South Africa: South Africa continues to grapple with racism (News analysis by Craig Urquart, PANA Correspondent)

Cape Town, South Africa (PANA) – More than two decades after South Africa confounded the world by hosting free and fair elections that saw Nelson Mandela elected on a ticket of non-racism, this former land of Apartheid continues to grapple with its racial demonstration.

In view of this development, the Nelson Mandela Foundation has now teamed up with another foundation - administered by Mandela’s old Robben Island colleague Ahmed Kathrada - to establish an anti-racism network.

The initiative will be supported by the Foundation for Human Rights and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.

Neeshan Balton, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation’s director, said a number of high-profile racial incidents indicate that the country is “undergoing a resurgence of forms of public, overt racism and racial tension”.

The Institute of Justice and Reconciliation this week hosted a dialogue on trauma and healing in Cape Town where victims of Apartheid-era atrocities relived their ordeals.

Candice Mama told the forum that Eugene De Kock, the country’s most notorious Apartheid-era policeman, had emptied a magazine of bullets into her father, Glenack Mama, before setting his corpse alight.

Somehow, after meeting the man who was nicknamed “Prime Evil” last year, she found a way to forgive him. After he apologised to her, they hugged. "It took a physical and emotional toll, meeting your father's killer," she said.

De Kock, who spent 20 years incarcerated at a maximum security prison in Pretoria, was released on parole last year.

Judge Albie Sachs, who also addressed the forum, recalled how he made peace with his attacker. Sachs lost an arm and one eye after opening former policeman Henri van der Westhuizen’s parcel bomb in Maputo, Mozambique.

Sachs, who was a lawyer at the time, defended Apartheid-era victims. He said he had chosen “not to be trapped in history, but to turn it around, into something positive”.

Meanwhile, a support group for victims of Apartheid has called on South African media giant Naspers to create a fund for victims of gross human rights violations. The call was made after the company publicly apologized for the role it played in supporting the Apartheid policies which were labeled a crime against humanity by the United Nations in the 1980s.

“We acknowledge complicity in a morally indefensible political regime and the hurtful way in which this played out in our newsrooms and boardrooms,'' said company Chief Executive Officer Esmare Weideman at the 100-year celebration of the company in Cape Town last month.

Naspers, which is Africa’s largest media company with a market value of over US$60 billion, refused to testify at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which was charged with investigating Apartheid-era crimes in the 1990s.

Apart from numerous print and online titles, Naspers provides paid television services to more than 10 million households throughout Africa, and owns a valuable stake in the Chinese internet company, Tencent.

The Khulumani Support Group said that while it saluted Weideman’s acknowledgement of the company’s past complicity in defending Apartheid, Naspers must establish an independent reparations fund “to support the endeavours of survivors to surmount through their own efforts the continuing constraints that are the legacy of the apartheid system”.

The Khulumani Support Group has about 85,000 members who are victims and survivors of Apartheid-related gross human rights violations in South Africa.

In other developments, two senior policemen who attempted to Reverend Frank Chikane, the Director-General in Thabo Mbeki’s administration, are being considered for political pardons.

Adriaan Vlok, the former Law and Order Minister, former police chief Johan van der Merwe and three police officers are among 149 applicants being considered for political pardons for the crimes they committed.

Almost two decades ago, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission provided a blueprint for other nations dealing with self-inflicted atrocities. However, the reality is that many of South Africa’s wounds continue to fester.
-0- PANA CU/VAO 2Aug2015

02 août 2015 11:09:30




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