A Jacana Pocket History: Truth and Reconciliation Commission
15 April 2016 marked 20 years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) hearings began. The TRC was set up to give an opportunity for perpetrators of human rights transgressions to come clean about the atrocities that happened during those evil days of apartheid. Sadly, only half of the truth came to the fore. Many families still do not know what happened to their loved ones.
There are few people better placed than Mary Burton to write about the TRC, having been one of its Commissioners. Burton's pocket book provides an informed account from the inside of the process and workings of the TRC and a measured and balanced assessment of its outcomes and significance. Even at the time of its existence, the TRC came in for criticism from a variety of quarters: both the African National Congress and ex-President FW de Klerk took legal action to challenge or prevent the publication of the Commission's report; however, the Commission also fulfilled a vital and important role in the transition from apartheid to democracy, and it has become a model for other countries wishing to undertake similar journeys to deal with past atrocities and come to some kind of national resolution, reconciliation or closure.
About the author
Mary BurtonåÊserved as the president of the Black Sash from 1986 to 1990 and is the author of The Black Sash: Women for Justice and Peace (published in 2015 by Jacana Media). After the democratic elections in 1994, Burton was elected to become one of the 17 people to sit on the TRC. In 2000, she helped launch the Home for All Campaign, a campaign that encouraged white South Africans to contribute to reconciliation. She has been awarded civic, provincial and national honours, and was given an honorary degree by the University of Cape Town.
Author Mary Ingouville Burton
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