As I mentioned in one of my previous blogs, I have been helping a young man who is seeking justice for the death of his father 25 years ago. His father was a commander of the MK, the group that would become the leading political party in the country, the ANC. When his father was killed, the family was not given the body for three months while the apartheid forces had held onto it to let it rot. Further, the body was never given a proper burial which is extremely important in African culture as they believe in ancestors. If there is not a burial ceremony, the souls are unable to rest in peace. In fact, not one member of the family was able to attend the burial at all.
Worse still, this family is destitute and never received reparations for their suffering. One of the family members had attempted to speak at the TRC to apply for reparations, but was denied the opportunity to plead his case.
This Thursday we drove to Tsekane, where this young man lives and works. He showed us the house where he and his siblings grew up and were consistently harassed by security forces because of their father’s role in the rebellion. We spoke with the grandmother who told us about how security forces would constantly come to their house, drag the grandfather to jail for no other reason than to torture him. They beat him in attempts to get him to divulge the whereabouts of his son, which he never did.
This trip was quite eye-opening. Not only did it personalize the case I have been working on, but it was a reminder of the extreme levels of poverty that exist in this country. My job this coming week will be to write a story to be published in the news paper to raise awareness about what happened to this family. I will continue my legal research and attempt to help this family in the limited time I have left in this country.