Cape Town - Democratic South Africa is 22 years old, but today many people still live with pain and damage caused by apartheid's gross human rights violations, the Khulumani Support Group says.
“Some of us cannot forgive and forget, we cannot move on and reconcile, when so many are still living with damage, loss, pain and trauma that has never been repaired. We see that the situation in our communities has not changed much since the transition to democracy, despite the rights provided for in the South African constitution.
“Survivors of gross human rights violations still live in abject poverty and our communities are suffering from a high rate of crime and violence,” the group said.
“We demand that our government act to bring healing and restoration to those who suffered so that the hope and promise of our struggle for a democratic and just society can be fulfilled by revisiting and looking seriously on the issue of redress,” the group said.
Members and supporters of Khulumani - a national apartheid-era survivors’ organisation, marched to Parliament on Friday to mark the 20 anniversary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
The TRC was set up by the government to help deal with what happened under apartheid. One of those who marched, Brian Mphahlele, said he was a victim of torture at the hands of the apartheid police.
“I was tortured by the police back then,” he said.
He said when the TRC was set up, he submitted his statement, but he never received any response.
Mphahlele said he was not the only victim and there were a number of others who did not even know about the TRC because the commission did not go “to the far and dark corners of our communities”.
They were therefore demanding the government reopens the TRC so the other victims could be given a hearing and be compensated.
Emme Tyelentombi, 89, said they had for a long time been going to the government for assistance, but their pleas fell on deaf ears.
“As you can see I’m not getting younger and I have grandchildren to take care of. I need to be compensated in order to take care of my family,” she said.
In their memorandum of grievances the marchers demanded the government, “implement the full TRC recommendations, open doors for reparation and rehabilitation for all victims of apartheid human rights violations and not waste money earmarked for reparations on renovating buildings and call it community reparations”.
The memorandum was received by chief director of the Department of Justice Nomsa Lekgetho, who declined to comment.
Khulumani said the #FeesMustFall campaign was a symptom of the nation not addressing the issue of redress for the injustices of the past.
The department was approached for comment but had not responded by publication.