The head of a group lobbying for reparations in South Africa says he’s “disappointed” by Tuesday’s announcement by President Thabo Mbeki. Mr. Mbeki says there will be a one-time payment of about four thousand dollars to each apartheid victim.
The nation’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission had compiled a list of about 20 thousand people. Father Michael Lapsley is head of the Working Group on Reparations. While he says he’s disappointed with the president’s plan, he does agree with Mr. Mbeki’s rejection of a general amnesty for the perpetrators of apartheid.
He says, “I think there was a very generous opportunity for people to receive amnesty. And I think if we had gone down the route of going for a general amnesty it would have really undone the whole process of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”
Father Lapsley says there had been pressure from some members of the “former regime and the IFP” (Inkhata Freedom Party) for a general amnesty. As for reparations, he says Mr. Mbeki’s plan would not provide as much money as that proposed by the TRC. He says he expects “disappointment” in the community.
Father Lapsley says he will meet with others who have lobbied for reparations to see whether any appeal will be made to raise the amount of reparations. He says the government’s plan “does not address the ongoing needs of survivors” of apartheid, whose injuries will worsen over time.
From Cape Town, Father Lapsley spoke with English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua. Click the above links to download or listen to De Capua interview.