The TRC was a unique political compromise forged during the years of negotiations between the liberation movements, civil society, the internal opposition and the apartheid government that led to the first democratic elections of 1994.
In this series History for the Future , 13 TRC commissioners look back at the experience of the TRC from the first human rights violation hearing 20 years ago until the conclusion of the report. They explore strengths of the TRC and its weaknesses.
They also reflect on where we are now as a nation, and answer the critical question: where to from here?
In this episode, Pippa green talks to former commissioner Yasmin Sooka.
Yasmin Sooka practiced as a lawyer for human rights through the years of apartheid. She was also a member of the National Repatriation Committee of South African exiles
President Mandela appointed Sooka to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1995. She served there as Deputy Chair of the Human Rights Violation Committee and was one of the three Commissioners responsible for the final report delivered in March 2003.
It was the first commission in the world which actually heard the stories of people in public. It offered victims an opportunity to come before the nation to talk about their pain and their suffering. But it also offered perpetrators in a sense, the opportunity to unburden themselves— Yasmin Sooka, Former TRC Commissioner
Despite criticisms of the TRC, Sooka says it was a turning point for the nation.
It was an incredibly moral moment in our country, in which we were able to look ourselves in the mirror, to look at what we each did at a systemic level, but also at an individual level, and to ask ourselves 'where was I', 'what did I do' and 'could I have done more'?— Yasmin Sooka, Former TRC Commissioner
She says it would be valuable in South Africa today, to go back and look at the recommendations that were made, especially around public order policing.
My question is if we had followed those recommendations, would we have had Marikana?— Yasmin Sooka, Former TRC Commissioner
Sooka joined the Foundation for Human Rights in 2001 where she serves as Executive Director.
Listen to the entire podcast below: