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Women struggle veterans return to Constitutional Court, crying foul over reparations

The Constitutional Court in Braamfontein where struggle veterans are calling for reparations.Image: Nicholas Rama

The Constitutional Court in Braamfontein where struggle veterans are calling for reparations.Image: Nicholas Rama

Published May 20, 2022

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A group of women-led struggle veterans, most of them from Ekurhuleni, are back at the Constitutional Court.

Determined and unstoppable members of the Khulumani Support Group are sleeping on the pavements of the Constitutional Court in Braamfontein in their bid to wage a war against the apartheid government and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC’s) Reparation and Rehabilitation Committee.

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The women, who occupied the passages and corridors of the country's apex court premises for about three weeks, are not new to spending cold winter nights, having done the same in the past as part of their protest against the lack of support from the South African authorities on issues of reparations for crimes against humanity during Apartheid.

When The Star visited the Constitutional court yesterday, most of them were trying to warm themselves in the sun, while others were trying to get help charging their phones. Most of the more than 20 women are from areas such as Vosloorus, Thokoza, Daveyton and other areas in Ekurhuleni.

"We are not new to this. Most of us have been involved in the struggle against the Apartheid regime and were removed from Vlakplaas and relocated to Vosloorus. Other women have lost their children and loved ones to Apartheid forces. We want to be compensated for the suffering we have endured in the past and are calling for government of today to help us in that.

“We feel the TRC was very forgiving to white people while for us, it did not do much. They have stopped the payment of reparations and we are not being looked after by the government,” Danisile Mabanga said.

Mabanga said the reparations they received in the past were not enough as some women were given as little as R10,000 while others received R30,000 in compensation.

“We are not satisfied at all. We will not live here until the minister of Justice agrees to our demands for a better compensation plan,” Mabanga said.

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Angeline Sithole said the women miss their homes and that their children are complaining. "We are suffering and sleeping on the floor. We are rained on and feel the pain of it all.

“However, we are determined that we will win eventually and only then will we consider going home. We have suffered immensely in the past and do not mind to suffer in the cold of the night or being rained on. Ours is the fight for our rights as citizens of the country,” she said.

The suffering endured by the members of the group and many others is well documented in the TRC Report with many of them having lost loved ones in taxi violence, fights between township and hostel dwellers and the killing of children by the security forces of the time.

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Their demand is simple. “We want the government to address the way TRC reparations were conducted and for the government to compensate everyone who suffered human rights violations equally and not the way they have done by asking us to be compensated in groups,” Mabanga said.

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