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01.05.2006 Africa

White 'ingratitude' worries Tutu


Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said his country's white community has not shown enough appreciation of the generosity shown to them by black South Africans.

The archbishop headed the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission which began work in April 1996.

In an interview with BBC News, he said the commission failed to engage the white community sufficiently.

He also expressed concern about social inequalities and levels of poverty in South Africa.


Archbishop Desmond Tutu was an icon of the struggle against apartheid and led the Truth and Reconciliation Commission through the pain of the healing process in the 1990s.

He said that under apartheid, black South Africans were the main victims of a political system from which the whites benefited greatly.

However, he said that while South Africa had moved on, there was still deep poverty in some areas and the white community did not appear to be appreciative of the magnanimity of their fellow black citizens.

He has faced some criticism in South Africa for accusing the whites of ingratitude.

Ten years after the Truth Commission began its work, Archbishop Tutu said one of its failings was not being able to engage the white community sufficiently.

And a major shortcoming was not persuading senior figures such as former president PW Botha to take part.

The government has indicated that it may, in the near future, prosecute certain individuals who were not granted amnesty by the Truth Commission.

Archbishop Tutu said his concern was that once again it might be the foot soldiers and not the big fish that were targeted.