Source: (2003) In Nigel Biggar, ed., Burying the Past: Making Peace and Doing Justice after Civil Conflict. Expanded and updated. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press. Pp. 101-124.

When a society goes through change from a repressive, violent past to a more democratic, stable present or future, it must deal with the legacy of the past on more than one level. It needs to address transitional justice on individual, communal, and national levels. As Hugo van der Merwe explains, what works positively on one level may have limited effect on another level. National political solutions and reconciliation processes, for example, may have limited impact on reconciliation at the community and individual levels. Hugo van der Merwe reviews the work of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) with these issues in mind. The TRC portrayed itself as seeking reconciliation on all levels. While there is considerable confidence at the national level in the transition toward political stability, there is concern about continuing conflict and violence in some regions and local communities. In this essay, van der Merwe examines competing perspectives and strategies of TRC staff and community stakeholders with respect to community reconciliation. He also proposes ways to move forward with local reconstruction and reconciliation in South Africa.