Title page for ETD etd-03112010-141422

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Jardine, Varushka
Email varushkaj@starschools.co.za
URN etd-03112010-141422
Document Title The Truth and Reconciliation Commission : success or failure?
Degree MHCS
Department Historical and Heritage Studies
Advisor Name Title
Mr M L Thotse Co-Supervisor
Dr J E H Grobler Supervisor
  • apartheid
  • commission
  • healing
  • reparations
  • amnesty
  • rehabilitation
  • suffering
  • reconciliation
  • restorative justice
  • truth
  • nation-building
Date 2009-04-18
Availability unrestricted

The South African Truth Commission was different to any other commission held in the past. The Commission had to balance the scales between a painful past and a peaceful future. The task in itself was not an easy one, considering the fact that the apartheid years spanned over many decades. It certainly was not an easy task to maintain a balance between blanket amnesty and legal prosecutions. This middle of the road policy leveled much criticism from all sides, ranging form political parties to victims and their families and the general public. However, the policy on amnesty was a crucial aspect in balancing the past with that of the future.

Although the TRC had achieved its objectives, it had many shortcomings ranging from its original mandate, its workings right through to the final recommendations. The scope of the Commission was far too wide considering the fact that they had to cover human rights abuses spanning over the years 1960 to 1994. The mandated period for them to complete their task was very limited if one considers the fact that this was a unique Commission and many people had to be trained to carry out tasks especially on lower levels. The Committees established by the Commission did not have clear methods of working and the coordination between them was poor.

The methodology followed by the TRC was flawed but we need to take time and consider the enormity of the task at hand. It was not only a transitional phase for the people of South Africa but for the new government as well. The TRC was not a well planned process. However one has to also consider that accountability had to be done as soon as possible or it would have lost its essence. Issues had to be faced as soon as possible.

The Commission also received criticism for allowing religion into its doors, mainly Christian theology. However, in some ways, one has to consider the fact that most people who were affected by apartheid were Christian and they found comfort in the practice of the Commission.

The National Party had to be accountable and yes, as leaders they should have apologized for what had happened. This should have been a point of issue for the Commission and one of the areas where they had failed to act.

Notwithstanding all the negative aspects of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission much positivism brought to the country as a whole, sections of society and to individuals. Nothing short of a miracle can heal a country. The terms of reconciliation, forgiving and healing became acceptable terms to many who were affected by the period of apartheid. South African history was given an opportunity to be recorded. People were given an opportunity to clear their conscious and find peace in truth. For the first time it was possible to see beyond the pain that many had suffered. As a country we would have been much poorer had the truth not been told. I believe it was truly a necessary part of our history.

Copyright 2008, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Jardine, V 2008, The Truth and Reconciliation Commission : success or failure?, MHCS dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-03112010-141422/ >

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