SA as a nation 'has not dealt with its past' - Wits lecturer

Protesters hold signs during a Black Lives Matter protest at Kings Square in Barry, UK.
Protesters hold signs during a Black Lives Matter protest at Kings Square in Barry, UK.
Matthew Horwood/Getty Images
  • Wits University lecturer Dr Tlale Nathane says South Africa needs healing, and says reconciliation can never happen without the truth.  
  • Nathane adds that society is still wounded from its past.  
  • As for Gweynne Robins, a senior researcher, she says SA is still stuck in the past. 

South Africa comes from a past that has wounded many - and society still needs to heal. 

This is the opinion of social worker and lecturer at Wits university, Dr Tlale Nathane, who participated in a webinar hosted by Heartlines, in partnership with Unicef South Africa. 

The focus was to unpack social cohesion through a faith lens.

During the discussion, the panelists were asked about practical steps that can be taken to foster a cohesive South Africa for children.

READ | News24 journalists reflect on Black Lives Matter

In response, Nathane, who was joined by five other panelists, said South Africa needs healing.

"For me, when I think about practical steps to ensure a future for our children, I think as a country we need to first acknowledge where we are. Secondly, we also need to take a moment to realise that there are so many strides and efforts and things that we need to achieve as a nation.


"But, for me, what is important… is the reality that South Africa needs healing.

"So, we talked about truth and reconciliation, and that it needs to happen for all, but reconciliation will never happen without the truth." 

READ | Social cohesion: The way to get SA back on track

She said there should be a recognition that society is wounded, and that it comes from a past that "denied the humanity of others and, therefore, we cannot move forward with our woundedness".

"We need to take a moment to heal, and part of the healing, for me, requires a courageous conversation in South Africa."

Nathane said such conversations should have been had in 1994.

Nathane said whenever she interacts with people in the community, she realises that "we are a nation that has not dealt with its past".


"Until we have confronted our own wounds, until we have talked courageously… about our wounds and confront our pain, that's the only time we will move to the next level.

"The pain of healing and reconciling, and the idea of a rainbow nation that is so divided to its core, has to be addressed."

Gweynne Robins, a senior researcher at the Cape South African Jewish Board of deputies, said South Africans were still stuck in the past. 

READ | Local group holds a vigil in the name of Black Lives Matter

She said citizens should think about the future, and teach children from a young age about being respectful.

"Children need to learn from their homes and their parents," she said.

"We are all stuck in the past. We have to teach everybody that we are all one family and we have commonalities," Robins said. 

Meanwhile, Vanessa Chetty, director at The Hope Foundation, said children are followers of what adults do. If one needs to transform or rehabilitate a child, then adults need to rehabilitate first.

She also said the country should move from speaking about each other, to speaking to each other.

"Let's move from speaking about social issues, to speaking to social issues," Chetty said.  

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