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After Apartheid: Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa
Definition of Apartheid § Apartheid: the system of racial segregation that existed in South Africa from 1948 to 1994
Summary of Apartheid § § 1948: National Party narrowly wins power First 12 years: Three Goals 1) Reorganized state power Consolidated their hold on the civil service by giving Afrikaans important positions § Imposed tight new controls over civil society in the form of legislation § Examples: 1950 Suppression of Communism Act § 1960: Banning of their rivals the African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan-African Congress (PAC) in 1960
2) Elaboration and implementation of Apartheid: § Africans should not be allowed in urban areas. § 1950 Population Registration Act: implemented mandatory classification of all individuals into four categories, white, Bantu (African), coloured (racially mixed) or Asiatic. § 1950 Group Areas Act: gave the government sweeping powers to remove Africans from urban areas and to relocate them to reserves which were scattered throughout South Africa. § 1951 Bantu Authorities Act: placed government approved ‘chiefs’ in control of the reserves.
Elaboration and implementation of Apartheid Continued… § Millions of Africans were displaced as a result and were usually placed into poorer living conditions where they had little control over their day-to-day lives. § Africans were no longer allowed to live permanently in cities, except for male labourers. § 1955 Pass Law: required that everyone must carry a pass at all times which identified their race and what areas they were authorized to enter. § Bantu education: prepared Africans for a life as a low wage labourer
Pass Law The most hated regulation in South Africa
3) Consolidating and Advancing the Interests of Afrikaner Nationalism. § Supporting Afrikaner businesses § Supporting white workers in the form of job reservation and the colour bar § Restricting sexual relations between races § 1953 Separation of Amenities Act: created separate facilities for different races, such as beaches, buses, washrooms, and even in some cases separate doors.
Separation of Amenities
Separation of Amenities § A private sign emblematic of the tense relations of the era
Resistance in the 1950 s § as the new government worked to reshape South African society, much resistance came from the oppressed populations, and in particular from the African ANC, PAC, and the National Indian Congress (NIC). § Resistance was exercised through boycotts, strikes, and general civil disobedience § An early example of resistance occurred with a strike on May 1 st 1950 in which 18 people were killed and 30 wounded by open police fire in the night.
Resistance in the 1950 s Continued… § 1953 Public Safety Act: gave the government extreme power to control the country’s citizens. § The Treason Trial: in 1956 156 leaders were arrested on charges of treason and ‘conspiracy to overthrow the state. ’ § Sharpeville Massacre: in March of 1960 69 people were killed and 180 were injured after 1000 s of people gathered in resistance in front of a police station. Constables were alarmed by the size of the crowd, panicked and opened fire.
§ South African police officers standing over people killed in the Sharpeville massacre.
1960 s: The Quite Decade § Many leaders were imprisoned and controls over movement and segregation were at their peak. § By all normal indicators, rate of growth, rate of inflation, rate of job creation, rates of savings and investments, etc. the South African economy was extremely successful § One of the most important elements of the Apartheid economy was gold which contributed more than a third of South Africa’s exports.
Gold Mining in South Africa
The 1970 s: Time for Change § § Economic success began to waver. South Africa’s share of world gold sales fell rapidly. Led to dissatisfaction with the National Party. Revolt against the government was revived in the 1970 s. § major growth in the number of African’s attending schools. § Black Consciousness movement which became a strong impetus for change.
Black Consciousness Movement
The Soweto Riots: § Resistance movement which took place in June of 1976 § A protest by 15, 000 students resulted in the death of several school children which led to widespread attacks on police, administrative buildings, beerhalls, etc. § Students began to boycott classes and even burn school buildings, which led to a counter attack and raids by police. § In the end it is estimated that 575 died and 2389 were wounded in the riots.
Soweto Riots § Famous photograph of the Soweto Riots showing a scholar carrying the body of Hector Pieterson, one of the first casualties.
1980 s: Resistance Renewed § The state attempted to retain control with military power, detentions and increased repression § But as international condemnation grew and economic sanctions began to take hold, it became more and more clear that change was needed. § On February 2, 1990, President F. F. de Klerk unbanned the ANC and the PAC and made a commitment to meaningful change. § The collapse of Apartheid thus followed.
The End of Apartheid § May 10 th 1994: The inauguration of President Nelson Mandela on May 10 th 1994, after 27 years of incarceration, seemed to signal a turning point in South African society. § A hundred thousand people came to see their hero take power. § The closing words of Mandela’s speech were “we enter into a covenant that we shall build a society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inaliable right to human dignity. ”
The End of Apartheid § black voters, waiting for hours to cast their votes
The End of Apartheid § The election of Nelson Mandela
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) § A court-like body which was assembled in South Africa following the end of Apartheid § Anyone who felt that they had been a victim of violence could come forward and be heard at the TRC. § Perpetrators of violence could also give testimony and request amnesty from prosecution. § The TRC was seen as a crucial component of the transition to full and free democracy in South Africa
Why Was the TRC Needed? § Some form of accountability had to be taken for the immense violence that took place during § There had to be a diagnosis of what exactly happened, why it happened, and who was responsible § It was thought that if there was no accountability made, a message would be given to the new security forces and to the people of South Africa as a whole that future abuses may be treated similarly § Would reinforce the culture of abuse and intolerance that had been breeding in South Africa for the past several hundred years § There was a need to record and publicize what happened from the victims as well
Goal of the TRC § There was to be a commission instituted to investigate and establish as complete a picture as possible of the nature, causes and extent of gross violations of human rights committed. This commission would also play a role in the granting of amnesty to persons who make full disclosure of all relevant facts associated with a political objective § It would also afford victims an opportunity to relate to others the violations they suffered, grant reparation to victims, restore victim’s dignity, and make a report on the violations
§ After Much Debate The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was finalized in mid- 1995
3 Committees: § 1) The Amnesty Committee (AC) § Grant amnesty to individuals who were deemed worthy § Ensure that applications for amnesty were done in accordance with the provisions of the Act. § Those actions which were taken to serve a political objective would be excused § Political Objective: “an act, omission or offence directed towards a political opponent or state property of personnel if committed under the order of a liberation movement, political institution or organization”
Perpetrator Testimony § MS GOBODO: § According to your statement here, you say that in the process of the Mplan you would go to specific houses, and the owners of those houses would as a result be detained or tortured. Which are these people, what are the names of these people who’s houses you used. § MR MAXAM: § If I were to tell the truth and count the houses that we used, I will count the whole of Mbekweni, because Mbekweni was a well mobilized community. § MS GOBODO: § The specific houses that you have listed and the police focused on those house, which are these houses? § MR MAXAM: § It was Mr Kathakata’s house, Mr Tsotesi house and the Franch house, the Bongo family. I wish to apologize to the owners of those houses. Because even in their ignorance they would be taken by the police, be interrogated and other houses that were affected. I also ask forgiveness from the Sieberts family that was also affected.
2) Committee and Human Rights Violations (HRV) Committee. § Investigated any human rights abuses that took place between March 1960 and December 1994 § Established the identity of the victims, their present condition, and the nature and extent of the harm they had suffered. § Distinguished between whether the violations were the result of deliberate planning by the state or any other organization, group or individual. § Once victims of gross human rights violations are identified, they are referred to the Reparation and Rehabilitation Committee.
Witness Testimony § “Two policemen got on either chair and they dragged me to the window, and then they said I can now jump…I refused…they grabbed me by my shoulders and lifted me physically up and pushed me out of the window…. and they were holding me by my ankles…. each policeman holding one ankle. All I could see was the concrete floor at the bottom - we were three floors up, and all of a sudden one would let go of one foot- as he’s about to catch my foot, the one he has released, the other chap let go- and they played like that…and you know you thought…. God, this is the end. ”
Witness Testimony Continued… § “On the 13 th November 1985 it was a Wednesday morning. My son was driven out of the house by a crowd of people who were stoning the house. We were in the house, 405 Philani Street. He was driven out of the house and shortly afterwards he was killed and burnt…I have been scarred by my son's death…. It is now ten years and ten months and 43 days ago that he died but the pain is still with me, it still lives inside of me because the whys and the wherefores I still don't know. Although there are some people who pretend that nothing happened, it, there is a peace on the surface. The pain which I suffered, well I think my second eldest son, the one just after the deceased, I think his drinking problem is the result of the death of his brother. During the time that I suffered so much, I felt like I had been ostracized from the community, that I had been rejected by the people. I felt that I could not look the world in the eye”
§ “The police came - I couldn’t count them, because there were a lot. They said to him he must go out - out of the house…I told the police that they must leave him alone because he is not feeling well. The police ignored me. One of the policeman then dragged him out but he resisted and he managed to get inside the shack and close the door. The police then used force - they kicked the door and I cried to the police - begging them to leave my brother alone. Others were around the windows, trying to break the windows. One of the policeman tried to kick the door. And I tried to talk to them to leave my brother alone. The policemen were around the windows - they were putting in tear gas threw the windows. One of them tried to kick the door hard and they - he managed to kick the door. I was still crying - begging them to leave my brother alone. My brother was dizzy at the time with the tear gas and he got out of the shack. The police came through the window and I could see my brother bleeding. He couldn’t even breath. He was quiet. They dragged him to the van outside. One of the policeman tramped on his head. Two of the policemen threw him into the van. That’s all I saw that day. ”
3) Reparation and Rehabilitation (R&R) § Provided the victims with different forms of support to ensure that the Truth Commission process restored the victims' dignity § Formulated policy proposals and recommendations on rehabilitation and the healing of survivors, their families and the community at large § Ensure healing and healthy co-existence, and also to ensure that similar events would not happen again in the future.
Compensation § Compensation was given to victims in different forms, the most common of which was financial, but which also included the reburial of deceased loved ones, the renaming of certain streets, cultural ceremonies, etc. Over 22, 000 victims were deemed eligible for reparations.
Conclusion of the Commission § The commission was officially finished in March 2003 when it handed over the final 2 volumes of its 7 volume report. § Initially intended to take only 18 months it had lasted for over four years § In total, 7116 individuals applied for amnesty and almost 22, 000 victims testified § 5392 people were refused amnesty and 849 were granted amnesty
Challenges/ Criticisms § Many of these institutions and personally were directly involved in the torture, executions and disappearances of those involved in resistance to the system, but at the same time they were still responsible for sustaining law and order within the 'new' society. § Many of those who were now in power within the new government were themselves actively involved in the armed resistance to Apartheid. § The perpetrators were benefiting more than the victims, as they were receiving amnesty, where as in most cases the victims did not receive reparations for their suffering § Many individual victims feel that their needs have not been met by the TRC
Challenges/ Criticisms Continued… § The commission did not make efforts to create reconciliation among apartheid’s ordinary victims. These victims included those affected by forced removals, the migrant labour system, pass laws, Bantu education, etc § 18 million people were affected by the pass laws. 15. 5 million people were uprooted in the forced removals § Millions were condemned to early death as victims of racially defined poverty. Thousands of ‘dispensable’ mine workers were killed in careless mining incidents. § Under Apartheid, people were racially victimized on a daily basis and these day to day victims have been largely excluded from the TRC mandate. § The excuse for this has been that the TRC had neither the time nor the resources to undertake a thorough investigation of all the violations of human rights that occurred under apartheid
Deputy President Thabo Mbeki Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Different Ideas of Justice § Overall, the decision of whether or not people felt that the commission was successful or not rested on individual definitions of justice § Some believed that truth was needed in order for reconciliation to occur. § Others believed that truth was not enough, but that criminal justice was needed in order for reconciliation to occur. § Others believed that reconciliation was an individual process, and therefore each individual victim would need to be heard in order for them to put the past behind them. § Others believed that reconciliation could only occur if reparations were given to victims, and that simply telling their story was not enough.
Conclusion: South Africa Today § 1. 8 million more South Africans in 2000 living with less than $1/day than there were in 1995 § The country's crime rates are among the highest in the world § It is estimated that about 12 percent of the population, or 5. 4 million people are currently living with HIV and that two thousand South Africans contact the disease each day. § It is also estimated that there are currently 700, 000 AIDS orphans living within the borders of South Africa. § The wage gap between the richest and poorest members of society is huge and continues to increase § Unemployment rates increased from 17 percent to 24 percent beween 1995 and 1999.
Reflection: § In a paragraph or two, please answer the following questions: § Do you think that justice was served by the TRC or should more have been done to ensure that perpetrators were punished for their crimes? § Do you think that the victim compensation provided by the TRC was adequate? Was simply telling their stories enough to help the victims of Apartheid heal? Is financial compensation enough?