Just over one month ago on February 18, 2006, Khulumani Support Group buried its Arts and Culture Officer, Duma Kumalo, one of its founder members. Duma was one of the "Sharpeville Six", sentenced to death on the principle of common purpose for the killing of Sharpeville's Deputy Mayor in 1984 in a outpouring of rage sparked by rent increases in the township.
Through the seven years of the trial and imprisonment on death row, Duma maintained his innocence. His one request to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission had been for a retrial so that he could clear his name. Sadly, Duma did not realise this goal in his lifetime. But Duma had a profound effect on the lives and outlooks of the thousands of people he reached through telling the story of being on apartheid South Africa's death row for three years.
Duma's wrongful conviction left him with a criminal record that remained in force throughout his life. In September 2005, this criminal record once again almost prevented him from being issued with a visa to visit the United States of America to participate in a panel making presentations on the role of the arts in healing from trauma. This event was organised by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council to explore ways of facilitating the healing of Americans from the trauma of September 11, 2001.
When Duma appealed to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development for this record to be expunged, he was told that he would have to request a Presidential Pardon. Such a pardon is only granted in response to an admission of guilt. Duma was not prepared to follow this advice bec ause he was innocent.
To mark National Human Rights Day today, Khulumani Support Group is appealing to President Mbeki and to the Honourable Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development to posthumously expunge Duma Kumalo's criminal record, in the interest of justice.
Khulumani Support Group calls on the nation to remember all the victims of apartheid-era human rights violations who, as with Duma, have not yet received redress for the wrongs done to them.
Khulumani Support Group welcomes the appointment of a TRC Unit within the Department of Justice and calls on the staff of that unit to work closely with Khulumani Support Group to redress these wrongs. For some this is the expunging of criminal records; for others it is the pursuit of prosecutions against perpetrators who defied the TRC's amnesty process. "We die everyday when we meet our perpetrators who have not yet acknowledged the harm they have done", they say.
Khulumani Support Group members call on the nation to support them is seeking the righting of human wrongs.
Issued by the National Office of the Khulumani Support Group 011 403 4098
For comment, Dr Marjorie Jobson, Acting Director 082 268 0223 or Mr Tshepo Madlingozi, Advocacy Coordinator 082 496 9914