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Leading a post-colonial, post-Apartheid nation towards restorative justice and reconciliation: Are community-led reparations an effective strategy fo

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Abstract

The legacy of three and half centuries of colonial and Apartheid exploitation remains obvious in a deeply divided South Africa eighteen years after liberation. The nation continues to be separated along deeply entrenched socio-economic positions, with the distance between the rich and poor widening (Reconciliation barometer IJR 2010). Despite government driven affirmative action and black empowerment policies, access to wealth and opportunity remains largely determined by race, through accumulated advantage over generations. Reconciliation between white and black people has been superficial and amongst the elite, with the poor beginning to demand access to the economy and services through __ service delivery protests across the country during 2009 and 2010. Worcester, a farming district town 120 kilometres east of Cape Town, witnessed a racially motivated bomb attack on black Christmas Eve shoppers in 1996. In 2010 survivors of the bomb partnered with a small non-governmental organisation, the Restitution Foundation, to mobilise the Worcester community leaders to develop and implement a community-led broad reparations strategy that would lead to justice and healing within the town. By drawing on the story of the bomb and through identifying key participants who could lead strategic sectors within the town into the discussion, the community has begun to develop their own reparations programme using a “theoretical toolkit” to guide the process and a reparations financing model to facilitate the sharing of business, (housing and farming) opportunities. The paper will discuss the progress of the community led reparations programme, the lessons learned and will evaluate the effectiveness of the approach over the past eighteen months.