Compensating apartheid victims was the government’s problem — not that of the Truth of Reconciliation Commission (TRC), former TRC chairman Archbishop Desmond Tutu said on Friday. “The TRC has carried out its work… The ball is firmly in the government’s court,” he said in a statement in Cape Town.
Tutu found it strange that he was one of those to be sued by apartheid victims frustrated over delays in the payment of their monetary compensation. “It is a little odd, indeed bizarre,” he said. The Khulumani support group of victims reportedly filed an application in the Cape High Court on Wednesday with a view to gaining access to the government’s draft reparations policy. Other respondents cited in the action included President Thabo Mbeki and Justice Minister Penuell Maduna.
About 21 000 victims listed by the TRC have received some interim reparations but are still waiting for their final compensation for suffering they endured under the former apartheid regime. Tutu on Friday said the intended action by the Khulumani group was understandable. “Many share the same frustration, disappointment and anger that apart from the small urgent interim relief… no reparations have been paid to those designated victims in terms of the relevant legislation.”
The TRC had made detailed proposals of different types of reparation to be paid out over a period of six years, Tutu said. Members of the body had since made regular appeals to the government to meet the nation’s obligation to apartheid victims by paying compensation. Some felt so strongly that they made personal contributions to the President’s Fund from which reparations would be paid.
“The TRC could only make recommendations to the president about reparations who would in turn, if he so determined, ask Parliament to approve what should happen thereafter,” Tutu said. Maduna’s stance is that the government’s policy on reparations can only be finalised once the final report of the TRC has been handed to Mbeki. This is expected to happen in August. – Sapa