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  • Written by  LERATO MBANGENI - The Star - 6 November 2013
  • Published in In the News
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'Nothing has changed in new SA'

In a debate hosted by the Khulumani Support Group at Constitution Hill in Joburg yesterday, apartheid survivors spoke in unity and stated that their lives had been worse off since the beginning of democracy. They expressed their sadness at the fact that they had not received reparations as they’d been promised in 1998 when Nelson Mandela received the five-volume TRC report.

Struggle survivors lament lack of progress in their lives.

"We are worse off than before"

IT HAS BEEN 15 years since the first Truth and Reconciliation Commission report was released – and many say nothing has changed since the end of the apartheid era.

In a debate hosted by the Khulumani Support Group at Constitution Hill in Joburg yesterday, apartheid survivors spoke in unity and stated that their lives had been worse off since the beginning of democracy. They expressed their sadness at the fact that they had not received reparations as they’d been promised in 1998 when Nelson Mandela received the five-volume TRC report.

Many are still living with the trauma they experienced at the hands of the apartheid regime.

“We are not going to lie and say everything is okay, because it’s not,” said Yvonne Mhlauli, who was a political prisoner at the Women’s Gaol at Constitution Hill in 1982.

“We are worse off than before because we are not protected in our own country,” said Mhlauli. “There are still stories that haven’t been told, and Struggle survivors without jobs.” Mhlauli is a member of the Khulumani Support Group, which was formed in 1995 by apartheid survivors and families of victims.

The organisation has 85 000 members around the country. It was set up by victims who felt the TRC had not addressed all the social, psychological and physical ills created by the country’s violent past.

“I was shot multiple times by an AK-47,” said 46year-old Dumisani Thela. “I can’t do any lifting, so I can’t get any jobs. I’m struggling to feed my family.”

Thela, along with many others attending, said they were part of the Struggle, but felt they had not gained anything from their fight.

“I have bullets lodged in my body,” said a frail Thabo Shabangu. “When it rains, I am in terrible pain and I can’t do anything.”

The 50-year-old said he was forced to sleep a lot because he can’t tolerate the pain.

Maria Mgqonsini is one of the few in the group who received the once-off payment given out by the TRC, but she said it made no difference.

“Two of my children were shot dead during the Struggle, but I only got R30 000 for one life,” said the sobbing 66-year-old.

“I have no one to help me, and the only thing I have, my RDP house, is falling apart.”

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