Source: (2002) The Expository Times. 114: 75-88

For five years - ever since the watershed announcement of President F. W. de Klerk in February 1990 that the ANC and other liberation organizations were to be unbanned, that all political prisoners, among them Nelson Mandela, would be freed, and that democratic elections involving the whole South African population were to be held - the issue of the past had been hotly debated. The debate was on the agenda, too, of the multi-party conference (CODESA) which prior to the 1994 elections had to struggle with, on the one hand, the plight of the thousands of victims of the apartheid years, and on the other hand, the urgent needs of the many perpetrators of apartheid who were guilty of gross human rights violations in the past. A blanket amnesty would not work - it would have been a total disregard and dishonouring of the pain and suffering of the victims. At the other end of the scale, Nuremberg-type trials where the victors take the vanquished to court, to be convicted and sentenced, were also not advisable - not if reconciliation was the order of the day. One of the last decisions taken by CODESA was to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.(excerpt)