Assessing Truth and Reconciliation
This chapter assesses the South African TRC from a wider perspective than a mental health one. Attempting to evaluate a process such as the TRC is a difficult and complex task, however. First, some of the benefits and costs of the process may only be seen in decades to come, and second, the exact aim of the TRC was, and remains, unclear, and understandings of what it was aiming to achieve vary between different roleplayers, as this chapter will show.
According to the TRC Act, the TRC was specifically meant to “promote national unity and reconciliation”. To achieve this, it had to carry out interrelated tasks including allowing victims to tell their stories, investigating violations, granting amnesty, making reparations, documenting violations and apportioning responsibility, as well as making a set of recommendations aimed at preventing future abuses. In this chapter, the TRC is assessed on four dimensions: how it documented the past atrocities and its truth-recovery process; whether it uncovered the truth; its approach to its mandate and whether it promoted national unity and reconciliation.