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Type REPARATION & REHABILITATION COMMITTEE TRANSCRIPTS
Starting Date 19 July 1997
Names MARINDA VAN SCHALKWYK, FATHER SHAUN O'LEARY, DR BOTHA, MARJORIE NKOMO, SANDI LUBISI, MANDLA SELEOANE, EDITH MAHLANGU, LIEZE DU PLESSIS, HELDA VELDTMAN, JUDITH MOTAUNG, MR MUKURUNDI
CHAIRPERSON: I think we will have to continue with our programme as planned. We are now on item number two and let me just say it is my opportunity to or, let me put it this way, that it is a pleasure for me to be with you to having been invited to come and facilitate or chair this meeting, this workshop of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We hope other people are still coming. We tried our best to invite a number of people around Pretoria. We also rounded a number of churches to come and join us, to come and present what they think it is need to be presented, submission and so forth. Also, I would like to apologise on behalf of the Mayor of the Greater Pretoria Metropolitan Council. He could not make it in this workshop. I think she was not properly informed, probably, but she said I must just send apologies they, that she could not make it.
I hope that we know the importance of being here together. This is the workshop which will try to help together with you so that we will be able to give submissions in terms of the problems which occurred to you, the violation of human rights which happened to you. You will be given time to present your cases. I hope you were briefed of what is going to happen today. I am going to request Mr T Manthata on item three to explain the purpose of this workshop. Mr Tom Manthata. I had hoped, I think it is important for me to introduce the commissioners who are here. We have Ma Joyce Serote.
CHAIRPERSON: Seroke on my extreme left. We have Tom Manthata. We have Ms Hlengiwe Mkhize. We have Prof Grobbelaar. These are the people who are managing, people who are in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. As others, maybe they will join, I will, Tom would introduce them or inform me about them. Can we then move to item number three, Tom.
MR MANTHATA: Do you have this audio equipment? There may not be sufficient to all of you, but those who have them. English and channel three, Tswana and channel four Sotho, not Zulu. Okay. Zulu on four. You are able to fix them in terms of the buttons on the outside. If you can handle it alright, it will show you which channel you want to listen to from channel one to channel four. Setswana is channel three, channel four is Zulu. Are we able to turn to those channels? I will continue now. Are they okay now? Do you hear? Can you hear properly? Thank you.
As the Chairperson has said already that the most important thing is the purpose of this gathering. I hope you have these papers. After the agenda you have the paper that reads "Pretoria post-hearing, public follow up workshop". That is as you go down there you will find the purposes of this workshop clearly stated numbers one, two, three, four and so on.
MR MANTHATA: So, in short, what we are here for is to find out from the people and to give the people a chance to express themselves about their own observations about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. That is, the impact it has had on them, the impact it has had on their communities and the impact it has had, be it nationally or internationally as it would, as it could have come to your hearing or to your knowledge. Do you hear me in Tswana? So, we are actually here to find out from the people what their thinkings are. As we have said, people should and our appeals to make submissions as you know that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has been introduced or given us by the Government, the new Government, to find out our understanding of what we call human rights and our understanding will come out clearly in the light of how the human rights have been either respected or violated and violated grossly and, further, how can we initiate a culture of observance, respect, promotion and protection of the human rights in South Africa. This is done in a manner that we are seeking the public support and public opinion that is for the Government, not for the TRC itself, to get into that culture, to apply themselves seriously to this whole concept so that all what we experienced during the years of conflict, does not happen again.
We come from a history of shame and we want to say we can give the history and the lives of our people in this country such a facelift that it can be counted amongst the democracies of the world and this should come about through the involvement of everybody and the involvement is such that we require submissions from each and every person, what do you think our democracies should be like. So, you will find we have there number one of the reasons or of the purposes of our gatherings, that is to find out how the hearings have impacted on the people. Not only the hearings, but even the making of the statements, submission of the statements to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Two, we would love to identify the avid difficulties experienced in your community, that is, what is it you experienced in your community in the process of making statements, making, coming to the hearings and what do the people say after the hearings, what have they experienced and all these things, we are not only talking about the HRV hearings, we are talking too about the hearings at the amnesty applications, the Amnesty Committee applications. What do these disclosures mean to you, what impact do you have. We have heard people saying when people talk about how they killed or they murdered people, this sometimes gives an impression that all people of that nature or all people of that class are tarred with the same brush, but we say the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's activities are for individuals. What people say, they say as individuals, but now how do these things impact on you?
Then, of course, it will be very clear that after this, what is it you think should be done, first, to what we call victims and, of course, even to the perpetrators. They need to be rehabilitated, they need to be reaccepted or admitted into the communities. How can this be done in the most human way? We do not, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission wants to stop this apportioning of blame. We want to build, we want to unite the country, we want to reconcile the peoples and the communities. So, we look at these things in the light of the effort that has to be directed towards reconciling the communities, reconciling the people. That is why, finally, we would want to know whether the processes of reconciliation are possible in our community.
Pretoria comprises a variety of communities. Communities of all colours of thinking, of all hues of philosophies and political idealogies. We hope even in this gathering that we have the NP's, we have the Freedom Front, we have the AWB, we have got people from the army, people from the police who can tell us exactly how the TRC has impacted on their lives. The TRC is not meant to speak about people behind their backs. The TRC wants everybody here, whether you are a community councillor whose house was burnt, who was forced out of the township, you are needed here so that you can talk and have a sympathetic hearing from each and everybody present. We cannot promote reconciliation if we talk behind the backs of the people for fear of misinterpretation, because some people want to say that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is for witch hunting and/or even putting the Black people on a moral high up against other communities. This is not the purpose of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Whoever says that he still needs to be informed, he still needs to be given and to be made to understand the whole processes and the functions and the activities of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This is meant to reconcile the people. This is meant to restore the peoples' honour. I thank you Mr Chairperson.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Tom. I hope we all understood what is the purpose of this coming together. Now we will move, unless there are questions and clarity, that would be probably asked by you if you need clarification on what Tom has said. So we all understood the purpose of us coming together? Can we move then to item four and allow Joyce, I think it is Joyce.
MS SEROKE: Thank you Chairperson. I am just going to give you a short feedback about the work of the Human Rights Violations Committee. This committee is one of the three committees of the Truth Commission and it is responsible for taking statements from people whose, who suffered gross human rights violations. The Act defines these gross human rights violations as killing, torture, abduction and severe ill-treatment and all these gross human rights violations should have been committed within a period starting from 1960 with the Sharpeville massacre extending right up to the 10th of May 1994. So, since the last time we were here for the hearings in Pretoria and in this region, in fact, we have been trying to have a massive statement taking campaign so that we should have in as many statements as possible that will give us as complete a picture as possible of the conflicts of the past and I am just going to give you a brief overview of what some of the statements that we have taken from this area indicate, what kind of conflict those statements reflect.
Starting from the 60's when all the political organisations were banned after the Sharpeville massacre, we saw in the country, the 60's witnessed a clamp down on political opposition. As a result many organisations went underground and people, especially young people, decided to skip the country and go for training. We have cases like Festus Boikhutso in 1963, who disappeared and was allegedly killed in Zimbabwe. Then, of course, we have the infamous 1976 unrest which started in Soweto, but spread to all over the country and you can see that even the area of Pretoria and this whole region was affected by that and we see students now joining the campaign of militancy and boycotting schools and having protest marches and so on. Then, of course, as a result of those protests, there were lots of casualties.
Ezekiel Oupa Masuku who was a student activist was detained in 1977 and his parent's home was bombed and his mother was killed and then it goes on in the 80's. The 80's witnessed frequent boycotts. In 1980 in Silverton, Pretoria, 25 people were held hostage by three alleged guerrillas in the Volkskas Bank and this resulted in a shootout. Three guerrillas were killed and two hostages. Nine hostages and two policemen seriously injured and so, amongst the statements we have taken, we have some of the victims of that conflict, Ms Landman, who was an employee of the Volkskas Bank, who was injured and Ms Annetjie de Klerk, who was killed and Mr and Mrs Christie were, who were customers who had just gone to do their business in the bank and became victims of that conflict.
We also have the infamous KwaNdebele Youth Massacre in 1985 when the South African Government was trying to incorporate Ekangala and Moutse into KwaNdebele and the people resisted and we know what a terrible conflict that was and young people came, left Mamelodi to go and protect some of the ANC properties there and, of course, that resulted in that horrible massacre where nine of them were killed and got burnt in the house that was bombed. I can go on and on, but you can, we can see from these statements that we have received that we have covered the conflict that started in the 60's right up to 1994, but here I will not give you all those details, but all I can share now is how many statements we have taken in this area and, when we talk about this region, we are talking about Soshanguve, Pretoria, Mamelodi, Calinen, Hammanskraal, Winterveld, Saulsville, Atteridgeville.
Up to now we have received a total of 290 statements and, as far as we are concerned in the Human Rights Committee, we feel these statements are not enough. If we have to write a report at the end of the year which is going to indicate the number of gross human rights violations that were committed in this country within this period that has been stipulated, we still need to have more of those statements. In Soshanguve we have only received 41 and in Pretoria 99, in Mamelodi 77, Calinen three, Hammanskraal 42, Winterveld 23, Saulsville tow, Atteridgeville 13. I earlier on mentioned the type of gross human rights violations that we are considering according to our Act and I said killing and with the violation of killing we have a total of 600, total number of killings. There is eight which was through explosions, 14 through shootings, two burning, petrol bombs two, torture four, electric shock one and the land mines one, and nine are unknown as to how they, how they received, how they were killed.
So, these are those statistics that we have, but now, nationally, just to give you a picture of what is happening all over the country. We have a grand total, at the moment, of 11254 statements that we have taken and, if we have to break them down, in the Western Province we have 1450, in KwaZulu Natal we have 2579 and in the Eastern Cape we have 2197 and in our Johannesburg office, which covers four provinces, that is Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Northern Province and North West, we have collected 4486 statements and I would like to explain to people who have given statements and also who came to our hearings and some of them are wondering what is happening with their statements, what is the TRC doing about what they have shared with us? You can, I can well understand how people are anxious to know, because some of them have told us about loved ones who have disappeared and they would like to know the progress as far as those investigations are concerned.
We are going through our investigations and with limited resources the process is not as fast as what people would expect. So, sometimes we write letters of acknowledgement just to give people an idea of where we are at the moment and, I must say, that all the people who gave their statements are not necessarily victims. We still have to go through a process of making findings and that is where, that is why people do not know about what is happening now, because we are now involved in the process of making findings. This is a painstaking job where our investigators should go out and corroborate the statements so that we can verify the authenticity of those statements and, as you can imagine, if we are going to make recommendations and write a report, we have to base that on factual information. So, that is why we have to go through this process of finding out whether the statements we have received are genuine or not.
Some of us and I mean there are some of the, there are some problems that have arisen now since we have started the process of findings. As you know some of these conflicts and, happened in the 60's and in the 70's and so on and when our investigators go to hospitals to verify whether the person was shot or had any injuries according to her statement, we find that most of the records have been destroyed. There are no medical reports to substantiate some of the information. When we go to police stations to get dockets we find that some of those are also destroyed, because of the period of time. So, it is very important for people who have submitted their statements to really co-operate with our investigators when they ask you for death certificates or even hospital cards, which could give us an indication that, indeed, somebody did go to that hospital or to that clinic. So we will find out that we will go back to you to say that we are not able to verify, could you furnish us with something else that could make us substantiate your story and is very important. Some of you did promise that you will send death certificates, but up to now some of them are not forthcoming.
As you know that the work of the Truth Commission is coming to an end on the 14th of December and so the pressure is now really building up and we would like to say to people, please try and tell as many people as possible to come and give us your statements, because at the end of July we shall no longer be taking statements and we would like to give many people a chance to come forward and give us statements. We were very disappointed, sometimes, with the response, you know, of the people about giving their stories. It is very important that we should get those stories and just to give you an example, with the massacres, like the massacre that happened in Sebokeng, with so many hundreds of people who were killed in that massacre, we find that when we go through the statements, there about five people who have come forward to report about that massacre. So, we are really saying bear with us, you will hear about the progress we have done about your stories and I know when you see the headlines in some regions where bones are unearthed, everybody who has had a loved one disappearing is also hoping that very soon they will also know where those bones, where the bones of their loved ones are, but it is not as easy as all that. Most of the results that we have heard in untangling some of these intricate stories was through the applications for amnesty. When people applied for amnesty they made full disclosures, they confessed and that is why we have had the progress that we have had, but bear with us, our investigators are still trying to do their best and you will hear from us whenever we come up with a story.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mrs Seroke, for the overview of what transpired and gross violation of human rights. I hope you are all listening as well as there is that translation. I would now move to item number five, the Chairperson of the Reparation and Rehabilitation Committee, Mrs Hlengiwe Mkhize to also address us. Over to you Mrs Mkhize.
My task is to discuss with you our reparations policy. Before I do that I would like to add a voice to what Joyce Seroke referred about the question of statement making. Also, for our committee, that is a crucial part of the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, because if communities have not come forward, if people have not made individual statements it is very difficult for us to estimate as to what are we talking about when we talk reparations. Many people have been wanting to know what is the committee doing. We have been formulating policy guidelines, but for this policy to be implemented, we should have a certain degree of certainty that we have captured the extent and the incidence of human rights violations during the stipulated period and that you can only gauge by looking at the statements that have come forward.
In terms of the enabling Act, our Committee, the Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee, is expected to advise the President as to measures which should be followed in granting reparation, rehabilitation and the restoration of human and civil dignity of victims of human rights violation. You will recall that, at the time when negotiations were taking place, one of the statements which was made by the President of our country, Nelson Mandela, was that in accepting the political settlement, he endorsed it by saying he is hoping that there will be a systematic way of dealing with the after effects of human rights violations. So in terms of the enabling Act we are then expected to advise the President as to what are measures which should be taken to implement reparations, rehabilitation and generally to restore the dignity of those who were criminalised, of those who were dehumanised through the process of human rights violations.
Many of you, who have been working closely with us, you will agree with me that in this country, human rights violations were not aimed at people as individuals, but as representatives of certain communities, as representative of certain political groups and, as a result, we have really struggled to come to a position where we are regarding proposals that we are making to the President. I must say this community today you are lucky, because you are the first group whom we address after the Commission has just made a final decision about what is it that we are taking to the President. So, you are the first group to get the final thinking of the Commission around reparation and rehabilitation. When we started we consulted with individuals, we consulted with communities, groups like yourself, sharing our ideas, sharing what was in the Act, what we were expected to do and we made use of all those ideas in coming up with the proposals that we are bringing today.
Okay, the first point to highlight is that, having looked at the statements, the statements that have been made by people, we look at information which we have in our offices and say, really when we say people were killed, people were tortured, people were abducted, what happened to those who survived? Clearly, based on the information we have, it is clear that the conflict produced many casualties. Human rights violations not only destroyed individual lives, but also affected families, communities and the nation as a whole. Some people have suffered severely, they are left with severe medical needs, some are left mentally handicapped, some are left not in a position to access education resources in this country, some are without shelters over their head. I am just mentioning a few categories around which we have grouped the harm categories that we are presenting before the people of this country.
Then, of course, the major task has been to, what is it that we are going to propose? As I have said that people who have made statements, they do not suffer as individuals. In some instances there are other casualties who might not qualify in terms of the limited act, who might have been part of the grouping, but they did not suffer as a person, for instance, who have imprisoned, but they have equally suffered, they could not hold jobs, they were on the run most of the time. So, the question which we are struggling with is do we then want to be punitive to those who managed to escape, to survivors, and only say reparation should be for those only who suffered.
So, in our reparations policy we have looked at two packages, if I might call it that way. An individual package which looks at an individual survivor as us trying to respond to a question of saying, how does then this person begin to meet the pressing needs. As I have said, they are usually medical, mental, educational, shelter, in some instances symbolic. As Joyce Seroke referred to people who needs to know about what happened to their loved ones so that they can come up with symbolic reparations. When all of you, as you are sitting here, I don not have to tell you about, if you look at medical needs, as a Commission we could not say, okay, people should access Government services only.
When we started as a Committee that is what we were saying. We were saying the country has no resources, those with recurring medical needs, they should go to hospitals and those with a mental health care needs should also go, access Government resources, but, also, the Act expect us to do a State Audit of existing resources. It, I do not want to say it is shocking, maybe I must say it is overwhelming to see what the planning of our previous Government did to the people of this country. You find that a few street away from the main city, many people do not have any of the services. So, in all fairness, for a person whose rights were violated we felt it would be like double victimisation if we simply say, in terms of the reparations programme, what we give you, a systematic way of dealing with your health, or educational needs is to, say, go to Bharagwanath Hospital, go to Galafong Hospital. We realised that services, because they were also divided on racial lines, there was a gradual deterioration on the part of the oppressed, but we have not lost that out. We realised that is an important part of our package.
Partly what we will recommend is that the implementing body should embark on an ongoing negotiation with different ministries so as to make sure that five years down the line there will be at least a balance in terms of access to resources for all the people. That is what is hoped for. So, finally, as a Commission we have taken a position, that look, what we will recommend, what we are recommending to the people of this country, of course, to the President is that there should be a pension award for those who are found to be victims which they can access over a number of years depending on what economists advise. That is an acknowledgement of the harm suffered, it is not a compensation.
There is no amount of money which can be given to a person and restore his dignity. People who were tortured, you saw recently as demonstrations were shown how people were tortured, they were reduced almost to nothing and left with scars which we cannot say they are rands and cents which will restore that person's inner sense of self. So, the acknowledgement of the basic harm is really an acknowledgement. It is a form of apology, it is a form of saying we, the public, the community of South Africa do acknowledge that you were unfairly treated, your rights as a person were violated. It is not a compensation as the Act does not expect us to come up with that.
Having said that, some people have argued against that form of assistance on grounds that in the past whenever people were given money they did not use it appropriately, also that it will divide communities further, but we have moved around the circle over a long period of time and we did not have a way out. Hence, we have felt that given all the controversies we have had to take a reasonable position in favour of those who are found to be victims and are qualifying for the reparations grant. Then, of course, another added problem, besides the acknowledgement of harm through a pensions scheme, is that peoples' needs differ a lot.
The question then has been to say how do we assist people especially those whose needs will be beyond what can, what will be given across the board as an acknowledgement of harm. So we have come up with a differentiation criteria of some kind, which we have said, look, it should be defensible in other words, we should be able to explain to the public, as we are doing to you, in a convincing manner, in a manner which will make people feel that well that is fair enough. We have had to make use of lessons learnt from other organisations like the South African Council of Churches and many others in terms of ... at the time of the violation. It will be fair, nobody will say it is unfair to say these people can apply for extra help if the basic pension grant seems not to meet the needs.
You know how families differ in this context. In some instances, the survivors of human rights violations or even those who actually were murdered and died, they were in complex family relationships, not with, living within a nuclear family and that will complicate things for whoever access the, qualifies for the pensions, but also another thing which we have been worried about is not to come up with a reparations policy which will be too costly in terms of its administration, which, in other words will take all the resources to the administration. So, hence, we thought we need to be clear about the criteria and reduce a possibility where by, let us say for instance, the assessment of people which will cost more money, need more resources can drain the very meagre pension that has been given to a person.
So we thought it is better to use the criteria which is easy to evaluate, which does not call for extra financial resources. Of course, we are ever, ever conscious of financial feasibility as to the resources of this country, that building a nation which was in a phase of deterioration over many years, because in any context, once you have the oppressed, the haves and the have nots, obviously, that country is not growing. It is embarking on gradual deterioration, it, which meant our economy gradually diminishing to almost nothing. So, the question of financial feasibility has been a major consideration, but we were balancing that with the moral obligation that if peoples' right have been taken away through the amnesty process, there is no way in which we can say the country has no resources. All the way through there has been a call made to the Commission that you have got to have the, balance this amnesty clause with a systematic reparations policy if you want to promote healing and reconciliation in this country.
So, that is, in just broadly speaking, this is what we are proposing and then our policy is really, is going to be implemented in two phases. There is what we announced last year which was called urgent interim reparations. That is within the Act. Since this policy is based on the same principles, basically, people who qualify for urgent interim assistance are those people who have got urgent needs. You know, amongst yourselves, we have heard people from communities saying in that family things are really bad, in that family so and so will not survive, will not survive this year. So, those are people whom we think, if needs are, we have developed a method of reviewing each and every applicant. We sit down for hours, we go through them, we look at what has been said and we are isolating those with urgent needs so that at least they can be in the front of the queue, but, of course, since our policies are related, they are not two, the urgent and the final.
The difference is that the urgent can be implemented now through the Ministry of Justice. The final one will be implemented within the President's office, will be debated by Cabinet after the life of the Commission, but people who have benefitted through urgent interim, in other words, let us say, a person was allocated a certain amount of money, no matter how small, our recommendation is that when the final one is being implemented that will be taken into consideration, because it is basically one policy. The difference is that with the urgent one there is a window opportunity for people to make a claim as a matter of urgency as soon as they are told that you qualify for a reparations policy. So, those are just broad guidelines to what we are proposing to the President and to the people of this country. Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much Mrs Mkhize. I think time- wise we are doing very well. We are, before we go to, you know, questions, we would ask, there is a lady who would like to submit and she has other commitments and she has asked us to put her forward. So, I would ask her to come forward, that is Mrs van Schalkwyk, if she is around, to come forward. Yes, you can sit there and press the button. Yes, just press it so that we should see the light. Yes, thank you.
MRS VAN SCHALKWYK: Good morning everybody present here, honourable Chairman. Prof Piet Meiring asked me to come and say something here on behalf of the women of the Dutch Reformed Church, the NG Kerk. Can everybody hear me, may I continue? It is a privilege for me to be here. Firstly, I can only tell you what the General Commission of the Womens' Service decided in February regarding the Truth Commission. As a bit of information, the General Commission consists of two representatives from 11 synod areas and we discussed the submission made by the NG Kerk, which it must make to the Commission and 20 of the 22 women present there accepted the recommendation that the General Commission of the Womens' Service request the General Commission, with great seriousness and for the sake of the future of the Dutch Reformed Church in this country, to reconsider, indeed, to go and make a submission to the Truth Commission.
As Christians we, as women, feel very strongly regarding the portrayal of love and reconciliation in our country. I wish that I could tell you today with great enthusiasm that all the women in the church are positive about the Truth Commission. However, there are quite a number of people, I spoke to as many people as possible over the last few weeks, some very informally, and many of them said that they do not really know what it is all about, that they are not properly informed, probably they do not read enough, they probably realise that it is not adequate knowledge that they have, but sometimes they feel as, Mr Tom Manthata had said earlier, they often feel that it is a one-sided affair to which they are listening, but, fortunately, there are many other women whom I would say that they are really finding it hard in their community to hear about these things, but they realise that it is very necessary that these matters be made known in our country. We know very well that hurt has to be opened up, that we have to talk about this, that we have to be able to look each other in the eye and tell each other that we are sorry about what had brought about the hurt in our community and this is the only way in which we can carry out the Christian message of love and reconciliation.
Prof Meiring also asked me to say something about what we already do for reconciliation as women of this particular church group. I am very thankful that I am able to say that we already have quite a bit of liaison with women of all Christian churches. We, for example, have a joint project on the 9th of August, the National Women's Day, annually, where we call upon all women, Christian women, to pray against crime and violence in our country, but, particulary, for those perpetrators and criminals so that change will also occur in their lives so that they will not continue to live in the way they have until now.
We also dream of uniting with women in other communities, to reach out to these criminals and violators so that, perhaps, we can also discover what is behind their actions and assist them so that they will also change and lead new lives. We would really like to co-operate in joint projects and here we can, for example, think of what the South African Council of Churches, Women Division, have as a great task so that they will also communicate to us where great needs exist so that we can co-operate. We have talked about the victims of violence and I really think that when we receive information, I have not discussed this with others, but this is what I have been thinking about, the way I know Christian women, they would like to help where there are real emergency needs and we would also like to become involved with the victims. I do not know exactly how, precisely how, but if you come to us and speak to us, we would really like to hear how we can assist.
Then, I can only say that I speak on behalf of a large portion of the women in our church when I say that we are really excited about the future ahead of us, that we would really like to build together, the future of our nation, but we realise that before we can really go forward with great enthusiasm we, unfortunately, have to close the books on the past, we have to bring out and deal with suffering and struggling and only then can we continue with enthusiasm on the road forward. Thank you.
MS MKHIZE: Thank you very much for your submission, but we would just like to ask a few questions so as to be clear about what you are saying. You mentioned that women within your church are positive about the Truth Commission and that some have, concerned as to whether the process is even handed or not. Regarding healing of those who suffered the most in the past, have you, as women within the church, thought of possible programmes which can bring about the balance in the lives of women in this area?
MRS VAN SCHALKWYK: We have not really worked out a plan. I think the main object is that we have to first liaise with each other, become aware of the hurt that exists everywhere, because, as I have said, there are, unfortunately, so many people who have not yet heard of how many people had been hurt or the suffering that had been brought about. We have got to get this across to everybody. I will not say that everybody will always understand, but the more people understand the hurt that had been brought about, the easier it will be to establish a plan. I do not know whether this is a complete reply.
MS MKHIZE: Well, I was just thinking that, I mean, even in your own community there are many women who are deeply hurting, because they have heard for the first time about their spouses involvement in human rights violations, especially as it emanates from the amnesty process. So, we, the feedback we have got, as a Commission, is that in some instances families are disintegrating. Because of those revelations, children are changing schools. So, I was thinking, I was wondering whether, within in the church, you have thought of a ...
MRS VAN SCHALKWYK: Not particularly in our congregation, there are no instances in our congregation, but I know, definitely know, about families where problems have arisen where wives and children have not known about the things which have been revealed and those families are receiving specific support to process this new information and to really assimilate this in their lives and they are definitely receiving assistance.
MS SEROKE: Mrs van Schalkwyk, I just want to ask one question. You mentioned that you are also trying to work with other groups to find out how you can assist victims and normally people think victims are only those people who suffered the gross human rights violations and it is also come out in the fore that even the alleged perpetrators are victims and it has been said in some quarters that the Truth Commission should begin to see, to explore ways of how they can bring the perpetrators together with the victims. I know that is a very sensitive issue, but, ultimately, if we are going to achieve this national unity, it has got to be done. How do you see your church beginning to look into this process, not only just helping the families of the alleged perpetrators, but also helping them to come together with those that they have violated and so on and so on.
MRS VAN SCHALKWYK: I would perhaps just have to say that I do not know exactly how to reply in this regard, except to say that we feel that the perpetrators should also be assisted so that they can also travel the road to recognising that they have been wrong, but that they can continue with new enthusiasm on the way forward.
DR BOTHA: Chairperson, sorry for just now, but I thought, perhaps, what I should just explain is the structure of our church, the way in which we work and then, perhaps. For example, regarding the first question just now, we, as a church, we are decentralised. So, we do not always have a policy for every congregation, because every congregation, we work according to geographical areas and they are responsible for everything within that congregation. I think the other churches, there is a bit different, you know. The Archbishop will say this has got to be done or the Archbishop or the Pope or whomever will speak for the church, but with us, because we have these congregations, it is up to the Minister and his Church Council, usually the Elders, who take responsibility for the pastoral care of all the members in those congregations. Therefore, that is what I mention just now, is that if there is, if there are members in a congregation at a certain street address, if they were victims and, there are some in our church, not many, there are more perpetrators I suppose, it is up to that Minister and that council to care for those people.
So, I just wanted to say we cannot expect of Mrs Marinda van Schalkwyk, who is the Chairperson for the Auxiliary Organisation of our church, to really know what goes on in every congregation. I neither know what really happens in the congregations. What we do have is, at least, once a year we get, the congregations get together in a presbytery and there they have to report on what they are doing or not doing, pastorally, to the members.
On Joyce's question, no we have not done anything what I know about and I think there you must help us. Usually, they say if a person asks a question it is the person who knows what the answer should be and I would ask help us think about how can we do that. Well, of course, all perpetrators and victims are not members of the Dutch Reformed Church even if they speak Afrikaans, but I accept that quite a large percentage are. So, please help us in what way we could assist people to, because what I read and what I hear is unbelievable things that happened that one, above expectation, when these people really meet each other and look into each others eyes. I just read about the Bihl family, I accept that it is God's grace the way in which they say, okay, we accept. So you must help us.
MS MKHIZE: Just to proceed with this. I was having in mind, also, Brian Mitchell's case in Natal, and I do accept that he may not belong to your church, but I feel he has tried to make a step of meeting the people that he harmed and he was brave enough to go in, of course, with the assistance of the TRC, but sometimes I feel these people who are trying to ask for forgiveness and see what they can do are, find themselves all alone and they do not have the support of their own people to say that, ja, we do admit you were very bad, jy was 'n, you committed terrible things, but in the name of peace and for future we can come together and help you find your way into this community that you have harmed. Sometimes things can be suggested by the TRC, but it is the people who need to push them, because it is very difficult for us to go to the perpetrators in our positions right now, but some of them need that help of saying, go and meet the people you harmed and so on. I do not know whether other people have.
MS SEROKE: Well, for me, I want to go back to the question I was trying to raise earlier on. In terms of the renewal of the church do you think you are, I accept what you are saying that your church has got, is decentralised, there is no one policy, but if the records we have are correct, it is like the, your church all over the country, somehow became the machinery of the State in terms of promoting discrimination, having different churches for different people based on colour. So, in that way, much as it decentralised having, not having one policy, in operation it acted in a similar manner. So, if that is correct and it is true, have you thought of a renewal programme for the church to position it in such a way that maybe they can begin to do things differently?
MRS VAN SCHALKWYK: You asked quite a lot. It is true in many instances, there are discussions to get people to come closer, there is renewal taking place and we believe that very soon we, as Christians within the church, we will be able to get together. This is why I think a lack of knowledge is a big problem and a lack of knowing each other is a problem, but we are working hard at it and we believe that it will improve in due course. I do not know whether the Reverend would like to say anything else in addition to this.
PROF GROBBELAAR: Mrs Van Schalkwyk, may I ask you, you referred to the 9th of August earlier on, of a meeting a women's action with regard to perpetrators of violence. Within that concept of perpetrators do you include, as is clear today here, do you include the large number of people from the White community who were perpetrators of violence in terms of the conflict and the victims, and we have about 10000 victims within the political context on our books, do you include the perpetrators of violence against these people, the greater majority of whom are members of the White Afrikaner community, to a very large extent, and I am just wondering whether the women's action have started working on an argument that will lead it. One has to recognise this kind of thing before you can ask for forgiveness, you have to admit to this type of thing before asking for forgiveness and you often, you have stated before that people have a feel that the Commission is biased and one-sided, but how will you be able to explain to these people that there have been wrongs done to others and that we are aware of this and that after admitting this we can go ahead on the road into the future, because often the victims are very unhappy, because they do not know with whom to reconcile, they do not know the people with whom to come into a relationship of peace, where are they? Please, tell us something in this regard?
MRS VAN SCHALKWYK: Well, as I stated to you, it would be easy for me to speak on my own behalf, but I cannot speak on everybody's behalf. We know a violent person and a perpetrator of violence is a perpetrator. Anybody who does this against anybody else is a perpetrator of violence and that is why we want to emphasise that we are not just a little group of privileged people who will pray for our own property and for our own purpose, persons. We want to pray well beyond our community and pray for other communities who suffer as much violence and as much crime as we know in our personal community. We know that we are dealing with a disease which is spread throughout our country and we emphasise very strongly that we do not just want it to sound as if we are trying to protect only our own goods.
We really want to place the emphases on changing the hearts and attitudes of people, also the White violators of human rights. Those who participated in this process of war over the last 30 or 40 years in this country, people who hurt others for political purposes, so called.
MRS VAN SCHALKWYK: Yes definitely, but I do not know whether everybody who was there will regard it in this manner, but many will do so, many will realise that this is what we are talking about and I cannot say that many 100's of people will do so.
PROF GROBBELAAR: I think in South Africa, just to relate to the company in question, the majority of people regard themselves as Christians, the majority of people do regard themselves as Christians. Do you not think that the church can play a very important role so that we can go across many boundaries and is it not then very important for the church to work with these acknowledgements of wrong doings? You belong to a church, many members of whom have done a lot of harm to other people. Do you not think that it is important for the church to get this kind of admission in your church so that we can go ahead?
MRS VAN SCHALKWYK: Personally, yes, I agree, it is important to get this kind of admission. There are quite a few Ministers of the church here and I think this should start from the pulpit so that the Gospel is really preached from the pulpit and if it starts from that level, then it will be wonderful, because it will syphon down to the people then, but we have a long road to travel and it will take quite a lot of time for people to reach that point.
PROF GROBBELAAR: Just a concluding question. The tremendous publicity that the Commission is receiving, also as regards the security force activity, it is quite widely disseminated public knowledge. Why do people still regarded as unilateral, why do they not just deal with it as a reality?
MRS VAN SCHALKWYK: That is a very difficult question for me to reply to, but my personal opinion is that it is, perhaps, a way of not wanting to hear, of not acknowledging, because it hurts, it is psychological escape. That is the only opinion that I as a person have in this regard.
DR BOTHA: Chairperson, I just wanted to, in the beginning, just to help with, you know, that structure thing, because I think many people present did not realise how it works. That is only what I wanted to help. I said she must swim further.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your presentation. Okay, thanks. Now we are coming to the questions and you are all going to be allowed to ask questions for clarity about what the speakers, the Commissioners have said. You are also welcome to ask about the, I mean, if you were not quite clear about the reparation policy. I think this is the time now for questions and I am opening for you to ask questions. Yes Mama. Mama, (not translated). I would request you that you do not have to tell us the stories again, but we just want, you know, you to ask questions about what has been said so that you go out of this hall with, you know, a clear mind about what has been said.
MRS MOKOENA: I am Mrs Mokoena from Mamelodi. I went to the TRC on the 12th of August last year, 1996. They promised me, after having handed in my statement, to investigate my matter and they sent me a letter on the 13th of August and on the 30th of January this year, still promising to investigate my matter. What is surprising and almost shocking is to see my child's name in a newspaper dated the 18th of May this year, mentioning that he has been killed and they explained that they handed the list of names to the TRC of the children who have been killed. I would like to know if the TRC is not working with the people who have been in exile or is it only concentrating on people, on White policemen who have been killed and the White people? Is it really assisting us with our children who have been killed in the camps, because there is this finding about my child who has been killed only in the newspaper and not from the TRC. I would like to know.
CHAIRPERSON: The Commissioners would like to comment on that whether are you focusing on what happened in the country or are you also looking at what, you know, happened, the violation of human rights that took place outside this country.
MR MANTHATA: Your question is very clear and it assist a lot of disturbed parents. As I have mentioned, the TRC is investigating all atrocities that happened in general to perpetrators and to victims. When we investigate what happened to your child, we have to find out extensively as to where did all this happen. We find out from the PAC and the ANC as to what happened to those people who were in their camps and never got back home? They must explain to us as to what happened to these people, but their response is one that is waited upon by both parents and us. As soon as we got a response from the ANC that was very helpful. It is true that the fact that you saw it only in the paper-heads, but what we are trying to say is that if someone was in the ANC party, one should actually go to the Shell House and find out from them as to what actually happened to your child, because it is not always possible for us to get first hand information. Sometimes the information goes straight away to the media, the newspapers and yet we are waiting on that answer and we are the last ones to get that answer.
The other thing that Mrs Mkhize would like to explain is that we also find out from the ANC as to all these people who suffered whilst in the ANC are going to get this special pension. In other words, the response of the ANC is the one that we have been long waiting on and we are also trying to find out desperately from the ANC as to what did you do with all those who could not come back to their parents?
MS MKHIZE: I would just like to add on, you should recall that in other political parties, including the ANC, were requested to make submissions to the TRC. They handed in their first submission and, where they explained in detail what they were doing out there and in their second submissions we learnt that, we learnt more details from the ANC about the things that we previously asked them. The same questions that you think that we are not asking about the people who disappeared in your camps, it is only when in their second admission when they responded to our question about these people who disappeared and that is how you found this name in the newspaper. It was in the submission that was handed in Cape Town where your son's name appeared.
Just, perhaps to round off, I would like to explain that when we say we dig out information, we cannot dig out everything, because of our limited resources, but our investigators do try, but as Mr Manthata has already mentioned, we have sent out letters, should we have letters enquiring about the PAC and the ANC activities, but we do not just sit back and do nothing about it, but we demand information from all these parties.
MRS MOKOENA: I went to the Shell House several times. They are the ones who told me that my son passed away in 1983. I heard this on the 22nd of May 1997. I would like to know that if you, if someone wants to kill your son, because he was a spy, would you not, the killer, inform the mother of the spy that I am intending to kill him. Mandela was released from prison and we were all happy, we looked around for our children and we never found them, we went all over to the Shell House. I asked everybody from the ANC as to whether they knew this one, showing them the picture, but no one knew about him. I went to the Shell House and they told me that he passed away. They wanted to, I wanted to know how did he die. They said to me that he was killed as a matter of mistake, but they could not give me any further information because they told me that they were busy in Soweto, because that is where most things are done. You would never hear that people come here in Pretoria to try and assist us and heal us.
I told this woman that I am going to the TRC of which I did and I was the last speaker on the 12th in UNISA. I gave a clear, my clear statement and as to how he died and he had a wife and where was his wife working, trying to assist them with information as to how to find him, but if they can just assist me and unite me with his wife so as to, she can explain as to why did she sell out my son and why was he killed?
The other time we saw on TV how this White man terrorised our children with a sack on their heads and we saw how they terrorised and assaulted our children in these camps. In 1980 I went to Zambia to look for my son and I found him there, he was studying, and I was told that he was killed in 1980, in October, and he was, I was told that he was a spy, but I have got a right to know, as a parent. The ANC wrote a book on page 69 mentioning as to how he was killed and he was a spy and he was an Assistant Treasurer, but what I want to know is why does the TRC not tell us the truth? It is not that they are not aware, they had this book about who was killed by when and where. All we need is the absolute truth and to show us the, a picture of the ANC as to how did they kill the people. It is not Mandela's fault, but it was his assistants and his followers who killed all these people because they were spies. It is a long list of children who were killed, but I pray and beg that investigate where his wife is. I want to see her, I do not want to talk to her in private, because I am not sure as to how will I be able to face her, but I would like her to come forward and say her part so that I can be able to forgive her. as the White man explained how he killed this person and sat on top of him and suffocated him. Let our beloved Government confirm and confess as to how it killed our children, because they were spies. How can a spy be part of a Government? Please let us investigate our matters and come out clean so that we can be free. We are, thus, begging, thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: We thank you. We have noted your concerns and it has shown that the TRC has limited resources and, thus, it cannot reveal and expose everything, but everything is being tried to come up with all these revelations. We have heard what you have pleaded for. Is there anybody else who has got a question?
MS SEROKE: Yes, I would like to mention to you that all the information that we get from the TRC, there is no one yet who applied for amnesty regarding your son's matter but as soon as there is an application we will be able to know as to who did this, but on Monday we will be having special hearings, Monday and Tuesday, and we will be discussing all the events in the camps of the ANC. You should not think that the ANC is hiding all these matters in the camp. All these will be discussed openly in our prisons hearings that will be held on Monday and on Tuesday. I thank you.
CHAIRPERSON: Is there anyone else with a question? Please come forward. If you may try to ask questions in terms of the policy of reparation and rehabilitation so that you should understand it better, that will help, but I will give you an opportunity to ask your question.
JABULANE: I appeared during the hearings during the Truth and Reconciliation hearings. So, ever since I never knew anything. I got surprised on Wednesday when I came to town that you had at a conference. So, what I want to ask is that I was somebody, Longly, in, from 1980, for 1982 and 1983. I was born in 1966. The police harassed me whilst I was, you know, toy-toying, I can put it so, at Wits University. If I can remember it was in 1987. So after that the police came to my place, they ask what is our whereabout my, you know, that I can talk. So, what I want to ask is how is this TRC going to help us about the police when they harassed us?
JABULANE: No, they will never do that, they will never do that. What I want to know, again, is that, how are they going to help me so that I can go back to that situation when I was born, I could not be harassed and all those things?
MS SEROKE: People like yourselves will be, letters will be written to them and asked to, and advised what kind of help and where can they access it, yes, as soon as possible, but we do acknowledge that many people lost opportunities, those who were at school, dropped out.
EDWIN: Yes, my question is based on reparation and rehabilitation. I think there is no clarity, especially on that, and maybe what I just want to know is if they can, the Commissioner there, give us the statistics how many people have they attended this issue of, the Commission have given them the issue of interim reparation, because there are a lot of problems and misconception out there. You, I am a DST around Pretoria and the problem is that, you talk to the people, the people approach you, want assistance from you and information. You refer them to Truth Commission. The Truth Commission they phone, they will refer them to many people and then without any answer. People will keep on coming to you, back to you that there is nothing which they can do and, again, the issue of Mrs Malangeni. I read, we read, I think it was last year that Mrs Malangeni was assisted by this thing of interim reparation for the operation of her eyes, eyes problems, but we found that it was not true. The, Mama Malangeni was helped by the Khulumani Group to assist her on the operation of eye sight. Now, we need to be clear and maybe to be given statistics that is it really there, the interim reparation and rehabilitation and maybe just to confirm that, to give the statistics to the people around. Thank you.
MR MANTHATA: Okay. I give you statistics. I do not know what kind of statistics you are looking for, because DST and Khulumani Group where people, are people who know that you, you know that all these things have not yet begun yet. Those things are going to be paid by the Government, not the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We have (indistinct) we (indistinct).
EDWIN: I am looking in terms of the interim, the statistics, because if you ask me, interim reparation, because if you are talking that it is in process now, we need to have statistics that how many people have been given that assistance.
MR MANTHATA: You are, urgent interim relief has not begun yet. All these things are going to be implemented by the Government. Do you understand each other? Those people who have been helped were those whom we were able to talk to, health institutions or trauma centres. Those who will be able to help them voluntarily, because we, as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we are not yet in the position to give people money to travel and to consult doctors as we say that the money would come from the Government. You should reply people in that way, that there is no money yet which the Truth Commission has been given by the Government to start the interim rehabilitation or reparation. Are you answered, Edwin?
EDWIN: Can I get clarity, maybe, on the issue. With due respect, Commissioner Manthata, we are talking in terms, I am talking in terms of two things, reparation and rehabilitation, which it need, the report need to compiled to the President, yes, I understand that and then we are talking in terms of urgent reparation. What is the difference maybe, because if you are saying the urgent one is going to be given after the report and then I get confused, because there are two issues, reparation after the report and then the urgent one and how is that urgent one maybe ...
MS SEROKE: Yes, okay, maybe let me slow down and I hope you listen and understand how the process works. Urgent interim reparations is part of a final one. Even the urgent one is not, the Commission is not an implementing body. Even for that, even the urgent interim according to the Act, will be implemented by the Government except if they decide to delegate that task to somebody else, but there is a lot of work which needs to be done before an implementation like the reparations form, the identification of all those people with urgent needs and we have done all that. As far as I know the Government now has got a committee representing different ministries. They are working towards the promulgation.
You see with Government money, is unlike an NGO where if we have money anyone can come and get it. They have got to go through bureaucratic rules. They are setting up the structure, they will be implementing it, not the Commission. Our part is to identify those with urgent needs, is to make sure that those who have got urgent needs access the form and the body, the Government will implement and, maybe the other issue is confusing is that when we see that there is a person who needs, who has an urgent need, maybe in terms of psychological help or counselling, we do not wait for the Government to act. We go around the person's services or health institutions or volunteering institutions like Khulumani Group, like trauma Centres. Then we request them, are they not able to help that, those victims, because we see that those, per case, is very urgent. She may not be able to wait for the implementation of the urgent interim reparation policy.
If you know that or you heard that people were helped by a certain organisation, maybe is that, that you believe that the interim, the urgent interim reparation has come from the Government. We are trying to have support systems around the Community whilst we go in after hearings and before hearings, when we see that people cannot wait for the Government to act, because the Government may take time. So, I am asking that you should try to understand that urgent interim reparation which comes from our policy has not yet been enacted. It is going to be referred to the Government and the Government will implement it, but we are not sitting on our laurels whilst we see that people are suffering. We ask help from different organisations or NGO's which will try to help those people. I do not know if I did explain to you.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. I think we are running away from time. I would now move to, unless you have got a specific question around reparation policy. Mama, you will be the last person to ask a question. From there we will request the focus group particularly Father O'Leary to come after we have just dealt with this last question. Come forward mam.
MS RAMAGOLA: I am Mary Ramagola. I am not asking about policy, I am asking a personal question, because I have realised that we also have got a question that I would like to ask. In 1995 I was arrested by the police and they tortured me. They tortured me very painfully and I was innocent. They were suspecting that I had killed a person and I did not know anything of that, about that person and those people who had arrested me, I wanted to see them because I was accused of something I did not do. That is my request, that I had been tortured by the police for something that I did not know. At the moment I cannot even use my hand and even when I tried to lay a charge and a complaint in 1995 nothing came out of it. That was in October. That is my request.
CHAIRPERSON: This is with regard to the torture in police. We had already announced that on Monday and Tuesday people must come. If you could please avail yourself on Monday and Tuesday, because now we would like people to understand this policy, but please you can come and raise this issue, because some of our prison torture and detentions are going to be heard, there is going to be a hearing on them on Monday or Tuesday, on the 21st and the 22nd. Have you make the statement to the Truth Commission before?
CHAIRPERSON: Just to make an announcement. There are people here today who are going to help you with statements. If you do want to make a statement, please make sure that you see those people. I will show you the people as time goes on or Sis Dudu here she is, would help you with statement, those who want to make a statement.
MS SATEGE: My question is that when am I going to stop crying? When I am going to get rest? I am not getting rest at all, I am not at peace, I am struggling, maybe my child could have been working for me. I do not have a child who is working now and this is not my normal body, it is because I am sick. I am having a heart problem. It started immediately after the problem with my son, because his father was shot by, was hit by a car. I will stop there.
CHAIRPERSON: Okay, I will ask one of the Commissioners to reply or respond to your question. They tried to explain that the Government is going to be given a report and the Government will see how it will help those people who were victims during that conflict, those who should not died. Thus, the Government, which will later, will try to see how it will help. I think they were trying to explain how the policy for reparation will be implemented, like the relatives of those who were killed, that is what Mrs Mkhize was trying to explain. Maybe later they will call you to a meeting and explain to you how they will help you. Thank you.
FATHER O'LEARY: I am from the Catholic Church and unlike my colleague, the Reverend Botha, we have a very centralised culture and from the inception our church backed the work of the TRC and gave it all the support it could. I think our relationship could be described as critical solidarity with the Truth Commission. When Mr Manthatha asked me to prepare something he left it very open, he did not say that I have to do any one specific thing. So, I though for us it is important to look now at the post TRC, what is going to happen after December 1997 and what can the churches do to enhance the process that already has taken place and I written what I would like to say, so I am going to read it.
"Perception is a strange thing. Like it or not South Africans perceive issues, realities and situations very differently. A clearer example of this was seen at the Magnus Malan trial of KwaMakhutha Massacre when the former Military Intelligence Officer, Johan Opperman, said, and I quote,
More recently at an amnesty hearing in hearing in Cape Town, one of the accused in the killing of Amy Bihl, when asked why he did it, explained that she was killed because of the land. That is also quite a statement. There is not one perception of our past, but rather a kaleidoscope of opinion and perception. If we do not perceive the past in more or less the same way, it is rather unlikely that we will perceive the healing of the past in the same way.
The report that Mrs Seroke spoke about, that the TRC will write at the end, I think it is very, very important. This report could be our official history. However, there would be need for a massive education programme around the report to help South Africans really own it. This, I believe, would help us to begin the reconciliation process, but it will not be easy.".
I had an example this week, we, I was at a workshop with some of a very committed church leaders and we watched a Eugene De Kock prime evil video and after it we had a debate on whether we are ready to forgive him and even church leaders were divided on whether they could forgive him or not. The pain is too deep, the memory is too fresh for a lot of people.
"This variation on perceptions is further confounded by an ongoing and systematic change in language. The classical retort today whether it be collective or individual is, I did not support apartheid. If you listen carefully to the news these days, we hear the expression "the situation we inherited", which sounds like a legacy, some ground old aunt bequeathed us. No one it seems, nowadays, is willing to talk about a situation we created, the reality we are responsible for or acknowledge the past that was ours. In fact, the whole country seems to be in denial.
From all quarters people deny their complicity, silent or otherwise, in what is a horrendous history, particularly the period being covered by the TRC. Anyone in the counselling business will tell us that it is very hard to deal with a person in denial, be it an alcoholic or a deviant youth or whoever. Usually the person has to hit rock bottom before they begin to come to their senses. As a nation, we too might have to travel the road to rock bottom and we are well on our way with an unacceptable crime level and a breakdown in the family and social structures. Only when, as a nation, we hit rock bottom can we be brought to our senses and engage in an exercise of healing and reconciliation. Will the TRC be still around to pick us up or will it be too late?
Like it or not, we have a TRC with all its qualities and all its imperfections. I have often criticised aspects of the TRC, but it is not my intention to do so now. However, I would like to make an observation. Through the amnesty hearings, in particular, and to a lesser extent with the human rights hearings, we have succeeded in marginalising society, that means all of us, of our responsibility for what happened in the past. Civil society can now point a finger at those people who committed such awful atrocities, putting the blame squarely on their shoulders and exonerating themselves from any complicity. This presents us with a major problem when we begin to talk about healing our nation. They and not us need healing, seems to be the perception. The unawareness, verging on apathy by the majority of people of this country to what happened in the past will prove to be our greatest obstacle in the attempt to articulate a vibrant and practical process of healing.
From the inception of the TRC, I was saddened to see that it was the politicians, alone, who drafted the legislation surrounding the Truth Commission. Words like "healing", "contrition", reconciliation" and "forgiveness", to name but a few, are not political words. They are moral words and the churches are the custodians of these words. They are our words.
I believe that the churches now must grab the mantle and build on what the TRC has achieved. Therefore, when the TRC ends, the work of the churches begin. This will not be a two year programme like the TRC, but a long and difficult process. If the churches cannot do it, no one can do it, but let me come back to the word "reconciliation". I honestly believe we are using the wrong word. In fact, I believe there is great misunderstanding between the word "reconciliation" and the word "forgiveness". They are so often confused in our church language. No where in the Bible or in any of our respective church traditions, are we asked to reconcile good with evil, love with hate, justice with injustice.
When the townships were burning in the early 80's there was often a call from some sections of my own church for reconciliation. This we rejected. We had people who were sinned against and we had sinners. What we wanted, but was unthinkable at the time, was for the sinners to ask forgiveness from the sinned against. Obviously, that did not happen at that time. The question is, can it happen now or should it happen now?
At the same time I should point out that we did not expect the people were are sinned against to reconcile with the oppressor. You can imagine that some of the armchair theologians who had no idea of what was happening in the townships, found this position difficult to swallow. We use the word "forgiveness" far too lightly in our churches. We rarely acknowledge the pain and hurt people experience and, worst still, we often take the prerogative away from them to forgive and decide to do the forgiving ourselves."
I said I was not going to criticise the TRC, but I would like to make another observation. I believe it is the survivors and not the State who have the right to forgive the perpetrators and only if they so wish.
"The Amnesty Committee of the TRC makes a mockery of the concept of forgiveness, mainly because the perpetrator in no way has to be contrite or sorry for what he or she did. All they have to do is to make full disclosure and prove the offence committed had a political motive. One wonders if true reconciliation can come from such a distorted idea of forgiveness.
So, in a nutshell, I do not believe that the South African situation is one that calls for reconciliation or rather one that calls for confession and forgiveness. Only when this happens will we truly be able to talk about reconciliation.
This might have been seeming a little bit negative, so let me try to be a little more positive. April 94 was a supreme moment in our country. Not only was the Black community liberated, but so also were the Whites. They could now be human in relation to their Black brothers and sisters. Our daily lives are littered with examples of this taking place all over the country and it is good news. It almost goes unseen these days. Sports, music and the arts have done more to reconcile people than all the politicians and, dare I say, clergy put together. The Rugby World Cup and the African Nations Cup are clear examples. Bafana Bafana's qualification at the World Cup in France will enhance this process.
The scrapping of apartheid liberated all who wanted to be human and reconciled people in one nation. Obviously, it will take time to get the majority on board, but at the same time it has to be said that we are off to a good start.
Let me give one example. For four years I ministered not far from here in KwaNdebele, from 1983 until I was banned in 1987. I personally witnesses the horrific events that tore KwaNdebele apart. At one stage in 1986, over a three month period, I was officiating at around six funerals a day. No one knows the toll of human suffering that community experienced. It was, therefore, with some trepidation that I attended the KwaNdebele TRC human rights hearings in December last year. In a hall filled to capacity about 400 people listened with bated breaths to the testimony of five White security policemen. They told, in graphic detail, the circumstances surrounding the killings of leaders in that community in the 80's.
This, you must remember, was not an amnesty hearing, but rather a hearing into gross violations of human rights. The five policemen had come, had been encouraged to come and face the community for whom they had caused so much pain and grief. Family members of the victims listened in silence. There was neither admiration nor condemnation of the policemen for their presence and what they were saying. Something very deep was taking place between the perpetrator and the victim. The beginning of healing was taking place.
Anyone who has attended such hearings cannot but see that for the victim, the pouring out of grief, of loss and anger and allowing themselves to fully feel the extent of their suffering has brought about a measure of healing. It has shown to be important that the Commission in no way minimises that suffering and ensures that the victim is always treated with dignity and their pain acknowledged.
I really think the TRC should be complimented for the way the human rights hearings were conducted. However, it is strange that those who suffered most are open to healing while the vast majority of South Africans do not realise that they too need healing. At no stage did the five policemen in the KwaNdebele hearing say they were sorry. Like it or not, contrition cannot be forced. You are either sorry or you are not, but restitution of some kind can be forced. I know this is a late hour to be talking about this, but the amnesty hearings offer a golden opportunity to impose some form of sanction on the perpetrators.
This, I believe, is important for the victim to see that the perpetrator does not walk away scot free and for the perpetrator to realise there is a price to be paid for wrongdoings. It would be an attempt to bring some form of individual justice into the equation. Something that is totally lacking at the moment, but we could go a step further and create some form of trust where civil society could show restitution.
There are millions of people and businesses that profited from apartheid. Should they not be willing to show some form of restitution? I would like to see this as a voluntary request, but should a voluntary approach not work, then I would not be adverse to the imposition of a once off restitution tax right across the board and this would go into the coffers for the victims.
What also saddened me with the KwaNdebele experience is that, as far as I know, no Comrades have asked for amnesty, despite the fact that there are many responsible for horrendous deeds. This is a tragedy. The ones I spoke to, of whom I know have done foul deeds, did not see the need to ask for amnesty. They believe it is only the oppressor who needs to ask. This is a dangerous situation which I believe adds to the level of lawlessness found in South Africa today. The tragedy is heightened by the fact that they will, in all probability, get away with it. A dangerous culture of impunity has been created, which will take years to get rid of. As I said before, South Africa is fast becoming a moral wasteland. It seems to me that the purpose of the TRC is not just to give amnesty to the perpetrators of a crime and some restitution or reparation to the victims, one of the major contributions of the TRC, one of the major contributions the TRC can make is to help all of us in South Africa acknowledge that certain things are wrong and should never happen in human society. Put simply, the TRC is best placed to restore our sense of right and wrong.
Apartheid and other factors have almost destroyed traditional African values and, indeed, traditional religious values that guided different communities. Now, as a nation, we find ourselves with no common moral heritage, no common moral foundation on which we can build our economy, our society and our new fledging democracy. As the TRC draws to a close, it would seem the ideal body to launch a campaign to introduce a new era in morality for the common good of our country. The churches then could run with it and become the active participants of the campaign.
Just imagine the difference if we had a society where all postmen delivered mail, all teachers teach and all students learn, all companies and employers pay just wages, all taxi drivers respect their passengers, all businessmen make honest contracts, a society where people could go to bed or walk the streets without fear, a society where the dignity of the human person is paramount. Would it not be wonderful? Well, if so, we must try and the, with the TRC to get this kind of campaign going, as a kind of monument to what has been achieved and as an inspiration for the future. I believe we must seize the moment now and not be found wanting. Thank you."
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Father O'Leary, for the submission. Do you have any clarity or questions from the table, from the Commissioners. Time is against us, we are supposed to break at half past 11 for tea, at 11 o' clock and now it is already 25 to 12 and my worry is that we have not, you know, really dealt with the key issue that we thought we would also address in this workshop, the reparation policy, so that we all understand what is meant by the reparation policy, how is it going to be implemented. Nevertheless, I would allow a few comments from the table, questions, if there are questions.
MS SEROKE: Thank you very much for once more co-operating with us. I just want to check your thinking on one thing where you talk about the importance of confession and forgiveness. We have had a couple of workshops, not only in Gauteng, but in other provinces as well where we are looking at this notion of reconciliation and what seems to be emerging is that looking at reconciliation from a religious perspective alone, is not likely to help us to achieve our goals. There is a strong feeling that we need to look at the distribution of resources, that people will not, even if in terms of the amnesty clause, people who are coming forward expected not only to make a full disclosure, but also to ask for an apology. That would not make a difference as long as we have no mechanism to make sure that there is an improvement of the quality of life, especially for those who lost out the most. So, ...
FATHER O'LEARY: Yes, I get your point. You see, I am coming from my background, which is a church background, okay, and I can agree with you that maybe not everybody thinks that the way I think is the way we should go, but I do not believe that you can have reconciliation without some form of forgiveness. That the, that there has to be, prior to reconciliation there has to be some form of saying I am sorry for what I did, please forgive me, and then you can talk about two sides being reconciled. It is something very serious. I have always felt, in the amnesty legislation, that this concept of asking forgiveness is not there and I am looking, you know, we are trying to reconcile a country. If we cannot admit the wrongs and say sorry for them, it is very hard to see how we can actually bring that reconciliation into being, but that is, you know, it is a Catholic perception of, we have, and I am not saying that everybody (indistinct).
MR MANTHATA: It is on those, it is almost the same question. I see here the conflict when we talk about confession, forgiveness and at the same time we talk about a restitution tax. How would you see the morality of taxing a person who might have confessed and who might be forgiven?
FATHER O'LEARY: Yes, I would have no problem with that. I feel, let us say, if somebody has done something, they have come and they say I am sorry for what I have done, that some kind of a sanction saying 10% of your salary or something for a year should go to helping the victims. I would also see, yes, I would also see, I would love to see a wealth tax, a corporate tax, a mines tax for the victims, so that we are not asking the, we are not expecting the State to be the one who has to pay, but, and I think there is a lot of people in this country would actually feel that they should contribute, because they lived off the fat of the land during the apartheid period. You people are in a position to start putting that idea into circulation and it would be very interesting to see how far it would go.
MS SEROKE: Well, just to react, because I should think it is all related. You propose or mention the involvement of the corporate world. You might have seen some newspaper articles that a committee or a working group has been formed by the Commission which is looking exactly at these questions, but as you know that we are a Commission which has got a limited period of time, things like whether to come up with a wealth tax or any form or tax for those whom benefitted during those years also will depend on what the Government's thinking is, because they might be thinking of that for other reasons as well. So, we are looking at the involvement of the business community.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. What do we do? I just wanted to find out. I know I am suppose now to call to Dr Botha to, you are covered now. Can we then break for tea and, please, we all come, shall all we all come back and finish the work? There is tea ready for all of us. Thank you.
DR BOTHA: Chairperson, just at the outset, I should just say that some people know about that, that the Dutch Reformed Church, the Executive at this stage, they did not decide to make a formal submission to the TRC. Perhaps, I can say, because I had to count the votes as a Secretary, that after a very hectic debate, as it was pointed out by Father Shaun as well, people do not agree on all these things and when 30 people had to vote, it was only a difference of two votes. So, if one person voted on the other side, the Chairman would have taken the final decision and I know where that would have gone. So, but in any case, I am not here to speak, really, on behalf of the church, but I, Prof Piet Meiring asked me, he said, please, not more than five minutes, just to give the people some indication of the position of the Dutch Reformed Church.
The first thing I want to say is that two years ago we acknowledged the importance of the TRC. We realised that, you know, we are not against the TRC, the importance we said at a decision in 95, that, as a church, we pray that the points of departure, the actions and the findings of the Commission will lead to reconciliation, forgiveness and peace. We also said that we are convinced that truth must, at all times, be served, because truth, like justice and love, is one of the cornerstones of a civilised or Christian society also and, then also, that we pastorally, as congregations, want to care for all the people affected by the past and that we, as a church, we, as, we promise that we, in our intersession and in our prayers, we will never forget the work of the TRC. That just as a background.
Chairperson, let me say that, as a church, we were also not aware of the things that are surfacing now by the investigations of the Truth Commission and it was, it is often mentioned that why do we not, as a church, somewhere confess and some of the people present will know that we realised our mistakes of the past as a church. It was asked earlier, yes, when Mrs van Schalkwyk sat here, it was asked by the Commissioner, I think that, was the Dutch Reformed Church not involved right at the beginning of apartheid. Yes, we are busy with our studies on this whole thing and it is true that when the Government approached the church and asked is apartheid, according to Scripture, could one say apartheid can be accepted according to Scripture and our leaders, at that time, or some of the theologians, others did not agree, but some said, yes, according to Scripture, yes. Perhaps I must read what we officially decided in 1990. We said in church and society, which is available,
"While the Dutch Reformed Church over the years seriously and persistently sought the will of God and His Word for our society, the church made the error of allowing forced separation and division of peoples in its own circle to be considered a Biblical imperative. The Dutch Reformed Church should have distance or distanced itself much earlier from this view and admits and confesses its neglect."
I can read more, because you, the time problem, I will not do that, but it is repeatedly said and we have confessed publicly, you know, about Rustenburg and other places, that we were wrong and we say, again this morning, we are sorry about that.
At our Synod of 1990 we also called on the congregations and the synods and so on and said, please, let us look at our society. We have the Afrikaans word, perhaps I just should say it in a sentence or two. We talk about showing consideration and love and this means, in its original meaning, that you have to put yourself in the shoes of the other people. You must put yourself in the position of the other people and then understand their situation, what their needs are, what their views are. That was a decision of our Synod.
The last thing, I think, that I must just mention is the whole question about reconciliation. You are a Committee for Truth and Reconciliation. Truth sets us free. We are in favour of investigating what is the truth. Reconciliation, we also, already decided in 1990, before the elections, seven years ago we said, please, let us work as a church for peace and reconciliation. You will know that there are some people who say, but, when the Bible talks about reconciliation, it is only reconciliation God to man, that is what the Bible talks about, but we seriously said that is not correct. Of course, that is the primary meaning of reconciliation, man, the sinner, with God, but also then and there are Scripture, there are many places in Scripture which teaches us it also means reconciliation with fellow men and, therefore, in 1990 at our Synod we called on all the Dominees to preach reconciliation from the pulpits, it was mentioned earlier today.
Mr Chairman, you know, Father Shaun also said how important the role of the church is in the situation. A couple of years ago I heard, and I do not know what the situation is now, that on one Sunday you have more people at church services than you will have right through the Curry Cup season at the rugby stadiums every Saturday. You know how many thousands people, especially White Afrikaner people, attend Curry Cup matches. Through the year, if you get that number of people only on one Sunday, you have more people in church than the whole year attending Curry Cup matches. So, there is an opportunity and, therefore, we said and one of our other Synods in the Gauteng area also said they want to start a programme on reconciliation. We also said that at the Bible study groups and at conferences they should make more about peace and reconciliation between the people of this country.
The last thing I thought I must just mention is, although the Executive officially decided that we are not making a formal submission to the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, people were talking in, lobbying about this whole question and then it was discussed at the Executive, but is it not time that, for our own people, we should write this story about apartheid and the Dutch Reformed Church, because that is what the TRC was also asking. Why do you not sit down and while you are busy, as Piet Meiring often calls it, a whole album of the history of South Africa, there is a blank space, the history of the Dutch Reformed Church regarding apartheid and three weeks ago or a month ago, we decided, but we are going to do just that and in my hand I have this report. It says "The Story of the NG Churches Travels through Apartheid", where everything from 1960 to 1994, the history of our church, regarding apartheid, Cotterslow, Rustenburg, etc, is written down. It was not for the TRC, it is for the members of our congregations and it is for everybody who is interested in this. Somebody from the TRC asked me when will it be publicised, available. Well, that will take another month or so, because we are busy in the printing process. So, we will have our story available for whomever is interested.
With rehabilitation, I do not know. I just say, yes, there is so, I feel we have restraints with the finances and so on, but, personally, if I read about the money lying around or flying around in this country I say, yes, there must be some way. The pension idea, I think it is good, at least one of the things. I support you, personally, fully with that idea. If there are other ways, yes, please, that we help the people who were hurt and who had done damage in the past. Thank you Chairperson.
MS MKHIZE: While other people are still thinking, I will just ask you one brief question. You mentioned, thank you very much for supporting the reparations policy. That is really encouraging. My specific question is, if the Commission had asked you to make a submission, as a church, and you preferred to write your own history, do you not think that will land the church in the old position, so to say, where you do not get an opportunity of being confronted by the Commission, but you talk to yourself and, I should think, things went wrong in the past, mainly of this separation, whereby it was separate development, so to say. It is like you opt for an opportunity to reform yourself.
PROF GROBBELAAR: In the light of church and community of 1990, which you referred to just now, why would the church, at this stage, say no to the Commission? That is to link up with what Commissioner Mkhize had asked.
DR BOTHA: Perhaps I should reply in Afrikaans. It is easier for me and you have the interpreting facilities available. Piet Meiring also asked me this question and he requested that I try to give more or less the feeling of my people. I did attend the debate and my impression was that some people in the church did not or are still not completely trusting the Truth Commission, rightly or wrongly, but they do not trust everything. My impression is that right from the beginning, when there was even the first references to the Truth Commission, people, and I do not know whether they had specific information, advised us, informing us to stay away from this thing, because in the end, they said, we would be very sorry for being involved with it.
One reads about certain things in the paper, specific papers from the Afrikaans press side, I will not refer to them by name, are quite negatively influential about what is happening. They are being read by Afrikaans community and we often believe what the media dish up to us and I think that is probably the most important reason or these, this set of reasons why people have not, in the past, been prepared to come to the Commission. I do not want to state here what I, perhaps, told Piet Meiring to give through to the Chairperson of the Truth Commission, but, perhaps, I should refer to it in broad terms.
The Truth Commission has different heads and it all depends on which head you are talking to. Some people say that they really wish to achieve reconciliation. Others, they say, are looking for vengeance. Whether they are correct or wrong, I do not know. So, on the one hand that is the problem that they say they are prepared to help with reconciliation, but they are not so sure whether some people are not looking for revenge and that makes it quite difficult for them.
MS SEROKE: Reverend Botha, you sort of confirmed what Father O'Leary said about the involvement of the church in this process, especially after the TRC has disbanded. Would you see this new process, this ideal body, which he referred to, as just being denominational or the churches should all be coming together in an ecumenical way to get into this process?
DR BOTHA: Thank you. Yes, it is true that, until a few years ago, that the Dutch Reformed Churches was set aside by the other ecumenical church or the movement for reasons which I personally understand, but the wonderful thing that we, as a Dutch Reformed Church, experience is that for the past three years the doors are opening up, that we expected that people will, what is the English word, would shun us away or push us aside and isolate us and just as churches work together and, on the contrary, the other churches are pulling us into this family as a ecumenical bodies and, not only as Christian churches, but also with other religions, we are invited to discuss certain moral problems in our country.
So, yes, you can be assured that we will be very interested and we will support, in any way, an ecumenical movement to carry on this work that you have started. There is no question about that. We do not have to vote about that. I can assure you that we would join everybody who is working on peace and reconciliation and we will just be, we will appreciate it if such a structure can be erected to carry on the work.
MS MKHIZE: Yes, just you know, thank you, thank you. I am just thinking that you mentioned that your church perception is that some people within the Commission are looking for opportunities to hit back, so to say, and yet, at the same time you say you are really committed to peace and reconciliation. I am just wondering as to whether, as a county, we can succeed in wanting to talk about reconciliation if we are not together in establishing the truth as to what went wrong in the past. The reconciliation you are talking about will it be sustainable without a foundation, because I see the truth, the establishment of this truth as establishing a common ground, so to say, for the people of this country. If something went wrong to say, yes, this and this went wrong. Then they can move forward in reconciliation and peace initiatives.
DR BOTHA: I think the one problem that we, as a church, have, almost on every issue, is the difference of opinion. That is the problem. That there are so many current affairs and issues that we have to discuss and take decisions and, almost on every issue, there is this difference of opinion and you can, I suppose you will also understand that with 1,2 million members, they are divided in so many political parties now, that we often experience that, I think it is also a psychological thing, personalities also differ. The social background in which people grew up also influences them. That I suppose all I can say is, unfortunately, I do not think all our members will wholeheartedly support these issues.
A time ago we had a discussion of the three Afrikaans churches with members of the TRC, Mr Tom was here as well that day, and he could also tell you that even within the three Afrikaans churches there is almost a difference of character regarding these things. So, I personally cannot promise what the outcome will be if you ask every member of the 1,2 million what they think about this. They will not all agree with me, that I can assure you.
PROF GROBBELAAR: Mr Botha, with respect, the spirit of goodness, the support of the principles underlying the TRC that you talked about in 1990, I am not yet sure how I should understand why the church would refuse to make a submission to the TRC. I heard you, I heard you say there is a lack of trust and there is a problem about the TRC might be, is viewed at some point as an organ looking for revenge in South Africa, but if I were to quote Father O'Leary and his suggestion of a moral wasteland or the fact that we need a new era of morality, surely it is the churches role to take a lead in providing a framework for this and to make a decision, because ultimately, what the Dutch Reformed Church is suggesting to the TRC, is that we are not a legitimate organisation in terms of the Act and in terms of our task and that is, it is a very strong point to make and I would expect, in the light of "kerk and samelewing", etc, that you have quoted, that you have as well developed arguments about why not taking, why not making a submission to us. So, excuse me, I know, I am not talking to you personally, but can you help us understand a little bit better something of that kind of dynamic.
DR BOTHA: I mentioned to you that in the debate I had given one side of the debate. I have not been prepared for this type of question or else I could have thought, in taking my time about all the other points of debate mentioned, but it is so that some of the members there said that they do not trust the Commission, they do not know what the outcomes are going to be, that they doubt whether such a structure would lead to reconciliation, that they are of the opinion that some other way should have been explored and these are the kinds of arguments that were raised and, you know, we all have our own frames of reference and ways of thinking and we do not always hear what others have to say, but, I think, that even if the other side had talked till they were blue in the face, people would have voted the same way, because they simply do not listen to arguments. So, in the end I would say it is, probably, also just human factors. The matter was put on the table, brought to the vote and that was the result.
I did not mention to you some of the positive arguments. The really serious arguments, emotional arguments, whether we like the TRC or do not like it, whether we like its Chairperson or not. All those factors were raised. It was also stated that it would give such a wonderful message to the rest of the world out there if this church, together with its members, had been involved over the last three or four decades with everything that had happened. Would it not be a wonderful message if this church were to come and make a statement. Does the Bible not talk about truth. All these wonderful arguments were put on the table and then brought to the vote and that was the decision. I cannot really personally answer to, I cannot really answer to this question. I can give you personal opinions, but that was the formal situation. That was the result.
Perhaps in five years time when everything has come to a conclusion we would perhaps be able to give a clearer reply or perhaps in five years time I would be able to come to you and say the church took the right decision. I hope not. I truly believe as, from my individual point of view, and I am positive that with the influence of the church and the ecumenical structure, our country has the potential, research has been done in this regard, 96% plus of people want peace, want reconciliation and I am really full of courage. I am sure that we will be able to effect this.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Dr Botha, for your submission. I do not see any hands, so, there are no other questions. Can we then move, thank you for your submission. Can you hold your question until we allow also everybody to participate? We will open for that. Time is just against us. I would like to call on Mrs Marjorie Nkomo to come forward and do the focus group presentation or submission. Thank you, continue.
MRS NKOMO: In our culture there is saying that (not translated). Therefore, the experience of pain and hurt is a result of what happens to the other members of the family. In fact, in our community, Mrs Masuku, who was mentioned by Mrs Seroke, died in the process of holding the knife by the sharp end. Therefore, comments on behalf of these focus groups are relating not just to women only, but to the community as a whole. It is because of this that women are always creators of peace rather than creators of war.
The impact of the TRC hearings in the Atteridgeville community, the impact of these hearings in this community cannot be considered in a collectivity. It remains to be seen as to whether this is going to be a healing or a heightening of the pain. In some instances, the preparation of the hearings brought people together. Maybe, through sharing, people will begin to help one another to cope. In other serious incidents, people had begun to forget. The hearings have revived the memories and the deep rooted feeling pain which had no controlled intervention. In the context of the hearings and counselling, the post traumatic syndrome can be dealt with in a direct intervention.
There is a category who has not been reached and where no one knows how they are coping with their scars. It is difficult to assume that these people have forgotten about their experiences of the past. There is yet a category, having an outright negative response of our attitude, which can only be pacified by outright punishment of the perpetrators. They are calling for more than just the truth, they are calling for justice. Now that their memories have been revived, perhaps a mechanism has to be devised for healing.
The impact and consequences of human rights violation in our community has resulted to the following social problems. There are orphans, there are widows, loss of offsprings, destruction of homes, loss of property, loss of businesses, physical and mental disabilities resulting from various kinds of torture, people demonised and alienated according to their allegiance, either to the status quo or to the forces of change. Families and communities were divided according to those allegiances, families were separated, educational careers were disrupted, those disruptions have manifested in joblessness, limited upward or lateral career mobility. Where there was cohesiveness in communities, now they have become fragmented and that individualism that may be manifested in the high crime rate. General collapse of symbols and in institutions of authority.
Community endorsed strategies to address the consequences highlighted and which will promote healing in the community. The TRC is a once off event with a limited lifespan whilst healing is a process. A consideration to hand over the process of healing to the more permanent structures so that this process may continue long after the TRC books have been closed. These structures could work in collaboration with the affected communities. Considerations to be set, to set up mechanisms for continuous psychological counselling. The following organisations may need to be involved so as to facilitate the addressing of the specific needs: Then National Youth Commission, non-Governmental organisations, churches, the inter-denominational churches, women groups. That is about all I have.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much Marjorie. You all heard about the impact. If there are questions from the floor or from the table. I think from the table in particular. Please, you are welcome to ask them for clarity.
MR MANTHATA: My question is directed to your last recommendation of the operations of NGO's and community organisations and other structures. What we seem to be witnessing is almost the dying out of community organisations and it is a question on how can they be revived, because there was a time when they were so vibrant that, perhaps, this hall would be full by now, but now we have realised that, you know, something has sapped all that, you know, drive and desire to serve the people. How do you see that being revived, as much?
MRS NKOMO: Firstly, Tom, I would (speakers microphone not on). Is it off again? Yes, I think there is serious lack of awareness of even this TRC process amongst our communities and, you will, remember in many occasions I have actually phoned concerned and asking as to what is happening, you know. We do not know how one comes about to give a statement, you know, and you can imagine, then, if that happens with somebody like me who is actually a person who says, is a representative of a community, what happens to the ordinary member of the community and that was actually happening, because people were asking as to what is happening. There is quite a lot of lack of awareness. I do not know, there, perhaps, how the TRC communicates with the different, you know, with the communities in the, at the different places, but I think there is still quite a lack, but at the same time, yes, we have mentioned that the people, the hall would be full at some instances. We know that people will always stand up for something they know about and halls use to be full when people came along when there were campaigns of release, the prisoners, and things like that, because those instances were made known to the communities, but at the same time I see this as a start of things which might happen to keep the communities together.
For instance, Mrs van Schalkwyk, I did speak to her. It is a pity she could not stay on until the end, because right now there are a lot of women who are very bitter, as you have seen. Women whom people could take hands together with those women in order to heal their wounds. So, I think if this can be taken forward, a strategy from this post hearings, that the people should come together and, actually, address whatever problems have to be, so that the communities are also involved in what is happening.
MS MKHIZE: Just one brief question for me. Also, I would like to express our appreciation for your commitment in seeing the process through. You are one of the people who appeared even before the children and youth hearings. We really appreciate your commitment. Ma, my question to you it relates, maybe, to what was asked by Tom. I saw one women who came here who say she has not got peace and she was in tears, for how long will she be crying. Then I was saying to myself, today in your community, people who are in leadership are people who are also survivors. So, what is it, there has been an RDP programme in this country, what is it that your leadership is doing in making sure that, at least, while Government at national level is planning, but people begin to be afforded opportunities to survive.
I am thinking of people who are today members of Parliament who were voted by the very survivors who are crying before the Commissions. I am thinking even at local leadership, people who were pushed in there by the very people. So, what initiatives are there, because the way I see it, whether there are policies which are coming at a national level, they will have to feed into local initiatives.
MRS NKOMO: Mrs Mkhize, I think I did mention, because of the very same concerns you are having, you know. We also, as you have rightfully said, are survivors of what has happened and in many occasions we also feel we do need counselling, because, and our children do need counselling, because at, many a times we feel very stuck, you know, and eventually one does not know whether at the end, is the affect of the things of the past or not, but in what I am, in my submission I have mentioned, because of considering the same issue you are talking about, that perhaps considerations to set up mechanisms for continuous psychological counselling, as an urgent matter, could be looked at, you know, because even now it is not just, there are many women, at least it is better for a mother who actually comes and says something and you see that mother that, okay, this happened. We have got parents who have never had any chance of saying anything, you know.
When I did, I made my submission on childrens violations, rights violation, I mentioned that my submission was dedicated to a child whose head was blown off at, when she was about three years right at her own yard, you know. We have mothers like that who are just walking with this heaviness for all these years, you know, and I saw her. She was around when I, this morning, you know. Yes, there are things you hear, there are still more things you have not heard which are very serious. So, that is why I am actually stressing this awareness problem.
MS MKHIZE: If I may just, through Chair, complete my question. You see, as I said to you, I was trying to link it, Tom said in the past this hall will be full. My question to you is, really, can you not inject the same spirit, evolve the new patriotism, in setting up structures whereby people can come forward, because you are talking about psychological services and I can assure you, if they are imposed in your community, they will come modelled on what is working in Europe and America and, yet, if there is an initiative from your community you might come up, in the past we did not have psychologists and if my knowledge of the field is right, up to today, universities are not training people who can come and speak the languages that are spoken in Mamelodi.
MS MKHIZE: ... with Ministers, if there are people who are good in counselling, you can look at models which will be culturally appropriate, but if you call for the introduction of services which will be just imposed upon the community, they might be there and not utilised by people. In the 80's some universities who were curious in learning more about what happens to people who were detained, they set up structures, saying they are counselling structures and they closed them down, because they were not utilised. They were not culturally appropriate. So ... (intervention).
MRS NKOMO: I think, Hlengiwe, this might actually be a stepping stone to that, because the people you are having here are people who have been affected, you know. So, if there could be a way forward, you know, resulting from these meetings, you know, then it would be realised as to how many people, you know, do need this psychological counselling. You know, just now we have heard somebody who is so affected to who, I mean, who came and asked a question here and it was clear to all of us that what has happened in the past has affected him. So, it is in meetings like this where these people will come and with them we can, actually, set up as to what can be done, but I, yes, I agree with you, just from the people who come being consultants from somewhere, to come and impose a service. That will not be as relevant as it would be if the people themselves, who are affected, start it.
PROF GROBBELAAR: Marjorie, as you know we are not an implementing body, we are a policy making body which is, I think, why Hlengiwe asked some of those questions. Could I ask a kind of follow up question? In the beginning of your submission you, I think, left the question of the impact of the Truth Commission on the community of Atteridgeville as an open question. You said as a result some people, having had the Commission there, some people now want justice, because memories have been re-opened. I think you also suggested that other people might be happy with the Commission's activity, but it was an open scorecard, if I can use that language. Can you comment a little bit on, again, understanding that we do not make, we do not, we are not an implementing body, we make policy. Can you comment on the question of memories being re-opened and people wanting justice? Can you comment a bit more on that?
MRS NKOMO: You know, in fact, what I was referring to, you know, I think the statement takers will remember that in this, in our communities there are people who are so bitter and who will not even want to make a statement, because they do not know what will happen eventually, you know. It is these people, in fact, who could also benefit from whatever, you know, counselling service there is, because there is no way people can be expected to go through their life with that kind of attitude.
CHAIRPERSON: Okay, I hope there, let us see now, is there any other hand? No, thank you very much, Marjorie, for your presentation, submission. Can I then, according to the programme, we have now to go to focus group three, which is
to present, because I am chairing. I do not know whether I should present being here, but - or Jean can do that. My presentation is not going to be a formal one, because the organisation I come from are, you know, which is the civic organisation in Mamelodi, they are going to submit formally what transpired and what is it that they are doing in trying to address some of these things. So I do not know whether, should I briefly ...
MR LUBISI: Thank you, members of the Commission, the house at large. I have been asked to present, but I received this information very late. As a result I could not prepare thoroughly, you know, about what I was going to submit. So I got this information at short notice. But save to say that what I would say here is not a formal presentation of the organisation where I come from, but it is because of - I mean, it will be of my experience, because I have been involved throughout, since 1976. I will not go to those, you know, to the history of what transpired in Mamelodi about the gross violations of human rights. But save to quote a few families that suffered terribly, that I personally worked with, because I worked for about 12 years for the Council of Churches, the South African Council of Churches. So I was directly involved with some of the families who were, you know, grossly violated, or their human rights were violated.
To quote Stanza Bopape who was the general secretary of the Mamelodi Civic Organisation - you have heard a lot about him. I was serving with him in the same organisation for a number of years. His family, obviously, was devastated; his family was, you know, suffered a lot. The father died because of the disappearance of his son. The mother also, you know, died. I think it was the step-mother. The family was disorganised. There were a number of problems. The SACC gave some grants to try to assist the family, but that did not help that much. I would not get to Dr Fabian Ribeiro and his wife, whom I worked so closely with for many years, who were brutally murdered by, you know, the apartheid regime, if I may put it that way.
I would not get into Mama Hlangu, who is staying with me, and who I, you know, looked after or I took care of her for many years through the SACC. She suffered a lot because of the hanging of her son. She is still, you know, having those traumas and so forth. These are some of the impacts, you know, in Mamelodi around this violation of human rights. Mamma Suku in Mamelodi, you know, who was harassed, suffered a lot as well. His son went for many years in prison. Louis Khumalo, you know, his house was bombed, he was terribly tortured. He worked with me and these people I am talking about, some of them I worked with them very closely
There are families who disintegrated as well. Louis' family for instance, you know, after the burning of his house, when there was a huge, I mean, a massacre in Mamelodi of about 13 people who were brutally murdered. When the entire community was marching against the high rents, against, you know, pure civic delivery in Mamelodi. A number of people were shot, and imagine, what is happening to those families who lost their loved ones, who you know, lost their children in the process. And you know, when they see, they hear about the Truth Commission, they have got high hopes, they are looking forward to get some reparation and some, they are indicating to us as an organisation, that the whole process is too slow. You know, they are anxiously looking forward towards the results of the Truth Commission. Once, you know, the results are made, the findings are made and so forth, they are worried what is going to happen to them and to the perpetrators for that matter.
Young people, whom I participated in holding memorial services in Mamelodi, those young people who were burnt in a combi, killed when they were, you know, robbed to sort of skip the country, to find that the involvement of the security there, was to, you know, trap them and kill them. You know, all those people are in Mamelodi. I am talking about Mamelodi, because I am coming from Mamelodi.
Very little has been done to counsel these people. Very little has been done by the community itself to you know, give the necessary support to these victims of apartheid, to these people who were grossly violated by, you know, the apartheid, you know, regime.
But save to say as well that, you know, the community of Mamelodi has been in a way supportive to these people, because we usually, every year we hold memorial services for the massacres of November 21, 1985. That, I believe, we are sort of bringing the families together and comforting them and sharing with them other experiences and indicating to them that they are not alone. It is not only them who suffered, but a number of people, throughout this country, suffered. That in a way we were sort of, you know, trying to comfort and support them, as an organisation.
I played that role as individual as well, because I worked for the church and I felt it is necessary for me to keep on visiting even these individual families who suffered. Many people suffered in Mamelodi. Around Pretoria as a whole, especially in the Black townships, we had a lot of casualties. I am talking now, right now I have people in Mamelodi who have lost or who are mentally disturbed because of imprisonment, who are struggling, they cannot get employment because they are not balanced, mentally balanced. They cannot, you know, they are just loitering in the townships. They are seriously affected because of detention.
You know from 1986 upwards you know, a number of young people were tortured in Mamelodi. I am one of them. I do not have to talk about myself, but you know, I am just indicating that many people suffered because of, you know, this gross violation which was perpetrated by, you know, the Police, the Army and so forth. By the previous government, of course.
Obviously, what is lacking is the support that should be given to those stake-holders, those community structures that would like to further, you know, assist, you know, these people who really suffered. You know, those who suffered psychologically. What is it that we are doing? It is a question that I am also asking. What is it that the community is doing for them? Very little has been done. You know, a number of them they still need psychological, you know, treatment and so forth. So that kind of - and I see churches to have a serious role here, to counsel, to comfort, to, you know, to visit, to bring together such people, but very little is being done around such, you know, people who are living with us there. But deeply they are hurt, they are injured, you know, that is what I could say around some of these things.
I can say so many things about them, because I have been in the fore, in the leadership throughout of what was happening in Mamelodi. You know, mass meetings were disrupted throughout. You know, many people for instance, in July, I think 1985, many people jumped big fences, parents with children. You know, in a mass meeting police came in and threw in teargas canisters and people were disrupted, having their own meetings, you know, meeting. A number of them had broken limbs, you know, and some broken ankles. I ask myself where are these people, you know. Were they helped after they got broken limbs and legs and so forth. You know, the last time it was when we were taking them to hospitals and they were helped. But whether they came forward to come and submit, to come and put forward their problems, one is not quite - I am not in the know-how about that.
But save also to say that I really personally welcome the reparation policy. Probably it will be one form of healing, helping these people to you know, realise that at least the outcome of the Truth Commission had an impact to heal them, to better their living conditions. As I heard, you spoke also about the - not individual assistance, but what is it that can be done to better the conditions of some of those areas, of you know, where there are no services at all.
In my mind I think there is still a lot to be done, particularly to those who are psychologically affected. There is a lot to be done around those mothers who lost their loved ones. Those whom their children have disappeared. I think very little has been done, but we do not know whether, you know, some of them came forth.
Mr Chairperson, I would just put it at that level. But indicating that some of, you know, I was excited about the reparation policy, as it was explained. I think many people are looking forward to that as well. While they need more than that in terms of you know, helping them to take out the traumas that they had, that they experienced and so forth. I thank you.
MS MKHIZE: Mr Lubisi, you have mentioned that in your community some people keep on asking what is going to happen to the perpetrators. I think Marjorie also alluded to that when she said that people want justice. Do you feel perhaps that the TRC has not done justice in explaining the question of amnesty in the Act, why they decided that perpetrators can come forward if they are going to give full disclosure and confess and so on, that they would be granted amnesty?
MR LUBISI: Yes, I think people are aware of that, but you see sometimes it is hard to reconcile with a person who is not prepared to reconcile. If I know that so-and-so was torturing me, and so-and-so disclosed and you know, without, you know, hiding some of the things that he was doing to me, definitely, because I want peace, I want reconciliation, I would, you know, reconcile with that person. You know, I will pardon that person. But what happened to that one who is still refusing to say I am sorry, what happened to that one who is still, you know, beating about the bush telling the truth what happened. You know, there are still a number of people who are not found, who disappeared into thin air. Some of those families are still saying why don't people who killed those people come forward, you know. So I hope I have got your question correctly. But I am saying, you are saying people - you have explained very clearly, but it is not enough to say you know, disclose, then after disclosing and you realise that the person has not disclosed the actual deed, then what is going to happen to that person?
MS MKHIZE: Just to (indistinct) your question. If perhaps, I mean, you heard that Father O'Leary said that one of the problems with the Act is that it was written by politicians and there is nowhere in the Act where it says people should say I am sorry, people should confess. Now after having done the full disclosure, and obviously then they do not apologise or confess, what do - where do you think the onus lies, which organisation - should it be the TRC with their limited life-span or do you see that being a process taken over by other organisations perhaps? That process now of bringing people together so that the reconciliation you are talking about, can be finally affected?
MR LUBISI: Yes, thank you. I think obviously with your limited resources, that will be beyond the task that you are given. But I believe the Government should be able to act and say then what about these people who have not disclosed, but we have got their names, why can they not be - I mean charged, bring to book, because they are failing to disclose? I mean, probably you are not forcing people to disclose. The Government was, you know - the Truth Commission was saying people, let them, let people come forward. But failure to do that, what is going to happen to those people? I mean ...
MR LUBISI: Some they do, some they do not know. You know, they think that, you know, it is going to be just, you know, just reconciliation. People run away with murder, you know, and that would not make them happy, you know. It is better to come forward and when you pardon such a person, it is when he has disclosed what he has been doing.
MS MKHIZE: Maybe that is why I then felt that perhaps when we were having public meetings with the communities and NGOs, we did not really discuss the issue of amnesty in depth like we did the reparation and the violations, the gross violations, and you see that there should be a follow-up on that, whereby people really could now discuss this amnesty question in depth.
MR LUBISI: Definitely, yes, and some of us were not quite clear about the reparation policy, you know. So you cannot, you know, say things that you are not sure of, because you raise hopes and promises and make empty promises. So that, I think, will be the task of organisations, you know, community structures, local structures to take the message that we got here today, further. So that people should not lose morale, people should not lose confidence to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
MR MANTHATA: Sandi, mine might even seem like you know, the usual questions. Perhaps I am coming to a point where I am saying, the organisations that existed before, and perhaps even some of our representative which is what Ms Mkhize was saying, can safely be accused of having abandoned you know, these people. Last year we were invited to a meeting to commemorate the massacre. I am sorry to say it was a shambles, it did not even take place. Unless I am corrected that we had gone to the wrong one. Where people can no longer even can come to such meetings, you know, how do we account for that? Because those are the meetings, as we are saying, that can give a psychological feeling, just the sense of togetherness, you know. It is very important itself.
MR LUBISI: Thank you, Tom. I do not think I am accusing organisations here or, you know, to say that they have not done anything. But, what I am saying is that people have lost hope. Maybe we have been doing now and then to call you know, the - not mass meetings, but you know, commemorations. The attendance sometimes they are poor. I do not know whether it is because of the organisations not taking it up very seriously, to co-ordinate and organise properly. That might be also the case. But we also have, you know, a commitment, you know. Once people do not have commitment on some of these issues, those things will disappear, you know. We have been in particularly, Mamelodi, have been successful, you know, commemoration services. The November 21 has been previously well-attended. The March 21 has been also commemorated in Mamelodi. But, you know, what affects the attendance recently, one would maybe say there is a lack of people you know, no longer interested. Maybe we have got freedom now. They are not interested in attending all those kinds of meetings now and then. But, Tom, I would just say, those activities, we are still putting them in our agendas, to ensure that we do not forget those people who died during the struggle. We will always, despite that we are few, we will always want to remember and pray for those people who died during the struggle.
MR MANTHATA: That is my one question. My other question, I hope I will be able to phrase it well. When we had meetings with the survivors of the Mamelodi massacre, their cry was on that day they had gone to campaign against the rent increase, and that their cry, is that that phenomenon of rent increases is still going on, and some of them want to say what are the organisations saying about that, more so in the light of their being disabled. You know, it is a thing that was never addressed and now it is being addressed with, you know, escalating costs, but at the same time, not addressing the fact that the very people who were casualties of the day, are the grown-ups, you know, without the means of sustenance, and yet, you know, the same - now our people who are in power are still promoting the same issue that brought them into the street.
MR LUBISI: That is a very difficult issue. But I can put it this way. I do not think as a councillor, for instance, at the greater Pretoria Metropolitan Council. I was voted in by people - I do not think I am there not to represent people. I am there definitely to ensure that you know, services are being addressed, they do not pay high rents and so forth, because what led to the massacre - the massacre that we are talking about, was precisely of those kinds of problems. There are, yes, there are problems in the City Council of Pretoria. There are, you know, with regard to finances. We have been urging our people to contribute as much as they can. You will remember the culture of non-payment, you know, is not something that we are going to address as quick as we can. You know, within the Council, which is local government, there are a number of problems. Services, we have to - I mean, we buy electricity from Eskom, we buy water from Water Rand Board, and we have got to pay those services. Now it is unlikely that those services can be given free to the people. While we were elected by them, obviously we are there to represent their needs, their interests, and we are trying our utmost best that you know, they must pay very low rent or service, very low services. The prices should be low.
Just to share with you, that in our budget for 1997/98, the City Council of Pretoria has never increased tariffs for that matter. So our people are - they have reached the stage where they say they cannot pay more than this, and we listen to this, and in Council we thought that there should be no increases with regard to you know, water, sanitation, you know, garbage and electricity. So the whole year there would not be any increase. We are very sympathetic to those people, because we are coming from the very same communities that we are representing. We are still staying with them. So they should understand the problem. It is the financial constraints that local government is facing in this country. In particular, the City Council of Pretoria, is having enormous problems. On the other hand the City Council is trying its utmost best to deliver services, to put tarred roads in the township of Mamelodi, Atteridgeville, Soshanguve. They are trying their utmost best to improve the quality of services that we are putting forward. You know, electricity is one of the services that we are improving. If you go to Mamelodi you will see things that you have never seen. You know, you will see robots which we never had in there. Now these are (indistinct - microphone switched off).
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for answering the question. I am just a bit concerned - yes, of course. We must just check our watches in the meantime, but I think there is, we must make it one last important question, please.
MS MKHIZE: Yes, just one point. You know, when we started - there is a woman sitting right at the end there. She came forward, saying she wants people who were not on the part of the State to come forward as well and to tell people how their beloved ones were killed. In your remarks you kept on referring to what the security forces did, and Shaun spoke about the society living in denial. As a person in leadership do you think the community of Mamelodi will begin to heal and move forward if we are not addressing the conflict of the past in its totality, because some are very bitter and angry. Not so much at the security forces, but angry with people who represented liberation movements.
MR LUBISI: Yes, definitely. People are still angry. In Mamelodi people are still angry. They will not be happy, you know, until some of these problems are being addressed. It will - it is a process that is going to last for some years. I mean, you know, I am talking about conditions in Mamelodi, are still terrible, are still depressing. I mean, and people are not happy about the conditions. Despite that we are, you know, the Government are trying to do something, but you know, that is not going to be done overnight. So the anger of the people is still there. You know, and it will take a number of years to heal. But the community is appreciating what you are doing. But I do not think that will happen, you will be able to heal the entire community over a short space of time. But with what you are doing, definitely, it is, you know, another way of healing the community. Not only psychologically but I think it will also be of help if the Government is also addressing the concerns that are raised by the communities, of service delivery, of, you know, of pensioners, for instance, who are still paying like any other person who is employed, you know. These are still problems and I am telling as a ward councillor, I know what it means.
MS MKHIZE: Specifically, if I might interrupt, what I was putting to you was that maybe what will promote healing more is for you especially in leadership, address the question of spies within the communities, people who co-operated with the security agents and people who actively engaged in human rights violations, whether they represented the thinking of the liberation movement. Because as long as we keep on saying the police did this, the representative of the government did this, it means we are not really addressing the problem in its totality. That is just a comment to think about. Thank you.
MR LUBISI: Yes, I think that is important. Just to make also that comment, that is important really. Not only from the side of government, but if there were those who were assisting the perpetrators within the communities, I think those also need to be brought to book. I think those problems need to be addressed as well. I think that is a fair comment, you know, we need to look at that. The community needs to look at that as well, you know.
MR LUBISI: Thank you, Mr Chairperson. I think there is a person who has asked, I do not know whether Dr Maphai is around, but I was informed - it seems he is not around. Mr M Seloane from Human Science Research Council. Oh, yes.
MR SELEOANE: Thank you, Mr Chairperson, Commissioners and everybody. Firstly, may I start off by apologising on behalf of the Dr Maphai, he is off sick, he was going to phone Tom, I do not know if he did, but that is the reason why he is not here.
Then I would like to indicate, and nothing I say really reflects the views of the HSRC. I cannot even claim to be speaking from a mandated position. I would like to leave two sets of papers. They come from Ian Liebenberg, HSRC who has been doing a fair amount of work on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The one document - I am not going to speak to the documents, but the one document talks around issues of truth bodies, not only in South Africa, but case studies before the South African experience of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It deals with some philosophical arguments around the Truth Commission. Some political problems around the Truth Commission. But as I say, I am not going to speak to them, I will simply hand them in, if you please.
Then I would like to say that - let me put it this way, I would like to register my agreement with a number of things that were said by Father O'Leary, particularly, but also a number of things which were said by other speakers before me.
At issue from where I stand is the question of human rights and the question of reconciliation. The TRC stands basically on two legs and the one leg is truth and the other leg is reconciliation. Father O'Leary has made, I think, an important statement about the role that is played by perception in establishing the truth. He gave us two sort of anecdotal examples of how this happened in real life situations. The fact that two people can witness the same event, but arrive at different conclusions about the same event. I think that that is important. I just wanted to underline that because I do believe in a serious way that in a large measure, when we are speaking about truth we are always speaking from certain conceptual frames. When I say something is true, I say it is true from a given conceptual frame. That raises a practical problem as Father O'Leary has said, in that if we cannot even agree on what constitutes the truth, how can we hope that the truth will lead us in the path to reconciliation. That is a problem, I think that not only the TRC, but indeed the South African community at large is going to have to grapple with for a long to come still.
Notwithstanding those philosophical problems, I just wanted to indicate that it has been possible to establish some truths, notwithstanding the limitations that are imposed on us by our conceptual frames. I mean, we know for instance, thanks in part to the work which has been done by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, about who killed certain people in the past, something which we had never hoped we would ever come to know, but thanks, as I said, in part to the work which has been done by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, some of those truths have emerged.
Now in order to fulfil the requirements of the second leg, that is the requirement of reconciliation, the TRC has been given powers of amnesty, powers to forgive people who have done certain things, and if they do, some of the things which the law says needs to be done in order for them to invite the amnesty of the Commission. In other words, they have to make confessions and so on and so on. So if they make those confessions, the Commission has been given the power to forgive these people.
The TRC has actually hinted in the past that it is this power to forgive people who are guilty of gross human rights which will make it possible in the end for people to come forward and confess to their sins before the TRC. That may well be so, but I just want to point out that it is precisely in the powers of the TRC to forgive the sins that the problem for many lies.
I have indicated that there are two things at issue, and I have indicated that one of the things at issue is human rights. In terms of our Constitution it is one of our fundamental rights that if we have been wronged we shall have the right to approach the courts in order to seek redress from those who have offended against us.
A case as we all know has been brought against the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the President, by the Biko, Mxhenge families and also by the Azanian Peoples Organisation. The rest is really history. The Constitutional Court has ruled that the powers of the TRC to grant amnesty are not unconstitutional, because that is provided for by the Constitution.
In a rather learned article appearing in the South African Year Book of International Law, Dr Zihad Motale raises the very interesting question; whether the Constitutional Court is not perhaps guilty of political convenience in the way in which it has handled the particular case that I have referred to.
I am raising this because I think it is something that we all have to bear in mind in walking the path of reconciliation, how things like these are going to influence the extent to which people are prepared to forgive and forget; the extent to which people are going to be prepared to reconcile with other people.
If there is a perception that people are being denied the right to approach the courts in instances where they have been wrong, in order to seek redress, it seems to me we have to deal with that issue in our endeavours to reconcile with other people, because it seems to me that that perception is going to be an obstacle in the path of reconciliation, that we all have to walk.
If there is a perception that not even our courts can be entrusted to interpret a law correctly, if there is a perception that our courts will choose political convenience instead of applying the law as it is, in dealing with such sensitive questions, that is an obstacle that all of us are going to have to negotiate in walking this painful path of reconciliation.
Now I have no doubt in my mind that reconciliation is a must. We cannot survive as a community, as a nation, unless we are able to find each other and reconcile. The emphasis, however, is on finding each other and the point here is that I think it is important to recognise that and Father O'Leary has already referred to this, but the point I want to underline is that reconciliation has to be organic. What we have to do is to create the environment in which the seeds of reconciliation in our community can take off. I do not think that reconciliation is possible unless the parties who are contesting themselves, want the reconciliation in the first place. We can plant the seeds of reconciliation, but whether they will germinate or not is something really that does not depend on us. All we can do is to create the conditions in which reconciliation can take off. I do not think that it should be our task to foist reconciliation on people. We have to create those conditions in society which will make it possible for the seeds to take off. Thank you, Mr Chairperson.
MR MANTHATA: Mandla, you rightly say the courts tended to take political convenience, but since May the 10th, we have not seen people coming out accusing some of their known perpetrators or putting them into the courts, for not even having applied for amnesty. You know, for what they did to them. Do you not think that the whole thing is two ways? That the people themselves must be coming out with the cases against the perpetrators and those themselves would be a test for the courts, and of course, in itself too would even hasten the process of reconciliation, where the perpetrators realise, you know, what they stand to find themselves in, if and when they have failed to apply for amnesty?
MR SELEOANE: Yes, Tom, that is possibly correct. It is a worrisome thing that we do not have nearly a sufficient number of people who have come forward, and incidentally, this includes both you and me, for instance, and a lot of other people - Sandi there, who are sitting here, knowing fully well how - what sort of treatment we had received from some agents of the previous regime, and we have not done anything by way of pressing charges against them, which may or may not have resulted in the sort of thing that you are suggesting now.
Having made that admission, however, I just want to emphasise that one does not really know what is happening in the minds of people. One cannot discount the possibility that one of the reasons people are not coming forward is precisely that they know that if they did come forward, these people would apply for amnesty in any case, and that the TRC is likely to grant them their amnesty. There is also that possibility.
MR MANTHATA: No, Mandla, the thing is, the cut-off date of the 10th was that if a person had not applied then, his application would no longer be admitted. So there was no longer a question of if people prosecute, people still run for application for amnesty. That thing is true, right now there has been a problem of the cut-off date not being gazetted, you know, all these what you call, difficulties. But even before this could be clarified, we say there has not been any indication from the victims to test their right for taking recourse to the laws or to the courts of law.
MR SELEOANE: That is correct. I agree, and of course the cut-off date has, as we all know, been shifted at least once in terms of making those applications. But I agree in principle with what you are saying. It remains true, however, that those - there are people who may have done precisely what you are suggesting. The Ribeiro family would have done that, the Mxhenge family would have done that, the Biko family would have done that, but as we all know, they have now been forestalled by the amnesty provisions of the TRC. So whereas I accept what you are saying, I think we can also not deny that there are some people who would have done that you are suggesting, but the fact that they have not done it, seems to me to be attributable to the amnesty provisions of the Truth and Reconciliation Act.
PROF GROBBELAAR: Mr Seleoane, I note with interest your theological qualifications at the start of your submission, and then you identify ... in the light of that I would be interested to know, and it is a question I could have asked Father O'Leary or you, so let me ask you now. In the first place, Father O'Leary argued that we have competing histories, and therefore competing ways of healing and that possibly the Truth Commission could write an official history. You yourself suggest that methodologically you are very sensitive to what you say, but you suggest that we should facilitate primarily the process of reconciliation. You do not spell out how we should facilitate that. I would be interested in the ontological assumptions you are making, in this regard. You are suggesting that you are not making any, I think.
MR SELEOANE: Yes, it is true, I am not making any ontological assumptions perhaps. But I think that one of the things which struck me, for instance, when I walked into this room, and I walked in after the session had started, but one of the things which struck me was that most White people were sitting on the one side of the hall, and most Black people were sitting on the other side of the hall. Now I have no problem with that, I think it would have been incorrect to insist on mixing them if they did not feel like mixing. What I am saying is we have to kick off from where we are. We have to accept for starters that we are a deeply divided society. And it is only in our acceptance of the fact of our division that we can begin to deal meaningfully with the processes of reconciliation. I think it would be counter-productive to dictate to another person to reconcile with another. We have to create a number of circumstances where people mix and learn to relax in each other's presence. Not only at the TRC and I think I like one of the examples which was mentioned by one of the people who spoke before me. I think he or she made use of sports as a medium that could be used in order to help foster reconciliation, unity amongst people. I have not thought about these things nearly as carefully as one should, but all I am prepared to say for now, is I do not think that forced reconciliation will ever work. All I am prepared to say is we have to work hard at finding at societal level those sort of things around which people can work together, people can play together, people can interact with each other across racial lines and perhaps also across the lines of atrocities that have been discussed here today, and hope that in the process of those things people will be able to find one another.
MS MKHIZE: From me it is not a question really. We thank you very much, we will invite you in some of the seminars we hope to hold in looking at what we are going to say around the notion of reconciliation. We will welcome the submissions that you said that you have. Thank you.
Lawyers for Human Rights was established in 1979. Our intention is, we uphold and strengthen human rights associated with the rule of law and administration of justice and the protection of fundamental liberties in accordance with the universal declaration of human rights. Our main objectives are achievement of equality of opportunities, to represent the rights and interests of the individual. To ensure that Lawyers for Human Rights services are accessible to the oppressed. Eradication of all forms of discrimination in South Africa, work towards the creation of an independent credible and impartial judiciary. The accessibility of legal services for all in South Africa.
The organisation's Pretoria head office engaged in discussion with committees and staff and the following views have emerged. We have a positive - we think that the TRC has a positive impact in the communities. Although the same impact differs from one person to another. To one person it can influence their attitude to come forward. Although to the other it can suppress them. I think prior to the setting up of the TRC, the community was unaware of most of the truth. Those who were not aware of the truth, they now know. Those who were living in their cocoons, they are either out or they will soon be. Those who were beat up by the (indistinct) evidence, they have either found out the truth or they are about to. Finally, those who did not want to admit responsibilities, they have realised that now is the time.
The Truth Commission is one of the commissions that our democratic Government could not be without. Before one can receive amnesty, it must be evident from the testimony that the wrongdoer is aware and is admitting his or her wrongs. The TRC is the same Commission that wants perpetrators to admit and ask forgiveness. It requires people to tell the whole truth.
We would like to make the following inputs, that it is not sufficient for the Commission to focus only on victims who suffered gross human rights abuses, which were committed within a political context. Considering the fact that the 1960 to 1993 gross violation of human rights affected the life of each and every South African citizen. We suggest that a permanent monument being a hall of remembrance, should be erected in South Africa. That this should be done in one of the major cities, and possibly in one of the capitals. It is either Cape Town or Pretoria. This hall of remembrance should remember and honour all victims of apartheid from across the political divide and could as time passes, become a place of pilgrimage and reconciliation for victims and perpetrators alike. As well as reminding future generations of South Africans of their past and that the crimes of apartheid should never happen again.
Young people whose education was either interrupted or ceased because of apartheid repression, should be given the opportunity of further studies. Perhaps a state-aided bursary scheme which would also accept donations from private citizens and business, could be set up for this purpose. Counselling for victims of apartheid is likely to continue for many years. Some form of scheme should be devised where this could be provided, either free of charge or at minimal cost to survivors. These would entail the co-operation of health professionals and clinics. Non-governmental organisations who provide this service, although in small ways, should be brought on board and their expertise utilised.
it is to be hoped that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will be publishing all its records, including the findings of the various Committees and the individual stories that have surfaced during the life of the Commission. Every school and institute of higher learning in South Africa should have this volume or volumes available to students. Material should be devolved for use in the new school curriculum, which incorporates the findings of the TRC and the lessons to be learnt.
Women have suffered immensely under apartheid. Apart from the trauma counselling and education initiatives mentioned above, the continuation of small groups that can share their stories and come to the healing through the process shall be encouraged and subsidised.
Places of worship can play an incredible role in the reparation process and shall be encouraged to participate in any initiative. Religious leaders shall be consulted and the process shall be seen to be inclusive.
When we come to other consequences of human rights violations, we believe and know that there were gross human rights violations committed on other aspects or institutions, which did not have political context like schools, churches, hospitals, workplaces and prisons. We suggest that the TRC must also consider such victims. Such actions will assist the citizens generally. They will not feel or think that they are being directly or indirectly discriminated against by the Government. As the Government set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which seems to be on a temporary basis and deals only with particular cases, we think as Lawyers for Human Rights, that it will be in the best interests of South African citizens, if the Government could continue with the above issues. This will ensure that eradication of all forms of discrimination during the apartheid regime will be taken care of. Thank you very much. (Applause).
CHAIRPERSON: Oh. Edith Mahlangu is the name. If we can then move to our last presenter. Or let me first indicate that Lieze Meiring has indicated that she is not ready to present but she would make her submission later. I do not know, are you ready to come and present? Okay, can you please come forward? Thank you. Okay. Yes?
MS DU PLESSIS: I am Lieze du Plessis and the only reason why I am here is just to inform you what the young people in my environment as a student think of the Truth Commission, and I would also like to talk about how I see reconciliation could be achieved.
I want to read to you. The young people whom I am associated with as a student can with regard to their opinions regarding the Truth Commission, be divided into three groups. The first is that who is neutral or virtually apathetic. They think it might be a good thing, they do not really mind and they do not really pay any attention to the country matters. They do not know what exactly its task is and they hope that whatever happens and is done, will be for the better. They do not really feel responsible for what has happened in our country, they feel it is something that belongs to the previous generation and they do not really associated or identify with it. When they were old enough to start thinking for themselves the previous dispensation was already crumbling and they did not feel very strongly about who the enemy was, when they as 18 year olds did military service.
The second group is a group who feels negatively or concerned for various reasons. Firstly, there are those who think the Truth Commission should really concentrate on the leaders instead of the officials who just carried out orders. They are concerned because they feel that the Truth Commission is conducting a witch hunt on the ordinary officials. They feel that they should be more concerned with the people who are not prepared to accept responsibility for their decisions. They wish to continue with their ordinary lives and they do not want people to just be belittled on national television, because it will not effect reconciliation. The leaders who were responsible should together discuss these problems.
Then thirdly, there are those who feel that the Truth Commission should not dig up old matters. They feel that bad feelings will just be enhanced and driven up if people concentrate on the past. They should rather look forward and not look back and make a clean start.
A friend recently said to me that he felt the Truth Commission served no purpose for the ordinary victims of apartheid, that they are not really doing anything to improve the matters for those victims. The money could be used more constructively for housing and for providing the necessary resources for communities who suffered under the apartheid. The victims do not really feel that reconciliation affects them and they will really feel better if their immediate circumstances are improved.
Then the third group with whom I associate more closely, it is that group of people who feel that the Commission is essential to establish reconciliation in our country, because they feel that confession and forgiveness are very important. These things play an important role in interaction among people; to confess what is wrong is a way of eliminating it and the Commission then is an instrument in bringing about reconciliation for that which has happened in the past.
A second argument is an historical one. It teaches us that the book first have to be opened before they can be closed. Everywhere in the world where these wrong things have just been swept under the carpet, they tended to raise their heads again in the community. Psychology teaches us that one should argue about problems, you should not ignore them because they do not go away.
One of my fellow students said that confession is a Christian principle. To confess one's sin, whether it was for something one has done or for which one has omitted to do, is the Christian road to reconciliation. In a country where most people regard themselves to be Christians, the Truth Commission creates a forum where people can confess their sins and establish good ties with their community and God again.
The Commission also creates the opportunity for people to reconcile themselves with the past, either to clear their consciences or to see the face of suppression, whatever is the case, we cannot misjudge or over-estimate the value of the Commission.
The way in which I and my friends and everybody else feel reconciliation can be effected, firstly the Commission should inform people more closely about their agenda and activities. The fact that many people's opinions are formed from the subjective side of things, gives a skew perspective of what people are trying to do. This is the subjective perspective of the media. Should we have a fuller picture then people will be more prepared to work with the Commission.
Secondly, the groups in South Africa remain stranger to each other because they never got the opportunity to learn to know each other better. If you do not know somebody you can experience that person as a threat. It is only when you realise that the other person has emotions, a name, etc, that you will start making space for such a person in your life. I feel that the Commission and other bodies in the country must go to some trouble to introduce the different population groups and groupings to each other, so that they will understand each other better. Particularly at school level, people have to get to know people who differ from them as persons, so that they do not experience them as threats but create space for them.
MR MANTHATA: But what do they say when the leaders of political organisations themselves tend to be either evasive, negative or even to dissociate themselves with the poor perpetrators who are applying for amnesty?
MS DU PLESSIS: It is so that particularly those young people who were in the Defence Force are afraid because they do not know whether they should apply for amnesty, because they collaborated with everything and they went along with these things, but they feel that the leaders of the old dispensation should accept responsibility for the things which they knew about and the things which they did not know about, so that we can get these things over and done with, because those youngsters at grassroots level want to continue with their lives. Some of them did terrible things. The ordinary people whom I know, who were in the Defence Force are afraid, they are scared. They co-operated, but they were carrying out orders, and that is their fear.
MS DU PLESSIS: No, there is nothing that i know of, not being done for those young people who are afraid of what they were involved in. I do not think the churches are really knowledgeable about these things. I think that people talk among each other. Because I study theology, I realise the people who are studying with me, and the lecturers and everybody else that I am associated with, are positive about reconciliation and will do what they can, but I do not think the church really knows about the problems experienced by these youngsters at ground level.
MR MANTHATA: (Indistinct ... microphone not switched on) ... engaged in what I might call inter-racial groups, you know, which can even, you know, address the plight of those youths who have turned timid because of their previous involvement?
MR MANTHATA: Are you beginning to have youths across the colour that can meet, discuss, to a point where even the youth who was a perpetrator, you know, could find a home in that kind of, you know, inter-personal, inter-group, inter-racial group or inter-racial discussions, if what you call them.
MS DU PLESSIS: (Speaker's microphone not switched on). What I feel is that we as people at university are involved in many different efforts, like during Rag time when money is collected for different service groups, for example for the Winterveld Project, where they go and do community service in areas which have been disadvantaged, but I do not know about any and I am not really involved in any groups where the youngsters from the other side can be accommodated. These youngsters who are concerned about their involvement in the past. I am not involved in such a group where these youngsters are involved. All that I do know is that from the side of the university, there are tremendous efforts to establish reconciliation among the various groups in our country and the disadvantaged people, and they try to assist where possible, and that is all that I am aware of.
PROF GROBBELAAR: You make two statements which interest me. The first statement is I am young, we are young. You talk about the context within which Father O'Leary spoke of a distantiation from the past, to some extent. The fact that you ignore and that you do not want to admit to the responsibility of the privileges which you enjoyed as White person, in terms of legislation. So that is what you are saying on the one hand, but on the other hand you are telling me that you would rather associate with a group that is positive with regard to reconciliation, confession, that you yourself would like to read the books before you close them. How do you associate or how do you bring together these two things, the distancing from the past, because it seems like denial as psychologists would call it. I am not responsible as well, I am young, I am a youngster who can look back and build up. Would you like to talk about this?
PROF GROBBELAAR: Well, you say you are sitting between those two groups. You are young and there is some distance between yourself and other fellow youngsters, but you also say that one should look at these things. Is this not a way of avoiding your own responsibility, that you are saying that it is not really your responsibility?
MS DU PLESSIS: I do not want to distance myself from this. What I said is that the way I see it, and how people in my environment regard these matters, that is why I mentioned in these groups. I do not want to distance myself, I feel we all have a responsibility, and to continue on the way forward in this country, for our future together, everybody else, we have to look at these things. We have to confess our sins and what has been wrong and we as privileged White children should know how much suffering there was amongst the other race group children and we must know of our own benefits from this, and I just wanted to say how the people in my environment feel about the Truth Commission. It is not my personal opinion.
MS DU PLESSIS: Okay, I would like to explain something here. I am studying theology and we are doing church history, and we are looking at present at the apartheid years in the NG Church, the Dutch Reformed Church. And something which struck me as we were sitting in class, and the lecturer would tell us everything that happened during these years, and we cannot believe what we are hearing. We cannot believe that people committed this kind of thing. It is totally alien to us. It is as if life has already gone beyond that and that we do not know anything about this, and it is totally strange to us. And that is what I mean when I say we are young. We hear about these things. I know we grew up in those conditions when we were younger, but now we hear as a matter of history of these terrible things that had happened and we stand astonished, because time has already progressed beyond that point. And I think that explains perhaps my situation.
MS MKHIZE: One question from me. I just would like to tap on your thinking about this, because I think you have been thinking a lot of these issues. That was my impression when you started making your input. What do you think should be done to rescue your community, if there is a generation of young people who cannot relate to their past and who is living within their community of people who, whether they are denying or coming forward, are living with their amazing amount of guilt. So I just think this is likely to have serious impact on the community and family life. You as young people how are you engaging and making this an issue within a text, within the African community?
MS DU PLESSIS: I think firstly, it is absolutely essential that young people should be made aware of history. They cannot stand alone without being involved in history. As I said reconciliation can be achieved if from early days we are taught that strangers do not necessarily pose a threat. They must be able to work together. We at university must take different people from different communities to do community service together, because then they get to know each other together, they see the suffering of the people, because they are involved in outreaches to assist disadvantaged communities, and then they will learn more about their history and together decide on our new future.
MS MKHIZE: Upon referring to community service, from my experience in the universities in South Africa, have always had projects in communities, but because that kind of outreach is on different levels, in terms of power relationships, it has not really helped them. They, you know, they study people and they write up whatever they write and they forget about it. I do not think that in the past word, and so I am not sure whether today those kinds of visits to communities will actually help the scholars to have a deeper understanding, to empathise and to do something, because in the past it has never worked.
MS DU PLESSIS: I am of the opinion that this is not something, it is not one-off community project that we are talking about, because these things do not work. I think various faculties must make it their priority to use students in the field of study that they have chosen, to go out into the community and to do that for which they are being trained, on a long-term basis. And I do not think it should just be on a voluntary basis but that the university should make an effort and make this compulsory because that is the university's side, from its side to correct matters which have gone wrong, and this will involve people in long-term projects. That is the only sort of solution that I can think of.
MS VELDTMAN: Good afternoon members of the Commission and ladies and gentlemen. I was actually the one who spoke to Mr Lebisi to ask him just to tell him about my submission. I was informed about this at a very late stage and I was not informed about the format of this workshop either. But whilst I sat there I thought that I would just make a few notes in connection with the youth.
A very small percentage of our youth or pupils actually read newspapers or watch the evening news. The result of this is that they remain ignorant and uninformed about issues that would undoubtedly have effects on the future. Few of these youngsters actually know about the TRC and some only have vague notions about the TRC. Earlier on Mrs Nkomo mentioned something about awareness creation, and I still feel strongly about this, that at our schools pupils should be made aware of certain things. That is the only way that one can get through to our youth.
Then I would like to move on to the concept of reconciliation. This I feel can be attempted and achieved if amongst other things, we reach out to our young people to overcome racial barriers. For older people this would be a more difficult task. For these racial and cultural barriers to be broken down, interaction in various forms is necessary. I think the previous speaker spoke about that too.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Helda. Is there any person who would like to ask a question? I think she was quite brief and she indicated that she was not properly informed and she did indicate to me actually. Thank you very much, Hilda, for sharing with us as well.
Can I also take this opportunity to ask Judith Motaung, this is not in the programme, but there has been that request from somebody who is coming from Hammanskraal, a lady who wants to render a poem to us, a brief short poem for us. Please, those who had written papers or submissions, could you please forward them to the table? Lieze Meiring, please if you had a written copy, please submit it to us. Thank you.
"A right formula for food for our democracy is a belief in the reality of fellow citizens, co-operation, to work together, high productivity, to work more effectively, since off duty and forced to do or what not to do, tolerance, ability to make room for other people's views. Without equal responsibilities there cannot be equal rights. To have a good job, one must be reliable and have a sense of duty. To have a strong economy our productivity will have to rise. This is impossible without respect and tolerance. Freedom is impossible without responsibility. Everybody in the world has some duties to perform. Those who have influence on other people have greatest responsibility. Their duties are greater and their task difficult. The man outside whose task it is to discover new truths, neglects his duty when he does not reveal what he has discovered. The ministers of the church, the teachers, the parents, they have all influence to the best. People of the lowest ranks have also their duties to perform. Everyone must help in some way to improve the condition of his fellow creature and try to help each other. This is done especially by doing what is possible for the welfare of others. What do you expect from the new democracy in South Africa. Equality of rights, equality of freedom, equality of (indistinct), equality of non-discrimination, equality of movement, equality of religion and respect for the property and the freedom of others."
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for rendering us your poem. Can we now call the last person before I allow a summary by Jean Grobbelaar. Mukurundi, MJS, can you come forward. Please come forward, we have got only five minutes.
Actually in introducing myself, I am here because of an invitation that I received from your organisation to the Lawyers of Human Rights. I went to them and I made my submission on my problem. Mine is a unique one in that it touches on some of the issues that were discussed here. I am a victim of arson, a criminal offence by petrol-bombing. I have taken my matter to the South African Police. It is quite a long story, it is through anger and frustration and maybe I am here to, if it is going to relieve me a bit, I will be happier when I go home.
It has taken me five years. This crime was committed in 1980 - 1990, I am sorry. And on three occasions I submitted written affidavits to the police to investigate, and each time somebody being irresponsible did not want to attend to it. Now I have decided to go to the Office of the Public Protector. I spoke to one or two fellows there. They counselled me or by way of discussion and then they said all right, we will attend to this matter. It took a bit of time again, and I decided to go to George Fivaz's office. And from George Fivaz's office, I managed to get the internal investigating unit to be interested. I had my case started already, investigations are going on.
But now the scenario around this problem is based on human rights violations. I am involved in Atteridgeville in a lot of community organisations. The recent one is Phabablof where we have created a project for women to work and to earn a salary. Now I was spokesman of the Atteridgeville Concerned Citizens Organisation, which was totally not a political or civic organisation. But for one reason or another in the township during the rent boycott, people did not understand, not the group, I think I was targeted, because I think I was as a retired social worker I knew what I was talking about. I knew what I was talking about and even today I know what I am talking about.
Now the principle in human rights, like the lady was saying here, is freedom. I must move freely in Atteridgeville and I talk freely to anybody I want. I must associate with anybody. If you do not understand me and you do not stomach me, please come to me and ask me to explain why I am saying that, not what I am fighting over. Now ... (intervention).
MR MUKURUNDI: Can they help the process to go on, and at a later stage like Tom you are asking, what is happening to organisations in Atteridgeville. They are not dead. People have said that because of intimidation. People are not sure whether your Commission can protect them. Who is going to do the work for you in Atteridgeville? You have got to find that group, you have got to find the person who can say I can talk. Like the young lady says we must go to the schools. We have got a project on now where we want to fight crime, through organising sport. These are some of the things that the TRC can do, but the most important thing is, who are you going to talk to in Atteridgeville, who will be willing to accept what you are saying; who will become a partner to what you want to start your process. It is going to take long, but you have got to start it now. You have got to meet people who can say we can start from here.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr Mukurundi for sharing with us. As long as you have made your statement and you have presented it to the Truth Commission, I think that suffices. We will see how they are going to deal with it. But I do not want to ask you to continue with that, because you know, we are not looking at, you know, the sort of statements, but we wanted impact and so forth. So I would request, if a person would like to make clarity on this one, clarify this one?
MS MKHIZE: I am pleased that Mr Mukurundi has submitted a statement and I am sure your statement is you know, very descriptive of what actually happened and who did it and so on, because when we started here, we said that our statements that we get from people should be balanced and should represent the different players in the conflict. We are not only concentrating on what the State has done to people, we must also listen to what people have done to other structures like councillors, like you know, police, and so on. What people have also done to those people, and we are very pleased that you have raised what was done to you, because it was done by your own Black people in the township. So, we will look into that statement and from time to time you will get, you know, some letters from us to say are, where, at what point are our investigators and how are we going to corroborate this and that. So, thank you for bringing it up again here in the presence of everybody and we can just promise that something will be done about it.
PROF GROBBELAAR: Thank you Sandi. Let me just try to highlight one or two of the important points made today. I think we began the session by spelling out the aims of our work. Before I summarise that, let me say, we, that was followed by Sis Joyce talking to us, a little bit about the HRV statements and, let me make this point again. If you have come to the Commission to make a statement as a victim or an alleged victim of gross human rights violations, your case, like everybody elses case that comes to the Truth Commission, will be corroborated, we will look at that case. Everybody will get the same attention. The process is long, the time is short and the people are few. That is the problem, but you have our commitment that all statements will be corroborated at the Truth Commission in the same way. Some people are not going to get more than other people. We have a basic rule, a basic methodology that we follow for everybody. I think that is the major point that Sis Joyce tried to make to all of you.
Hlengiwe talked to you a little about, about the reparation policy which was ratified yesterday in the full Truth Commission meeting in Cape Town and she tried to explain to you that the Truth Commission, itself, does not carry a cheque book, but that it makes recommendations to the President's office, that an important recommendation that the Truth Commission will make is a recommendation on pensions for people who are found to be victims, who have suffered gross human rights violations. What you need to understand is that we write that as a set of recommendations and that goes to the President's office for consideration and implementation. The Truth Commission, itself, is not an implementing body and you might say to me, what is the Truth Commission, what is your aim, what are you doing?
The Truth Commission is trying to start a process, to promote a process of reconciliation and national unity in our country. What is our work? Our work is to go to communities and talk to them about they, themselves, coming together, promoting reconciliation. It is a process, it is not an organisation which delivers on material goods in any way. It is an organisation starting a process, a process of talking, a process of healing, a process of getting together. When we started this morning, Bro Tom spelt out four purposes of today, todays meeting.
In the first place, he said what we would like to do, us, I work for the Commission, with the Commissioners, all we would like to do, we would like to measure, to understand the impact of the Commission. Are we reaching our goals, are people understanding the Commission, what kind of impact do we have in the community and just listening to the presentations today, there were a number of things that I could list that were noted in terms of impact. I think, in the first place, a whole series of speakers, from the NG Kerk on said it was unclear what the Commission was doing for many, many people and I think we have heard you on that. It was unclear. You said there is a problem in understanding and many people did not know what the Commission was saying.
When you listened to Father O'Leary, what was he saying? He was saying that somehow the Commission has created a context in which people are becoming us and they. A distancing mechanism was developing, a denial mechanism was developing amongst people, a marginalisation process was going on. He also said if you listened to the Commission it became clear that there were competing truths. Some people saw things in this way and some people saw things in that way. There were competing truths. Not everybody was saying the same thing. He was saying we should understand that that was a very important impact that has taken place over the last year in the mass media in South Africa.
If we listen to Mrs Nkomo from Atteridgeville, she said to us she thinks, in Atteridgeville, the Commission's, the impact of the Commission is still open. Some people have felt a relief, a catharsis, some kind of healing from making a statement, from talking to a Commission. Other people have been opened up and they feel the need for justice in some way. This morning, pardon me, Tom also said we should try and identify, you know, and it is the same question put in a different way, we should try and identify what was positive and what was negative about the process over the last months and I have already done some of that, but let me put it in different words.
One, negative, negativities, difficulties. A failure to understand what the Commission is about. That is clear. Another difficulty, the expectation on the part of communities that the Commission is an implementing body. Enormous difficulty articulated by many of the speakers today.
Something positive, the young lady who spoke at the end, Ms Meiring said she believed that the, one of the positives of the Commission, that the Commission had brought to her was that we cannot live in a psychopathic world, we cannot close the books on the past as if that did not happen that we had to read those books. Other people said that there was relief for them in making statements to the Commission. What must the Commission do, implement? The Commission cannot implement, it is not an implementing body, it does not have a cheque book. We can, in again the words of Father O'Leary, profess. We can act as an advocate, because we make recommendations that we gather from the process of work-shopping, of talking and of listening to you. We can act as an advocate for particular points that are made. I think Father O'Leary was particularly talking about restitution in the one point that he made.
Then on the question, the fourth point that Bro Tom made, the question of the possibility to reconcile. A quite strong Catholic position that Father O'Leary himself took in and he said the Commission was not in a position to promote reconciliation. It was in a position to ask for restitution, to do a whole series of other important things, but he gave a particular theological meaning to the concept of reconciliation. My brother, Sandi here, made a point in which he said reconciliation is a time taking process, but he made the important point, it is a process and a process starts by talking and by hearing what people say and by understanding that we need to change things and our friend, Mandla Selawane, made the point that he thought the Truth Commission could help create an environment which would facilitate what he saw as an organic growth towards reconciliation in this country.
So, Bro Tom started off with four questions and I have tried to put some of the responses of those four questions to you at this point in time and I have tried to say to you, it seems to me that one of the major problems is a problem around our understanding, all of our understandings, of what the Commission can do and our, concluding comment from me would be it is very important that you understand the Commission as something that is part of a process. In the wider sense, something that will write a report on its understanding of what the people have said and what the people need. Thank you very much.
MS MKHIZE: Thank you very much, Chairperson. Maybe before I do that I would like to thank my colleagues starting with Joyce Seroke. As we sit here we really represent the face of the Commission. I did not think about that, but as Jean has been giving a summary, I have been thinking about which component of the Commission we all represent. Joyce Seroke really represents the face of the Commission, which is working tirelessly in making sure that people of South Africa make statements. If people do not make statements at the end, as you are saying now, we, as it has been said that people perceive the past differently, there will be a good case of saying, really, there were just a few people who suffered. If you look at the statistics of the people of this country, we just got a small number of statements. So, she is one of those people who is here partly because of that commitment, that for us to create a case that, to establish the truth about the past, we have got to reach out to communities and invite them to make statements.
Tom, to me, with, if I am looking at him and locating him within the Commission, he is one of those people who symbolises the part of the Commission which is saying the Commission should not be a pie in the sky. It should be with the people, it should be informed by the peoples' thinking. To a certain extent, most community outreaches have been monitored and managed by him, single-handedly, and I would like to acknowledge that, especially because we have reached this point in our policy formulation mainly because of the input we have got from all sorts of people in this country.
Prof, I have never called her Professor, but today I learnt that she is a Professor. I often call her just by her first name. She represents the part of the Commission which really is putting what has come before us in a systematic manner, information management. Often when people make statements in Government bodies they say, oh, I went there, I was told that my papers were lost. Within the Commission we decided to form an information, the system, which is carefully monitored and managed so that we can check at different points what happened to this statement. Did it pass stage one, did it go to stage two, did it go to stage three, has this person been found to be a victim. It was done in such a tight manner that nobody can say I am sure they were biased, they took out mine, because it was talking about what was done by their friends or their fellow Comrades. So, we felt we need to come up with a system which we can defend at all cost.
So, earlier on, my input was on the reparations policy. Besides what we get from people, what we have said, we have pulled down, we have interrogated that information and got ideas as to what has happened to people whose rights were violated, where they are today, what is happening to them and that information, which we have within the Commission, it helps us a lot to think about our policy.
Just, also then, I would like to thank our Chairperson, who, I should think, has chaired very efficiently and has helped us a lot, because we see him as a representative of a community and as a person who has given us a warm welcome. Also, it assures us that when we leave, as you all have said that the Commission has got a short lifespan, but what is important is that what, the seed which has been planted is nurtured by communities. So, I hope he will remember this day and say I chaired this session of the Commission when they were putting forward to this community their reparations policy and be morally obliged to talk, at all levels, about what has been said and make sure that in this community there are follow-ups which will make a difference in peoples' lives.
Of course, I would like to thank the media and I would also like to thank the interpreters and, even more so, people who made their presentations, the submission to us. We thank you very much. A final point, today I have presented to you the reparations policy. The question which might arise in peoples' mind is why reparations, because most people who have appeared before the human rights violations hearings, in particular, have been amazingly forgiving and humble. Whenever they were asked whether they had any demands or any requests, people were very humble. Some say, no, I am just grateful that I have appeared before the Commission.
So, the reparations policy, in some people's minds, it comes as an unnecessary gesture, since people have expressed appreciation for appearing before the Commission. At the same time, the very people who have left the Commission with a feeling of relief after making a statement or appearing before the Commission, have expressed amazing amounts of suffering. What we talk about are high levels of pain, mental pain and anguish, suffering, dissatisfaction about our past and that has clearly indicated to that, that we are dealing with a kind of pain which is too deep to be healed only at phase one, that is the truth telling phase. Clearly, it has become clear to us that there are questions which people are struggling with today, as it has been clear from submissions and also questions which will engage future generations, people would be asking even about what was done for people who appeared before the Commission, hurting and because of that insight and awareness, it is our conviction that the kind of wound that we are dealing with is a septic one and if its healing is not, it has not got easy solutions, it is like moving along a steep hill with a winding road, sometimes thinking that I am healed and at the same time finding yourself falling back to where you were.
So, dealing with memories is that kind of process which needs to be nurtured in a systematic manner. Those who have a feeling of relief today might still need another form of support tomorrow. So, our reparations policy, really, is a systematic way of making sure that people have a handle through which to hold while they are dealing with the past. Thank you very much.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much Hlengiwe. Finally, as the Chairperson, I would like to also express my sincere thanks especially to the Commissioners, the members of the TRC for having appointed me to Chair. I was very reluctant, but knowing Tom as I worked with Tom for many years, I could not resist that, I had to Chair this meeting, but thank you for that, you know, experience that you have afforded me. I would also like to apologise for those who wanted to make inputs, for those who wanted to contribute in this workshop and they did not have time to do that. Please, my, bear with me, time was against me. My apology for not having allowed you.
Lastly, to thank, again, once more, all those who took their time to come and participate in this workshop. The members of the different communities, coming from different communities, the victims, I thank you for making a submission and I hope we will, as we have said, we will, you know, we will continue and we will see what is going to happen. Finally, I would ask, before we go for lunch, I think we, there is a closing, item number nine, which is the closing prayer, if there would, we would, somebody lead us, yes. Sorry.
Here is an announcement. Those who would like to be reimbursed for their transport to come here. There is a Reverend Minela outside there who would, able to assist you with refunding you the money that you used to come to this workshop. That is the announcement I was, I am asked to make. Minela is from the Council of Churches. Can we then ask a moment to lead us, prayer, a hymn and then and ask any volunteer to close by a prayer. Reverend (not translated).