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Khulumani responds to the misrepresentation of today’s march to Parliament by desperate pensioners from Nyanga Township, demanding restitution for homes that were demolished thirty years ago today, as an action driven by Khulumani Support Group

Nyanga township on the outskirts of Cape Town Nyanga township on the outskirts of Cape Town Photo credit: Thorsten Glauber - thorsten-glauber.de

Today, a group of elderly pensioners from Nyanga township in Cape Town marched to Parliament in an attempt to draw attention to their demands for the restitution of their homes thirty years after they were demolished on 3 September 1984. Claims were made in the television footage screened by eTV that the group was comprised of Khulumani Support Group members. While Khulumani campaigns for these matters finally to be resolved fully and satisfactorily, we wish to clarify that the organization had nothing to do with the action that took place at Parliament today.

We understand that the group that conducted the march today had collected money through voluntary collections to enable them to hire a lawyer to take forward their demands for the restitution of their destroyed homes. The government spokesperson quoted on eTV News stated that collecting money for this purpose should be viewed as defrauding vulnerable older persons, and that Khulumani would be investigated for this fraud. We emphasise that Khulumani was not involved in this protest action, nor has taken collections to support this.

Far from defrauding those who have valid land claims, Khulumani is well aware of the plight of the many thousands of families who lost homes through political violence that targeted black South Africans. Amongst these are residents of Nyanga township in Cape Town who suffered major losses from which they have never been able to recover. Sadly, due to arbitrary administrative decisions by the Department of Justice, very few victims of these violent political acts have been formally recognized as official victims of apartheid crimes, who thereby qualify for the small once-off reparations grant. Commissioners on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) categorized the destruction and looting of peoples’ homes as constituting severe ill-treatment for which reparations could be awarded. However, only a small number of those who suffered the destruction of their homes in this manner, actually succeeded in having their cases registered with the TRC. This has left thousands of individuals still unable to recover from these major losses and a state that has failed in its obligations to make right the wrongs of the past in a comprehensive and integrated manner.

Khulumani fully understands the desperation of survivors of apartheid atrocities who have sustained efforts to demand justice, redress, restitution and reparation through appropriate channels with no discernible progress on these critical outstanding matters over the many years since the TRC closed. The response of the relevant authorities has been deeply antagonistic and unhelpful to date. Pressure is increasing for the current government to engage Khulumani as a strategic partner to manage the process of securing justice for all victims of apartheid atrocities.

Khulumani demands that the Victims’ Reparations Fund still located within the Department of Justice, be transferred into a Reparations Trust Fund with representation including victims and survivors so that these funds can be used for the purpose of restitution, rehabilitation and reparation to address the specific needs of victims which have not yet been resolved, including those of the elderly pensioners who marched to Parliament today.

For further comment, please call Dr Marjorie Jobson, Khulumani National Director on 082 268 0223 or Mr Brian Mphahlele, Khulumani Western Cape Executive Committee member on 082 631 2132.

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