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28 June 1995 Nelson Mandela Announces the Creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

By June 28, 2013

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With the move to the post-Apartheid, multi-racial democracy, South Africans from both sides of the political divide had developed an Interim Constitution. The last clause of this Constitution laid down the requirements for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. On 28 June 1995 the South African president, Nelson Mandela, announced that the Commission would be set up.

In July, Dullah Omar, the Minister of Justice, submitted the bill to the South African Parliament and the 'Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act No 34 of 1995 was accepted by majority. The process of determining the 17 people to sit on the 'Human Rights Violations', 'Amnesty', and 'Reparations and Rehabilitation' Committees was started - the names, including Desmond Tutu, were announced in the Government Gazette on 15 December.

The final clause of the Interim Constitution read:

     This Constitution provides a historic bridge between the past of a deeply divided society characterized by strife, conflict, untold suffering and injustice, and a future founded on the recognition of human rights, democracy and peaceful co-existence and development opportunities for all South Africans, irrespective of colour, race, class, belief or sex. The pursuit of national unity , the well-being of all south African citizens and peace require reconciliation between the people of South Africa and the reconstruction of society.
     The adoption of this Constitution lays the secure foundation for the people of South Africa to transcend the divisions and strife of the past, which generated gross violations of human rights, the transgression of humanitarian principles in violent conflicts and a legacy of hatred, fear, guilt and revenge.
     These can now be addressed on the basis that there is a need for understanding but not for vengeance, a need for reparation but not for retaliation, a need for ubuntu but not for victimization. In order to advance such reconciliation and reconstruction, amnesty shall be granted in respect of acts. Omissions and offences associated with political objectives and committed in the course of the conflicts of the past. To this end, Parliament under this Constitution shall adopt a law determining a firm cut-off date ... and providing for mechanisms, criteria and procedures, including tribunals, if any, through which such amnesty shall be dealt with at any time after the law has been passed.

One of the best books about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Country of My Skull, was written by South African journalist and poet Antjie Krog. Read a review of her magnificent book....


May 7, 2009 at 1:01 am
(1) Paige says:

the 28th June 1995 was the day I was born! :)

October 9, 2009 at 2:00 pm
(2) Crystal says:

the world is filled with so much calamity and catastrophe. cruelty happens in uncivilized communities.

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