History for the Future

TRC may have given people unrealistic expectations says former commissioner

Former TRC commissioner, attorney Richard Lyster, has been committed to human rights and labour law throughout his career.

He and his colleague, the late Dr Khoza Mgojo, ran the TRC office in KwaZulu Natal, a region that took on great significance because of the high levels of violence experienced there because of apartheid.

Jounalist Pippa Green asked him if the failure to hold people to account after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, has anything to do with the political texture of the country today.

Unrealistically people thought this would usher in a new era for poor black people, but it didn’t

Richard Lyster, former TRC commissioner

Zuma is just the worst possible face of the ANC, there’s no-one who even comes close to him in just how utterly appalling he is, how corrupt and how awful he is. And think he’s tainted the whole country, the body politic with that sort of attitude so young people like that are angry. Where do they get 40 grand to pay for their fees at university?

Richard Lyster, former TRC commissioner

Does Lyster think the country can rebuild and develop social cohesion?

What’s currently happening militates against that so fundamentally because as I said earlier the flaunting of immoral public values, the dishonesty the lying the corruption the theft, makes people feel disillusioned and engenders an attitude, well the center’s not holding together I may as well get on this bandwagon too

Richard Lyster, former TRC commissioner

He says it goes back to people telling the truth.

The power of the truth is so fundamental and it goes way beyond our particular social experiment in this country.

Richard Lyster, former TRC commissioner

This episode forms part of History for the Future , where 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?

Listen to Pippa Green's interview with Richard Lyster below, and click on 702 or CapeTalk to listen to other episodes in the series.

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