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20 Years since the start of the TRC: posters asking people to come forward


To mark 20 years since the first public hearings of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) on 15 April 1996, the South African History Archive, in collaboration with the Human Rights Media Centre, the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre, Khulumani Support Group (Western Cape), the Ahmed Timol Family Trust, and Constitution Hill, hosted a series of public exhibitions, film screenings, panel discussions and workshops aimed at raising awareness around ongoing justice and accountability issues in relation to the unfinished business of the TRC. 


More information on the events hosted as part of this program



Watch the episode of Truth Commission: Special Report, which focuses on these hearings of the TRC's Human Rights Violation (HRV) Committee, held in Phokeng, Eastern Cape 20 years ago, between 21and 23 May1996.

This episode focuses on the Human Rights Violation Committee hearings held in Port Elizabeth (21 to 23 May) and the first Amnesty Committee hearings convened in Phokeng.


The segments include, militancy, poisoning, murder and incidents of police torture in the Eastern Cape. They also include testimony from Olive Mpahlwa on the disappearance of her and Thabo Mbeki’s son, Kwanda Mpahlwa, after he went into exile in 1981  and the processes of the TRC itself


Siphiwo Maxwell Mtimkulu, leader of the Congress of South African Students before his murder said: 

'Even if they can kill me, as long as they will be killing me for truth, and I am not doing what I’m doing for myself. I am doing it for my child for my grandchild and my grand grandchild. I am doing it for the whole world, not only for my family. I can even die now for it. Even now I can die.'


A court ruling obtained by former security policeman Gideon Niewoudt, (who was implicated in Mtimkulu’s murder) that he could not to be named in TRC proceedings without prior notification and an opportunity to make representation. Thus ruling which prevented the Mthimkulu family from testifying in these hearings had major a logistical impact as anyone who would be named in public hearings had to be given prior notifications.


Was this a procedural failure of the TRC in its goal to expose the truth?  


These topics all derive from the testimonies made this month 20 years ago. 


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