included four key recommendations that would assist in advancing the cathartic process and build a nation. These recommendations include reparations, symbols and monuments, medical and other forms of social assistance, and community rehabilitation.
Implementation of the TRC Recommendations
The current administration led by President Jacob Zuma continues with the mandate to implement the TRC recommendations adopted by Parliament in 2003.
The TRC declared 22 000 people as victims of gross human rights violations. Of these, 16 837 applied for reparations. To date all but 13 who have been declared untraceable, have now received or are in the process of receiving reparations.
Symbols and Monuments
This recommendation has largely been achieved through the cooperation of various tiers of government. Monuments such as the Freedom Park in Pretoria, the Hector Peterson memorial in Soweto and the Gardens of Remembrance have been built in all provinces. Most municipalities are in the process of renaming street names to reflect the history of the heroes and heroines of all South Africans.
Medical and Other Forms of Social Assistance
The government, through the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ&CD), have developed regulations on basic and higher education and training, as well as on health matters. Once ratified by the relevant authorities, these regulations will institutionalise how victims access relevant assistance.
In the interim, the DoJ&CD refer people declared as victims by the TRC, to various health institutions to receive medical treatment. As far as education is concerned, the former Department of Education made an amount of R5 million available to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), specifically for the purpose of reparation to the victims identified through the TRC process. Pending the finalisation of regulations, requests for financial assistance by TRC-identified victims are referred to this institution. Victims are also assisted with recommendations for the exemption of school fees.
One hundred and twenty eight communities have been listed by the TRC as having suffered intense acts of violence and destruction in the relevant period. The consultation process has begun with the first eighteen communities, and an amount of R500 million has been set aside for this purpose.
The draft regulations on community rehabilitation have been published for public comment and will soon be finalised to regulate the use of monies in the President’s Fund for purposes of community rehabilitation.
The Missing Persons Task Team that government established in the National Prosecuting Authority, with a view to find the approximately 500 people declared missing by the TRC, has exhumed 94 remains to date. The remains of 69 people have been handed over to their families for reburial purposes. A total of three symbolic burials, where no remains could be found, have taken place. The DoJ&CD published regulations in May 2010, with a view to provide financial assistance to the affected families, for instance in respect of coffins, travel and accommodation. The Department furthermore organises and conducts the handover of the exhumed remains to the families during special ceremonies, whilst a supporting role is played during the reburial process. Families are also assisted with obtaining death certificates and applications for special pensions and once-off reparation grants, where applicable. Bereavement/trauma counselling is also arranged when necessary.
Less than ten prosecutions have taken place to date. This is due to cover-ups and shortcomings on uncovering the evidence that could lead to prosecution of those who committed human rights violations. Regrettably, this has led to perceptions that Government is more keen on reparations and reluctant to vigorously pursue prosecutions despite the fact that about 5000 people were denied amnesty for a variety of reasons. Our government, however, pursues prosecutions where there is sufficient evidence for the NPA to prosecute.
Despite numerous shortcomings and challenges, the government remains committed to the implementation of TRC recommendations as part of its mission to promote nation-building and reconciliation and thereby contribute to the process of the reconstruction and development of our country.
Making Progress on Behalf of Victims
Of the 21 769 persons who were determined to be eligible for final reparations, the unit has already paid grants to 16 837
Only 78 beneficiaries still remain to be paid, of which 15 are still to be traced, in order for the payments to be made
The TRC unit has thus far recommended exemption of school fees for a total of 28 learners
Progress on Implementing TRC Recommendations
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is one of the significant moments of the country’s history in the 20 years of our democracy. In celebrating the 20th anniversary of the establishment of a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic form of government in the Republic of South Africa, it is important that all who care about the future of our country reflect on the contribution of the commission to nation building.
The TRC project was initiated during the term of the late great former President Nelson Mandela, the first democratically elected President, to reconcile and build a nation. President Mandela and his Cabinet believed that the TRC would assist in healing the wounds of the past and build a common nationhood amongst all South Africans. In this regard, the Mandela government, in 1995, enacted the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act 34 of 1995, and established the TRC. In its conclusion, the TRC
by Ilse Ferreira