Government spokesperson Joel Netshitenzhe, speaking after the final cabinet meeting for the year, said on Wednesday that the government was committed to reparations and had already spent R50-million on urgent reparations to 18 000 of the 18 800 cases identified by the TRC for urgent intervention.
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Asked why reparations were viewed as taboo by whites in South Africa while Germany was still paying taxes to Israel for Nazi atrocities, Netshitenzhe said: "Among the things that cabinet was going to propose immediately after that report had been submitted was that we should start intense national dialogue on this issue. But we had to delay that until the report was submitted."
Netshitenzhe said government was ready to respond to the issue of reparations, and arrangements had been made to hand over the final TRC report to President Thabo Mbeki, but this was abandoned when the Inkatha Freedom Party sought refuge from the courts.
"So we are waiting for the pronouncement of the court and then for the TRC to submit its final report and then government will pronounce in so far as permanent reparations are concerned," Netshitenzhe said.
The IFP wants the TRC to excise its finding fingering its leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi as a human rights violator. The matter is due to be heard next month.
Netshitenzhe said immediately after the court ruling, government would interact with all role players to ensure a common national approach to the issue of reparations. "The appeal made four years ago for all sectors of society to make a contribution to TRC reparations stands."
Cabinet also noted the recent litigation against international companies operating in South Africa during apartheid. Cabinet recognised the right of all citizens to take legal action on any matter, but the government was not party to the litigation and neither supported nor opposed it.
- Source: Full article "Government says let the healing begin" appeared on the Independant Online iol.co.za website