Cape Town – South Africa's reconciliation project is under "savage" strain, because white people have never sacrificed for the crimes committed, anti-apartheid veteran and pastor Allan Boesak said on Wednesday evening.
"Reconciliation itself should become a sacred space, but only if it becomes a place of remorse and repentance, of forgiveness and the restoration of justice and hope," Boesak said.
"[Reconciliation] is about the restoration of rights and human dignity and not about the protection and preservation of wealth and power of the already privileged."
Boesak said the topic of reconciliation was rarely properly discussed in South African society, because it was considered "sacred" by the country.
"If you raise the question of reconciliation then our people, we think Bible, we think gospel, we think Jesus and as soon as you think Jesus, you think forgiveness and then it doesn't matter how ugly the truth is that comes out because I've got to forgive."
Boesak said the problem was that South Africa believed reconciliation could take place without any remedial action.
"In the Bible, the rainbow appears as a promise of new life only after the flood that came," he said.
Boesak, a former Dutch Reformed Church clergyman, rose to prominence in the 1980s as a critic and opponent of the National Party's race-based policies and patron of the United Democratic Front.
In December 2008, Boesak left the ANC to join Cope where he was Western Cape premier candidate until leaving the party in 2009.