History for the Future

TRC commissioner Glenda Wildschut says country feels like it is in High Care

Human rights activist and former TRC commissioner, Glenda Wildschut, talks to journalist Pippa Green about the aftermath of the Commission and the work that still needs to be done to bring about healing.

She spoke to Green about her fears, if there had been no Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

I was afraid that we would descend into civil war...There were moments when i though oh my goodness me, we're going to have years and years of conflict.

Glenda Wildschut, former TRC commissioner

People call it a miracle. I don't call it a miracle, because I think people really sacrificed a lot for where we were then in '94.

Glenda Wildschut, former TRC commissioner

Wildschut says democracy was hard won.

But even with all the horrible, awful revelations during the truth Commission, we had no revenge attack, not one.

Glenda Wildschut, former TRC commissioner

The mandate of the TRC was to deal only with gross violations of human rights. But Wildschut says they tried to send researchers to the towns where hearings were to be held, to provide a context and understand the social issues that these places were facing.

Immediately after the Commission, I thought we were moving in the right direction...There was a lot of talk about the beneficiaries of apartheid.

Glenda Wildschut, former TRC commissioner

She says there were discussions about what people who had benefited from apartheid could do to contribute in some way. Even victims of apartheid who were more affluent, wanted to help.

But she says, all these initiatives have failed.

I think our country is in ICU at the moment, or high care...we are not talking enough about the impact of the past, there is not enough space for empathy.

Glenda Wildschut, former TRC commissioner

Listen to this latest episode below, and go to History for the Future to listen to other episodes in the series by veteran journalist Pippa Green, as she interviews 13 former TRC commissioners about the work they did and the impact on South Africa today.

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