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Transcripts for Section 5 of Episode 68
|During the coming weeks we’ll be taking a behind the scenes look at some of the people who drive the truth and reconciliation process. Tonight we meet one of the 17 commissioners, Hlengiwe Mkhize at her home near Johannesburg.
|Truth Commissioner Hlengiwe Mkhize still sees herself as the serious young girl from Soweto who went to the University of Zululand in 1973, deeply committed to the struggle for equal rights for all South Africans. Despite her training as a clinical psychologist and years of lecturing on the subject of trauma management in the United States Mkhize admits that her job at the Truth Commission is much more emotionally demanding than she’d expected.
|I consider myself to be a coper in the sense that , I remember even during my university years and even at the time when I was involved in non-governmental organisations, dealing with violence, trauma, stuff like this I would carry a smile and go around smiling. I would be running around, I would keep going. I’m that kind of a person. But with the TRC somehow it has had a greater impact on me as a person and I suppose on other commissioners as well.
|In May this year the many months of hearings and committee meetings finally took their toll. // I remember after the political party hearings, we worked in Cape Town for the whole week, sort of day and night almost. Sitting overnight looking at what people are saying. With each statement you’ll generate 20 questions, because you want the truth so that these things are not part of our history again. And after that when I came back here I got sick. I just woke up with this pain and I mean, I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t talk. It was so sharp that I thought I was having a heart attack.
|After a short stay in hospital she was back at work, travelling to cities, townships and rural areas to acknowledge the stories of ordinary South Africans who’d been traumatized by violence.
|I sat there imagining the helplessness they must have gone through in a dark village, and you are surrounded by the police, the lack of protection, the fear, the intimidation. I then started saying, look it’s like we didn’t know what was happening in the country. But I’m pleased that some of those things have been brought forward and as a country we have an opportunity to sort of deal with the past in a realistic way.
|Mkhize, who met her husband at a student rally and started a family while still at university longs for the day when she will be able to devote most of her time to her family. That day will come she says, after she’s completed her work on the TRC.
|Well I’m looking forward to a time when I can have a real, normal life. You know when we were working towards the elections in 1994 I used to say to myself I will spend quality time with my family and get to really relate intimately and enjoy life so to say. But it’s like things got worse almost on a daily basis. But I’ve been saying to myself if I don’t do it now, old age is really not far, so I need to. I hope to get a job which will enable me to spend quality time … I mean my daughter next year might go to the university. And I said, oh my God, I haven’t really had time to really instil certain values … we talk, but I’m hoping that we’ll have quality time you know and relax a bit.