Apartheid victims camp out of court

It is almost two weeks since a group of elderly people, mostly women, camped outside the South African Constitutional Court. They are a little less than a hundred and demand that they be paid damages, after the violence they were subjected to during the apartheid regime. A strong act, as this association of victims is used to, in the face of the government’s silence.

as reported from Johannesburg, Claire Bargeles

We barely see Noma-Russia Bonase, hidden under a mountain of blankets. But the bad weather and the start of the Australian winter did not deter the group’s leaders from continuing their actions. “We sleep on drawers, on a concrete floor. But we are freedom fighters, we survived apartheid bullets, so we will also survive the cold, “she said.

These “gogos”, the term for the country’s grandmothers, belong to the Khulumani organization. They all experienced, just like Dansile Mabanga, the violence of apartheid: “At that time, my brother was kidnapped from his home. The police were looking for young boys and they took him away. He was reported missing and then found in the morgue. His body was half burned. “

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission had recommended various mechanisms for awarding damages. But too few have been implemented according to Noma-Russia: “This mission is an unfinished process. So we mobilized to say “enough is enough”, and so that this issue of damages becomes a real priority, because the victims are now starting to die.

The Minister of Justice promises to go soon to meet this group of pensioners, who have undertaken to continue their movement until they are heard.

This group can count on the support of one former member of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Yasmin Sooka. In addition to financial damages, the Commission, for its part, sent a letter to the government in 2019 requesting that the recommendations for legal proceedings be finally implemented. Of more than 300 cases, only a handful have been re-admitted to court.

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