CAPE TOWN – A support group for victims of apartheid on Tuesday called on Media24 and Naspers to create a fund for victims of gross human rights violations after the media company apologised for its role in apartheid on Saturday.
“We acknowledge complicity in a morally indefensible political regime and the hurtful way in which this played out in our newsrooms and boardrooms,” said Media24 CEO Esmare Weideman at the 100-year celebration of Naspers and Die Burger newspaper in Cape Town on Saturday night.
She recalled how Conrad Sidego, the first reporter of colour at Die Burger, had to walk some distance to relieve himself because he was not allowed to use the company’s bathrooms.
“In that story is recorded decades of suffering and humiliation. And for this reason tonight [Saturday] we offer a formal apology.”
In response to the apology, Khulumani Support Group director Dr Marjorie Jobson said the group “congratulates the Afrikaans media… and welcomes… Weideman’s acknowledgement of its past complicity in defending what it now acknowledges as the ‘morally indefensible political regime’ of apartheid and the hurtful way in which this complicity played out in the newsroom and boardrooms of the company”.
The Khulumani Support Group called on Naspers “to complement their acknowledgement of their complicity with apartheid, by establishing an independent reparations fund for victims of apartheid-era gross human rights violations to support the endeavours of survivors to surmount through their own efforts the continuing constraints that are the legacy of the apartheid system”.
Jobson said the support group expects the media group to actively participate in working to complete the unfinished business of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which marks its 20th anniversary in 2016.
Jobson said the call came at a time when government has failed to implement the recommendations of the TRC concerning reparations for victims. Additionally, the group said government also failed to utilise the President’s Fund, set up in terms of the National Unity and Reconciliation Act.
The Khulumani Support Group has about 85 000 members who are victims and survivors of apartheid-related gross human rights violations in South Africa. It was started by survivors testifying at the TRC.
Jobson said the support group looks forward to “substantive engagement” with Media24 on these issues, and Media24 told Fin24 on Tuesday that “it would respond in due course”.