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President Thabo Mbeki has sincerely apologised to the Rwandans for
South Africa's involvement in the genocide in that country a decade
ago, saying the previous apartheid regime supplied weapons used in
He was addressing thousands of Rwandans gathered at the Kigali
Stadium in Kigali to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 1994
President Mbeki said when the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF)
requested South Africans to ask the apartheid regime to stop the
supply of the weapons of death, the latter boldly asserted the
precedence of profit from the sale of the instruments of death over
the lives of the people of Rwanda.
"To that extent, we too as South Africans contributed to the
diabolical slaughter of the innocents.
"We hope that by the admission of these truths we can contribute
even an infinitesimal fraction of the balm that helps to moderate
the sharp pain of the remembering of a crime that is too fresh to
have receded into the mists of history," he apologised.
He added that time such as this demanded that the whole truth ought
to be told because not to tell it is to create the conditions for
the crime to recur.
President Mbeki said it was inevitable that many questions would
and must be asked and answers demanded.
"What did we as Africans do to stop the slaughter? If we did
nothing, why did we do nothing?
"Why did the United Nations, set up to ensure that genocide, as
occurred when the Holocaust was visited on the Jewish people, did
not recur anywhere in the world, stand by as Africans were
exterminated like pernicious vermin?
"Why were General Romeo Dallaire and his undermanned contingent of
UN peacekeepers abandoned by the same people who sent them to
"Why did those who dispose of enormous global power that has been
used to determine the fate of all humanity, decide that the
slaughter in Yugoslavia had to be stopped at all costs, while the
bigger slaughter in Rwanda should be allowed to run its full
"Have all the guilty been identified, whatever their contribution
to the commission of the genocide?
"Have the necessary lessons been learnt? What are those lessons?
Who has learnt them? What have these done with the knowledge they
have acquired?" he queried.
Everyday, he said, the severed heads and skeletons stored at the
sites of the massacres point an accusing finger at all who did not
do what they should have done to stop the murderous rampage.
"Everyday they remind us that we cannot merely say the Rwanda
Genocide occurred and treat it just as an historical episode that
Over 800 000 Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were massacred
over a period of 100 days in a spate of violence during the
It was sparked by the death of Rwandan President Juvenal
Habyarimana, a Hutu, when his plane was shot down above Kigali
airport on 6 April 1994.
Tutsis were blamed for the tragedy and within hours, aided by radio
propaganda, Hutus called for the 'ethnic cleansing of
The international community, particularly the UN, was blamed for
not acting decisively to combat the genocide in its early
Head of the UN peacekeeping forces at the time and current
Secretary-General Kofi Annan early this week accepted institutional
responsibility for the genocide, saying he realised that he could
and should have done more to avert the tragedy -BuaNews.