20 Years after the TRC the fight against amnesia continues

Two exhibitions launched at Constitution Hill

20 Years after the TRC the fight against amnesia continues

Two exhibitions were launched at Constitution Hill last week – The South African History Archive’s Battle Against Forgetting; Human Rights and the Unfinished Business of the TRC and Breaking the silence: A luta continua, a project of the Human Rights Media Centre.

Speaking at the launch Catherine Kennedy, director of the South African History Archive (SAHA) said the fact that it had not been necessary to update the material for the Battle Against Forgetting; exhibition that draws on archival collections housed at SAHA, is an indictment.

Remembering the first public hearings of the South African TRC, launched 21 years ago she decried the lack of progress achieved. Introducing key speakers, including Yasmin Sooka, the executive director of the Foundation for Human Rights (FHR) as a leading thinker and practitioner in the field of transitional justice Kennedy acknowledged that SAHA’s memory project would not be possible without the FHR’s support. Ms Sooka in turn commended SAHA for its tireless work on accessing information through the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA). She traced back the incredible journey taken by commissioners that had brought South Africa to the point in 2016 where a lack of political will and resolution calls for even harder work to ensure that the recommendations of the truth commission are implemented including a campaign for access to the archives of the TRC. 

The urgent need to press harder to challenge the evasions of the keepers of the archive and complete the unfinished business of the TRC was expressed in the presentation of Shirley Gunn, Director of the Human Rights Media Centre (HRMC), executing projects focused on the impact of apartheid through the stories of victims of gross human rights violations. Breaking the silence documents a process involving thousands of Khulumani Support Group members in the Western Cape to tell the stories of their lives under apartheid through a variety of media. While the two exhibitions serve to jolt the nation out of its amnesic slumber the Open Secret project, led by the

Hennie Van Vuuren, a senior researcher focuses on the legacy of grand corruption under apartheid and how the corruption in both private and public sector shaped the power networks active in South Africa today.

For further information about the exhibitions mounted at Constitution Hill, Braamfontein and three forthcoming film screenings followed by discussions, visit  www.saha.org.za or http://www.sabctrc.saha.org.za/


  • THURSDAY 21 APRIL, 17h30 for 18h00: A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake. This documentary confronts the incredibly complex issues that surround conflict resolution, memory, and healing in communities emerging from genocide and other forms of conflict in South Africa, Northern Ireland, Rwanda, and the Balkans. 
  • TUESDAY 3 May, 17h30 for 18h00: Indians Can't Fly is an award winning documentary that tells the story of Ahmed Timol, a 29-year-old Roodepoort teacher and anti-apartheid activist who fell from the 10th floor of the security police building in Johannesburg in 1971. A police inquest concluded that Timol committed suicide while under interrogation, but questions remain whether he may have been pushed, or tortured to death and thrown from the window. It has been suggested that the roadblock at which Timol was captured Nobody responsible for his capture and interrogation has ever been held accountable. The documentary is narrated by Timol's nephew Imtiaz Ahmed Cajee, author of Timol: Quest for Justice
  • THURSDAY 5 May, 17h30 for 18h00: We Never Give Up II Two documentary films produced by the Human Rights Media Centre (HMRC), We Never Give Up and We Never Give Up II, follow the stories of Khulumani Support Group members in the Western Cape, who suffered multiple atrocities during apartheid. 
  • The screenings will be followed by discussions.


 To find out more about each event visit www.saha.org.za