The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) came into
place after 1994, after Apartheid had ended. It was led by Nelson Mandela, with
Desmond Tutu as the chairman and Alex Boraine as the co-chairman. The TRC was
created to allow victims who suffered through apartheid to request amnesty. The
TRC was created so that people who had been affected harshly by apartheid would
be allowed to come forward, voice their opinions and be heard. The TRC was
established as a way to bring forgiveness, reconciliation and unity to the
people who were affected by apartheid.
The TRC was created and set up by the Government of
National Unity to address what happened during apartheid and to help those who
had been harshly treated throughout the apartheid era.
The government also noticed many victims who had definitely
been affected by apartheid and were invited to voice their statements to the
TRC and were offered help. Perpetrators were allowed to come forward and admit
their wrong doings.
The main aim of the TRC was to encourage national unity and
reconciliation. This was achieved through establishing the main causes and
issues by allowing victims to voice their thoughts and ideas on how they were
treated during apartheid.
The TRC had multiple aims. Another crucial aim of the TRC
was to hold people accountable for their actions. This was to reveal the truth
about the violations of gross human rights and to help the families and the
individuals who had been harshly affected by apartheid.
The TRC granted amnesty to people who were able to reveal
facts relating to unlawful acts or acts of political nature. The TRC allowed
individuals who were victims of apartheid to retell their own accounts of the
violence or wrong-doings they were faced with. After which the TRC granted such
victims reparations for their suffering.
Another aim of the TRC was to collect accounts and reports
which provided inclusive information on the activities and findings. These such
reports were used as recommendations of measures to prevent any future
violations of human rights within South Africa.
The TRC was constructed of three main committees, namely,
the committee of human rights violations, the amnesty committee and the committee
of reparation and rehabilitation.
The role of the Committee of Human Rights Violations was to
inspect the abuse of human rights that took place throughout apartheid, based
on statements and information given to the TRC. This committee examined the
gross human rights violations such as murder, torture, abduction and severe ill-
treatment. The main human right violation that was brought about throughout
apartheid was the carrying of the pass books.
The Reparation and Rehabilitation committee was created to
pay compensation to the victims. The committee provided support to victims,
their families and their communities in order for them to restore their
dignity. This committee was recommended to victims. This committee was
designated to help rebuild and heal the pride of the individuals and
communities affected during apartheid.
The Amnesty Committee was the group in which the
perpetrators would approach and tell their story to. If the perpetrator
approached this committee, they could apply for amnesty which meant that they
were free from prosecution. This committee allowed the perpetrators to come
forward and tell the truth. It was a chance for them to confess their wrong
doings and escape punishment.
In the TRC there was two types of justice, namely,
retributive justice and restorative justice. Retributive justice was
punishment/payment for the actions that an individual took part in. With retributive
justice, individuals would have to serve a jail sentence. However, there were
multiple issues with this type of justice such as the full truth will not
emerge, there was no creation of unity and there was no paper trail, which
meant that there was no actual evidence because no contract was signed as well
as this justice was perpetrator centered.
In contrast, restorative justice was chosen over retributive
justice for many reasons, such as it was victim centered, there was no
political pardon which means that there was no punishment. Amnesty was offered
to the perpetrators if they gave the full truth, if they were politically
motivated and if they were in proportional to their crime. The government
followed Restorative justice as this is where majority of the truth appeared.
Throughout the period of the TRC, amnesty was introduced
for majority of the time. Amnesty is the deletion of any offences made by a
certain person. The conditions for acquiring amnesty was that the perpetrator
had to give the full truth, they had to be politically motivated and the
perpetrator had to be in proportion to their crime, there had to be proportionality.