16 April 2003
The government will provide a once-off R30 000 grant to about 20 000 individuals identified by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as deserving reparation for suffering under apartheid.
The payments amount to about R660-million, and are in addition to more than R50-million the government has already paid out, as an interim measure, to 16 500 of the 18 800 victims identified by the TRC as needing urgent relief.
Tabling and responding to the final TRC report and its recommendations in Parliament, Cape Town on Tuesday, President Thabo Mbeki said authorities would disburse the grants “as a matter of urgency” during the current financial year.
The President’s response to the TRC report followed his receipt of the final two-volume report last month. The first five-volume report was handed to former President Nelson Mandela in 1998.
The Commission was set up in 1995 to investigate human rights violations and atrocities committed during apartheid. In over two years of hearings, its committees heard evidence from about 2 000 people, received written statements from another 18 000, and received over 8 000 applications for amnesty for apartheid crimes.
Among other things, the TRC report recommended the creation of a reparation trust fund, as well as a secretariat in the Presidency to oversee the implementation of the recommendations.
President Mbeki said, however, that the money, together with material and other rehabilitation packages aimed at assisting the apartheid victims and survivors, was in acknowledgement of their suffering and contribution – not as a prize for their role in dismantling the apartheid regime for a democratic system.
Mbeki said government hoped the money would offer “some relief”, since many of the victims and the general public had not been in the struggle to make money, but to liberate the nation from the jaws of apartheid.
“We are convinced that, to the millions who spared neither life nor limb in struggle, there is no bigger prize than freedom itself, and a continuing struggle to build a better life for all.
” … [A]s the TRC itself has underlined, no one can attach monetary value to life and suffering, nor can an argument be sustained that the efforts of millions of South Africans to liberate themselves was for monetary gain.”
Mbeki hinted that government had put in place programmes aimed at helping victims deal with their medical, educational and housing needs, as articulated in the TRC Act.
Unaccounted for victims sought
Mbeki also called on South Africans to provide the government with information relating to people unaccounted for from the apartheid years.
Mbeki urged people in possession of such information to approach the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), the South African Police Service (SAPS) and other relevant departments.
“The National Directorate of Public Prosecutions and relevant departments will be requested to deal with matters relating to people who were unaccounted for, post mortem records, and policy with regard to burials of unidentified persons”, he said.
It is estimated that the reparation of apartheid victims will cost around R3-billion, money described by TRC chairperson Archbishop Desmond Tutu as “well-spent and in a very real sense cheap, for their [the victims’] contribution to the stability we currently enjoy is incalculable.”
President Mbeki praised the TRC for its work, saying the Commission had succeeded and “handed us a united and reconciled society”.
“The pain and the agony that characterised the conflict among South Africans over the decades, so vividly relived in many hearings of the Commission, planted the seed of hope – of a future bright in its humanity and its sense of caring.”
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