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Apartheid Victims in South Africa Are Still Suffering

May 14, 2003
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Study finds blacks are getting poorer and whites are getting richer, and an activist who lost both his arms in a government assassination attempt says a $4,000 government reparations payment is not enough.

Investment banking giant Goldman Sachs has told South Africa its economy must grow at almost twice its recent rate if it is to make a dent in its massive unemployment rate.

But Goldman Sachs also said the government is moving in the right direction, by adopting neo-liberal trade measures and targeting inflation.

Interestingly, the Goldman Sachs report comes just a day after a new survey by the University of the Western Cape concluded that blacks are getting poorer while whites are getting richer.

The study found that incomes in South African black households fell nearly 20% between 1995 and 2000, while white household incomes rose by 15%. Last year, two out of three black households in Cape Town townships did not have enough food to eat.

Meanwhile, South African President Thabo Mbeki recently announced that his government will pay about $4,000 each to the families of victims of apartheid.

The reparations settlement will cost the South African government a total of $85 million. The Truth and Reconciliation commission had requested nearly four times that amount.

Mbeki rejected a recommendation from the chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, to impose a wealth tax on multi-national companies and individuals who thrived during white minority rule. The government also decided not to back a series of lawsuits against multinationals such as Anglo American and De Beers filed in US courts on behalf of apartheid victim groups. We’re joined right now by the well-known anti-apartheid activist, Father Michael Lapsley. In 1990, three months after the release of South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela, the ruling National Party government sent Father Lapsley a parcel containing two magazines. One of the magazines contained a bomb. When Lapsley opened it, the explosion brought down ceilings in the house, blew a hole in the floors and shattered windows. It also blew off both Father Lapsley’s hands, destroyed one eye and burned him severely.

Michael Lapsley joined the African National Congress in the mid-1970s, after being deported from South Africa for his activism. He served for many years as the ANC’s chaplain in exile, struggling with the tension between his commitment to pacifism and his commitment to resistance against apartheid.

Today Michael Lapsley is the director of the Institute for Healing of Memories. Father Lapsley founded the Institute in 1998 as a sort of parallel process to the government’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Father Michael Lapsley, director of the Institute for Healing of Memories. Previously he worked at the Trauma Center for Victims of Violence and Torture in Cape Town, which assisted the Truth and Reconciliation Commission headed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Link: Healing of Memories


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