1993 – 1996

“We will be Free!”

The Arch casts his vote in favour of a free and democratic South Africa. The catalyst to the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

On the 19th April 1993, Chris Hani, leader of the South African Communist Party, was murdered by right-wingers. At Hani’s emotionally charged funeral, the “Arch” urged the crowd of around 120 000 to work peacefully together and end apartheid. He called on the mourners to chant with him: “We will be Free!”, “All of us!”, “Black and White together!”

Nelson Mandela subsequently went on to become South Africa’s first democratically elected president on the 27th of April 1994. The Arch voted for the first time to witness the fall of Apartheid regime and the birth of democratic South Africa where every citizen will be treated equally.

Following the elections in 1994, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was set up to bear witness to, record and in some cases, grant amnesty to perpetrators of crimes relating to human right violations. President Mandela asked the “Arch” to chair the TRC, with Dr Alex Boraine as deputy chairman. Public hearings of the Human Rights Violations Committee and the Amnesty Committee were held at a number of venues around South Africa. The first being held in East London Orient Theatre. The hearings were often harrowing and emotional, conveying the toll that apartheid took on all sides of the liberation struggle.

He retired from the Church in 1996 to focus solely on the TRC, and was later named Archbishop Emeritus. On his last address as the Archbishop of the Province of Southern Africa, he was awarded with The Order for Meritorious Service (Gold) for his outstanding service to the country.