Yesterday we went over to John's (our professor) house for our focus study discussion. We talked mostly about the amnesty committee in the TRC and the conditions under which people could be granted amnesty. The amnesty process was sort of a way of legitimizing the new democratic regime and denouncing the apartheid government. Under the conditions for amnesty, people had to admit that they had committed a wrong and feel remorse for it. There were also other conditions, like political motives, the object/objective of the crime, whether or not the person acted on their own or whether they were told to do so or not, etc.
We're focusing this week on a specific amnesty case involving a man named Brian Mitchell. He was granted amnesty for the murders of 11 people that he ordered killed in 1988 in a small town outside Pietermaritzburg called Trust Feed. They were supposed to be attacking a secret political meeting of the UDF, but accidentally went to the wrong house and ended up killing people who were at a wake. He was sentenced to death during the apartheid negotiation period and applied for amnesty after spending several years in jail. A lot of people argue that he shouldn't have gotten amnesty, but that because his trial was earlier in the process, he might have been given it to appease the apartheid supporters. He says however that he does feel a lot of remorse and has worked within the Trust Feed community to try to reconcile with them.
Today we actually went to Trust Feed, where we met the son of one of the victims, and he took us to a memorial that was constructed for the victims at the sight of the massacre. It was cool to see, but it was also kinda sad because it was unfinished, and didn't really seem like it was used much (although the pastor who let us into it said that they used it for small religious ceremonies sometimes). It also didn't really seem like too many of the people in the community really cared about it that much. This December is the 20th anniversary of it, and they aren't even doing anything special to commemorate it. I think the people are also really disappointed with the involvement of Brian Mitchell, because I think they wanted more money from them than they have actually received. The son was also afraid to be there for too long because apparently people in the community like to hound him for help or money (since his mom was a victim, they think he gets special treatment from Mitchell. He moved closer to Pietermaritzburg to escape them). It was pretty bizarre.
Last night my Baba said I should just stay with my homestay family forever. I told him I wouldn't be able to do that, but that I would definitely have to visit. I still can't believe that my Cato Manor homestay is almost over, or that I'm over halfway done with the program, or that ISP starts really soon. It's crazy! I'm excited about experiencing new things though. Although, I really don't wanna leave without Mama teaching me how to make steam bread. She usually makes it on the weekends, but didn't last weekend for some reason. Maybe she'll show me tonight? I don't know. Sala kahle!