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  • Written by  NASHIRA DAVIDS, www.timeslive.co.za
  • Published in In the News
  • Read 2008 times

Apartheid 'victims' fight on

Several victim-support groups formed a coalition and convened a national meeting last month. They asked the government to assess victims' needs, set aside enough money for reparations and re-open victim registrations.

"The next step is to hold Deputy Minister [of Economic Development] Hlengiwe Mkhize a meeting with President [Jacob] Zuma to discuss the re-opening of the victim-registration process," said Jobson.

Fifteen years after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission ended, apartheid victims are still fighting for compensation and justice.

The government, according to the International Centre for Transitional Justice, has failed men and women who endured gross human rights violations such as torture and "crippling racial discrimination".

The centre's senior programme adviser, Howard Varney, attacked the government for ignoring the commission' s recommendations on rehabilitation and reparations.

"The government has so far come up with one form of reparation in the form of a pro-rata payment to every person who was lucky enough to be interviewed by a TRC statement-taker, and who was subsequently verified by the commission as a victim," said Varney.

He said many victims could not have their statements taken and the commission could not reach all victims.

Department of Justice and Constitutional Development spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said the commission categorised 16837 people as victims eligible for a once-off payment of R30000. Only 214 beneficiaries are yet to be paid.

The Khulumani Support Group, which is campaigning for "adequate reparations", has a list of 100000 victims - many of whom were not on the commission's list.

Marjorie Jobson, Khulumani's national director, said that, instead of having scales of compensation for different violations, there should be a standard grant of R120000 paid over five years.

According to Varney, many victims have received "little or no redress when it comes to justice and accountability".

The government, he said, should have followed up on cases in which people were denied amnesty or perpetrators refused to apply for amnesty.

Mhaga said the priority crimes litigation unit was following up on all these cases.

Several victim-support groups formed a coalition and convened a national meeting last month. They asked the government to assess victims' needs, set aside enough money for reparations and re-open victim registrations.

"The next step is to hold Deputy Minister [of Economic Development] Hlengiwe Mkhize a meeting with President [Jacob] Zuma to discuss the re-opening of the victim-registration process," said Jobson.

On Friday, Mkhize said the commission took a "pragmatic position" when it recommended the closure of the victims' list.

"We, however, acknowledged that the intention was not to deny the victims their right to assistance," she said.

Mkhize said she would send the organisers' report to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, along with her own comments.

"We reminded them that the policies of the government were based on the premise that the constitutional mandate is to redress the imbalances of the past. Reparations are built in, in all our policies," Mkhize said.

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