The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) heard three days of testimony concerning the role of the business sector during the apartheid era. At the start of the testimony, TRC chairman, Cape Town Emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu, urged the White business community to take some responsibility for the apartheid system and consider offering financial help to those who suffered the most. Tutu expressed disappointment at the reluctance of the private sector to acknowledge their part in the country's recent history. He was particularly critical of the multinational oil companies Shell, BP and Mobil.
He further stated that their failure to contribute to the work of the Commission was a glaring and blatant omission by organisations which appeared to have given support to the apartheid system. However, Tutu also cautioned that the companies were not there to be ridiculed or to be pointed at, as having carried out atrocities against humankind through the funding of the apartheid system, but to assist in the healing process as the TRC was intending to do. He even suggested that it was going to be nice for these companies to contribute to the Presidential fund, aimed at assisting victims of apartheid.
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