January 19, 2004

SOUTH AFRICA: First cheques for Apartheid victims handed over by Justice Minister

Penuell Maduna, the Justice Minister, has handed over symbolic cheques of R30 000 to three families involved in the Boipatong and Sharpville massacres in the Vaal Triangle. The cheques were some of the first in terms of what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) had recommended as reparations for Apartheid victims. The commission had recommended payment to at least 22 000 families.

Sekhomathane Bakana (82) was one of the people Maduna handed a cheque of R30 000. Bakana was part of the group protesting against the pass laws in Sharpville in 1960. More than 60 people were killed and scores injured when police opened fire on the protesters. Bakana was severely assaulted in the process. When the TRC was set up just after the first democratic elections, he was among the victims who went before the Commission to tell their stories. He is happy that he has finally been compensated.

Ntsoaki Chenene (61) has also received her compensation cheque. She was shot in the leg during the anti-pass campaign. Although Ntsoaki is happy with the reparations, she says the money will not heal her wounds.

More than 10 000 cheques have been issued to victims of human rights violations. Maduna says they chose to issue the three symbolic cheques to families in the Vaal because of the important part Sharpville and Boipatong has played in the history of the country. He says his department will embark on a campaign to encourage victims who may not be aware of the cheques to collect theirs. He says there will be no cut-off date for the issuing of cheques. (South African Broadcasting Cooperation)

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