No Future Without Forgiveness

Tutu, Desmond

Doubleday, 1999

p. 286

Of serving on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Tutu says: “we were shattered at what we heard and we did frequently break down or were on the verge of it. . . . we may never know just how much what we went through has affected us; the cost of it to us and to our families. . . . Many reported disturbed sleep patterns; some were deeply concerned that they were more short-tempered, quarreled far too easily with their spouses, or were drinking far more than they should. The journalists who reported on the commission regularly were also affected. Some had nervous breakdowns, or cried far more easily than they had known themselves to do previously. It was particularly rough for our interpreters, because they had to speak in the first person, at one time being the victim and at another being a perpetrator. ‘They undressed me; they opened a drawer and then they stuffed my breast in the drawer which they slammed repeatedly on my nipple until a white stuff oozed.’ ‘We abducted him and gave him drugged coffee and then I shot him in the head. We then burned his body and while this was happening, we were enjoying a barbeque on the side.’ It could be rough as they switched identities in that fashion. Even those physically distant from the hearings were affected by the deeply moving stories: the person heading our transcriptions service told me one day how, as she was typing transcripts of our hearings, she did not know she was crying until she felt and saw the tears on her arms.’