24 MARCH 2015 marks international right to truth (RTT) day. to commemorate RTT day in south africa, saha can announce that it has received never-before-released documents from the trc’s section 29 hearings. the transcripts of these in-camera hearings will soon be publiCly available THROUGH THIS WEBSITE AND SAHA's READING ROOM AT CONSTITUTION HILL.
For over a decade, much of SAHA’s archival practice and information activism has been focused on making the work and records of, and surrounding, the South African TRC more readily accessible. It was in this context that SAHA, using PAIA, began requesting the release of records from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s in-camera (Section 29) hearings in 2003.
The hearings consisted of investigative enquiries held in-camera, and were comprised of individuals who were under oath to divulge the full extent of their knowledge of some of apartheid’s most heinous crimes. Given the nature of the content of these hearings, they were closed to the public and most of the information obtained has never been officially released (although much has been leaked to the public over the last 19 years). Hearings held under Section 29 included discussions of the death of Samora Machel; the Helderberg disaster; and the deaths of anti-apartheid activists such as Rick Turner and Griffiths Mxenge.
11 years of interrogation of the right to privacy, and the public’s right to truth, resulted in victory for SAHA’s arguments. South Africans should be reassured that some of Apartheid’s darkest secrets have finally found their way into the light; and because the records were released under PAIA, they are now publically accessible documents that will be available on this website over the coming weeks.
Read the full story of how SAHA managed to obtain these records here.
As South Africa celebrates Youth Day on 16th June 2015, watch episode 8 of the Truth Commission Special Report, first broadcast on 30 June 1996, in which the disappearance of Port Elizabeth youth activist Siphiwo Mthimkhulu was investigated. This episode includes testimony from Siphiwo's mother, Joyce Mthimkhulu.
After returning from detention with worrying symptoms in 1981, Mthimkhulu was diagnosed with thallium poisoning. In April 1982, after launching a civil claim against the then-Minister of Law and Order for his poisoning, Mthimkhulu disappeared with his friend Topsy Madaka. Amnesty for their abduction and murder was sought by, and granted to, Gideon Nieuwoudt, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Gerrit Erasmus and Hermanus du Plessis in 2000.