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Judge Mohamed Jajbhay's Comments

Judge Mohamed Jajbhay is reported to have said that it is time to move on from our apartheid history and forge ahead with democracy despite the pain it often causes. Judge Jajbhay is also said to have stated that the sacrifices made by millions of South Africans who helped create our democracy can never be undermined. With respect, we disagree. The sacrifices of many who suffered gross human rights abuses and violations at the hands of the apartheid regime are being undermined.

Judge Mohamed Jajbhay is reported to have said that it is time to move on from our apartheid history and forge ahead with democracy despite the pain it often causes. Judge Jajbhay is also said to have stated that the sacrifices made by millions of South Africans who helped create our democracy can never be undermined. With respect, we disagree. The sacrifices of many who suffered gross human rights abuses and violations at the hands of the apartheid regime are being undermined.

 

Khulumani Support Group notes that, in allowing Jubilee South Africa and Professor Dennis Brutus to present their arguments against the taking over of ABSA bank by Barclays Bank, Judge Mohamed Jajbhay is reported to have said that it is time to move on from our apartheid history and forge ahead with democracy despite the pain it often causes.

Judge Jajbhay is also said to have stated that the sacrifices made by millions of South Africans who helped create our democracy can never be undermined. With respect, we disagree. The sacrifices of many who suffered gross human rights abuses and violations at the hands of the apartheid regime are being undermined. The present suffering of the victims and survivors is being minimised, and they are being marginalised by society. The cry to move on from our apartheid history, without redressing the suffering and sacrifices made by the victims and survivors of apartheid gross human rights abuses, further diminishes the role the victims and survivors played in helping bring democracy to South Africa.

 

Khulumani Support Group's membership comprises victims and survivors of apartheid gross human rights abuses and violations, and their dependants. Most of them have not yet had the opportunity to fully experience the benefits of living in our new democracy. Not only are many of them still shackled by the physical and emotional consequences of their abuse at the hands of apartheid systems and security forces, many of them feel betrayed by the failure of our democratic government to honour the implicit promises made at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

 

What was this promise? Put simply, it was that if the victims and survivors relinquished their civil rights to litigate against those perpetrators who tortured, raped, shot at, and/or detained them; or those who murdered their loved ones, should those perpetrators be granted amnesty, they would be granted reparations and rehabilitation.

 

As victims and survivors, they understood that giving up these rights to obtain direct compensation from those who harmed them, the telling of the truth and the exposure of what really happened under apartheid, for the common good, would be facilitated. They also fully understood that no financial compensation could ever redress their pain and suffering, or their bereavements.

 

The eventual decision by President Thabo Mbeki that each victim or survivor would receive a once-off payment of R30,000.00 in reparations, as opposed to the TRC's recommendation of an annual payment of R21,000.00 for six years, was perceived by many as a betrayal of promises made and undertakings given. In other words - they feel that they have been re-victimised and even abandoned by their comrades; and that their sacrifices have indeed been undermined.

 

Judge Jajbhay's remarks appear to take no heed of these particular victims and survivors, and may even unwittingly prejudice attempts to obtain redress and justice locally and internationally for them. Khulumani does not believe that the forging ahead of democracy is compromised by making redress to the victims and survivors of apartheid gross human rights abuses and violations. Making redress and keeping promises is in fact more likely to strengthen our democracy.

  • Khulumani Support Group calls specifically on Barclays and ABSA - but also all other companies that profited from apartheid and that are now reinvesting in South Africa to recognise the Khulumani constituency as needing particular attention amongst the many voices clamouring for their "social responsibility" contributions. Victims and survivors of apartheid gross human rights abuses and violations should be among the first in line for assistance.

  • Khulumani Support Group welcomes any foreign direct investment (FDI), even from those who profited from apartheid, and from those who aided and abetted the apartheid regime, provided that this FDI will definitively and directly support the victims of gross human rights violations in rebuilding their lives. Khulumani does not believe that this can be achieved through an economic "trickle down effect" as so many in positions of privilege espouse. Khulumani has developed strategic, structured and sustainable programmes of support, detailed in its proposed Community Rehabilitation Programmes, which are more likely to make a real difference to these people's lives.

  • Khulumani Support Group calls on government and business to collaborate with Khulumani in creating a viable VEE strategy (victims and survivors economic empowerment) in order to redress the pain and suffering of these people in the interests of justice; as fulfillment of long overdue promises made; and as a tangible means of paying the debt of gratitude felt by the citizens of South Africa for the sacrifices they have made.

  • Khulumani Support Group calls on all former TRC Commissioners and Committee members who were mandated to make recommendations - not only for reparations- but also for "rehabilitation" to assist Khulumani Support Group in obtaining the resources from those who promised them, to implement comprehensive community rehabilitation programmes in the interests of those victims and survivors whose testimony at the TRC made the TRC viable, and also in the interests of the many who were left out of the process.

Indeed, Judge Jajbhay, let us forge ahead with democracy. But let us not try to build this democracy on broken promises, on failed policies, or by re-oppressing those who helped set us free.

 

For our constituency, apartheid is not history. The gross effects of apartheid in destroying their everyday lives are what the members of Khulumani Support Group still endure on a daily basis. It is high time they too were given the opportunities to build new lives and assist in eradicating the virulent consequences of apartheid.

 

Issued by: Marjorie Jobson

Chairperson Khulumani Support Group

082-268-0223

@KhulumaniAfrica

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