?
MISS MKHIZE: Just one last question from me. Would you expect anyone to apologise for jumping the queue? Letís say you are in a classroom situation, you discuss this topic and you see that other young White people by virtue of being White have always had opportunities which they took advantage of without questioning, do you think it would make a difference for acknowledging that? Letís say in a classroom situation for some reason you are treated differently.
MISS MKHIZE: Iím making an example that if, in a certain way you discuss this topic and you look at real life experiences where for some reason because of the difficult past that we are talking about, other people have jumped the queue and theyíve enjoyed that without questioning, will it be helpful to talk about it openly and to make admissions and taking different responsibility for different levels of guilt?
MISS WILKENS: I think people should acknowledge if theyíve had more opportunity than other people and itís time for us as a whole group to realize this and to step back and to fix what has been made wrong by as you said, jumping the queue. I think everybody should look around and see who has not had the opportunities that theyíve had, thatís all we can do.
PROF MEIRING: Thank you. Who would like to ask a question, a young person from the audience? No questions? No Sir, youíre not young youíre an old man. Thereís a question, please ask your question and if you make it brief Iíll repeat the question for the translator.
PROF MEIRING: That was a very, very good remark thank you. For the record I would like to say that our friend from the young people of the Black community made a heart felt plea to the White kids from the White schools to answer the invitations and to start organising for mutual things to happen games, rugby matches, tennis matches and whatever. I wonder whether we shouldnít ask Karen and Yvette during lunch time to meet with the young people and start making plans right away. Karen, Yvette youíve done Capricorn High School proud thank you for being here. I see Mrs Preller is bursting with pride at the back of the hall. Thank you for your answers and thank you for your well thought out and very knowledgeable presentation we really appreciate it very much. We have a few announcement before we go for lunch.
REV NYAMA: Thank you very much. Before you go I think you made a good thing and I commend and encourage that you have seen the way your parents grew up or live in this country. I think you are the people to transform and to help the Black community to accept you and also you to accept them. Thank you very much. Leave it like that. The announcements are as follows : Number one is that please people when you go out donít go along with the mikes rather leave them on your chair so that when you come back ... (interrupted)
REV NYAMA: Somebody must come and take a statement from you for amnesty. I was saying when you leave, when you go out please leave the mikes on your chair so that when you come back you can just pick it up and use it again. The second point is, lunch is ready even though itís not yet dished out but letís behave like people of the new South Africa and eat as much as you can but think of other people who are still behind you. The last announcement is I would like to put the Kulumane in the programme towards the end so that the victims know or gets something from the Kulumane Support Group, just to say something to the victims so that they can start to form the groups in their areas. For those who want to give statements, unfortunately to-day we are not taking statements we just want to deal with the TRC in this Province and if you want to give statements there are people from Venda, Messina, Djiani here in Pietersburg and they are ready for you to give statements. Just make an appointment with them and they will tell you when to come and make your statement. To-day we are just wanting to restructure the TRC for many questions that we are getting from you when you want to give and some are doubting to give statements. How do I address you Chairlady or Chairperson or what?
PROF MEIRING: Before we leave for lunch, can I just hear. Dean Farisani is here and he will address us just after lunch. Mr Moshuana has not arrived and also the representative from the chiefís or Azapo, they are not here. That will give us ample time after lunch to have Dean Farisani and then we will allow for a comprehensive discussion of all the issues we need to discuss. My watch says itís 5 past one. Can we be back at exactly twenty to two, one forty, twenty to two, back in the hall please. Enjoy your lunch.
PROF MEIRING: That is what Tom says. I say welcome let me tell you what the programme is. It is now ten past two and we are looking forward to listen to Dean Farisani maybe in about fifteen minutes. When heís finished we will have the same sort of discussion and if you donít mind Sir can we ask you questions? The panel will propose a number of questions and then at about twenty to three we will have to start rounding off. It may be that you have a question or two to ask from the audience which Iíd love to allow for and then Professor Grobbelaar will sumarise for us and at about three oíclock I will ask Miss Mkhize to make the closing remarks after which we will close and go home. Mr Farisani we are very happy to have you with us, thanks for travelling all the way to come to us we are listening with open ears.
DEAN FARISANI: I take this opportunity to thank God for this marvelous creation called the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, pushing the programme of healing in our land. I also want to take this opportunity to thank God for making it possible for me to visit some countries on this planet which have experienced problems of violations of human rights and because Iíve been able to talk to some survivors of human rights violations Iíve been able to learn a lot from them but the learning continues.
As we sit here, in one sense we are sharing what we know, we are authorities and experts on what weíre dealing with but the other side of the coin is that we continue to learn. Itís my very considered opinion that as you move from place to place dealing with this process you continue to learn every day. I do not want to take you back when the likes of Tom Manthata and I were young and hot blooded and we were very angry and justifiable so with apartheid.
Those were the days when we worked with the likes of Steven Biko, I even used to share his room when he was studying medicine at the University of Natal. Those were very, very difficult days. I donít want to re-open the wounds and re-open the cases but they were very, very difficult days. Some of the losses that have been suffered along the way, some of the pains that have been experienced are short of Godís miracle, irreparable they donít even fall under the category of reparation in the material sense but the fact remains that as we sit here we face this challenge that God has given us what the young people from Capricorn have once again defined as a wonderful country full of opportunities.
As a church person and theologian you cannot expect me to say my thing without including such prominent names as Satan the devil and God, they are part and parcel of my vocabulary. This is indeed a very beautiful country, exaggerations aside. Iíve criss-crossed this planet and South Africa remains one of the most beautiful countries in the world and to be more human and subjective, the most beautiful country in the world.
Now the devil had a programme, he had an agenda that which God created and said itís very, very good if you read the Hebrew Bible it says after God had created (they used the word ...) he looked at everything and it was toff ...Toff ... means exceptionally beautiful so after God had created this very, very beautiful country the devil and the devil has no legs and no hands he uses human beings, decided to corrupt this wonderful land and one major instrument God used is apartheid and apartheid as an instrument lets admit was very effective, very successful in causing the havoc that the devil intended.
Economically as we sit here we sit with an economic heritage that has disadvantaged the overwhelming majority of our people and there are people who donít talk theology the way I do. When they hear of reparation and rehabilitation they think in terms of what it means economically what changes will it bring in this area.
If youíre talking the language of education they say you have to understand our parents, our fathers died, they were tortured, they were killed all those things and they say in terms of education how do we address this question in order to achieve healing. Culturally weíve used cultures including the culture of no human rights to divide our communities. You know a culture is world perspective, a culture is a world view, it is a paradise of how you understand and interpret things. When people hear of healing, of reparation, of rehabilitation they want to know how this world view, how this paradise, how this world perspective is going to be restructured otherwise the latent spirit of the TRC will be like pouring brand new wine into old skins and when it ferments the skins will burst open. These are questions that people ask. Concerning human dignity people are asking is it enough just to burn the word Kaffir and terrorist and communist and agitator and all that kind of terminology baggage that went with the concept of apartheid.
If itís necessary to sort of transform the language paradigm in this country how do you handle that. If I must make the future a point of departure because perhaps thatís the best way to approach the question of healing in our country. Perhaps the TRC by way of recommendation also suggests to us in this language, theological language what the future is like. To us in religious language we talk in terms of the glorious future some call it paradise. It doesnít matter what name you really use and what we do today is influenced by the ideal that we see ahead of us. Thatís the sense in which the ultimate influences what we want in the penultimate and the penultimate influences what we do today and what do today helps us to undo the past. Perhaps as a process of healing thatís what we need to do.
Iím told Iíve never been to medical school although my father was a traditional healer, Iím told that a good doctor even before he does a diagnosis and makes a prescription he already envisages a healthy, happy, walking person and weíve heard it from the youngest of the young those that Jesus has said those who want to enter the Kingdom of God they must learn from these young ones because they are not so much corrupted about the past including the very recent past and the remnants of that past that influences our lives today. Theyíre thinking about that glorious future, that wonderful future.
I regard myself as an expert on the new South African Constitution having been part and parcel of the constituent assembly that worked through that document with the whole nation. That document is regarded as a miracle in many parts of the world and itís a wonderful document, Iím not saying itís another Bible. Some people compared it with the Bible some have even said itís better, I donít agree with them because thereís room for improvement in that document but what Iím trying to say is that, that document is an attempt to recreate perhaps not recreate to create a completely new South Africa that we all aspired and I think the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission should be partly to come up with such suggestions that can empower and reach this document that we call The Constitution.
Hear me when a person is wounded, a good paramedic and a good doctor will make sure that as you rescue these people from the scene of the accident. You donít aggravate the wounds, the pain that already have been inflicted by the accident.
As people were talking here again and again they go back to the past but I thought my input for today should be more informed by what is the environment, what is the daily experience especially of the victims as we sit here today. Do those experiences tell them that the past is still with us or do those experiences tell them that we are definitely moving from the past at a healthy safe speed to the future that we envisage?
DEAN FARISANI: Thank you. I think the process of healing is a two way process. First and foremost those who are placed in the category of pulpy, Iím talking of individuals, Iím talking of collectives and Iím talking of the system itself, the structure of themselves must be willing to confess and admit the past. As far as Iím concerned, partly through the structure of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission I think what you are doing is planting the seeds in the communities so that we can be the Truth and Reconciliation Commission wherever we are as political parties, as Churches, as individuals, as organisations, as schools wherever we are we must be the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Amongst ourselves we must be able to share the pain, confess those mistakes and to find programmes and structures together that begin to address that page but I think rather than those who are guilty of past misconduct rather than for them going into the loft and hiding. They should be breadwinners even if they are enemies, be bold enough to come forward and say the truth hurts but if you had kept quiet this country would die. There is also a challenge for those of us who are victims not only to have the capacity to tell about the pain but also the capacity to strike our arms of love and forgiveness and reconciliation. As I said the other day in Louis Trichardt if my hand is left there, hanging and dangling in the air the pain does develop out of that rejected hand of love and peace and reconciliation may be worse than the pains experienced previously.
I want to conclude on this useful note of hope. Iím afraid that partly as we sit here that those of us who have got those old tendencies and practices, first the experience of pain, I must be very careful that I donít indoctrinate my children on a daily basis with all the tortures and the pains that Iíve suffered it doesnít matter what they are because then we poison the younger generation. Itís very unfair to them, they need to know what happened. Itís another thing if we use these experiences as salt and pepper and spice every day because it poisons.
On part of Comrade Lategan itís really critical rather than tell these children that the stories you hear are lies, theyíre fabrications of communists, it cannot be true we lived here, it never happened then you poison the younger generation on the other side. From both sides we need to work together to create a better future for South Africa.
MR MANTHATA: Dean, I will be repeating myself because the key thing that we are looking forward to hear is possibilities of reconciliation and pulling together in a manner that we can seen to be even sharing the blames amongst ourselves between Black and White in the Northern Province. How do you see this coming about?
DEAN FARISANI: Some people think it is a disadvantage to live in what used to be regarded as Pastor, Doctor ... Comrade Lategan has said we must understand the dynamics here that people had to move a long way to understanding the new dispensation. I donít deny that but we must regard that as a golden opportunity given to us in this Province to perform a miracle that is not expected from the other parts of our country and I think we need to identify areas where we need to address issues.
Letís talk fact not because itís the most crucial outset, the witchcraft scene in this Province which is largely, I donít want to call it Black on Black violence because that was the strategy in the language in the third force. It is a challenge that divides our community. Once youíre labeled as a witch or a wizard it has got the power of destruction that such terms as terrorist and communist had in the political past. What really is critical here as you raise your questions is that we need to change the paradise and changing that paradise does not depend only on the findings op a Commission.
The critical thing about the work of a Commission is how you translate those recommendations into flesh, into programmes of action that gives a turn around to the perspectives that people have. Now here in this Province as you see, there are very few Whites here unless we say Comrade Lategan is eighty people but there are very few of them here but it doesnít mean you have failed. It means if Farisani and Lategan are honest about what they are saying before this audience and all of us that have spoken, if we were honest it means you have given us the skill of how to fish for healing and reconciliation here.
We must look on how we invade our schools here to bring them together. The experience of the two kids from Capricorn is partly so but it is not my experience. I moved into Pietersburg to look for accommodation for my kids in this school so my experience is very different and the experience of many Black kids here is very different so "daar is werk vir jou en vir my ons moet werk tot die nerwe val". For example I visited one school, I donít want to call it by name because Iím not in a character assassination campaign here. The kids got tortured, they said this one cannot be accepted in standard eight, sheís a year too old. Nobodyís taking into account the disadvantage from which our children come. When they move in here they are faced with criteria created in the White community thatís not taking those things into account. They said the other one is too young for standard six, heís a year too young even if he had been promoted heís too young for this. There are still those experiences and you go to this other school and they said these are the forms of application. You fill them in and send them back and they donít even respond and then I started going meeting Black kids here in Pietersburg, their frustration was up to here.
You take such instances that at one main school here, there was a sports competition and kids were playing. One team in which there were many Black kids won so they started toyi-toying and singing in Sotho, jumping for joy that they won. The principal at the assembly said this school has an English character, no Sotho songs and the African toyi-toyi is acceptable here. The young people begin to think what our fatherís and motherís have told us is still here with us thereís no room for Africa in Africa, do you get what Iím trying to say?
There are lots of these things in daily experiences which means our approach must be comprehensive, not kids meal so that we are able to address these issues. We are here in the Northern Province all I can say is, perhaps I donít have to say it, thereís still a feeling amongst our people that the Northern Province has not taken seriously. Some even say when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission comes here big shots like Tutu and so forth and so forth donít come, only Tom Manthata, Grobbelaar and these people come here. I want to say that people should not be judged by their titles, they must be judged on their delivery, the kind of delivery that they do.
MISS MKHIZE: Just one brief question for me. Thank you very much. I should think youíve given us an overview of some of the difficulties that there are. Just one thing which you mentioned, you referred to the restoration of human dignity. As you know that partly the Truth and Reconciliation was put into existence mainly to make sure that those who lost out the most, their dignity should be restored during this transitional thing and you have said quite a number of things about what should be done in schools and so on. Can I just ask you to give a simple message around the restoration of dignity of a specific community, people who have appeared before us and some of them are here. What do you think should be done if one might have a special project for survivors of human rights here in this area if you had to assist the Government practically what do you think should be done?
DEAN FARISANI: First let us talk about the dead. I think the best approach to comfort families who have lost their beloved ones through the crimes of apartheid is to find a way to resurrect them, to raise them from the dead. Iíve attended some of these hearings in this province and when you state use of honour and symbols of remembrance are made, very often they are in Cape Town or Durban or Pietermaritzburg or Pretoria and other places. We hardly find this status of meaning at ... or .. or Masisi even when people have been killed at Masisi or somewhere out there in the middle of nowhere where only God and Angels tread weíll find that these symbols of honour will be dragged screaming and kicking to the centre of Pietersburg. In fact you might find that nobody actually was killed in Pietersburg. They might have been killed like Peter Nchabaleng outside the ... at Masisi so Iím saying when we raise them from the dead, at times we should seriously consider placing the symbols where the people are. True when it comes to the question of those who have suffered that are still with us I think weíve been trying to do it through Freedom Day, Human Rights Day looking at those things. Again I think another way of remembering those people that have suffered is by way of naming, this includes also the dead, some of these institutions in the names of those people. People by themselves are already doing it but I think the Truth and Reconciliation Commission should help them do that. You also already have Peter Nchabaleng plays and that kind of thing so I thing we need more of that in the community.
Finally on the question of dignity the constitutional damage ... and people have told their story but as we leave this hall our experience ...(tape ended) and one White gentleman behind the counter was not actually serving he realized that in this queue there were many Whites at the back. He came out and he broke the line exactly where the there were two Whites and said you can come to window eleven and twelve, Iím being specific. I have thought logically and good mathematics would have suggested that the two additional people who came would have joined at the tellerís place so that they could work faster because that actually made those who were at the back to be first and those who were in front of them went last, so in the final analysis our dignity needs to be restored in the street and thatís why you sow the seeds that Lategan and I and the rest of these people must remain struggling here healing the wounds and restoring that dignity.
PROF MEIRING: Dean Farisani thank you ever so much. In your last words you captured everything that needs to be said, also about today. We are here to sow the seeds, to listen to whatís being said, to look at the process but the proof of the pudding will be in Pietersburg and it will be the community of Pietersburg that will carry on with the grave and the wonderful responsibility of reconciliation or setting things right. Thank you so much for being here we didnít have Tutu but we did Farisani today. Thank you very much.
Iím now calling upon Professor Grobbelaar. We usually do it this way that when we had all the different focus groups, people opening windows to us in the community we ask somebody from the Truth Commission to capture everything to just remind us this is what we have been doing today, this is the picture we saw. Professor Grobbelaar is going to sumarise what weíve done today then afterwards Iím going to call upon Miss Mkhize to give the closing words to us and then over to the master of ceremonies who will then close the ceremony for us in a proper manner. Professor Grobbelaar?
PROF GROBBELAAR: Piet, first of all Iíd like to say that what Iíve got to say is meant to encourage a little bit of discussion from the floor as well so we would like to create an opportunity to have people who are sitting here and have been sitting here all day to make a contribution in this regard.
What can we report today in terms our aims, in terms of what weíve achieved? What can we say about the impact of the TRC in this area, I think weíve heard a number of messages. The one message has been the TRC, the bearer of bad news and therefore the White community in Pietersburg doesnít feel friendly about the TRC.
Weíve heard two young White girls who have a much more positive attitude I think, to the TRC and the message we bring of working together. We have heard from a young Black man who felt dominated still by feelings of the past and the suffering of the past. What have we managed to do in terms of facilitating community contact today? Have we brought together people from communities to share different messages? I think we have brought together people from different communities today and I think we have listened to them. We have listened to them from our point of view in an attempt to have the community participate in recommendations that we make to the State after this commission. We have listened to what you have to say and we want to listen some more we would very much like to hear what you have to say on the ground, we have challenged you.
Brother Tom has asked what are you doing creatively to face the future and what initiatives are you taking and in that regard? One young man got up and said well we have invited White schools to come and play or historically White schools to come and play sports with us and we would like to invite them again.
We have heard about the divisions in your area, deep divisions we have heard that this is an area that is characterised by a very strong Afrikaner nationalist right wing feeling and feelings in the past. We have heard about an area that is rooted in what Dean Farisani said, Doctor Andries Treunichtís philosophies.
We have heard proposals for schools to meet, we have heard pleas for time give people time, give the community who had access to all the power in this country for so long give them some more time they are hearing you.
We have heard a plea for employment for education we have said the youth are lost because they donít have jobs in the rural areas, they are poor. We have heard pleas for the restoration of dignity, for the recognition of people. We have heard pleas for moving away from the past and looking at the future. We have heard a pleas that says remember the Northern Province, remember the rural areas go and make policy for such areas.
I have to ask you or we have to ask you today to participate for a while yet to help to tell us. Does it help to bring people together like this when you talk with one another and you hear one another? Is it important to do this? Does this begin to address the problems of understanding the problems the differences so that we can promote reconciliation in this country? When will the White and Black community in Pietersburg be able to meet and look one another in the eyes?
Can I ask for some people on the floor to make comments in this regard, is there someone who would like to comment on the usefulness of this meeting and on the importance of bringing people together and what this could mean in the future?
MEMBER OF AUDIENCE: My comment on behalf of the public is this, that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in future call on the press to let the public understand what is actually happening because the press is the mouthpiece of the public. A lot of people have no understanding of what is actually happening. We are being rehabilitated by it to come into a process which the Government is looking upon as a rehabilitation structure to the community of South Africa as a whole.
I usually hear the President when heís addressing a meeting saying Iím building up a justified society. To be justified is when people donít intend to retaliate against processes which are not there because some of us donít know what is happening they just hear and to be justified is only to take somebody from the attitude which he has and to turn it into something which is worthwhile in the society and reconstruct the episodes of living in this world. Thank you.
MR LATEGAN: Iíd like to add a bit of critisism against the Commission itself. I donít think many people in Petersburg knew about this meeting, neither the two local newspapers nor the SABC that Iíd spoken to knew about it and I donít know whoís fault that is. Had I had the time I would have seen to it that there would have been an invitation in the newspapers so in all fairness to the communities by and large there was not public knowledge. I invited a few individuals and spoke to them but if you want to have a repetition elsewhere or similar meetings elsewhere, I would strongly advise you to make use of the media by telling the people how necessary it is and that it is an open invitation for them to come here. It might have been different I donít know itís difficult for me to say but it might have been slightly different.
MEMBER OF AUDIENCE: Iíll use my own language. It is true that there is a problem in the Northern Province with regard to human relations between Blacks and Whites. I saw the beginning when this Truth and Reconciliation Commission had itís first sitting last year and I saw the second sitting on the 10th of April in Tzaneen. Today we are having the third hearing.
There is a problem amongst Whites and Iíd like to suggest a plan that the Truth Commission tries to sit down and examine ways in which we can bring Whites closer to the Black community. We cannot reconcile as Blacks amongst ourselves only. If you need to reconcile with somebody that person should be there so that there can be reconciliation. In other Provinces there a few Whites but here itís worse, this is the worst Province we have in South Africa because Blacks are determined to forgive Whites who have committed so many atrocities. We are prepared to forgive even if they have killed our people we are prepared to reconcile and negotiate with them. I usually ask myself whom can I reconcile with, they havenít come to say forgive us it doesnít show wisdom.
You see the leaders of the previous Government people like Malan and P.W. Botha who donít want to place their names on the records for reconciliation. You can see even in this hall the previous speaker said maybe people were not informed or invited. From what Iíve seen I want you as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission together with us should look for a plan as to how we can educate these people. Maybe there should be a special committee which will go within the White communities to ask them to meet the Black communities. We cannot just continue with the Whites living their own lives and we living our own lives because we have taken this Government and itís now our Government, all of ours despite the fact that they are dragging their feet, it is our Government. The President said as well we will never live the life we lived in the dark days. We want this White community but it seems they donít want the Black community. I think we should exercise patience. Thank you.
MISS MKHIZE: The trouble shooter is Tom who has said maybe it will be appropriate for us to ask for a women be it a young woman one or two or an elderly woman to share with us womenís experiences of what we are talking about and also the manner in which they think as women they can participate in this process of healing reconciliation itís very, very important. People are talking about White fears and young people we had were talking about how they suffered so we need a voice of a woman just to share.
PROF MEIRING: May we ask a mother or a younger woman to come to the fore please, youíll help us a lot if you open a window on the life of a woman in this community to us. Thereís a mother, please come to the fore. Iím sorry Iím blind to all the gentleman Iím only looking at the women.
MEMBER OF THE AUDIENCE: Firstly I would like to say thank you to the Commission and the public. My name is Maggie and I come from Louis Trichadt. It is true what the speakers have said. What worries us is even if we donít go back we lost our children there were many mistakes and Whites should show them that we should reconcile with them so that we can build the new South Africa. There should be understanding that we should work together with them. If they are not here they will only hear as the White person who spoke said and if there would be another Truth Commission here again they should make it possible to publish it in the media.
It doesnít mean that Whites donít know this. Itís because they donít believe that it is true that a Black person is governing because it has never settled in their minds they think they are dreaming. As I say if there should be another meeting again Whites should be invited so that we can talk to each other and forgive. Maybe we will then see the end of hatred, death, torture and many fights which were in our country will be solved. Thank you.
PROF MEIRING: Thank you very, very much. Iím just looking for women, only woman. Sir you have trousers on you are not a woman. Can I just ask if there is any lady who would like to speak? Thereís a lady.
MEMBER OF AUDIENCE: Thank you very much we really appreciate it. It is very true that we should meet so that we can reconcile, so that we can be one and if we donít do that we are going to end up getting frustrated because we have said whatever we have said in the past up to now and that is why we have reached this place. I come from Louis Trichardt from ... and Iím representing the people from that side and Iím fully aware that, that happened. Thank you.
MEMBER OF AUDIENCE: Thank you for this opportunity Iím Frank Mabutla. Iím a Priest at the moment and Iím working for the Northern Province Council of Churches. Today Iím a journalist, I passed yesterday. There are two questions with regard to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Since the establishment of this Commission in South Africa many people came forward to give their statements. Mainly people from Cape Town were able to give their statements and testify about the atrocities which were committed by their fellow citizens which were White. We found that today they are not here. Many people are still crying as they donít know which direction to take therefore this shows that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is a place for crying not a place for help.
We should ask how can the Truth and Reconciliation Commission help in bringing workshops which will help so that the victims will be comforted. As an Evangelist in many instances we meet with problems especially with regard to the Bible because it was used by the youth who were used as instruments of apartheid. What can the Truth and Reconciliation Commission do so that the Bible can take itís place and be regarded as a holy book and be used the way itís supposed to be used? Thank you.
MEMBER OF AUDIENCE: I am Nematisem Mgqego and I live in Louis Trichardt. Iím here for the TRC which has to deal with the reconciliation between Whites and Blacks and as such there should be that reconciliation. It is indeed something which is not very realistic. I grew up in Louis Trichardt before the existence of Whites. In fact when the Whites arrived in Louis Trichardt we had that relationship however when it came to some of the activities there were a lot of tortures, differences and divisions which were very extreme until such time as we realized that we are now able to sigh because we are relieved.
They would say lie down we want to hit you or beat you and we did as we were told and after having done that satisfactorily we were released and we went to our particular job we wouldnít have left before receiving those beatings. I think Iím going too far but in the means of all those activities during the divisions or racial discrimination I donít think there is any other person who suffered the way I did. I was electrocuted but God was not going to allow me to die then because if he was I could have died then.
However if one has to deal with political activities it was the VIP and I was doing the organizing. Our people listened to me and it was discovered that the previous Government which was mixed with Whites did not want it and I was arrested several times and went from one prison to another and they made mention of a lot of things. They gave me difficult things and there was a lot of trouble with the food and they did as I explained before.
I would like to thank the TRC for the idea that people should come together and to be one. However it should have been otherwise, maybe in the sense that there should have been a lot of Whites here if we were to reconcile. That would have been realistic. If we are to live here and you see a White man out there and someone reacts differently because what are we here for, we donít seem to have a purpose. Iím really praising freedom for being in an open fashion like this to talk about the TRC. What Iím saying is it should be like this until such time as weíll be able to reconcile with each other. I donít think thereís that segregation like separating Whites and Blacks in services. It seems as if when these Whites came to Louis Trichardt we really accommodated them we gave them freely but then they changed their minds. We could give them ... and anything we had to give to them and they ate freely but they changed their ideas and they realized it was difficult. Iím crippled in my back by virtue of the Whites having done that to me.
MEMBER OF AUDIENCE: Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity. What I want to know from you is whether the Truth Commission is for the Blacks because I cannot see a single White or Indian person. I only see those who are sitting there at the front. If this Truth Commission was for all of us we will reconcile and be one. Just like today I was a person working for the Government and I got injured whilst I was working for the State today Iím nothing Iím paralysed and I canít do anything for myself. I was beaten up by the police and even the State stood with them. They didnít do anything against him. What I want to ask the Commission to do as you are saying that we should reconcile, is to call these White people to come and listen to what weíre saying and all of us will reconcile being together. I think this is a very good idea. Thank you very much.
MEMBER OF AUDIENCE: Thank you very much. I understand there are a lot of people who talked about a lot of things we donít want to repeat because itís more frustrating than ever before. Before I get to what I wanted to say exactly Iíd like to say since Iím one of the people working in the organisation that deals with people there are some rises that we deserve. The day before yesterday we had a stay-away in support of the people. I think the TRC is working in the way it really is supposed to but the Whites are still economically okay but then it should also come to our own people because they are really controlling finances. They donít care about us. They should come and reconcile with us.
I think the Government has to take some steps and legislate something along those lines. Sometimes one can say enough is enough and I know very well that our old people are also troubled they are very dignified and even said bye-bye ... and he left although they were so troubled for having lost their own dear lives and dear people. We are still troubled in our work places and we also realize since the Whites are still in control of finances as we are also intending to have another stay-away we think the Government has to change the legislation because we think the Whites are the ones who are really controlling because they seem to say we donít have to participate in the stay-away.
MEMBER OF AUDIENCE: I just wanted to come to that now. In the early Ď80ís people were beaten and we want the TRC to help with regard to the past or previous Government since some of the elements are still there who are still sending people like police. There should be a meeting maybe in Vleifontein for example to ask for forgiveness from the Vleifontein community. Thank you.
MEMBER OF AUDIENCE: I would like to greet you all as well as the Commissioners. Iím Mr Mjapelo Iím from the area called Mojapelo the place called Mbaoi. Iím very disappointed but I like the work of the TRC and all that I heard about the TRC. Actually your job is good but Iím disappointed and Iím asking myself whether this Commission will still come back to these areas especially of traditional leaders. When looking at this old traditional leader we know that this is mainly what is happening in the rural areas not in the townships. These people called the White people or the Boers tortured people mainly in the rural areas in the farms.
What Iím saying is I donít want to repeat what people were talking about and that is mainly apartheid. We know that apartheid wasted most peopleís lives. What I want to say now is this Reconciliation and Rehabilitation I think you are not doing it well because mainly in the traditional leaders were spoilt by the Afrikaners, the White people. People are fighting mainly in the rural areas in the farms and thatís where witchcraft is mainly practiced thatís where it started that one person didnít want to hear what the community wanted to say. I know these White people. They like beating up people when they donít want to hear other peopleís views.
Thinking about bringing the White man to reconciliation, I think we are just wasting our powers because when you look at his hall itís only Black people who have filled it up. Where are all those people who were torturing people? Theyíre still there in our rural areas thatís where they planted their seeds and weíve got traditional leaders who were following their ideas and these communities are very afraid and they respect God. I heard this White man who was talking about a church. I canít even go to church and I hated church because of the White person. I realized that the White person was sent to Church by the devil and I realized that there was no God and I was frustrated. I also realized that my other brothers were frustrated like myself. I think they influenced the traditional leaders. I think the Commission should call the traditional leaders because I think theyíve tried hard in other areas but thereís one main point and that is they should go to the traditional leaders. They confused them and I think itís going to be hard to do that. I think you should go back to the traditional leaders because we couldnít fight with them, we respected them. We are only crying about apartheid but they are the ones who were given money to kill innocent people.
I think youíre doing a good job but Iím pleading to you because youíre failing to bring the White people here to the Commission. Just go to those traditional leaders in the communities because they frustrated the communities. There are many people in rural areas, in a place like Masheshang for example there are traditional leaders who are confusing people and they canít be killed because they are respected and theyíre also saying at the same time they are religious people. Even these people who are killing each other in the taxis, I think are influenced by White people. I didnít go to school so Iím illiterate. I couldnít continue my studies so I only went to Standard Three but I know how a White man does his work.
DEAN FARISANI: Just two things. One thing that has come out of this meeting very clearly is what you have heard over and over again, the absence of some of us in the nation who should be here. What are the reasons? Itís true that some are not here because they didnít know but it is an even greater truth that there are many who know about this meeting in the former oppressive community who are afraid of the truth because it hurts. That is one major reason.
Perhaps a weakness on the part of us all and the Truth Commission is that very often when we want to invite people from the White communities, we talk to their leaders to bring them and my personal experience is that some of these leaders try to shield their people away from the truth because they donít want the people to get the whole truth and I think thatís a big problem. After I spoke especially to you Comrade Tom and others, I contacted some our White colleagues. I did it personally. Some said theyíll come and theyíre not here and some said Iíll come but only for a short time. I donít want to mention names here and itís very sad because I know Comrade Lategan is committed but now that heís gone thereís nobody from that community.
This is very serious but it does not take away the truth from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Itís a painful truth but it doesnít take away from what youíre doing. Thatís the issue. Finally this I think is a request coming. The benefit of this coming together is people are saying now that you have heard us publicly and loudly in the open, we want to know, give us the dates if you can today or soon hereafter. We testified in Messina, we testified in Louis Trichardt, we testified in Toyando, we testified in Pietersberg, we testified in Tzaneen and perhaps some place further south. Nobody as far as we know has come out to plead for amnesty and the closing date is today isnít it? When these people who have killed us and tortured us and maimed us apply for amnesty please let them ask for amnesty in Tzaneen so that communities there can go and hear when these people ask for forgiveness. Donít forget Messina and Toyando and Pietersburg we want to hear. This process is not complete, the sitting here is not complete until we hear from that side because if we donít hear then people might want to hear their own way and we think the Truth and Reconciliationís way of us hearing our murderer confessing publicly is the well organized disciplined way but what people are saying is that we are hearing ourselves, we are not hearing the other side.
MR MAHUDU: Of course Iíve got a burning contribution. We testified last year and the Truth Commission promised that they would do a psychological support system. Since then we havenít heard anything of the promises they made as we agreed thatís the thing that makes me doubt the purpose of the Truth Commission is it about truth or not because the promises theyíve made to us, theyíve not yet met. We tried to contact Tom Manthata about that problem. He sent me a list of people who testified in Pietersburg but there is no one who has been helped so far with regard to psycho therapy and psychological support system so we beginning to doubt the purpose of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Mr Manthata didnít give me a satisfactory answer in that regard after we faxed our documents he said he didnít find anything.
Itís now eleven months and the people have been promised. Are you going to take another eleven months to fulfill those promises or is it because you only came to Johannesburg and we testified and thatís all? Where is the problem? We donít want to just come forward and appear on TV and testify. We have burning issues that are still hanging. Where can we get the answer? Thatís what I wanted to say.
MR MANTHATA: Let me ask the person who has just spoken, wait a little bit. Firstly Sir, let me say the list you are talking about, I donít know whom you gave that list to because it never landed in my hands. Letís not generalise that people who are in the offices are not doing their work whilst you are not giving us the mandate. There are people in Louis Trichardt after Toyando hearings who came. We even organized help for them at ... hospital. We talked to people from welfare in Toyando so that by themselves should help as with the lists of people who should come to them. If they fail we asked that the committees which were helping us to run the hearings should try to continue to compile a list which you are talking about. I donít have a single list in my office. Let us try to be truthful. We worked together with the arms and organs of the State that is education, welfare and health those are the people who, when they come to us we negotiated with them to help. We negotiated with the Premiers and MECís for Health and Welfare and the people we help are those who made statements. I will challenge again that you must show me the list which was handed to me in my hands which has been processed the same way by our support staff. So either we are trying to help one another so that in the end we are able to present to the Government what should be done. Letís be very clear. Maybe this has not been explained in the hearings. Maybe we talked about it in the Committees that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission takes peopleís advice or suggestions, it takes peopleís recommendations, it takes the peoples stands, the peopleís circumstances and takes them to Government and pressurizes the Government that those people should be helped.
We as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission donít have money, we donít even have a cheque book to do the things which people are asking. We are the Governmentís arm, we are the Governmentís eyes, we have been mandated that we should ask people and we should see people so that at the end we should make recommendations to the Government. Perhaps itís our local Governments that fail. Thank you.
MEMBER OF AUDIENCE: Thank you Iím Richard Mpoho from Alberton representing the youth from Alberton. We heard of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee but what gives the youth around my village a headache and is that the Government is edging people to speak the truth and at the end to reconcile to bring peace and togetherness.
Alberton is a rural area with itís own people who are not moving with other people in South Africa or within the Province what caused this is since the elections they donít know where they belong because even the Government is rejecting them. Iíve heard some Comrades saying services or recreation activities should be given to the youth in order to remove this question of boredom in order to encourage them to be united. In Alberton we are doubtful because we donít know who is going to supply those services to the people of Alberton since there is a total rejection from the Government and what the Government is doing is still part of human violations. The people are waiting to speak the truth to tell the Government where they come from and where they belong, where the Sotho belongs. The Government is rejecting them so the Government is trying to play a double game.
Itís talking about reconciliation in one way and in another way rejecting the people. How can the people feel proud to speak the truth to the Government which is not taking their responsibilities so my recommendation to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is to edge or to tell the Government that they should try to come all the areas within the Province so that people can have confidence to come and speak the truth. If they donít take them into consideration the people wonít come to tell the truth about what they know and then at the end this Truth and Reconciliation Commission will be a useless effort because there are so many Boers around our areas and since there is no consideration so there is hatred developing more each day. We see the people develop this hatred more and more each day and in the end weíll never reconcile. Thank you.
MISS MKHIZE: Thank you very much. I really have to be crude because after this gentleman who is already there, Iíll will ask one young lady and thatís it because Iím told there are people who have been waiting to come and dance for us so after you itís this young lady and then weíll close to let the dances come in, Iím sorry. If you can just take the seat as well.
MEMBER OF AUDIENCE: Comrades, Iím Pete Simola from Burgersfort in Alberton. We have a problem and would like to request the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to help us to take one of the Provinces of South Africa in order for us to know which Province we fall under. That is why we are here in Pietersburg from Burgersfort.
When I came here I noticed that Iím seen as a comic because I havenít washed because in our village we have no water. We have no one to go to ask for help and the people who oppress us are used by the chief and that person has spoken the truth. When we want to speak to those who were elected to Government they donít want to listen to us. People like John Dombo whom we should be able to discuss our problems with before we come to the Truth Commission.
We donít know what to do because they donít want to listen to us and is there is an action that can be taken by the Truth Commission to negotiate with a certain Province to accept the people of Burgersfort.
MISS MKHIZE: Tata, as I have said we are trying to give these other people time and weíve heard that you are not happy with the implementation on the Governmentís side. Is there anything which you would like to add?
MEMBER OF AUDIENCE: Before I leave the stage let me ask if it is possible for the Truth Commission to request the Government to try to help us because there is nowhere where we can go other than just to stay there without these basic services as we have no person who is taking care of us. Maybe we will be able to survive with your help. Thank you.
MEMBER OF AUDIENCE: I have a problem which is faced by every young Black person and that is unemployment for the students who have just completed their studies who have higher qualifications than Whites. If you go to an interview with two other applicants one White and one Black, the Black is not given the opportunity to be employed. The Truth Commission should look into that issue.
MISS MKHIZE: Thank you very much. As a Commission I must say we have really been humbled by your patience. When we came here in the morning we also woke up at four thirty which is normal for us to get up at that time as we go all over the country although offices might be in big cities we work in areas like this almost on a daily basis. We have been humbled by your openness in sharing with us the difficulties which are still facing people in this Province in particular.
It is sad to hear what we have heard that people are actually looking for people who have violated our rights saying that we are stretching our hands, we are looking for you, where are they. That is really difficult to explain to other people because normally people who have offended others struggle to get people to forgive them. The spirit which prevails in this area is humbling and we just hope that this is the beginning of an important process for meaningful dialog.
As you have indicated yourselves there are quite a number of leaders here whom we think have a responsibility to follow up discussions and to pursue these discussions at a different level in schools, within the churches, party forums even within Government structures. What has really been clear to us as well is that this community remains divided and people are still hurting deeply because of the legacies of the past. Again I should think itís something which now that you have articulated it, itís a question of looking for people with a vision who will say what is it that we can do to begin to work on these differences and look at ways of helping even those who are fearful to share and to come forward to talk.
I must say today in particular we would like to emphasize one more thing and that is, itís the last day for those who want to apply for amnesty. In other words we are referring to people who were part of the old Government in perpetrating human rights violations as well as those people who within liberation movements also ended up committing human rights violations. It is very, very important for people to come forward, firstly because those who were the victims of those omissions come to terms with their past and they heal. If they hear about what happened to the loved ones but also even for a person for himself of herself, it gives one peace of some kind to know that Iíve openly confessed what I did and then Iíve taken away the guilt from me and look for opportunities for being part of the solution today.
Having said all this it is difficult to thank any one person but on behalf of all of us from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission we thank first of all survivors of human rights violations amongst you here, the leadership of this community and above all our Chairperson who really has helped a lot on a number of occasions in facilitating the work of the Commission. We see this as the beginning of good work in this area and hope that youíll continue in that spirit. Having said this I will hand over to our Chairperson.
REV NYAMA: Thank you very much. I would like to make this announcement. Due to the space and the capacity of this hall the traditional dancers are willing to entertain us but the problem is the stage and the space where they can dance, so Iíve asked them to entertain us outside once we have finished with the programme and from there we will be going to our areas.
I have the statement takers within this hall and I would like you to meet them so whenever you want to give any statement towards reconciliation then you may know whom to contact. Could you stand up so that they know you in future? That is Peter Mnjela with his hand up from Shishero which is around Pietersberg. You may contact him for any statement then Luvuyano from Venda and Louis Trichardt for those people from that side even Messina they can contact him that side. Two gentlemen here are from Pietersberg. They are taking statements within this Province as well as myself. We are the statement takers of this Province. If you need anything concerning the TRC phone the council of churches who will make arrangements with you where to go and how to bring your statement. The telephone number at the council of churches is Pietersburg code 2913431/2. You can make an appointment there and they will tell you when to come. This is our policy as statement takers that we want to move from one place to another especially places like Burgersfort, Jane Furse wherever there were no statements given we want to reach but if you phone the council of churches they will tell you when to come to your area and will come and take a statement. If you are in Pietersburg youíve got no problem because the council of churches is in Pietersberg. We donít want people to come without an appointment because you will go there and find no-one there. The address is 26 Radie Street in Pietersburg and please donít go without making an appointment as you wonít find anyone there who will be able to help you.
Iíd like to thank all the people from Jane Furse, Burgersfort, Venda and Louis Trichardt. Unfortunately we donít have people from Tzaneen as well as from Potgietersrust. We appreciate your participation and your presence on this occasion. Also people from Mankweni ... area and around there. Thank you very much for your participation in this process.
I think we are now about to say the benediction then we leave unless Iíve left something out? No, I havenít so thank you very much for your attendance and I would like on behalf of this Province in front of you and on behalf of the people of this Province to say that we need the TRC public hearing to come again because some of the areas are not yet covered. We want them to come on a special day to listen to the cry of this Province. Thank you very much. Shall we stand up and thank our Lord for helping us here. Those who have been using the mikes could you just be kind enough to take them back to the person in charge.