Letter: Truth frustration

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Sir: We, a coalition of South African non-governmental organisations and organs of civil society involved in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission process, observe the controversy that has surrounded the final report of the TRC with anguish and frustration ("De Klerk and ANC try to thwart report", 29 October).

It is no surprise that the National Party and F W de Klerk have continued a strategy of trying to silence the voices of victims through filibustering in the courts. What is more surprising is that the ANC has adopted a defensive stance which now renders it a co-conspirator in seeking to ensure that the uncensored voices of victims cannot be heard.

By acceding to pressure and demands - particularly in removing the names of alleged perpetrators from its findings - the TRC paved the way for the ANC to follow the National Party's example.

The TRC has prioritised securing the commitment of political parties through a tiptoe approach to reconciliation. This has contributed to the perception of the TRC as being more sympathetic to perpetrators than victims.

The fact that political parties have so resisted the findings suggests that the watchdog role of civil society will have to be stepped up.


on behalf of: Centre for the Study of Violence & Reconciliation; Centre for Applied Legal Studies; Community Agency for Social Enquiry; Human Rights Committee; Human Rights Institute of South Africa; Khulamani Victim Support Group; NICRO; Lawyers for Human Rights; South African Catholic Bishops Conferences; Trauma Centre for Victims of Violence; ULWAZI