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Khulumani Support Group Commemorates the Twentieth Anniversary of the First TRC Victim Hearing in East London on 15 April with an Open Letter to All Former TRC Commisioners and Staff

First TRC Victim Hearings in East London, April 1996 First TRC Victim Hearings in East London, April 1996

Date: 15 April 2016 Time: 12:00 Venue: In front of the bust of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, East London - All Welcome

Dear Former Commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and all who were involved in its work, Honourable Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Dr Alex Boraine, Advocate Chris de Jager, Reverend Bongani Finca, Justice Sisi Khampepe, Mr Richard Lyster, Deputy Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize, Dr Mapule Ramashala, Dr Fazel Randera, Ms Yasmin Sooka, Ms Glenda Wildschut, Professor Emeritus Pieter Meiring, and former staff of the TRC,

Today, exactly twenty years since the TRC Victim Hearings opened in East London, we remember with sadness those who served the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, who have now passed on including Reverend Dr Khoza Mgojo and Mr Wynand Malan.

Today, 15 April 2016, we have chosen as the national membership organisation of victims and survivors of apartheid atrocities, to mark the symbolic importance of the date by gathering in front of the venue of that important hearing.

Today twenty years later, we honour the courage of the Commissioners who accepted the immense responsibility of managing the TRC processes and of providing a platform where victims of the atrocities committed in the name of apartheid, could narrate the terrible things that were done to them and their loved ones in their stand against the apartheid that was identified by the United Nations as a crime against humanity. Today we remember the courage of Mrs Nohle Mohape, the first person to testify in the first victims’ hearing conducted in this venue 20 years ago.

We remember with Mrs Mohape, the mysterious death in detention twenty years earlier of her beloved husband, Mr Mapetla Mohape, to whom she was married for only three short years before his untimely death – the very first political detainee to die in detention, a crime for which to this day, no-one has been found responsible. After his removal from Turfloop University where he served as a member of the South African Students’ Organisation, he returned to the Eastern Cape to work with Steve Biko in a movement to restore the dignity of black people in a movement that has contributed to the emergence of students collaborating across the country today to demand the decolonisation of education curricula in the country.

Today, twenty years after this ground-breaking event, Khulumani Support Group calls on the former Chairperson, and all former Commissioners and staff of the TRC, to accept the appreciation of victims of apartheid gross human rights violations for the work they tried to do while also acknowledging the major shortfalls of the TRC process.

Khulumani appreciates the well-conceived and well-constructed recommendations on reparations and rehabilitation that the TRC submitted to government to provide for the repair of victims. We call on the former TRC Commissioners to add their weight to Khulumani’s calls for the re-opening of a process to make good on these critical recommendations.

We ask that each of the former Commissioners expresses their opposition publicly to the “TRC Closed List” that has unfairly and unjustly excluded several thousands of individuals whose lives have made no progress because of TRC failures to ensure they were identified and verified as victims of apartheid gross human rights violation.

We welcome the decision to exhume the remains of some 90 struggle activists who were hanged for their political stands against apartheid without their names appearing on the TRC Closed List. We welcome this commitment to ensuring appropriate recognition and access to the redress and reparation measures that exist for individuals named on the TRC’s Closed List.

Khulumani Support Group calls on all those who were associated with the work of the TRC to join Khulumani in its agenda of closing the gaps and finishing the work that started so well in 1996 with the first TRC public hearing that we remember today.

Twenty years after the start of the TRC in East London on this day in 1996, the majority of victims, survivors and their families remain unrepaired since they have been excluded from equitable access to reparations that were to have been provided by the President’s Fund.

On behalf of all apartheid-era victims and survivors of apartheid gross human rights violations and their families, we call on our government to finally made good on delivering an integrated and inclusive programme of reparations for which Khulumani activists have sustained a long and difficult struggle since the TRC closed for victims in December 1997 after only eighteen months.

Today, Khulumani Support Group announces the launch of a long-planned Khulumani Victims’ Trust Fund to serve as a vehicle for repairing lives of those who carried the cost of fighting for justice in South Africa. Khulumani Support Group today calls on all former TRC Commissioners and their staff and all other South Africans who are now REPAIRED, to contribute financially to the REPAIR of the victims and survivors of apartheid gross human rights violations and their families through contributions to the Khulumani Victims’ Trust Fund.

The struggle for justice, redress and reparation will continue until this journey to close the gaps left after the TRC, is successfully concluded.

We invite all South Africans and all who have celebrated the South African Truth and Reconciliation across the world to stand with us as we take this unfinished journey forward to its successful conclusion.

Issued by the National Contact Centre of Khulumani Support Group

Contact Details:

  • National Director: Dr Marjorie Jobson: 082 268 0223
  • National Organiser: Ms Nomarussia Bonase: 060 878 9779
  • National Chairperson: Mr Tshepo Madlingozi: 082 496 9914

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