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TRC Final Report
Page Number (Original) 165
Paragraph Numbers 1 to 16
Volume SIX Section TWO Chapter EIGHT
1. Unlike the other statutory Committees of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (the Commission), the Reparation and Rehabilitation Committee (RRC) began the bulk of its administrative work at the tail end of the processes of both the Human Rights Violations Committee (HRVC) and the Amnesty Committee. The RRC received its first list of victims’76 findings from the HRVC in September 1998, a month before the Commission went into suspension. Since then its work has increased progressively as more victims have been referred to it.
2. To date, the RRC has processed and submitted to the President’s Fund 17 088 of the total of 19 890 victim claims received .77 This chapter focuses on the administrative and management aspects of the RRC and its functions.
THE REHABILITATION AND REPARATION COMMITTEE
3. With the handover of the Final Report in October 1998, the Commission was suspended and the activities of the RRC statutorily placed under the auspices of the Amnesty Committee in accordance with an appropriate amendment to the Commission’s founding Act, the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act No. 34 of 1995 (the Act). Once that Committee had completed its work, the Commission and its three Committees reconvened on 1 June 2001.
4. At this stage, the RRC consisted of a chairperson, an executive secretary, co-ordinators based in satellite offices, victim consultants and an administrative co-ordinator and staff. The three satellite offices were based in the Eastern Cape (East London), Gauteng (Johannesburg), and KwaZulu-Natal (Durban). Regional staff represented a crucial point of access for victims, enabling them to interact directly with the RRC. Because the Commissioners and RRC members had now departed the scaled-down Commission, members of staff in charge of processing claims became the public face of the Commission.
5. Following negotiations between the government and the Commission, it was agreed that the RRC would be given an extended mandate to initiate the delivery of urgent interim reparations (UIR) on behalf of government. This became the primary function of the RRC after the finalisation of the drafting of the Reparation and Rehabilitation policy document. UIR entailed the promulgation of regulations (3 April 1998); the distribution of the promulgated reparation application form to all those witnesses who had been found to be victims; the determination of harm suffered, and recommendations to the President’s Fund on appropriate reparations on a case-by-case basis.
6. As explained in the Final Report, the Act provided for the granting of UIR as a means of fast-tracking assistance to victims urgently in need of immediate intervention as a consequence of the violation(s) they had suffered. Although the legislators had initially conceived of this measure as applying only to a small fraction of victims, an analysis of the impact of the violations in the current lives of victims showed that this category was far larger than had been anticipated. This, together with delays in finalising a final reparations package, as well as a substantial allocation to the President’s Fund, undoubtedly broadened the notion of ‘urgent’ and gave momentum to a more inclusive approach to UIR.
7. The following sections describe the implementation of UIR and the challenges that arose during this process .76 See discussion on use of the term victim, this section, Chapter One, footnote 7.77 See section on ‘Interim Reparation Statistics’ below.
IMPLEMENTATION OF URGENT INTERIM REPARATIONS
8. Once the HRVC had referred its victim findings to the RRC, the RRC notified each victim of the findings and sent her or him an individual reparation application form, as required by the Act. The Commission had earlier decided not to elicit the required information at the initial statement-making stage for two reasons. First, the human rights violation statement did not constitute a sworn affidavit. Second, the Commission was reluctant to raise expectations concerning reparations before a finding had been made, in order to avoid disappointment in those instances where it might make a negative finding or where it might be unable to make a finding because of insufficient corroboration.
9. Moreover, because only declared victims were eligible for reparation, the RRC eventually decided to limit access to reparation application forms to those whohad been declared ‘victims’ by the Commission. The risks and benefits of making application forms available at public offices such as post offices or municipal structures were considered at length by the RRC. Again it was eventually decided that public access would create confusion and lead to raised expectations on the part of those who did not make human rights violation statements to the Commission.
10. Individualised application forms greatly limited the possibilities of such confusion and disappointment, and this route was encouraged and approved by the Auditor- General’s office as the safest and most controllable approach. Each form was given an individualised ‘TRR’ identification number in order to prevent the unauthorised distribution or submission of applications by persons other than the victims, which would allow fraudulent claims to be made.
11. These and other security measures were deemed necessary in order to reduce potential abuse of the process and the misspending of taxpayers’ money.
12. The reparation form (in the form of a sworn affidavit) gathered information related to the harm78 and suffering endured as a result of the gross human rights violations, under the categories of housing, health, mental health or emotional state, education and an ‘other’ category. In addition to completing the form, victims were required, where possible, to submit additional corroborative documentation. The administrative and security measures that had to be put in place and the submission of extensive corroborative documentation established a tension between the need for speedy implementation (in the face of pressing trauma-related needs) and the necessity to maintain strict and unavoidable administrative control in order to ensure accuracy and financial accountability. This tension affected both the RRC – keen to deliver as soon as possible – and those applicants who had completed application forms, who often perceived requests for additional information and documentation as superfluous and overly bureaucratic .78 Categories of harm were derived from the A c t ’s definition of ‘victim’ (section 1(1)(xix)). They were: physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, pecuniary loss, or a substantial impairment of human rights.
Outreach and assistance to victims
13. Each regional office received batches of notifications and reparation application forms and was responsible for the co-ordination and dissemination of forms to v i c t i m s .
14. In line with the Commission’s policy of pursuing a victim-centred approach in its work, the RRC attempted to find ways of dealing with what might be seen as a bureaucratic and potentially alienating process in as humane a way as possible. Consequently, rather than expecting applicants to approach what consisted of no more than four small offices based in city centres, the RRC employed field-workers – or what were called Designated Reparation Statement Takers (DRSTs) – as a way of reaching out to applicants in their communities. Another reason for employing D R S Ts was to promote the speed and efficiency of the process. A return rate of 92 per cent of application forms is testimony to the success of this approach .
15. The importance of the reparation application in assessing the needs of victims and the desire to provide as much back-up as possible for applicants required that DRSTs be responsible for: a locating the recipient, especially where the address given was limited; b assisting with any language and translation difficulties encountered; c explaining, where necessary, what was meant by each question on the form; d assisting in the gathering of any statutory supportive documentation that was required to process the application; e assisting in the location of a Commissioner of Oaths to sign the application; f being a supportive presence during what was usually an emotionally difficult time, when the victim recounted the consequences of the violation.
16. The desired profile of a DRST was that s/he be community-based, know the locality in which s/he would be working and possess the know-how to access basic facilities such as photocopying, Commissioners of Oaths, the required documentation and so forth. An international funding agency, USAID, funded the salaries and training of the DRSTs.