- Khulumani Support Group national director Dr Marjorie Jobson says the “horrible” celebration of the death of last apartheid president FW de Klerk is a reflection of a lack of healing.
- However, she says that his apology for the atrocities of the past, which his foundation shared in a video form, should have been done while he was alive.
- Lukhanyo Calata, the son of Fort Calata who was part of the Cradock Four, says he can’t take the apology seriously.
FW de Klerk’s apology for the pain that apartheid caused, which was released in a video form after his death, was something he should have done while he was still alive.
This is the view of Dr Marjorie Jobson, the national director of the Khulumani Support Group, which was founded in 1995 by survivors of apartheid human rights violations.
She said he had the opportunity to express his regret while he was still alive.
“He will meet our ancestors, wherever he is now, and will still have a chance to account to them. We have unfinished business, but we will leave it in their hands,” she added.
De Klerk, who died on Thursday, said in his “last message”, which his foundation shared in video form, that he “without qualification, apologise[s] for the pain and the hurt, and the indignity, and the damage, to black, brown and Indians in South Africa”.
Jobson, a former member of Black Sash, said Khulumani requested meetings with the last apartheid president on various occasions in the hope that they could talk about the atrocities committed against its members.
“I don’t think the request was ever conveyed to him by his foundation,” she said. “We would have appreciated being able to engage directly.
“People have to go through reckoning of what they were complicit in. I think he had the spirit to do that.
That he didn’t consider apartheid a crime against humanity… many have the capacity for denial – not with bad intent, but they are not at the point to comprehend what the truth is.
Khulumani had mixed feelings about De Klerk’s death, Jobson said.
Some of the group’s founders were political prisoners who had been on death row. During his presidency, De Klerk had issued stays of execution to many of them, authorising their release.
“It was our impression that FW was a fair-minded man. If evidence revealed something gravely wrong with judicial process, he had courage to dictate a moratorium. It was always our sense that he was someone who was reasonable, thoughtful and would take a stand if evidence proved it necessary. It characterised him as a human, someone who was different to PW [Botha].”
“I don’t think we would have gotten to democracy if it wasn’t for what he did… but to a large extent, he didn’t show courage – he didn’t know what support he had in his Cabinet.”
Jobson believes that the “horrible” celebration of De Klerk’s death is a reflection of a lack of healing.
“I would say he demands our respect because if we hadn’t had him, I don’t know how much progress we would have made to get [to democracy] – he made it possible and we have to give him credit for that,” she said.
It was a long journey of unlearning; I think he tried. There are people who call him a political schemer, but I think he had a fundamental core of decency – that is my experience.
But Lukhanyo Calata, the son of one of the Cradock Four, said he couldn’t take De Klerk’s apology seriously. His father, Fort Calata was one of the Cradock Four who were kidnapped, tortured and murdered by apartheid police on 27 June 1985.
“It’s a choreographed piece of public relations in which De Klerk tried to determine from the grave, how we remember him,” he said.
“He’s offering an apology for apartheid yet just the other day, he denied it was a crime against humanity.”
Calata said that although De Klerk was a “vital cog in the machinery to get us answers”, he was not the only one who could account for crimes committed under apartheid.
“He was not the only one. Others remain, and we can continue to demand answers from them and ask the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to hold them to account. There are still avenues for us to pursue.”
He warned, however, that the public needed to put pressure on the NPA and the government to ensure justice for families such as his.
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Source by www.news24.com