Refusing transitional time: Re-opening the unresolved truth and reconciliation commission cases and the future of memory in postapartheid South Africa

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Thomas, Kylie
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De Gruyter
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This chapter focuses on the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and its aftermath, in particular, on the ongoing struggle to prosecute apartheid- era perpetrators who either did not testify before the Commission or who were not granted amnesty. Since 2003, when the final TRC report was released, none of the perpetrators responsible for gross violations of human rights committed during apartheid has been held to account. The unresolved cases of activists who were detained, tortured, and murdered by the Security Police have been systematically suppressed for political reasons. In 2017, as a result of campaigning by civil society organizations and family members of those who were killed, the inquest into the death of anti-apartheid activist, Ahmed Timol, was re-opened. The verdict in the 2017 inquest found that Timol, who allegedly committed suicide while held in police detention in 1971, was in fact tortured and murdered by the Security Police. The finding in this case not only opens the possibility for prosecutions in cases of gross violations of human rights, but provides a critical opportunity to recalibrate what I term ‘postapartheid transitional time.’ The re-opening of the unresolved TRC cases has the potential to radically shift how people think about what apartheid was, how it continues to affect the present, and how people experience and understand impunity and injustice.
Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) , South Africa , Apartheid , Post-authoritarian , Transition , Critical memory studies , Cultural studies , Memory
Thomas, K. (2023) 'Refusing Transitional Time: Re-opening the Unresolved Truth and Reconciliation Commission Cases and the Future of Memory in Postapartheid South Africa', in Robbe, K. (ed.), Remembering transitions: local revisions and global crossings in culture and media, (22 pp.) Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2023, pp. 137-158.
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