As the country marks Reconciliation Day, 16 years after democracy, some victims and survivors of apartheid atrocities remain bitter, angry and without closure. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) hearings were meant to be the beginning of a healing process, hailed across the world as a breakthrough.
The talks gave victims a chance to tell their stories with perpetrators asking for forgiveness. But apartheid victims still feel that the TRC has not yet completed what it was mandated to do. One such victim, NomaRussia Bonase also witnessed the violence in Katlehong on Gauteng’s East Rand.
Bonase says victims have been ignored and this has angered them. Today’s commemorations kicked off at the break of dawn at Freedom Park in Pretoria with religious leaders from the Christian, Catholic and Muslim faiths as well as African traditionalists united in prayer for nation building and national reconciliation.
President Jacob Zuma is expected to commemorate today’s Reconciliation Day festivities with former members of the South African National Defence Force and Military Veterans from uMkhonto weSizwe, the Pan African Congress as well as the Azanian People’s Organisation in Pretoria..
Rain forced the interfaith prayer ceremony to be staged indoors. But despite the wet weather, hundreds of young and old from Gauteng, North West and Mpumalanga came together to celebrate this memorable day in South Africa’s history.
Freedom Park Chief Executive Officer, Dr Wally Serote, says the reason behind the prayers and the cleansing ceremony is to ask for higher forces to bless the country’s leadership to steer the country in a direction where there will be unity and prosperity for everyone.
Dr Serote says the Day of Reconciliation is about unity despite some perceived differences. Cultural groups at the event will perform entertainment items customary to their culture later today.