Leon Wessels: On racism and hope for the future

Leon Wessels became one of the big symbols of reconciliation. He was one of the negotiators of the National Party and played a major role in bridging the racial divides and bringing south Africa back from the brink during the pre-1994 negotiations.

He is now director at the Centre for Human Rights at University of Free State and joins Melanie Verwoerd (standing in for John Maytham) on the line about the spate of racist incidents and the importance of building a society that understands its history in order to move forward in a positive way.

I believe for a number of years now we have been aware of the fact that we are not where we would like to be.

Leon Wessels, director at the Centre for Human Rights at University of Free State

What we've seen this year is a number of incidents which grabbed the headlines, but for a very, very long time now we have not been well. To put it bluntly, we've been pretty ill in this regard.

Leon Wessels, director at the Centre for Human Rights at University of Free State

What disturbs me is to see the number of young people involved in these incidents...like the Waterkloof 4.

Leon Wessels, director at the Centre for Human Rights at University of Free State

He says after 1994 the two things that were never dealt with properly were the issues of inequality and race.

Both of them are deeply rooted in our society.

Leon Wessels, director at the Centre for Human Rights at University of Free State

The country needs to build social cohesion he says, and though finger pointing is not helpful there is a greater onus on whites because of the privilege they have enjoyed.

He says civil society has a big role to play.

Listen to Leon Wessels in a conversation about race below:


Recommended

by NEWSROOM AI
Read More
Disaster risk teams on standby as WC braces for heavy downpours

Disaster risk teams on standby as WC braces for heavy downpours

The City of Cape Town's Disaster Risk Management Center says it's prepared for the possibility of localised flooding overnight.

ANC names its WC election head and says De Lille more than welcome to join party

ANC names its WC election head and says De Lille more than welcome to join party

Ebrahim Rasool served as Western Cape Premier between 2004 and 2008 and will form part of the ANC's bid to reclaim the province.

Sanef says 'Stratcom' accusations mark sad day for journalism

Sanef says 'Stratcom' accusations mark sad day for journalism

Sanef Chairperson Mahlatse Mahlase says it seems that the front pages of newspapers are being used to fight a commercial battle.

Struggling to focus? You may have adult ADHD

Struggling to focus? You may have adult ADHD

Antoinette Muller, who is diagnosed with ADHD, explains the change she felt after going on treatment.

#AfricaConnected: 'Fashion in Cote d'Ivoire is pretty big!'

#AfricaConnected: 'Fashion in Cote d'Ivoire is pretty big!'

Pan-African broadcaster Lee Kasumba says Ivorians love to wear bright colours and take great pride in their local fabrics.

Another truck stuck under Muizenberg Bridge (will they ever learn?)

Another truck stuck under Muizenberg Bridge (will they ever learn?)

The Muizenberg railway bridge has become notorious for having buses and trucks smashed into the 2.5 metre high structure.

Popular articles
[LISTEN] 65-year-old doctor runs 200kms across Moroccan desert for birthday

[LISTEN] 65-year-old doctor runs 200kms across Moroccan desert for birthday

Aside from the muscle aches, Dr Hans Van Heerden feet also took a pounding as a result of the challenging sandy terrain.

Why many couples today are struggling with marriage

Why many couples today are struggling with marriage

Dr Eve advises that many modern couples need marriage to be a safe space for self-expression and self-actualisation.

The Big Pet Problem: Are you struggling to rent because you have pets?

The Big Pet Problem: Are you struggling to rent because you have pets?

Frustrated tenants say they're being discriminated against by landlords.

'The NPA should be ready and re-enroll the matter' - Nel on Malema prosecution

'The NPA should be ready and re-enroll the matter' - Nel on Malema prosecution

AfriForum not backing down over decision to privately prosecute Julius Malema.

Ed Dept scraps supplementary exams for matriculants

Ed Dept scraps supplementary exams for matriculants

The Department of Basic Education has announced it will do away with matric supplementary exams from 2019.

Do you feel shameful about sex?

Do you feel shameful about sex?

There are various reasons for feeling shame around sex, but it can be overcome, says sexologist Dr Marelize Swart.

Cape Town not out the woods yet even with recent rainfall

Cape Town not out the woods yet even with recent rainfall

Climate expert, Piotr Wolski, says the city will know towards the end of May whether 2018 is a good or bad year.

3 emergency numbers you should have on speed dial and how they work

3 emergency numbers you should have on speed dial and how they work

These are the emergency numbers you should have on your cellphone and this is what you must understand about how they work.