AMNESTY CHRONICLES, the inner history of the amnesty negotiations during the South African transition, and the origins of the TRC's amnesty process

: du Toit (A.)

R 380.00
- +

310pp., 4to., illus., paperback, Stellenbosch, 2022


"Finally, a book about the amnesty negotiations and the origins of the TRC we have all been waiting for. André du Toit cuts through the forest of myths that surrounds the commission, and clears away the hagiographic brush that continues to smother one of South Africa’s boldest political experiments to reveal essential truths about the high moral and political cost of South Africa’s transition to democracy. Meticulous in his research, rigorous in his engagement with sources, both human and textual, and sophisticated in his analysis of what this all means, Du Toit has given us a magisterial chronicle of how amnesty came to be such a vexed and divisive issue in post-apartheid South Africa. A fine achievement from one of South Africa’s finest thinkers."  Jacob Dlamini, Associate Professor of History, Princeton University

"At once an exercise in excavation and a bracing work of post-conflict political philosophy, Du Toit challenges the presiding assumptions about the dialectical relationship between the advent of democracy and the purposes and uses of political violence … By reorienting our criticisms and evaluations of the TRC towards the idea of amnesty as a truth-seeking project, Du Toit succeeds in giving the country’s transitional period a new set of narratives, ideas and chronologies from which to rewrite the history of the past and its implications for the future." Hlonipha Mokoena, Associate Professor, Wits Institute for Social & Economic Research (WiSER)

"Amnesty Chronicles provides a meticulous account of how, and how relatively late, the concept of amnesty evolved in the lengthy discussions between the political actors who negotiated the way to South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy. This detailed record and evaluation of the process provides no confirmed proof of a 'secret deal' between the ANC and the NP to protect their own supporters. This may disappoint the families of victims, victims themselves, and the lawyers and organisations assisting them in their quest for justice, who believe it is the only explanation for the obstacles and delays encountered in seeking to bring to court those perpetrators who did not obtain amnesty. If there was a secret deal, it remains in the minds of those who participated in it. A vital part of this book lies in the significance of this account for present-day South Africa. The opportunity for truth-telling in order to qualify for amnesty was rarely taken by those most responsible, thus denying the victims and the whole country the right to acknowledgement – a vital ingredient for a reconciliation process. Amnesty Chronicles is both a scholarly and eminently readable book, which raises a range of issues relevant to South Africa’s current and future governance." Mary Burton, former president of the Black Sash, and a member of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission 

Andre du Toit is Emeritus Professor of Political Studies at the University of Cape Town, and Associate Research Fellow of its Centre for Social Science Research. As Emeritus Professor, he founded and directed a graduate interdisciplinary programme on Justice and Transformation, dealing with transitional justice and the legacy of the TRC. In earlier years, he taught political philosophy at the University of Stellenbosch. 

He was a member of the Study Project on Christianity in Apartheid Society (SPRO-CAS), and was responsible for the report of its political commission, titled South Africa’s Political Alternatives (Ravan Press, 1973).

From 1984 to 1993 he was a founding co-editor of Die Suid-Afrikaan, and a member of the group of Afrikaans academics and business people which met with an ANC delegation in Dakar in 1987.

From the early 1990s he was a board member of Idasa, and was closely involved in preparatory discussions for the TRC under the aegis of the NGO Justice in Transition, established by Alex Boraine.