Helen Monyemorathoe (21) is a step closer to her dream of becoming a retail manager, all thanks to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) education assistance programme.
She grew up in Ga-Mogodi in Limpopo and has always been committed to her studies. Monyemorathoe is the proud recipient of a TRC bursary, which is awarded to victims and dependents of identified TRC victims. Her father, Moditsha Andries Monyemorathoe, was beaten, suffocated and tear-gassed in January 1986 in Pietersburg (now Polokwane) in Limpopo, by members of the alleged Civil Co-operation Bureau (CCB).
It is reported that they wanted him to confess to receiving orders from Oliver Tambo to make the country ungovernable. Afterwards, CCB members often harassed him in the presence of pupils at the school where he was a teacher. Monyemarothoe admires and appreciates the role played by her father in her life. “He always shows me the right way, always supports me greatly and encourages me to work hard at my studies,” she said. Monyemarotho is a third-year National Diploma: Retail Management student at the University of Johannesburg. “I really enjoy this course because the retail industry is improving in our country, and the needs of consumers are changing every day,” she explained.
Nolwandle Charlotte Hadebe (18), another recipient of a TRC bursary, has many reasons to smile this year, as her dream to study law has been realised. With two distinctions in matric, Hadebe easily gained university entrance and is working towards her goal of becoming a lawyer. She is currently a full-time student at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, where she is studying a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in Law. Hadebe is a dependant of her late grandfather, Derrick Majola, who was identified as a TRC victim. Majola was the chairperson of both the Bruntville ANC branch and Civic Association. He and his wife Mavis were killed on 24 April 1991, when four armed men attacked their home.
Hadebe’s life has completely changed as she is now living and learning in the real world. “This is my first time living away from my mother and siblings. It’s tough but I am grateful for the experience,” she explained. Growing up in a single-parent household with no income was very challenging for her but she never gave up on her dream. She was raised by her mother Thabisile Hadebe who is unemployed because of a medical condition. Hadebe’s father, Bonginkosi Majola, is also happy that his daughter received the bursary.
“I appreciate the help from those who didn't forget about us and also thank the Richmond Parliamentary Constituency Office for keeping us abreast of the developments concerning financial assistance from the TRC,” he said.
Access to education for TRC victims
During the TRC process government realised that the subjection of people to gross human rights violations under apartheid disrupted their education and or their duty to enable their dependents to access education.
As a result Parliament approved the TRC’s recommendation on medical benefits and other forms of social assistance, inclusive of educational assistance. The TRC Unit was established within the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development in September 2005 with a view to co-ordinate, monitor and report on the implementation of TRC recommendations on an ongoing basis.
In 2005, the then Department of Education set aside R5 million from its budget vote to assist victims and their qualifying relatives to access tertiary education. From this money, the TRC reparations bursary programme was established and placed within the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for the purpose of administration. A total of 66 students are currently receiving assistance in various academic institutions through the TRC reparations bursary programme. The bursary covers all costs, including the registration fee, tuition fees, accommodation, meals, prescribed text- books and travelling allowance where applicable.
- Sinenhlanhla Mkhwanazi works for the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development .