Almost ten years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission first opened its doors in April 1996 and seven years since it handed over its First Report to President Mandela in a special ceremony in Pretoria on October 29, 1998, the victims and survivors of apartheid human rights violations continue to seek redress for the harm done to them, that has left them in need of special measures to ensure their capacity to access the opportunities that have become available since 1994.
Khulumani members seek to raise awareness of serious challenges in respect of this ?Unfinished Business?. Khulumani?s march and gathering today in the Germiston CBD will focus on this Unfinished Business.
- Government failed to wholeheartedly embrace the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Victims and survivors see a great deal of inaction in regard to the matters of the past. Khulumani Support Group concurs with the finding of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation in its recent publication on ?Unfinished Business? that it is folly to think that the demand for accountability will fade with time. The demands of victims have to be addressed. The past does not bury the past.
- Government has not yet responded to Khulumani?s proposals on community reparations programmes submitted to the Office of the President and the Director-General of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development on October 29, 2003.
- Government has not yet made public its guidelines on prosecutions.
Only 293 amnesty applications were received by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission from former security agents, leaving a large pool of individuals eligible for prosecution especially amongst the 'masterminds of apartheid atrocities', who planned or participated directly in especially serious incidents, and who spurned or were refused amnesty for their actions.
- Government has deliberately undermined the right of victims to seek legal redress by submitting an Amicus Brief to the New York court in support of the defending multinational corporations in the Khulumani International Lawsuit. The multinational corporations aided and abetted the apartheid government in perpetrating human rights violations against the people of South Africa. They should be brought to justice.
Government panders to big business on the short-sighted grounds that the victims? success would necessarily harm foreign investment and national sovereignty. The named major corporations did not use the opportunity offered them to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). They cannot now claim the ?protection? of the TRC process in order to avoid being held responsible for their role in the gross human rights abuses and violations that were perpetrated under apartheid. Developing accountable business practices is to everyone?s benefit.
Khulumani Support Group therefore respectfully urges the South African Minister of Justice, the Honourable Brigitte Mabandla, and the South African Cabinet, to seriously reconsider their amicus curiae brief, not only for the sake of victims and survivors of apartheid gross human rights abuses and violations in South Africa, but also to bring to an end the adverse legacy of this action in undermining the international human rights agenda and the extension of a rule of law to all persons and juristic bodies including corporations.
The Khulumani Support Group action today is an appeal to the South African government to
- support Khulumani in calling individual and corporate perpetrators to account;
- support the right of victims to seek legal redress;
- endorse community reparations programmes that invest in violated communities in partnership with Khulumani;
- commit all remaining resources in The President?s Fund to programmes to support victims and survivors (and not to transfer these funds to government?s Disaster Management Fund);
- restore the hope and honour the contribution of those participated actively in the daily struggles for freedom and democracy in South Africa.
Issued by Khulumani Support Group
For comment, please contact Khulumani?s Advocacy Coordinator, Mr Tshepo Madlingozi-+27 82 496 9914) or Dr Marjorie Jobson, Chairperson of the Board of Khulumani Support Group +27 82 268 0223