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Saturday, 16 December, 2000, 13:51 GMT
White S Africans urge reconciliation
Blacks and Whites in election queue
All-race elections have not completely solved the ethnic divide
A group of white South Africans have launched a campaign to encourage whites to formally apologise for apartheid at a time when racial tensions are on the increase.

The initiative - known as "Home for All" - has been organised to recognise the need for reconciliation between the different ethnic, religious and racial groups that make up the country.


It is necessary for whites to acknowledge the damage caused by apartheid

Campaign founder, Carl Niehaus
The campaign, which also calls on whites to donate money or time to help blacks, was formally announced at a gathering at St. George's Cathedral in Cape Town.

Carl Niehaus, former ambassador to the Netherlands and one of the campaign founders, told the gathering: "It is necessary for whites to acknowledge the damage caused by apartheid and its legacy, to support and empower disadvantaged communities and to contribute to eliminating racism."

Blacks, people of mixed-race and Indians had historically been treated as inferior to whites in South Africa and this discrimination was written into law in 1948.

High-profile members

The organisers of the initiative say they will devote their skills, resources and energy towards promoting a non-racial society in South Africa.

Mbeki receives signed rugby ball from Joost van Westhuisen
South African rugby has worked to shed its exclusive white image
Among the more high-profile members of the campaign are: Constitutional court judge Richard Goldstone; Springbok coach Harry Viljoen and captain Andre Vos; Wilhelm Verwoerd, the grandson of apartheid architect Hendrik Verwoerd; and Afrikaans poet Antjie Krog.

Opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Tony Leon and former president and Nobel peace prize winner Frederik de Klerk are among its opponents.

A "declaration of commitment by white South Africans" was released with the names of those who had signed it, acknowledging that apartheid inflicted massive social, economic, cultural and psychological damage on black South Africans.

Commitment

The initiative has been welcomed by people like Charlotte McClain, of the South African human rights commission.

She says white people do need to demonstrate a greater commitment to building the new South Africa.

"You have a group of people that are recognising that they did in fact benefit from apartheid, whether indirectly or directly, and now this is a way of coming together and saying to the majority of South Africans, who are Africans that really suffered," she says.

"This is our contribution towards the reconciliation of this country and this is our commitment. So I think it's a very commendable step."

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See also:

16 Dec 00 | Africa
Rainbow nation at risk?
24 Aug 00 | Africa
Racism 'pervasive' in SA media
26 Jan 00 | Africa
South Africa bans discrimination
28 Aug 00 | Africa
South Africa's new racism
29 Aug 00 | Africa
Apartheid 'still alive' in SA
29 Aug 00 | Africa
SA worker dragged to death
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