Victims of apartheid to benefit from govt’s R350?mln education fund

2015-01-30 00:00

HUNDREDS of victims of apartheid and their relatives finally stand to benefit from government’s R350 million ­education initiative.

The Department of Justice and ­Constitutional Development published an advertisement this week inviting ­victims of apartheid to apply for ­assistance with tuition fees for both basic and higher education and training. The deadline for applications is February 7.

The Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act defines victims of apartheid as people who suffered harm or were in distress, but also included their relatives or dependants.

According to a statement published in Business Day, over 16 000 people were recognised as victims of apartheid by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in line with the act in 2003.

It’s been 12 years since the TRC, which was set up by the government to help deal with injustices committed during apartheid, was dissolved.

The Department of Justice and ­Constitutional Development, which is leading in implementing recommendations made by the TRC, has developed basic and higher education training ­regulations which seek to assist victims to get an education.

A total of R1,19 billion was designated by the TRC to assist victims of apartheid, and a portion of this was earmarked for education.

Spokesperson for the Department of Justice and Correctional Services Mthunzi Mhaga said R350 million was ring-fenced in the President’s Fund for both basic education and higher ­education and training assistance. A total of R70 million has been set aside for this year — R50 million for higher education and R20 million for basic education.

The advertisement states that to ­qualify, applicants must have:

• Been declared a victim by the TRC (the benefit is extended to their relatives, ­including children and grandchildren).

• Been informed in writing by the TRC that they had been declared victims of apartheid and their names were published in Volume 7 of the TRC Report.

• Be a member of a household which earns less than R132 000 gross income and a member of a vulnerable household (for basic education assistance).

• For higher education assistance the ­income must be less than R198 000.

The regulations were prompted by the tabling of the last TRC recommendations where Parliament identified four key categories of reparations, said Mhaga. These included individual once-off reparations of R30 000, medical benefits and education assistance.

Mhaga said processes that must be followed are dictated by the regulations.

“There are numerous technicalities ­involved, but in essence the dedicated ­official, upon receipt of applications, must verify that the applicant is a ­TRC-identified victim, a dependent of the victim or a qualifying relative.”

He said once verified, the applications and supporting documents will be ­submitted to the administrator in the Department of Basic Education or ­Higher Education and Training and ­National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for further assistance.

• amanda.khoza@witness.co.za

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