March 30, 2006

Mandela appeals for ex-prisoners

Former South African President Nelson Mandela has said that more had to be done to help thousands of ex-political prisoners, many of whom are in poverty. A trust was set up 10 years ago, but Mr Mandela appealed for more funds. He called on South African businesses to help as many as 3.000 political prisoners from the apartheid era. Some former political prisoners occupy key positions in government and industry, but many are reported to be unemployed, living in poverty, and some have suffered mental illness. Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota, who is heading the latest fundraising campaign with Mandela's backing, described the veterans' situation as "a critical matter of conscience". "We have to sustain them. It gives us sleepless nights," he said, adding that a trust which was set up in 1996 needed to be sustainable. (Rts)

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