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Special Report
Transcripts for Section 4 of Episode 84

23:05In the past few months we’ve tried to give you a personal glimpse into the lives of some of the Truth Commission’s 17 commissioners. Today we meet Bongani Finca at his home in East London.Full Transcript
23:17I try to start my morning if I’m not out at hearings standing here, sitting here and even kneeling here at times, just to start off with a period of quiet and it inspires you. It brings you closer to nature and closer to God and starts your day in a sense.Full Transcript
23:45Bongani Finca describes himself as a pastor, a preacher and an activist for justice. Since he was a young boy growing up in a small, rural village near Pietermaritzburg he felt a calling to the church.Full Transcript
23:57My own grandfather, who had a lasting impression on my life, was a minister of religion. I looked up to him; he became a pillar of strength in the community. I sort of admired this person and wished that perhaps when I grow up, I wish I could be like him.Full Transcript
24:18Finca says nobody was more shocked than he was when he was appointed to the Commission, a job which he describes as emotionally draining and spiritually challenging.Full Transcript
24:28I thought I knew what happened in this country. I was involved, so when I was appointed I didn’t expect surprises. But I was shocked again and again and again as I sit at hearings to realize how little I knew. I was deeply touched by people who refused to be crushed. Deeply moving moments, which kept on coming back again and again after the hearing is over and asked you deep questions.Full Transcript
25:24He admits that because of his Black Consciousness background and his religious beliefs it was hard to accept the idea of granting amnesty to perpetrators of gross human rights violations.Full Transcript
25:34Originally my view was rather more radical in that I felt that those who were responsible for ghastly deeds which brought about so much suffering to so many families or so many people, many of whom were members of my own congregation, and many of whom were my friends, I felt that there had to be some level of punishment.Full Transcript
26:05After much discussion and debate he’s now come to terms with the idea of amnesty but still has mixed feelings about other crucial aspects of the TRC’s work. Full Transcript
26:15On one hand there is a sense of great honour, completely undeserved, to be part of this instrument for the reconciliation of our nation, the trust that makes such an appointment possible. It’s an awesome honour. It leaves you humble. But also there is the feeling when you sit down at the end of the day and reflect on your life and you ask yourself what is this instrument achieving. And I’m sorry I see things from the point of view of where I come from. I’m talking about small people, rural women, in Pondoland, in Aliwal North. The pain of leaving this Commission without beginning to see that their situation does get addressed.Full Transcript
27:30Finca is also deeply disappointed by what he calls the apathetic way in which most white people in this country have responded to the TRC. Full Transcript
27:38One had a sense that once the victims were stretching out this hand of reconciliation, the white society in general in this province, seemed to be not interested in publicly – perhaps people were feeling it internally, I don’t know – that hurt me very profoundly and made me perhaps to even feel that we may have failed the victims by saying that there is an atmosphere in this country where reconciliation could take place. I am aware that our role as a Commission and with the presentation of the report to the president, how the president deals with the report is really outside our hands. But we who have sat at these hearings, publicly listening to people, will continue to carry this burden in our souls for a long, long time.Full Transcript
29:02Besides his strong spiritual base of prayer and meditation Finca also enjoys physical exercise as a way of coping with his stressful job. Physically I run a bit, I walk long distances. When I’m in a gym I relax. I think about family, I think about concerns, but I try to make it a period where I relax. I’m blessed with a very supportive wife; we have been married now for 23 years. We have through the work of this Commission experienced for the first time not living together all the time. We have three daughters. I don’t think they really support the work of the Commission but of course it’s always such a great relief to come back and be with family and share your love and feel loved. Full Transcript
30:28After the short break: necklacings, the story of Sophiatown, we remember Bram Fischer and the bloodbath at Cassinga.Full Transcript
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