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  • Written by  Independent Online
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Lobby group against torture launched

Survivors from the Khulumani Support Group revealed horrific details of the torture they endured, saying the events still had a profound effect on them today, long after the official end of apartheid.

Those there to mark the launch of the South African No Torture Consortium listened in silent awe as survivors of torture took their turns at the microphone to tell their stories of surviving the brutal apartheid regime.

The setting was the Iziko Slave Lodge in central Cape Town and the survivors shared their experiences in support of the consortium, launched on Thursday on the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

Survivors from the Khulumani Support Group revealed horrific details of the torture they endured, saying the events still had a profound effect on them today, long after the official end of apartheid.

They told of how they and their comrades were raped, kept in isolation for months on end, forced to eat the toes of their friends, insulted and humiliated in front of their loved ones, beaten and falsely accused before being tricked into signing admissions of guilt.

The hardest part, they said, was that "most perpetrators have gone free without apologising".

Mpendulo Nyembe, speaking on behalf of the Institute for the Healing of Memories, a member organisation of the consortium, said: "I hope this consortium will inspire more advocacy and lobbying against torture."

He also raised concern that forms of torture still existed in this country, and were currently rife in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

Of the South African victims of apartheid torture, Nyembe said many had "not yet had an opportunity to heal".

Dr Marjorie Jobson, acting director of the Khulumani Support Group, said South Africa had developed "a great sensitivity and zero tolerance attitude towards crime", but that the same should be extended to torture.

Nomfundo Walaza, chief executive director of the Desmond Tutu Peace Trust, said she hoped that the launch of the consortium would "herald a new era in the fight against torture in the region".

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