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Transcripts for Section 2 of Episode 70
|Can you remember that just a month or two ago the National Party refused to cooperate with the Truth Commission and actually took them to court. It seems as if slowly the Afrikaner establishment is realizing the wisdom of working with the Truth Commission rather than against it. Apart from Pik Botha and Leon Wessels 127 Nasionale Pers journalists made a presentation to the Truth Commission against the wishes of their bosses. We have had a very sensible submission to the Truth Commission by the Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut. The insurance giant Sanlam is about to make a submission and the Western Cape senate of the NG Kerk has decided to go to the Truth Commission. Good news for the process of Truth and Reconciliation indeed. Let’s shift our emphasis slightly. We are now eighteen months into the life of the Truth Commission. The proceedings are now dominated by amnesty applications and special hearings like the one last week. We mostly hear the voices of perpetrators now. But it is ...more
|It all began here on 15 April 1996 in the Eastern Cape, the womb of apartheid resistance over decades. Here, in the glare of the world’s media they stepped where no one had gone before and they spoke the first words in the great telling of our shameful and proud past. There were the wounded and the pained. // ‘And I was still twenty at the time and I couldn’t handle this, so I was taken to Nyami‘s place and when I got there Nyami was crying terribly.’ // And then there were those with great loss in their hearts and anger in their veins. // ‘I don’t want to cry, really I don’t want to cry but I’d like the Commission to help me.’ // They were the brave pioneers of the Truth Commission, those who led all the others to sew their truths into the patchwork quilt of a new history. // There’s been a lot of evil. There’s been a lot of evil in this country. It’s being exorcised.
|The Commission sat in noisy cities and quiet dorpies. They sat in big imposing town halls and dingy schools and churches, from Messina in the north to Cape Town in the south and from everywhere the victims came. Some were dignified, silver haired elders, others impassioned young lions. Sometimes they were even small, little lions. The stories were of torture and abduction, rumours that became reality. // ‘This is Siphiwo’s hair, this is the scalp’ // They spoke about massacres and wars; they spoke about death of a single child and about the killing of whole families. // ‘I heard their voices, no one screamed twice, each one screamed just once then I’d hear the next one and another one until they finished them all.’ // There were those who wept about loved ones who disappeared without a trace. // ‘They must give him back to me even if it is just the bones so that I can bury him.’ // There were those who saw loved ones return as corpses. // ‘And just to see that he has ...more
|But the common thread was that everywhere the extent of the horror was more than anyone had ever suspected. Even the smallest village had its casualties. The process was not easy; often the truth was frightening. As the process gained momentum victims sometimes came face to face with perpetrators and the grim reality of what they did. Few remained untouched as the floodgates of emotion were wedged open. // ‘It is 25 years now and yet I will not forget what happened. I ask the Almighty that I will not forget what happened and that I need to know.’ // I remember pain of a scale that I didn’t think a human being could ever experience. I remember going into darkness. // ‘They left 12 month old Phoenix traumatized and alone with her dead mother in their home spattered with blood all over the place. It was disgusting, brutal, deceitful, treacherous, coldblooded murder.’ // ‘Pieces of him and brains, all of it, was scattered around. That was the end of Bheki. // ‘I think it was ...more
|There were the cynics of course, some called it the ‘crying commission,’ but often they were white or old allies of apartheid and scared of the guilt that came with hearing the truth, but then there were those who became part of the telling and through that some sort of reconciliation. // You have looked into the hearts of wounded, sometimes broken people. My story and that of my children is small in comparison with so many others for whom our hearts bleed. Our pain is simply a drop in the South African ocean of pain. // But what did all these who came to bear their souls seek? For many it was simply enough to tell their story to a nation whose time it was to listen. Others wanted to lay the past to rest. Again and again they asked for the remains of those who had disappeared. For some, like the family of murdered ANC cadre Phila Ndwandwe this became a terrible reality. For others, the bones were lost forever, dumped into this river, but knowing this was the beginning of the ...more
|Over the fourteen months the South African truth process developed its own unique identity. Even while listening to the most harrowing testimony people could still laugh. People also sang, gave comfort to others and when there was nothing more to say, they prayed.