Former president FW de Klerk hands over the National Party's submission to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Cape Town in August 1996. Picture: AFP/ANNA ZIEMINSKI
Former president FW de Klerk hands over the National Party's submission to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Cape Town in August 1996. Picture: AFP/ANNA ZIEMINSKI

Thousands of victims of apartheid-era atrocities are still waiting for compensation, despite there being a government fund to assist them with reparation, housing, health services and education.

In 2003, the government set up the President’s Fund to finance the recommended reparations; this fund has now grown to about R1.6bn.

It has been more than two decades since October 1998, when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) tabled its report and recommendations, which included that victims who suffered apartheid-era atrocities should be given a R30,000 once-off payment and provided with housing, health and educational assistance.

Despite this, thousands of victims have not been compensated.

Marjorie Jobson, the national director of Khulumani Support Group, said that although about 16,800 people have been given the initial reparation by the government, this is inadequate and there are thousands of other victims who have not yet been compensated.

She accused the department of justice and correctional services of doing very little to service the plight of the victims of apartheid atrocities.

“Thousands of people lost their houses, their livelihood and others even their lives and limbs due to the atrocities. The TRC process has only acknowledged 16,000 victims. Hence we are beginning fresh litigation against the government,” she said.

In October this year, on the 20th anniversary of the handing over of the TRC report, the group petitioned President Cyril Ramaphosa to take a closer look at the matter. “We are also engaging our lawyers to lodge the case with the Constitutional Court so that thousands of the victims can be acknowledged and be compensated.”

Themba Mgabhi, of Imbali township in Pietermaritzburg, said a committee has been formed  epresenting thousands of victims who are yet to be compensated.

Mukoni Ratshitanga, spokesperson for justice minister Mike Masutha, confirmed that the President’s Fund has been allocated R1.6bn to pay and service the victims. He conceded  that the government has not fully complied with the provision of the legislation regarding the reparation, rehabilitation and compensation of the victims of apartheid-era atrocities.

The department is now seeking fresh co-operation from the victims, NGOs and other stakeholders, saying the aim is “to obtain necessary buy-in and co-operation”.

“Various civil-society organisations have also been approached and informed about fresh attempts to implement community rehabilitation measures in line with the TRC recommendations. The intention has always been to ensure that they, too, participate in the conceptualisation of appropriate community rehabilitation interventions.”

Ratshikanga said some of the organisations included the Khulumani Support Group, and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

“To be inclusive as possible, the department has extended another invitation to additional members of the coalition with the purpose of conducting one-on-one meetings to ensure a better understanding of the new approach.”