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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Experiments with Truth and Justice in South Africa: Stockenstrom, Gandhi and the TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission)
Author:Du Toit, Andre
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:truth and reconciliation commissions
administration of justice
passive resistance
Law, Human Rights and Violence
Ethnic and Race Relations
History and Exploration
Politics and Government
About persons:Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948)ISNI
Andries Stockenstrom (1792-1864)ISNI
Abstract:This article traces the intellectual and political antecedents of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in the longer perspective of South African history. It does so by taking a closer look at some of the long-standing if intermittent series of South African projects invoking notions of truth and justice, most recently exemplified by the TRC in the context of the new democratic and postapartheid South Africa of the 1990s. It traces the history from Andries Stockenström's stand for truth and justice on the frontier in the 1830s, through Gandhi's mobilization of 'truth-force' as a resource for popular protest at the beginning of the twentieth century, to truth and justice in the theory and practice of the TRC. It argues that the TRC process was characterized by a major shift from a central concern with truth as acknowledgement and justice as recognition during the initial victims' hearings to the quasi-judicial aims and procedures of the amnesty hearings and the perpetrator findings of the TRC Report. It concludes that no direct line can be traced from Stockenström and Gandhi's truth experiments to the TRC process as a founding action of the 'new South Africa'. None of these experiments is deemed anything like an unqualified 'success' or even to have produced clear and unambiguous outcomes. In trying to speak of 'truth' and 'justice' in South African conditions, Stockenström, Gandhi, and the TRC successively became ensnared in a range of confusions, ambivalences and contradictions. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]