A crowd of victims of apartheid gathered at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Tuesday, demanding an urgent meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The group of aged people, with many using crutches to help them walk, was led by activist Nomarussia Bonase of the Khulumani Support Group – an organisation which supports apartheid-era victims and activists.
“We are from Gauteng but what we have brought here is a mandate and the demands of the Khulumani Support Group nationally. It’s now 25 years and we’re still on this journey, trying to bring our government to talk about our demands.
We are a wounded society. We were wounded by apartheid. After 1994, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was formed, and that commission was meant to bring peace, rebuild and restore the dignity of humans violated by apartheid,” Bonase told African News Agency.
“During the TRC people who had been victims of apartheid said they needed reparation. The TRC came up with a recommendation that victims and their families should be given individual reparations.
They recommended a package for each individual, which was financial and would be not less than R120,000 at that time. That was in 1998. They also said they would give the victims proper housing, help the victims with proper medication, and also help them with education.”
Victims of apartheid say they need help
Bonase said communities were also promised communal reparations.
“The other was symbolic reparations which would be a symbol for not forgetting what transpired [during apartheid]. For us, it was about having our stories being written, being in books and also have monuments and tombstones.
This democracy we talk about today came as a result of blood which was shed. We have people who disappeared, their families are here,” she said.
“There are also people who are wounded here. They need help. All these things are part of what we are demanding. The government has since taken only about 22,000 stories and only only 15,000 people have been reparated. Those people are also here, they were thrown a R30,000. Our government has unfinished business of the TRC.”
“An urgent proper reparation”
Bonase said the victims are now demanding “an urgent proper reparation” which would help heal their wounds.
“There will be no reconciliation without reparation. These people are wounded. We have previously submitted memorandums. We need this reparation urgently.
In February, we met the President Cyril Ramaphosa and his deputy David Mabuza in Vosloorus and we gave them another memorandum. We’ve gone to different government departments and they keep referring us to the Presidency,” said Bonase.
“These victims now are saying they don’t want anything less than R1 million [per individual]. Our government is corrupt, they are wasting money. The money we are talking about is there, in the President’s Fund.”
By the end of the day on Tuesday, Bonase told African News Agency that the activists had returned home after being told that Ramaphosa was in Cape Town and could not address them.
“We’ve been assured that our demands will be taken to him, and he will find time to address us,” she said.
African News Agency (ANA), Editing by Chantall Presence