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Justice and reconciliation in post-apartheid South Africa: a South African woman's perspective.


From the perspective of a black South African woman social ethicist, this paper explores the implications of reconciliation, justice and mission in the context of South Africa. The paper calls for the entrenchment of justice and reconciliation in South Africa, particularly following the public and ecclesial discourses in South Africa that emphasized issues of truth, forgiveness and healing whilst underplaying the imperative for redistributive justice as a component that could possibly complement and facilitate reconciliation. Ten years after the demise of apartheid, and the subsequent democratization of South Africa, and three-plus years after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission reported, this paper suggests that we have become conscious that the quest for justice and reconciliation ought to be the core of the church's witness and ministry on earth. Justice and reconciliation ministries should be encouraged as they are relevant for churches and societies that are in transition from violent oppression to freedom. In its last section, the paper suggests ways in which justice and reconciliation can be made real through the church's mission in concrete contexts, such as post-apartheid South Africa.

Context and commitment

The demise of apartheid's reign and the democratization of South Africa in 1994 brought hope and fear for many in South Africa. The hope was inspired by the transition and change from a tyrannical and dehumanizing rule. Fear developed from an anxiety that the security and benefits of apartheid would be taken away from those who had gained from the system. Anxiety was also visible in the massive flight of many South Africans to countries, such as Australia and Canada, just before the 1994 elections.

Ten years following the downfall of apartheid and the establishment of democracy, we are faced with a dialectical situation. On the one hand, we are happy that we have overcome structural oppression in the form of apartheid. We are hopeful that the impact and legacies of apartheid will one day be overcome, and that peace, reconciliation, unity and justice will prevail. On the other hand, however, we are also worried and disillusioned. This is because our life experiences reveal that very little has changed in the area of economic and social justice. Many of our relations in this sphere are still, to a large extent, shaped by apartheid hierarchical relations.

We are aware that although apartheid has officially ended its legacies are still prevalent and pervasive. It is obvious that the new era has not brought about socio-economic justice. The plight of those who were deprived of their humanity and livelihoods by apartheid has not fundamentally changed. Our dreams for reconciliation, justice and unity amongst the people of South Africa are undermined by the legacies of apartheid and the consolidation of economic globalization. Lapsley and Chubb note:
   The essence of apartheid inverted the values and the justice system
   on which a free society is normally based. Under apartheid, evil was
   legally enforced and rewarded. Dispossession of property was
   legalized on a huge scale, murderers and torturers ... were
   promoted ... Policies were based on denials, deceptions, betrayal
   and deceit ... The apartheid government's contempt for all its
   citizens was clearly expressed in the operation of its webs of
   secrecy and censorship, and in the entrenchment of mistrust and
   suspicion that permeated all parts of society. (1)

Not only did apartheid's reign pervert morality and dehumanize the majority of South African citizens, it also damaged the moral fibre and integrity of the entire nation.

According to Bonganjalo Goba, the ongoing divisions that continue to manifest themselves in our society will continue to pose a challenge and a threat to the strengthening of South African society and democracy. The divisions amongst South Africans "remain open wounds that require healing, a task that is formidable especially in the creation of a new social order." (2) David Penna identifies some of the problems that South Africa faces today, and which derive from apartheid legacies, He says, "Disparities in wealth, unequal ownership of land and a rising tide of crime are the most visible and policy-related impacts of apartheid." (3)

Some of the problems highlighted above undermine the attempts by South African churches and society to engender values of social justice, and respect for the sanctity of all human beings. Instead, many are fearful that, with its emphasis on forgiveness, the language of reconciliation in South Africa has undermined the pursuit of socio-economic justice. The emphasis on truth, healing and forgiveness by the government, particularly through the Truth and Reconciliation Act, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, has resulted in a lot of pessimism and intolerance to reconciliation, particularly by those who were disadvantaged by apartheid.

In his article, "Theology in (South) Africa: How the Future has Changed", Tinyiko Maluleke makes the following observation:
   In South Africa, reconciliation is largely a discourse of a few
   Black elite and White males. There is an amazing and very loud
   silence of lower ranked and working class Blacks on the subject.
   An even more resounding silence is that of black women. This
   silence may be deliberate, but it is also an indicator of the
   extent to which the powerless remain powerless even in
   post-independent South Africa. (4)

Reconciliation has always been central to theological and ethical discourse in South Africa, even before the demise of apartheid. However, many voices, other than those of mainstream theologies and of black or contextual theologians, who were mainly men, have generally been left out. Though the themes of truth, reconciliation, forgiveness, reparations, etc., have become central to contemporary South Africa, there has been a dearth of reflections from women, particularly black women theologians.

As a black woman and a Christian social ethicist, I find it important to reflect on reconciliation, justice and mission in post- apartheid South Africa. This is essential because, after l0 years of democracy; the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Act; and its subsequent Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the issues of reconciliation, justice and mission cannot be based on conjecture or idealism. Rather, they have to be evaluated by examining the ways in which church and society have sought to address them, or have dealt with them in the last 10 years.

This paper, therefore, is an exploration by a black South African woman social ethicist of the implications of reconciliation, healing, justice and mission. It is also an attempt to situate these elements in the context of South Africa, which is my location. I believe reflections on justice and reconciliation are an ongoing part of the church's witness and ministry on earth, and are relevant for churches and societies that are in transition from violent oppression to freedom. In the final section, I will suggest ways in which justice and reconciliation can be made real through the church's mission in concrete contexts of violent oppression and transitions from structured and systemic injustices, such as apartheid.

Reconciliation, justice and mission in South Africa

The centrality of reconciliation in post-apartheid South Africa in general, has been inspired by the transition from apartheid's reign to democracy. After all, apartheid had tormented us for four decades, that is, from 1948-1994. It was also preceded by at least three centuries of colonization. It is important, however, to note that reflections on reconciliation took place before the demise of apartheid. As early as the 19th century, many African Christians were already discussing ways of being reconciled to God and to other humanity. Reflections on reconciliation have, therefore, historically emphasized the need for the unity of all humanity, and, to some extent, freedom, justice and liberation from colonization and apartheid.

As early as the 19th century, many African Christian converts were beginning to question the genuineness of the church's biblical and social teachings on reconciliation. Two lives which demonstrate some discomfort around the issue of reconciliation, particularly as purported by missionaries and liberal theologians of the time, are those of Calvin Maphophe and Krotoa. Maphophe was one of the pioneer African evangelists trained by the Swiss mission in South Africa. His story caught my attention because it is an historical, experience located within my Christian heritage. Much collaboration took place between the Swiss mission and the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society (PEMS), which founded the church to which I belong. Krotoa's story is particularly important because it is a story of a black woman. She was a pioneer Christian in the mid-1600s, and her story highlights the challenges of gender and racial injustices that black women in South Africa experienced at the time.

Calvin Maphophe

Calvin Maphophe (and his brother Jonas) were taken into the homes of two Swiss missionaries--Ernest Creux and Paul Berthoud--in the Northern Transvaal before the boys reached the age of 15. Calvin and Jonas, therefore, grew up in "Christian homes" where they worked as gardeners and domestic servants to the two missionaries. The brothers later trained as teachers, evangelists and pastors. In 1927, during a "promotional visit" by Calvin to Switzerland, the size of his skull was measured by an anthropologist in Geneva to determine if Calvin was truly an African. In those days, African skulls were believed to he different from white skulls. Later in his brief Swiss sojourn, Calvin had the opportunity to address a packed cathedral in Lausanne, and he began his speech by describing his feelings as being like those of a "fly fallen into a bowl of milk". After more than thirty years as a converted, baptized, tried and tested Christian evangelist and priest, Calvin Maphophe still felt like he had fallen into a bowl of white Christianity. "Why has Christian adherence not been enough glue to create a new society of black and white, male and female? Why is it that even the deepest symbols of Christian reconciliation have not managed to do this? How can Christian adherence be translated into the kind of glue we are speaking about here?" (5)

Krotoa's rejection by her community

Tinyiko Maluleke suggests that Krotoa's story is known to many South Africans and has been documented in historical books. This is the abridged version of her experience which is taken from Maluleke's article, "Theology in (South) Africa: How the Future has Changed": (6)

One of the first 'prisoners' of Robben Island was a young slave girl by the name of Krotoa. She was taken into slavery and servitude by the Dutch around August 1652, at the age of ten. Krotoa was renamed Eva ... This slave girl ended up as a domestic servant in the house of Jan Van Riebeeck [first colonial master of South Africa who arrived in 1652].... When Van Riebeeck left the Cape in 1662, she married a Dutchman by the name of Piet van Meerhof ... when he died she was left to fend for herself and her three children ... She returned to the mainland where she died of heartache, ridicule, abuse and alcoholism ... rejected by both the Khoi-Khoi and the Dutch. Thus ends the story of the first known South African black Christian whose Christian conversion and baptism did not translate into equal citizenship and full acceptance in the larger Christian community of the Cape. (7)

Krotoa's story highlights my cautious but hopeful perception of reconciliation. Her experience is similar to the dialectic situation I alluded to in the introduction. When Krotoa and Maphophe's accounts are analyzed from a black woman's theological perspective (8) in South Africa, they bring forth some contradictions.

For instance, why does the church that, on the basis of it biblical and social teachings, proclaims justice and reconciliation fail to live these out? Why is the Christian gospel and its proclamation of reconciliation unable to affirm and embrace the ontology and humanity of others as sacred? Why do mainstream theologies covertly or overtly deny women's humanity? How do we, as Christians, balance what we proclaim with our praxis? It would seem to me that, as an African woman, I come to the discourse or discussions of reconciliation with historical experiences of deceit, hurt and woundedness concerning the fallibility of reconciliation when viewed from the perspective of the powerful.

Reconciliation has also become central to post-apartheid South African discourse because of the enactment of the Truth and Reconciliation Act and the subsequent Truth and Reconciliation commission (TRC) that, among other things, aimed at reconciling South African of all ethnicities and descent. As early as 1985, the exigency for, and commitment to justice and liberation during apartheid's reign also inspired black theologians and contextual theologians to explore the meaning and implications of reconciliation for South Africa.

How has reconciliation been understood in church and society?

Reconciliation is one of the many central themes in Christian theology. According to Asmal, the term reconciliation is "derived from the Latin root word, "conciliatus", which means "to come together", "to assemble"." (9) Reconciliation refers to a situation where people who have been apart and/or split off from one another begin a new relationship. In essence, reconciliation describes "the restoration of broken relationships or the coming together of those who have been alienated and separated from each other by conflict to create a community again." (10) For Chapman, it is a process of developing mutual relationship between antagonistic or formerly antagonistic persons or groups.

The purpose of reconciliation is to establish transformed relationships predicted on common or shared future. According to Chapman, there are at least six requirements for reconciliation:

* The first is discernment, preferably by a body with official status, of the truth about the extent, causes and perpetrators of past violence and abuses.

* The second is open and shared acknowledgement of moral responsibility by those who inflicted the harm, and others who were complicit by their silence and failure to oppose the wrongdoing.

* The third requirement is a willingness to let go of the past and not seek vengeance.

* The fourth is the achieving of justice, specifically a measure of appropriate redress.

* The fifth requirement is a commitment on the part of all parties to repair and re-establish their relationships.

* The sixth and final requirement is to create and sustain a network of understandings and relationships necessary to shape and support a new and common future." (11)

Montville points out that reconciliation is dependent on a process of transition, contrition by the aggressors and forgiveness by the victims. (12) As a process, reconciliation "depends on joint analysis of the history of the conflict, recognition of injustices and resulting historic wounds, and acceptance of moral responsibility where due. (13)

Dolamo argues that for many black South Africans the concept of reconciliation has become "a source of irritation while for whites it has become a source of consolation". (14) A similar view is expressed by Wesley Mabuza. (15) He says,
   There is, however, an uncomfortable silence these days regarding
   prophetic contextual theology as if it is no longer necessary.
   Emphasis seems to be on reconciliation, as understood by the
   affluent, rather than on reparation. Reconciliation is necessary
   for peace. But reconciliation that arises from expediency and not
   from true repentance for past wrongs only achieves a slowing down
   of the peoples' revolutions. No wonder reconciliation is the
   language of the affluent while reparation is the language of the
   poor. The sad truth is that the former is dependent on the
   latter. (16)

It would seem to me that, 10 years after democracy and four years following the TRC commission, many black women and men are of the view that an acknowledgement of the structural dehumanization by those who benefited from apartheid was necessary for the transformation of South Africa. They believe that not only should the idea of truth and forgiveness have been made central but that social transformation and socio-economic justice ought to have been at the heart of the public and ecclesial discussions and praxis on reconciliation. It is evident from Dolamo's reflections on reconciliation that for many black people in South Africa, it is pointless to talk about reconciliation when those who perpetrated apartheid violence do not display any conduct that shows they are repentant.

Some black South African theologians, such as Mofokeng, have expressed hope in reconciliation. They have, however, pointed out that reconciliation is possible but it needs to be embedded with atonement and repentance, not just forgiveness. For instance, Mofokeng is quoted as having said, "I strongly believe in the existence of the possibility for reconciliation in our country. There is no possibility of reconciliation between black and white people in this country until the oppressive structures and institutions, be they be black or white, are transformed and put into the service of the underprivileged majority of this beautiful land." (17) Lambourne suggests, "A crucial element in the reconciliation process is an ending of the cycle of accusation, denial and counter-accusation (and counter denial)." (18) According to Lambourne, reconciliation ought to involve forgiveness, atonement from wrongdoing and the active substitution of vengeance and reprisal.

Forgiveness is understood therefore as "a set of complex acts of consciousness which liberates the psyche and soul from the need for personal revenge, and empowers us and releases us from feeling victimized." (19) It is a process, not an instantaneous event. It follows after a period of mourning and healing. There is a certainly a role for acknowledgement, apology and acts of contrition in facilitating forgiveness, "but one does not need to precede the other. Both are however necessary components of a process of reconciliation." (20) According to Kenneth Kaunda, and quoted by Lambourne, "Justice and forgiveness are related ... To claim forgiveness while perpetuating injustice is to live a fiction; to fight for justice without also being prepared to offer forgiveness is to render your struggle null and void. Justice is not only about what is due to a human being; it is also about establishing right relationship between human beings." (21)

It is clear from the discussion above that contrition and forgiveness between aggressors and victims facilitates reconciliation. This is because they are processes which call for the recognition of injustices and resultant historic wounds, and a commitment to getting rid of injustice and healing wounds so that the present and the future can be transformed for the better. Reconciliation therefore calls for a different ethic which "emphasizes responsibility on the one side and acceptance on the other." (22)

Zehr, quoted by Lambourne, suggests, "We need to discover a philosophy that moves from punishment to reconciliation, from vengeance against offenders to healing for victims, from alienation and harshness to community and wholeness, from negativity and destructiveness to healing, forgiveness and mercy. That philosophical basis is restorative justice." (23) In concurrence with Zehr's view expressed above, Goba supports calls for reconciliation based on forgiveness, atonement and justice in political contexts. He says such reconciliation is an act that joins moral truth, forbearance, empathy, and commitment to repair a fractured human relation.

Reconciliation based on such a combination, according to Shriver, "calls for a collective turning from the past that neither ignores the past evil nor excuses it, that neither overlooks justice nor reduces justice to revenge, that insists on the humanity of the enemies even in their commission of dehumanizing deeds, and that values the justice that restores political community above the justices that destroys it." (24) This kind of collective turning from the past can, therefore, consequently lead to "peace, harmony, or amicable relations after a conflict ... (which is) integral to mitigating future violence and maintaining societal stability." (25) In the words of Dolamo, authentic reconciliation therefore "cannot bee achieved apart from seeking justice". (26)

What are the ethical and missiological implications of justice for reconciliation?

In her article, "The Pursuit of Justice and Reconciliation: Responding to Genocide in Cambodia and Rwanda", Lambourne asserts that the need for justice is a strong motivating force in human life:
   Many traditional societies take a more restorative approach to
   justice in with the emphasis is placed on restoring relationships
   between the parties in a conflict rather than inflicting punishment.
   Restoration of relationships as well as restitution (making things
   right) is also the focus of biblical justice according to Christian
   theology ... [it] is based on recognition of the humanity of both
   the offender and victim, and the goal is to heal the
   wounds of every person affected by the conflict or offence ...
   Options are explored that focus on repairing the damage and thus the
   concept of restitution also plays a role in the implementation of
   restorative justice. (27)

Lambourne says that, unlike retribution which originally meant a settling of one's accounts that involved both the punishment of evil and the rewarding of good deeds, restorative justice aims at correcting the wrong. For Zehr, restorative justice should not be seen as the only corrective for wrongs. This implies that, for Zehr, any meaningful discussion on reconciliation ought to acknowledge that both "retribution and restitution have symbolic value and are concerned with 'righting an imbalance'." (28)

Maluleke suggests that, precisely because the TRC heavily emphasized restorative justice, the Commission ended up undermining black people's experiences of hurt. He says, "The theology of the TRC is one of restorative justice for the perpetrators, but one which demands or at least subtly expects "black" people not to succumb to bitterness, anger or aggression no matter how much they are exploited or traumatized." (29) It is apparent that when justice is limited to restorative justice; it has a high possibility of not righting or balancing the wrong or hurt. A clear example for us in South Africa is the failure by the TRC to address structural injustices, particularly in the socio-economic sphere.

Michael Lapsley and Karin Chubb suggest that one way of addressing the limitations of socio-economic injustices resulting from apartheid and its legacies is through the provision of reparations for those who were marginalized or undermined by apartheid. Lapsley and Chubb say, "If there are no reparations, or if there continue to be only minimal tokens, the judgement of history will indeed be that the TRC was a perpetrator-friendly exercise, a moral tragedy for all South Africans." (30)

According to Leseka, the call for reparations in chapter 5 of the TRC Report, particularly the "Recommendations on Rehabilitation and Reparation", asserts the importance in ensuring socio-economic justice in post-apartheid South Africa. He says the call for reparations is justifiable because, "The violence generated by the political conflict in South Africa ... resulted in the wide-scale abuse of human rights." (31) Reparations are also morally justifiable because, "The South African Political conflict resulted in numerous innocent victims, who were not only tortured, maimed and ill-treated but who also witnessed the destruction of whole families and communities." (32) While reparations can never fully compensate people for the suffering people have undergone, they can "improve the quality of lives of the victims". (33)

Dumiza Ntsebeza, a former TRC commissioner, is of the view that that the TRC did a tremendous job in its unearthing of the atrocities of the past; however, it failed to address the question of socio-economic justice. Ntsebeza says one way in which South African society can entrench human principles of justice, particularly by the corporate sector which benefited from apartheid, is to make the corporate sector contribute to the transformation and reconstruction of South Africa:
   Although the TRC held institutional hearings, we failed; it seems
   to me, to interrogate the role of big business, of the
   trans-national companies, for their part in sustaining and
   perpetuating the Apartheid. We did not set out to find the evidence
   that would have been supportive of a recommendation that the
   transnational companies and the imperialist countries from whence
   they come, owed the vices of South Africa (mostly black people)
   a duty to give reparations. It should not have been a duty of
   government alone to provide reparations, even if this is what the
   statute provided ... I think a case can be made that those who
   created an environment of gross human rights abuses in South Africa,
   amongst them internally and externally based transnational companies
   and companies that supported them, are liable for the reconstruction
   of South African Society. In a program of reconstruction and
   development, reparations should include reparations that should be
   paid by big business both in- and outside South Africa. That also
   continues to remain the unfinished business of the TRC
   process." (34)

Ntsebeza is of the view that reparations by beneficiaries of apartheid would constitute an act of responsibility and duty to redress in structural terms their collusion with the apartheid political system, which resulted in gross inequalities and violations of livelihoods and human rights. He says ethical beliefs, such as those stated below, would justify the requisition of the corporate sector to assist in rebuilding South Africa.
   There are the industry groups that profiteered from doing business
   with apartheid; that they knew or ought to have known that Apartheid
   system, the military, the police, the intelligence services,
   apartheid era businesses were all engaged in individual and
   collective acts of forcible removals, forced or discriminatory labour
   practices based on race, imprisonment, banishment, kidnapping,
   torture, disfigurement, murders, massacres, crimes against community
   involving personal injury and psychological trauma and terror;
   that as a direct and approximate result of their aiding and
   abetting, assistance and support of apartheid and its machinery,
   the victims of apartheid were subjected to the kinds of
   crime ... (35)

Ntsebeza argues that the relationship between industry and the apartheid regime was demonstrated by Colonel Craig Williamson who in his submission to the TRC hearings stated that apartheid weapons, ammunition, uniforms, vehicles, radios and other equipment were all developed and provided by industry. He said, "Our finances and banking were done by bankers who even gave us covert credit cards for covert operations." (36) Ntsebeza believes it is imperative to require corporate beneficiaries of apartheid to participate in reconstruction and redistribution in South Africa, not only because it is the ideal thing to do, but "in order to punish corporate greed which pursues or maximizes profits even in the context of violation of human rights such as the apartheid conflict". (37) This call, in my opinion, compares to Zehr's opinion that the righting of structural wrong, injustices or oppression and/or reconciliation requires both restorative, restitutive and redistributive, or socio-economic justice.

It would seem to me that the limitations of South African reconciliation, whether in the public or ecclesial realm, have been their overemphasis of forgiveness, truth and restorative justice, while they downplayed the role of economic (distributive) justice. If socio-economic justice is not taken as one of the core activities of the church and society aimed at complementing progress that has already been made on issues of reconciliation, the South African church and society will remain polarized according to apartheid hierarchy and designations. The church and society will live with people who are not repentant and who continue to inflict injustices. The church will also exist in a context where those who are disappointed by the lack of the radical transformation of apartheid would seek revenge because they feel they have not been treated in a just manner.

Recent protests by social justice advocacy groups, such as the landless people of South Africa, and many others, are indicative that those who were alienated by apartheid, today still suffer from alienation and deprivation. Their protests reveal to us that they are dissatisfied by the lack of redistribution of resources. They call us to be conscious that a lot of work in the area of reconciliation and socio-economic justice has to be embarked upon. It therefore means that the church should attempt to be faithful in its mission, even in times of contradictions. I find Kritzingers's description of mission resonates with my own understanding of what the Christian mission is. He defines mission as:
   ... the activity of people who strive to follow in the footsteps of
   Jesus of Nazareth, to continue his ministry for the realization of
   God's new world of love, peace and justice ... They see as their
   calling from God to change the world by speaking and living the
   good news of God's grace. Following the example of Jesus, they
   strive to contribute in word and deed to the struggles of the poor
   and the oppressed for a just and loving society; in which people
   may become whole human beings. Mission is therefore the attempt to
   embody God's liberating presence ... it never takes place in a
   vacuum ... and [it] searches to discover the meaning of the Good
   News in each context. (38)

In today's South Africa the good news means:

* The churches will need to demonstrate their solidarity to the poor and marginalized. The poor in South Africa are largely women. Women, particularly black women, have to a large extent been alienated from education, including theological education, from the means to support themselves and their families (meaningful employment), and from meaningful life. Their plight has been worsened by the collapse of social support systems because of the privatization of communal and public services (economic globalization). Many women are bearing the brunt of the negative impact of apartheid and its legacies, and are exposed to high levels of deprivation and poverty. It is by these marginalized people that the church's mission and its commitment to justice ought to be experienced.

* The message of social justice and sharing of resources that make life abundant for all must be continually proclaimed, particularly now, when victims of apartheid injustices are becoming even more vulnerable to the negative impacts of economic globalization.

* Because "some churches taught on the basis of the Bible that apartheid was the way of salvation and was the will of God", (39) the church is called to be faithful to its mission as mandated by God. The church is called to repent and to work diligently for justice, peace and reconciliation.


Despite the fact that public and ecclesial discourses on reconciliation have not fully entrenched the norms of socio-economic justice, many of us today acknowledge that ongoing debates about reconciliation in South Africa have enabled us to deal with the past. These discourses have enabled us to attempt to heal the "wounds inflicted by the system of Apartheid", (40) and its legacies. It is my position that, despite some little progress that has been made in overcoming apartheid and its legacies, we still need continually to address human brokenness in our society. I get my hope from the words of Goba when he says:
   In dealing with the manifestation of the human brokenness in our
   society, many of us are committed to promote justice and
   reconciliation, informed by a spirituality that will enable us to
   transcend our divisions, cultural backgrounds, ideological
   commitments and begin to embrace one another as people with a
   common destiny. It is this spirituality of justice and
   reconciliation emerging in a number of communities that is the sign
   of hope for our society. (41)

There is a sense in which the quest for reconciliation and justice has to continue. The ongoing pursuit for reconciliation and justice will guide us, and lead to a just society and social order. It will also "enable us to dialogue about the quest for dignity amongst those emerging from situations of oppression in their efforts to establish a just and humane society." (42) The New Testament, in particular the works of St. Paul, teaches us the fullness of God's reconciling work. "St Paul in 2 Cor. 5:18-19 reminds us that God reconciled us to himself through Christ and passes on to us this ministry of reconciliation." (43)

(1) Michael Lapsley and Karin Chubb, "Common Guilt or Common Responsibility? Moral Arguments for Reparations in South Africa", in From Rhetoric to Responsibility: Making Reparations to the Survivors of Past Political Violence in South Africa, Johannesburg, Centre of the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, p. 6.

(2) Bonganjalo Goba, "The Quest for Truth and Reconciliation: A Prelude to New Expressions of Humanity and Spirituality", in McGlory T. Speckman and Larry Kaufmann, Towards an Agenda for Contextual Theology. Essay in Honor of Albert Nolan, Petermaritzburg, Cluster Publications, 2001, p. 309.

(3) David Penna, "Justice and Morality in South Africa", in journal for African Studies>

(4) Tinyiko Maluleke, "Theology in (South) African: How the Future has changed", in M. T. Speckman and L. T. Kaufmann, op. cit., pp. 386-387.

(5) Tinyiko Maluleke, op. cit., p. 382.

(6) Ibid.

(7) Tinyiko Maluleke, op. cit., p. 380.

(8) I do not see the positions and status of black women in South Africa as fixed, static and not dynamic. My use of the term 'black women' refers to those women who identify themselves as black in the political sense, not as a fixed biological category. I therefore refer to those women who were/are structurally and in a systematic manner alienated from access to education, resources, employment and meaningful life in South Africa. I refer to the women who, because of their phenotype, were/are disadvantaged by apartheid power and to this day are still at the periphery of social, religious and economic power.

(9) Kader Asmal, quoted in Wendy Lambourne, The Pursuit of Justice and Reconciliation: Responding to Genocide in Cambodia and Rwanda, Washington D.C. International Studies Association 40th Annual Convention, February 16-20, 1999, accessed from

(10) Kader Asmal and Assefa quoted in Wendy Lambourne, op. cit.

(11) A. R. Chapman, "Introduction", in Religion and Reconciliation in South Africa :Voices of Religious Leaders, edited by Audrey R. Chapman and Bernard Spong, Philadelphia, Templeton Foundation Press, 2003, p. 13.

(12) I agree with Maluleke and Mahmood Mamdani that categories of perpetrator/victims used in discourses on reconciliation in South Africa are not helpful if used in an essentialist manner. They are, however, when used to show the contextual location of the various categories of people in society. This means they are not fixed, but are contextual. In the discourses of the TRC, there is also a tendency to reduce the effects of apartheid or apartheid systems itself to the experiences of a tiny minority of people who made submissions to the TRC. To borrow from Maluleke, "There are many more victims and perpetrators than those making submission and amnesty applications. An even more serious problem is that the process has the potential to reduce the rest of us into spectators in a play whose main actors are the 'commissioners', victims and perpetrators."

(13) Montville, quoted in Wendy Lambourne, op. cit., (note 9).

(14) R. T. H. Dolamo, "The South African Church Struggle against Apartheid (1948-1990) A Theological-Ethical Critique", in Ned Geref Teolgiese Tydsrif, vols 3 & 4, September and December 2000, p. 236.

(15) Wesley Mabuza, "Obligations of Democracy to the Poor: A Reflection in the light of the option for the Poor", in M. T. Speckman and L. T. Kaufmann, op. cit., p. 114 (note 4).

(16) Ibid.

(17) Takatso Mofokeng quoted in R. T. H. Dolamo, "The South African Church Struggle against Apartheid (1948-1990) A Theological--Ethical Critique", in Ned Geref Teolgiese Tydsrif, vols 3 & 4, September and December 2000, p. 236.

(18) Wendy Lambourne, op. cit.(note 9).

(19) Wendy Lambourne, op. cit.

(20) Ibid.

(21) Wendy Lambourne, op. cit.

(22) Wendy Lambourne, op. cit.

(23) Wendy Lambourne, op. cit.

(24) Shriver quoted by Bonganjalo Goba, op. cit., p. 308 (note 1).

(25) Wendy Lambourne, op. cit.

(26) R. T. H, Dolamo, "Reconciliation and Economic Justice in South Africa: The role of the Church and Theology", in Verbum et Ecclesia, issue no. 22, vol. no. 2, Pretoria, University of Pretoria, 2001, p. 297.

(27) Zehr quoted by Wendy Lambourne, op. cit.

(28) Ibid.

(29) Boesak quoted in Tinyiko Maluleke, "Dealing Lightly with the Wound of my People?" The TRC Process in Theological Perspective", in Missionalia, vol. no. 3, November 1997, Pretoria, University of South Africa 1997, p. 336.

(30) Michael Lapsley and Karin Chubb, "Common Guilt or Common Responsibility? Moral Arguments for Reparations in South Africa", op. cit., p. 6 (note 1).

(31) Mpho Leseka. "The TRC's Recommendations on Rehabilitation and Reparations", From Rhetoric to Responsibility, op. cit., p. 2.

(32) Ibid.

(33) Mpho Leseka, op. cit., p. 3.

(34) D. B. Ntsebeza, Reparations, The Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Corporate Liability: The Unfinished Business,, 2003.

(35) D. B. Ntsebeza, op. cit.

(36) D. B. Ntsebeza, op. cit.

(37) D. B. Ntsebeza, op. cit.

(38) J. N. J. Kritzinger, South African Black Theology-study guide, University of South Africa, p. 5.

(39) R. T. H. Dolamo, "The South African Church Struggle against Apartheid (1948-1990) A Theological--Ethical Critique", in Ned Geref Teolgiese Tydsrif, vols 3 & 4, September and December 2000, pp. 229-230.

(40) Bonganjalo Goba, op. cit., p. 308 (note 2).

(41) Ibid.

(42) Bonganjalo Goba, op. cit., p. 310.

(43) Brian Starken, Civil War and Conflicts. Mission as Reconciliation, Public Meeting, March 31. JPIC Commission USG/UISG,

Puleng LenkaBula is a lecturer in the Department of Systematic Theology and Theological Ethics at the University of South Africa.
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Author:LenkaBula, Puleng
Publication:International Review of Mission
Date:Jan 1, 2005
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