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Respect the Bereaved as well as the Bones

On Sunday 10 July, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) will be ceremonially handing over bones from five bodies of "the disappeared". These person's remains have now been formally identified and can be returned to their grieving families. The NPA have been assisted in this task by forensic experts from Argentina.

Subsequent to the official closure of the TRC, Khulumani has received a substantial number of reports of "apartheid-disappeared" family members from persons who were not able to give testimony at the TRC. The number of reports "officially" recognised by the TRC as "the disappeared" are only about a third of those who were forcibly disappeared under apartheid.

On Sunday 10 July, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) will be ceremonially handing over bones from five bodies of "the disappeared". These person's remains have now been formally identified and can be returned to their grieving families. The NPA have been assisted in this task by forensic experts from Argentina.

Khulumani Support Group welcomes this process of exhumation, identification and return of bodies to their families. Khulumani is concerned that it has taken nearly seven years since the submission of the first report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to parliament, for a start to be made to investigate the whereabouts of those who went missing during apartheid-era political activities. It appears that it is only because President Mbeki ordered the finalisation of this aspect of the Unfinished Business of the TRC in a speech made in 2003, that there has been some progress in respect of the 477 persons reported missing to the TRC.

Khulumani Support Group has been at the forefront of actively caring for the families of the bereaved, starting at the time of the TRC. Khulumani has accompanied these families through the events of the past eleven years as their hopes of recovering the bodies of their loved ones, have at times been raised, only to be dashed again. In contrast to the psychological support and treatment being provided to some of the murderers of their loved ones, these families are not being given any state-sponsored psychosocial support.

Subsequent to the official closure of the TRC, Khulumani has received a substantial number of reports of "apartheid-disappeared" family members from persons who were not able to give testimony at the TRC. The number of reports "officially" recognised by the TRC as "the disappeared" are only about a third of those who were forcibly disappeared under apartheid.

On this day when a handful of families will receive the remains of their disappeared loved ones, let us not forget the many, many other families who as yet, can only hope that one day their loved ones' bones will be returned. Their unresolved grieving process and its consequence for their lives, needs to be respected. Khulumani Support Group calls on government to actively support these families while the search for their loved ones' remains continues, and beyond that time, as necessary.

  • Khulumani Support Group calls on government to commit adequate resources to the finalisation of investigations into the whereabouts of every person who disappeared during apartheid-era political activity.

  • Khulumani Support Group calls on all civil society organisations, nationally and internationally, that are at all concerned about the plight of the families of the disappeared to actively support them while the search for their loved ones' remains continues.

  • Khulumani Support Group calls on businesses, locally and abroad, to contribute to Khulumani's "Say Yes to Redress!" campaign so that the affected families can be supported.

  • Khulumani Support Group calls on government to respond to Khulumani's proposals on comprehensive community rehabilitation and to make public its own proposals on comprehensive community rehabilitation.

  • Khulumani Support Group calls on government to commit the nearly R400 million remaining in the President's Fund towards community rehabilitation programmes, developed from the information gathered through provincial needs assessments conducted by the Khulumani Support Group. These funds should not be diverted to any other government programme.

  • Khulumani Support Group calls on all governments that contributed funds to the President's Fund to insist that these funds are used for programmes for the survivors of apartheid-era gross human rights abuses.

Issued by: Marjorie Jobson

Chairperson Khulumani Support Group

@KhulumaniAfrica

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