Truth, Reconciliation, and the Death of Adriaan Vlok
The South African Truth and Reconciliation Process
A year after the end of Apartheid, Nelson Mandela’s Government of National Unity launched the South African Truth and Reconciliation Process (TRC) under the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act 34 of 1995. The intention of the TRC was to embark on a sensible and necessary exercise that would enable South Africans to come to terms with their past and advance the cause of reconciliation. Public hearings of the Human Rights Violations Committee and the Amnesty Committee were held at many venues around South Africa and the event was broadcasted to the TV screens via South Africa’s Broadcasting Corporation. The process with its emphasis on reconciliation and restorative justice was headed by the Archbishop Desmond Tutu and granted the right to subpoena witnesses, but it was not a formal court.
The purpose of this article is not to argue against a TRC or the principle of Restorative Justice, but to highlight the commission’s shortcomings and why proponents of this model to heal communities should also be honest about what it failed to achieve in South Africa.
When it came to certain high profile politicians, truth, reconciliation and more importantly the principal of justice were at times put aside in favour of judicial realism. High profile Apartheid politicians and ANC affiliated liberation fighters were exempted from testifying or selectively granted Amnesty and therefore effectively never held to account for the crimes that they had committed. Those individuals who fell out of favour with the new political establishment were sent to jail and became convenient scapegoats for the system that they served. Nothing exemplified this double standard more than the cases of Adriaan Vlok and Eugene de Kok.
On January 8, 2023, Adriaan Vlok, the last Apartheid Police Minister, died aged 85. Vlok was an exceptionally cruel character who literally got away with the major crimes of the Apartheid Regime.
Full article at propaganda in focus.
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