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Last Updated:  Friday, 21 March, 2003, 16:36 GMT
Pay apartheid victims 'now'
TRC hearing
Many still do not know who killed relatives
South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission has called for reparations to be paid quickly to victims from the apartheid era.

TRC Chairman Archbishop Desmond Tutu recommended a sum of $270m to be paid to the 20,000 victims who, he said, had waited "too long".

His comments came as he presented the TRC's delayed final report to President Thabo Mbeki, marking the end of a process lauded around the world for its efforts to reconcile victims and perpetrators of human rights abuses.

Archbishop Tutu also called on big businesses, who'd been beneficiaries of apartheid, to contribute to the reparations process.

The commission gathered the testimonies of 21,000 people from 1996 to 1998.

It granted amnesty to 1,200 people, but turned down more than 5,000 applications. Many of the offenders worked for the white nationalist government.

President Mbeki, receiving the report, promised to respond to the recommendations and the issue of reparations as quickly as possible.


Earlier, Archbishop Tutu said he did not believe the state could afford to prosecute those who were not given an amnesty.

"There are very many, I agree, who should have applied for amnesty and who didn't," he told AFP news agency.

You may walk as if you were free, but there is no doubt whatsoever you are going to have a trial living with yourself
Desmond Tutu
But he said that if they were charged, "the burden on our system would be quite intolerable... and the cost astronomical."

A prominent case that did go to court was that of germ warfare expert Wouter Basson - dubbed "Dr Death" in South Africa - who did not seek forgiveness at the TRC.

But he was released in April last year after a two-year trial costing the state $4m, when a judge found that the state had not proven beyond reasonable doubt that he was guilty of 46 charges including murder, fraud and drug-dealing.

The South African Government have set up a special unit to investigate human rights abuses during the apartheid era, committed by both those who were not granted amnesty and those who did not apply.

But any future investigations are hampered by the fact that they cannot use testimonies already presented to the TRC.

Archbishop Tutu also said there was some solace to be found, even if perpetrators are not prosecuted.

"This is a moral universe. You may walk as if you were free, but there is no doubt whatsoever you are going to have a trial living with yourself," he said.

The final TRC report was delayed by legal challenges, including one from the mainly-Zulu Inkatha Freedom Party over passages on political clashes that left nearly 12,000 people dead.

One of the Commission's key members, Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza, told the BBC's Network Africa that some of the truths brought before the body had been sanitised by both the security forces and the liberation movements of South Africa.

And he added that the Commission had failed to narrow the gap between the rich, whom he described as including mainly whites, and the poor, whom he portrayed as blacks.

Former TRC Commissioner, Dumisa Ntsebeza
"I am increasingly of the view that some of the truth was sanitised"

Should apartheid prosecutions be funded?
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Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

South Africans reconciled?
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30 Oct 98 |  Truth and Reconciliation
Truth Commission report: At a glance
16 Feb 99 |  Truth and Reconciliation
Truth report: Key points
29 Oct 98 |  Truth and Reconciliation
TRC: The facts
30 Oct 98 |  Truth and Reconciliation

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