Although a deal was struck on Wednesday paving the way for the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report, government was still dragging its heels on the payment of reparations, several non-governmental organisations said in a joint statement.
Earlier on Wednesday, the TRC and the Inkatha Freedom Party struck a deal whereby the commission would make minor adjustments to its final report. The IFP went to court after the TRC presented its report to former president Nelson Mandela in October 1998.
The report described the IFP, under the leadership of Mangosuthu Buthelezi, as the “primary non-state perpetrator… responsible for approximately 33% of all the violations reported to the commission”.
In response to the agreement, which was disclosed to a full bench of the Cape High Court, several NGOs attending a public meeting in Cape Town on Wednesday said many people sacrificed their jobs, health and education during apartheid.
The statement was issued jointly by the Khulumani national and Cape Town office, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, the Trauma Centre for Victims of Violence, the National Association for Democratic Lawyers, the Institute for Healing of Memories, the NGO Working Group on Reparations, and the Trauma Centre for Victims of Violence.
The government was “still dragging its heels on reparations and continues to find excuses for their delay”, they said.
Legal and moral obligation
“The government has a legal and moral obligation to provide reparations to survivors of gross human rights violations,” they said at a public meeting at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town on Wednesday.
Survivors who went to the TRC to tell their stories had only received small “urgent interim” payments of about R3 000 each.
“The TRC’s attempts to push the government to help survivors with longer-term social and economic assistance have thus far fallen on deaf ears.”
Claims by the government that it was not fiscally feasible to implement the TRC recommendations were “ridiculous” when examined against the budget allocated for arms procurement and the much publicised budget surplus due to more effective tax collection.
The group said the government had allocated R800m to a fund earmarked for reparations, but had been sitting on it for nearly three years.