South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu (C) with fellow commissioners listen to testamony from witnesses during the start of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which opened in East London, 15 April. (Photo: PHILIP LITTLETON/AFP/Getty Images)
On this day in 1996, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission began hearings into crimes committed in South Africa by government forces and Black guerilla movements while the country was governed under apartheid rule, a system of racially oppressive laws enforced by the white-majority government. The commission, set up by President Nelson Mandela in 1995, heard testimony from individuals seeking amnesty for their actions. It also fielded about 20,000 claims for reparations from victims. The hearing concluded on July 31, 1998.
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