Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle has opened the door for some 5,000 Eastern Cape survivors of massacres and victims’ families to come forward and claim reparations.
Of the 22,000 victims of the 23 massacres recorded in the Eastern Cape by the SA Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), only 17,000 survivors and families have come forward to claim reparation.
This emerged from a meeting between Masualle, the Bhisho Massacre committee and the national department of justice on Tuesday.
The justice department has a unit that focuses specifically on victims of the massacres identified by the TRC.
The development has been welcomed by those who have for years been complaining of government neglect in this regard. The TRC unit’s chief director, Thwadi Komane, said following the TRC hearings in the late 1990s, a presidential fund of R1.7bn was set up for reparations.
Of that amount, R500m was set aside for community development.
Each community that experienced a massacre is eligible to receive R30m.
Areas such as Lusikisiki, Duncan Village in East London, Mdantsane, Komani and Langa township in Uitenhage should be among those that stand to benefit from the community development fund.
Masualle said benefits for massacre victims – or their dependents – included a once-off payment of R30,000 per eligible victim.
The premier also said an all- inclusive bursary fund had been set up, and houses would be built for the beneficiaries.
He said those who needed medical attention as a result of the massacres could receive it through making contact with the department.
Masualle said talks between his office and victims of massacres – “particularly the committee of the victims of the Bhisho massacre” – were ongoing.
“We were made aware that there were various programmes to support the victims of massacres and we support those programmes,” he said.
Masualle said tribute was only paid to Bhisho massacre victims around its anniversary.
The Bhisho massacre happened on September 7 1992 when Ciskei homeland police gunned down 28 ANC supporters and one soldier.
Its military leader at the time was Brigadier Oupa Gqozo.
Chairman of the Bhisho massacre committee, Boyce Nqono, said the committee was happy with the benefits as presented to them.
“We welcome the benefits but we must go back now to the people we represent and report this to them,” Nqono said.
Those who are eligible to claim reparations are victims or family members of victims in Bhisho, Bizana, Cradock, Despatch, Dimbaza, Dukathole, Duncan Village, Fort Beaufort, Highgate Hotel in East London, Joza in Grahamstown, KwaNobuhle, Langa, Mbashe, Mdantsane, Mqanduli, Msobomvu, Nemato township, Whittlesea, Ziphunzana township, Zwelitsha, Ingquza Hill, Ntloze and South End in Port Elizabeth.
“Victim support available in the TRC unit is for TRC-listed victims who appeared before the TRC when it was sitting and taking testimonies from victims from January 1996 until the commission was officially closed two years later,” Komane said.
“As the unit we are bound by law to only assist those who are listed in the TRC report,” Komane added.