The origins of the South African trc process, which made such a dramatic contribution towards opening up a new more inclusive political culture in post-apartheid South Africa, are usually found in the constitutional negotiations and settlement reflected in the Postamble of the 1993 Interim Constitution. This article starts from the apparent paradox that a secretive amnesty pact by political elites could have been responsible for a public truth process uncovering human rights violations in past political conflicts. It suggests that an alternative trc genealogy may rather be found in the public amnesty debate since mid-1992 that issued in a civil society-based proposal for a truth and reconciliation process. The ‘amnesty for truth’ compromise, conjoining the political elites’ concerns for amnesty with the human rights quest for a victim-based truth and reconciliation process, resulted in the incoherence of the actual trc process. The ambivalent legacy of the trc, shaped both by secretive elite political deals as well as by the quest for public truth in politics, still informs unresolved tensions in the Marikana Commission, and those between the Promotion of Access to Information Act and the controversial Protection of State Information Bill.
Padraig O’MalleyShades of Difference: Mac Maharaj and the Struggle for South Africa (New York: Viking2007) pp. 400–402; Albie Sachs ‘Truth and Reconciliation’ Southern Methodist Law Review 52 (1999) 1566–7.
For example Brian Currin‘Forgiveneness Belongs Not to Those Who Have Sinned’Weekly Mail(14 August 1992); John Dugard ‘The Case for a Trial’ Sunday Star (27 September 1992); Gilbert Marcus and David Unterhalter ‘Slate-cleaning Pitfalls’ Star (3 October 1992).
Here is a partial listing: Shaun Johnson‘Cry Amnesty!’Pretoria News(19 August 1992) Hennie Serfontein ‘Ja vir amnestie nee vir gesigloosheid’ (Yes to Amnesty No to Facelessness) Vrye Weekblad (21 August 1992) relating the views of Archbishop Tutu Van Zyl Slabbert Proffessors Johan Heyns Willie Esterhuyse and Lourens du Plessis; R W Johnson ‘Shielding the State’s Top Guns’ Star (25 August 1992); Peter Gastrow ‘Pitfalls Lie in Amnesty Idea’ Star (9 September 1992); André du Toit ‘Why General Political Amnesty is Wrong’ Cape Times (22 September 1992); André du Toit ‘Amnestie vir moordenaars?’ (Amnesty for Murderers?) Die Suid-Afrikaan (November 1992); Hein Marais and Monty Narsoo ‘Amnesty Must be Able to Safeguard Future Democracy’ Business Day (25 September 1992); Hein Marais and Monty Narsoo ‘And Justice for All? The Debate about a General Amnesty’ Work in Progress 85 (1992) pp. 8–12); Kader Asmal ‘Should de Klerk be Tried?’ Mayibuye (30 September 1992); Joe Latakgomo ‘Releases Open Old Wounds’ Star (1 October 1992); Marinus Wiechers ‘The Blood on Our Hands’ Sunday Star (4 October 1992); Karen Chubb Mary Burton and Jenny de Tolly ‘Amnesty’ Black Sash National Newsletter Nr 5 (September 1992); Ken Owen ‘A Wicked Past Haunts a New Nation’s Birth’ Sunday Times (4 October 1992); Joe Slovo ‘Red Alert’ Business Day (9 October 1992); and Jacques Pauw ‘In Quest of Truth’ Sunday Star (11 October 1992).
Jo-Anne Collinge‘Launched on a Bloody Tide: Negotiating the New South Africa’South African Review6 (1992) 1–25at 18–20. According to media reports General Joffel van der Westhuizen had actually sought formal authorization from the State Security Council in 1985 to ‘eliminate’ Matthews Goniwe one of the ‘Cradock 4’ whose killing had yet to be explained.
F.W. de KlerkDie Laaste Trek pp. 334–6; Johan van der Merwe Trou tot die dood toe: Die Suid-Afrikaanse Polisiemag. (Loyal ‘til Death: The South African Police Service) (Dainfern: Praag 2010) pp. 212–13.
Richard A. WilsonThe Politics of Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press2001) Chapter 2: ‘Technologies of Truth: The trc’s Truth-Making Machine’ pp. 33–4; Lars Buur ‘Monumental Historical Memory: Managing Truth in the Everyday Work of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ in Deborah Posel and Graeme Simpson eds Commissioning the Past: Understanding South Africa’s trc (Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press 2002) pp. 66–93.