Letter: South Africa's time to forgive

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Sir: The events in which John Lloyd was involved have been well documented. John Lloyd has, on numerous occasions, expressed his remorse and openly admitted his mistakes of that time. The liberation movement in the UK discussed these matters years ago and accepted his atonement as genuine.

Other far more extreme cases illustrate the attitude of the ANC. Dirk Coetzee was a member of a death squad that murdered anti-apartheid activists. He admitted his mistakes and became active in the struggle for the end of apartheid. The ANC welcomed his change of heart and accepted his help and bona fides.

South Africa has had a turbulent history. This has left a legacy of hatreds, cries for revenge, and traumas. The Government of National Unity, in which the African National Congress plays a major role, has opened the perspective for a new dispensation where the past, having been revealed, can be a stepping stone to reconciliation and hope. The time for revenge and chasing ghosts is past. We are surely bigger than that.

For more than 40 years I have been active in South Africa and the UK, in the African National Congress, the South African Congress of Trade Unions, and the anti-apartheid movement. I was accused of treason in the 1950s and exiled in the 1960s. What we struggled for has come to pass. Now is a time to build. Do not let the mistakes of the past destroy our future. But more importantly, do not let those mistakes made in South Africa be used for the generation of vendettas in the UK.

Yours faithfully,

Ron Press

London, N2

29 October

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