Durban - Victims of apartheid finally have a chance to get financial assistance towards their education, 17 years after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended that that happen.
The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development recently published notices calling for those declared by the TRC to be victims of apartheid to apply for educational assistance.
The regulations to provide the grants only came into effect in November when President Jacob Zuma gave his approval.
The Khulumani Support Group, an organisation of victims and survivors of apartheid, plans to go to court to challenge the regulations, as they exclude some of the TRC-identified victims.
“The offenders are getting presidential pardons, but victims are being re-victimised and given false hope with the delayed education assistance for which most are likely not to qualify because of the stringent conditions,” said Khulumani’s national director, Dr Marjorie Jobson.
For basic education assistance, the applicant qualified if the family’s annual gross household income was less than R132 000.
To be eligible for higher education and training assistance, the annual gross income of the household must not exceed R198 000.
The grants would be paid from the President’s Fund, which Khulumani believed had R1.3 billion available.
Jobson said many of the KwaZulu-Natal victims would not qualify for assistance as they missed their opportunity to testify at the TRC hearings.
Others have a household income exceeding the stipulated amounts and Jobson said their grandchildren mostly attended non-fee-paying schools.
The deadline for applications at tertiary institutions had passed, so even those who qualified for assistance might have missed the opportunity to study this year.
“Some victims have a backlog of outstanding fees and student loans and could really use this support, but government says it will only pay the fees accumulated after a person has qualified for the grant.”
Pietermaritzburg’s Nicholas Xulu is one of the victims who received a R32 000 one-off reparation in 2004, after his testimony before the TRC.
Xulu, together with his younger brother, Mkhombiseni Xulu, and some of their friends, was detained for six months in 1988.
He was doing Grade 8 when he was detained, and he managed to complete his matric only in 2006, at the age of 36.
His brother never got a chance to finish school, as he went “missing under mysterious circumstances in 1991”, never to be seen again.
“I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer, so in 2008 I enrolled for a law degree at the University of KZN through the help of some friends, but I didn’t have money to continue studying and all my attempts to secure funding were unsuccessful,” he said.
The father of three hoped the university would still take him for this year’s class should he get the grant.
“I hope my brother’s daughter also gets the assistance because she endured a lot because of her father not being around.
“This grant might be what she and my mother need to help them heal,” said Xulu.
For more information phone 012 315 1801 or contact www.justice.gov.za.
Who can qualify?
- - Parents of, or persons who exercise or exercised parental control over, a victim.
- - A person married to a victim under any law, custom or belief.
- - A child of a victim, irrespective of whether or not the child was born of unmarried persons or was legally adopted.
- - Persons to whom a victim has or had a legal or customary duty to support, such as a grandchild of a victim.
Published in The Mercury