South Africa's Steps to Remember the Past

Topics: Human rights, South Africa, Nelson Mandela Pages: 10 (1866 words) Published: April 6, 2015
Table of Contents
VISUAL EVIDENCE……………………………………………………....7-8 BIBLIOGRAPHY…………………………………………………9


The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was a body assembled in South Africa after the end of Apartheid. In May 1995 the TRC was put into place by the Government of National Unity, in an attempt to bring healing to South Africa's apartheid past. Archbishop Desmond Tutu was the Chairperson of the TRC and Alex Boraine was the Vice Chairperson. The TRC mandate led to a high level of determination, since the Commission wanted to establish a reliable picture of the gross human rights violations that were committed. The Commission listened to personal narratives from victims of apartheid, considered applications for amnesty by the apartheid perpetrators, provided reparations for deserving survivors of apartheid, and was thus charged with solving and healing South Africa's collective memory of the past. The TRC was generally considered as one of the requirements for a smooth transition towards a new South Africa. The TRC was based on the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act, No 34 of 1995. "... a commission is a necessary exercise to enable South Africans to come to terms with their past on a morally accepted basis and to advance the cause of reconciliation." Mr Dullah Omar, former Minister of Justice. The TRC mandate was based on 3 committees: Reparation and Rehabilitation Committee, Human Rights Violations Committee and the Amnesty Committee. Aims of the TRC project

After the end of apartheid in 1994, the South African government was confronted with the need to deal with the atrocities that were committed under the apartheid regime. They were convinced that the past could not just be forgotten, but that the truth behind the apartheid regime had to be exposed. Intensive negotiations between the National Party (NP) and the African National Congress (ANC) resulted in the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The objectives of the TRC were ‘to promote national unity and reconciliation in a spirit of understanding, which transcends the conflicts and divisions of the past’. In order for the TRC to achieve its objectives, the three committees were put into place. The Human Rights Violations Committee had to ‘enquire into systematic patterns of abuse, in an attempt to identify motives and perspectives, to establish the identity of individual and institutional perpetrators, and to designate accountability, political or otherwise, for gross human rights violations’. The Committee invited victims of human rights abuses to make statements about the committed atrocities. More than 21.000 people came forward to talk about their experiences under apartheid; about 10% of those who came forward were then invited to tell their stories in public hearings. At these hearings a great deal of truth was revealed, which was one of the major contributions of the TRC to the future of South Africa. Once victims of gross human rights violations were identified, they were referred to the Reparation and Rehabilitation Committee. The aim of the Amnesty Committee was to grant amnesty to perpetrators under the rule of apartheid, but under a number of strict conditions: the crime had to have been committed between the 1st of March 1960 up to the 6th of December 1993. This was later extended to the 11th of May 1994. The final date for applications was the 30th of September 1997. There had to be a political motive, and the perpetrator had to disclose the full truth about the committed crime. This granting of amnesty was controversial and was part of the debates, as it liberated perpetrators of any further legal or civil prosecution. But without this provision of amnesty, the perpetrators would probably have never come forward and they would never have revealed the...

Bibliography: Carol-Anne Stephenson (2013). History Learners Book. Durban: New Generation Publishers. p331-346.
Desmond Tutu. (2014). Truth and Reconciliation Commission, South Africa (TRC). Available: Last accessed 10 April 2014.
Hamber. (2013). From Truth to Transformation: The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. Available: Last accessed 10 April 2014.
Simpson, G. "A Brief Evaluation of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Some lessons for societies in transition". Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, December 1998. p. 22- 24
Unknown. (2009). The TRC. Available: Last accessed 11 April 2014.
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