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Reparations Addressed Soon: Mbeki

South African Press Association (Johannesburg)
March 21, 2003
Posted to the web March 21, 2003,


The matter of reparations for victims of human rights abuses would be addressed soon, President Thabo Mbeki undertook on Friday.

He received the final two volumes of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report from TRC chairman Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Pretoria. These include its recommendations.

"We will study the report... with the close attention it deserves and respond to its recommendations as quickly as possible. This includes the matter of final reparations."

Referring to the victims of human rights violations, Tutu said: "They have waited long, too long for their reparations.

"As a nation we have a legal but, more importantly, a moral obligation to honour in paying reparations."

The handover of the final part of the report would hopefully remove any further obstacles in implementing the TRC recommendations on individual reparations, he said.

"We pray that our nation will consider the R3-billion or so which the TRC proposal is estimated to cost, money well spent and in a very real sense cheap at the price, for their contribution to the stability we currently enjoy is incalculable.

"We plead that substantial, individual reparations as per our recommendations be paid expeditiously as a matter of urgency and national honour."

According to justice minister Penuell Maduna, 16855 victims had been paid interim reparations amounting to R50-million by the end of last month.

An amount of R900-million was still available.

Maduna said he intended to convene a one-day summit of all roleplayers to discuss the issue of final reparations. The TRC's recommendations would be the starting point.

Mbeki handed the copies of the volumes to Dr Frene Ginwala, Speaker of the National Assembly, and Naledi Pandor, chairwoman of the National Council of Provinces.

Maduna said the report would be tabled in Parliament before April 15. The entire report -- all seven volumes -- would be debated there.

The government would formulate its views on the TRC's recommendations and put them forward during the debate in Parliament, the minister said.

This included its stance on the possibility of a special amnesty for any category of people.

"This will be debated, among other issues, in the National Assembly. Pending the debate it would improper for us to express our views," he said when asked for an opinion on the amnesty recommendations.

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