SA needs healing: Graca Machel

By Drum Digital
03 October 2012

Renowned women and children's rights advocate Graca Machel Called for a rethink on Tuesday about how to tackle the high levels of violence in South African society.

Delivering the second annual Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture at

the University of the Western Cape, the wife of former president Nelson

Mandela said apartheid had left many psychologically and emotionally


"The issue is: Why are we having hundreds and thousands of cases where we

hurt one another, we humiliate one another, and we try to dehumanise one

another?" she told her audience, to loud applause.

Machel said 18 years of freedom was not enough time to reverse the serious psychological and emotional damage done to South African society.

"Families have been torn apart for at least three generations."

Many people had grown up in "torn" and dysfunctional families.

"They carry with them this emotional mutilation," she said.

Others had difficulty communicating in a smooth, peaceful and

accommodating manner.

Machel, who turns 67 in the next fortnight, said there was a lot of anger

and aggression in the way people communicated.

"Our societal interactions are, in many cases, that of accusing one another [and] blaming one another."

Referring to the high incidence of rapes of women, children and the

elderly, she called for "a vision of how to build a healthy society".

Machel suggested the country needed an institution similar to the Truth

and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to solve the problem.

"[At the TRC] perpetrators and victims had to face the painful truth. I

think we need something like that."

She also called for a 30-year national plan, spanning a generation, to

help restore society.

This should involve men, women, the youth and religious institutions, and

should be backed by academic research, she said.

The first Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture was delivered last year by the Dalai Lama.

According to the event's organisers, it is an opportunity to "take stock

of critical issues to the sustainability of our species".

Among her other commitments, Machel is a member of the international group The Elders, she is a board member of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation Fund, and Chancellor of the University of Cape Town.

She married Mandela in 1998.

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