Cape Town - Too many apartheid perpetrators are living quiet lives rather than seeking the forgiveness of their victims, says apartheid- era minister Adriaan Vlok.

He believes that, overall, not enough reconciliation has taken place in South Africa.

Vlok, who describes himself as a reborn Christian, was minister of law and order between 1986 and 1991.

His efforts to seek forgiveness from those he wronged include apologising for his role during apartheid and washing the feet of the Reverend Frank Chikane, who had been targeted for assassination.

Vlok said he found people were prepared to forgive him as long as he was he was open and honest.

”If you are a perpetrator and you go to a victim to make peace, you feel you want to help that person. Not just because you have a guilty conscience, but because you’re viewing them as a person and a child of God,” he said.

Vlok also believes an important part of reconciliation is granting amnesty to prisoners who are serving sentences for acts with political motives.

Vlok said that though the Truth and Reconciliation Commission had done a “wonderful job” and opened doors in the country, it hadn’t finished its business.

He believes religious institutions still have an important role to play in achieving further reconciliation.

“I am excited about this. I am fully committed to forgiveness,” said Vlok.

“There’s no pressure to ask for forgiveness.

It’s something from the heart, from the heart of a Christian.”

* This story is part of the Cape Times’ six-part special series on 20 years of democracy.

Cape Times