n Stellenbosch Law Review = Stellenbosch Regstydskrif - Against forgetting : reconciliation and reparations after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Volume 19, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1016-4359
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2193



In this contribution I take a closer look at the interrelationship between law, memory, reconciliation and repair after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The premise to be explored is that institutional memorialisation - and universal attempts at constructing a renewed and reconciled polity - as endorsed by truth and reconciliation "rainbow nation" triumphalists, tends to exclude or silence counter-narratives that reflect the reality of the continued suffering of the "unreconciled". The aim is not to discourage altogether efforts at reconciliation, forgiveness and healing but to critically interrogate the institutionalisation of these processes. Tshepo Madlingozi's figure of the "bad victim" is used to illustrate how counter-narratives, such as those of Winnie Madikizela Mandela and members of the Khulumani Support Group, are able to draw our attention to the (im)possibility of final and complete reconciliation. In particular, I concentrate on Khulumani's reparations litigation in the United States of America (litigation that is strongly opposed by the South African government) as an example of an attempt to rescue pain and suffering from forgetfulness. Ultimately, against forgetting, I seek to explore the need for an ongoing process of memory, repair and reconciliation - and the remembrance of evil - that begins again with the break of every dawn, for reconciliation always remains to come.

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