On National Heritage Day, 24th September 2016, Khulumani Support Group remembers our past. We say:
- We do not forget our family members, friends and other comrades who were murdered by the apartheid security forces.
- We remember that some of the murderers have not yet been brought to justice.
- We do not forget our daughters and sons and others, abducted by the apartheid security forces, who disappeared without trace.
- We do not forget our spouses, daughters, sons and comrades who were tortured by the apartheid security forces, whose lives remain disrupted and made defective, without healing.
- We do not forget the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment deliberately meted out to the majority of our peoples by the apartheid government, who regarded most of us as an inferior “species” and who eliminated those of us (black and white) who opposed them.
Since the advent of democracy, as victims and survivors, including our families, we have been side-lined and our voices silenced. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which began twenty years ago, heard the pain of a few of us, but closed itself to many of us, who were left out. The TRC’s recommendations to government for reparations were not embraced and implemented and we were yet again passed over like inferior human beings.
We have been abandoned by most of the TRC commissioners who regarded their work done once the Commission closed. Why have they not been standing up for us to ensure that the President’s Fund is allocated for the purposes recommended by the TRC to provide for the wide range of needs of victims and survivors of the violent crimes of the past?
Why did they not ensure that the beneficiaries were not only those victims and communities who were recognised in the 18 months of operation of the TRC for victims, but also those not yet officially recognised because of the acknowledged limitations and deficiencies of the TRC? Where are you, former Commissioners?
While we think of and send our support and prayers to the beloved Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu as he deals with ill health, we appreciate the efforts he continued to make to encourage delivery on the recommendations of the TRC. In 2015 he said,
“Healing is a process. How we deal with the truth after its telling defines the success of the process. And this is where we have fallen tragically short. By choosing not to follow through on the commission’s recommendations, government not only compromised the commission’s contribution to the process, but the very process itself.” – Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
We also note that the TRC, as far as it dealt with victims and survivors, did not have nearly the same time to consider the whole of South Africa’s apartheid past, as the Farlam Commission had in considering the Marikana Massacre.
While the Conference of the Parties to CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) opens today in Johannesburg to plan for the protection of endangered species across the world, the human beings who lived through the worst of the apartheid era in South Africa, could themselves at this stage be considered an endangered species.
So many have died without recognition; without any expression of appreciation for the sacrifices they made. For those who survive and for their children and grandchildren, it is time to direct all the funds in The President’s Fund into programmes specifically focused on alleviating their pain and contributing to the transformation of the lives of their children and grandchildren.
These lives continue to carry the scars of apartheid discrimination, gross human rights violations and inherited disadvantage. Only when the lives of all those who were directly involved in the struggle for liberation are repaired, will the great promise of our country and its people, realized.