Congress of the People expresses its gratitude to all those who served on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. As a result of their work, we have been helped to understand the past. It brought perpetrators and victims of oppression together and set all of us on a path to lasting reconciliation.
Today, as we thoughtfully mark the 19th anniversary of the Commission’s coming into being, we are deeply saddened that the nobl…e vision that our leaders like Nelson Mandela and others had in establishing this Commission is fading and dimming. We expected that what these leaders started will have been carried forward by all of us. Unfortunately, we have fallen gravely short in this regard.
When we look at what is happening in our country, today, we see a worsening of relationships between the different ethnic groups. Things, in fact, are taking a turn for the worse.
The happenings of the past few days come across as if people are refusing to embrace reconciliation. The racist habits of the past are being resurrected in some parts of our country. Tensions are surfacing in our schools, universities, work places and residential areas. This is so regrettable.
The TRC was set up to give an opportunity to offenders to tell the people of our country the truth and nothing but the truth. It was an opportunity for perpetrators of human rights transgression to come clean about the atrocities that happened during those evil days of apartheid. Sadly, only half of the truth came to the fore. Many families still do not know what happened to their loved ones. Many children are still wondering whether they will ever know what happened to their respective fathers or mothers who disappeared in the cause of the struggle.
Some of the past perpetrators of atrocities are enjoying their lives as if nothing untoward had happened. Meanwhile, many of the victims of apartheid feel that the commission was more on the side of the perpetrators and not as neutral as they would have liked. The PAC, for example, is aggrieved that some of their freedom fighters are still languishing in jail.
Cope believes that the Government, through the Ministry of Justice, must give urgent attention to all outstanding matters that were raised in the TRC so that we can close that chapter without any issue remaining unresolved.
Issued by Dennis Bloem on behalf of COPE, Dennis Bloem is COPE’s national spokes person