JULY 2014

JULY 2014
This is the caption to a photograph that appeared in the Sunday Times on 22 December 1985. It’s a haunting image, starkly dramatic, shot at an angle by a photographer standing somewhere behind and to the right of his subjects, seeing them head first. Joe lies with his head turned to the left, eyes closed; he could be sleeping. Jacqui’s head is turned to the right, her eyes are half-open, her lips slightly parted; she could be waking.

Our newsletter this month focuses on a number of topical issues: archives and memory, and the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC); archives and accountability and the report of the Auditor General of South Africa (AGSA) on local government and; what our parliamentarians are saying and hearing about archives. We also report on news, opportunities and we’ve added two resources that deal with the issues of archives, human rights, healing, redemption and accountability.

OPINIONS

De Kock ordered my sister’s killing: and no, he has not paid for it
Jane Quin’s op-ed published online on by the Daily Maverick, shortly before de Kock’s parole application was considered by the Minister of Justice raises an issue that will resonate with many South Africans: the quest for justice and the failure of the state to follow through on the recommendations by the TRC. In this op-ed Jane tells the story of the killing of Jacqueline Quin, her husband Leon Meyer, known in exile as Joe, four other MK operatives, Nomkhosi Mary Mini, Lulamile Dantile, Vivian Stanley Mathee, Monwabisi Themba Mayoli (all South African citizens) and three Lesotho nationals Mankaelang Mohatle, Boemo Tau and Amelia Leseuyeho in a cross-border raid in Lesotho in 1985. We’ve used this op-ed, which we’ve republished, as the starting point for a series of commissioned posts.

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Reflections on Jan Quin’s Maverick piece
In her post, Theresa Edlmann, director of the Legacies of Apartheid Wars Project at Rhodes University, touches on the unresolvedness of notions of reconciliation, justice and accountability in post-apartheid South Africa, and how they form part of the complex legacies of the TRC 16 years after the last hearings took place. Edlmann concludes that what is needed right now is compassion and wisdom from both government and society, to enable a healing and re-humanising process governed by respect, not political expedience, trite notions of reconciliation or simplistic understandings of justice.

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Opening the TRC: A SAHA case study
Catherine Kennedy, director of the South African History Archive (SAHA), in describes the fine work that her organisation has done to making the work and records of, and surrounding, the South African TRC more readily accessible by drawing on the recommendations made by the TRC itself to direct its work. 

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Jacqui Quin and Leon Meyer: the life of a photograph
Jo-Anne Duggan traces the fascinating life story of the photograph of Jaqui and her husband Leon Meyer taken in the mortuary in Maseru and published in the Sunday Times on 22 December 1985. As all archivists know, every record has a life. It’s created, used, filed and then appraised to determine whether it should be destroyed or consigned to the archive. The life of this particular picture took a couple of unexpected turns as it made its way in the world. It didn’t, like others published in the same edition of the newspaper slip quietly into obscurity, to lie dormant in the archive. It left its mark on the family and on the photographer and it took on another life, inspiring a novel and being implicated in some way or another in a bombing. For the record, Jo-Anne Duggan has both a personal and professional interest in this topic. Jane Quin is her cousin, as was Jacqui.

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Memorialising a barbarous act of aggression: the first Maseru raid (1982)
Sebinane Lekoekoe, our Maseru-based correspondent, writes about the 1982 cross-border raid, in which 42 people were killed and many others wounded, from the perspective of the citizens of his country, whose sovereignty was violated. He asks how this act could or should be memorialised and how survivors, who still suffer, might be compensated.

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The AGSA’s report on local government 2012 - 2013
In a democracy, citizens expect their government to be open and accountable and they expect to have access to information about the activities of government. Likewise, democratic governments commit themselves to being efficient and accountable. None of this is possible without good record keeping. The AGSA’s Consolidated general report on the audit outcomes of Local Government 2012-2013 indicates that in many instances record keeping is inadequate or non-existent! In this post Jo-Anne Duggan consider the statements made about the state of record keeping and the measures put in place to improve the situation.

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What are our parliamentarians saying and hearing about archives?
The Archival Platform has on many occasions noted that significance of the archives, and the role that national and provincial archives and records services play in ensuring the proper management and care of all government records is insufficiently recognised and acknowledged by our leaders and decision-makers. “What”, we’ve often wondered, “do they really know or think about archives and what they do.” In seeking answers to this question, Jo-Anne Duggan turned to the Hansard, a verbatim report of parliamentary proceedings, to see what light it shed on what our political leaders are saying, and hearing about archives.

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