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  • Written by  Independent Online
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Long wait for TRC report is almost over

The long wait for reparations is almost over and thousands of victims of gross human rights violations will soon know what they are entitled to. Speaker Frene Ginwala said in parliament on Wednesday that the final codicil of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report will almost certainly be handed to President Thabo Mbeki and parliament before the end of the month.

The long wait for reparations is almost over and thousands of victims of gross human rights violations will soon know what they are entitled to.

Speaker Frene Ginwala said in parliament on Wednesday that the final codicil of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report will almost certainly be handed to President Thabo Mbeki and parliament before the end of the month.

She said the simultaneous handing over ceremony is provisionally scheduled for the third week of August.

Justice spokesperson Paul Setsetse confirmed that a final date for the handing over would be decided within "a day or two", but that this date would be within a month.

This ends months and even years of waiting for thousands of South Africans waiting for the report to enable the government to complete its reparations policy for victims of apartheid violence.

They have since been joined in their wait by a number of political parties, who are hoping the report would lead to a debate on an extended form of amnesty for their foot-soldiers who did not take full advantage of the TRC's amnesty process.

The TRC was established in 1996 with a one-and-a-half year mandate to investigate apartheid human rights violations, and to identify victims of gross violations, extend amnesty to perpetrators who complied and to make recommendations on appropriate reparations to the victims and communities ravaged by the system.

However, several legal challenges to the process, a flood of amnesty applications and other logistical problems led to several extensions to the life-span of the commission.

Interim reparations have been paid to most of the more than 21 000 victims, but all have been waiting almost five years longer than anticipated for the process to be wrapped up.

The legislation that guided the TRC, stipulated that the government could only finalise reparations, to be paid out of the Presidents Fund, once the process was completed.

Some victims, particularly those organised under the banner of the Khulumani support group, have increasingly expressed their impatience.

The Western Cape chapter of Khulumani has even taken the minister of justice and the former TRC chairperson, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, to court to have access to the drafting documents.

In May it became known that the government had exploratory discussions with some political parties, which were at loggerheads with the TRC.

Justice Minister Penuell Maduna said parties in favour of an additional process were the three Afrikaner parties, the Pan-Africanist Congress, the Inkatha Freedom Party and the African National Congress.

Cabinet spokesperson Joel Netshitenze then indicated that the issue will only be open for discussion once the TRC report was handed over.

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