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Reparations conference attack on government

A two-day conference was held in Cape Town on 4 October 2000 entitled "The Unfinished Business of the TRC. Government was accused of "spitting in the face" of people who had been oppressed, impoverished and tortured by the apartheid regime by resisting paying them promised reparations.

Abstracts from article:

  1. Judge Dumisa Ntsebeza, a former TRC commissioner, said the government was ignoring international precedents that provided for money to be paid to, for example, victims of the Holocaust. "We have billions (of rands) for corvettes and such armaments, we must have billions for the victims," he said, referring to the government's recent decision to buy military equipment worth R30 billion ($4 billion).

  2. University of Cape Town academic Wilmot James told the conference, designed to put pressure on the government, that the state had failed to draw up a policy to pay the money because it saw "no immediate political disadvantage if it is not done". "Paying reparation is the law of the land, but there is no will to implement it because, what will happen if none of the recommendations of the TRC are implemented? Probably nothing," he said.

  3. University of Stellenbosch academic Wilhelm Verwoerd said that by not paying reparations, the government was - quoting TRC chairman Desmond Tutu - "spitting in the face of the victims". The commission in 1998, after three years of hearing victims' testimony of suffering, recommended that 17 000 people each be paid between R17 000 and R22 000 a year for six years in reparations.

  4. Some of this money is available, but President Thabo Mbeki's government has in recent months questioned the justness of paying money to individuals for suffering, saying that activists did not struggle against apartheid for money. This had drawn a bitter response from TRC officials and victims.

  5. Former activist Riefaat Hattas told the some 100 conference delegates, mostly academics and human rights activists: "We did not fight for money, but money can put something meaningful into my life. "I have been tortured, I have nightmares, I could pay for counseling," he said.

  • Source: Full article "Govt slammed for not paying apartheid victims" appeared on the website


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