Archbishop Desmond Tutu

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings

15 April 1996 — 31 July 1998
Artist: Anton Mombe
Location: City Hall, Buxton Street, East London
Artist Anton Momberg made the sculpture honouring Archbishop Desmond Tutu slightly smaller than life size, favouring intimacy over monumentality.
Picture: Gary Harlor © Gary Harlor

In the East London City Hall, on April 16, 1996, Archbishop Desmond Tutu dropped his head in his hands and wept. It was Day Two of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings; former Robben Islander Singqokwana Ernest Malgas was describing his torture by security police. The TRC received submissions from 21 000 people across South Africa, and Tutu, its chairman, would say of the process: "We have looked the beast in the eye. Our past will no longer keep us hostage. We who are the rainbow people of God will hold hands and say, 'Never again! Nooit weer! Ngeke futhi! Ga reno tlola!'"

From The Archives
Tutu and the Nobel Peace Prize
On October 16, 1984, the Nobel committee announced that Desmond Mpilo Tutu would become the second South African to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, unleashing a mixed tide of adulation and criticism.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission
THE Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was a crucial aspect of South Africa's transition to a new government and universal franchise.
Facing the Second Day of the TRC Hearings
The humanity and compassion with which Tutu led the TRC are nowhere more evident than in the patent emotional investment and engagement he brought to the proceedings.
Tutu's Moral Stature
Desmond Tutu has become a symbol of integrity within South Africa and on the international stage.
Life Stories
The Day the Truth Hit Home
On the second day of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, while listening to Singqokwana Ernest Malgas describe how he was tortured by apartheid security police, Archbishop Desmond Tutu dropped his head in his hands and wept.
Making the Memorial
Who is Anton Momberg?
PORT Elizabeth-based sculptor Anton Momberg has produced just one meticulous new sculpture a year for the past 10 years, flying in the face of the pervasiveness of mass production.
The Light Bulb Moment: The Artist's Concept
Anton explains the symbolism behind the open hands of Tutu's statuette, saying they demonstrate his honesty before his country.
"It has been an incredible privilege to preside over the process of healing a traumatised and wounded people."
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 1993
Picture: © The Sunday Times


In this lesson plan, learners will be offered the opportunity to think about the impact of personal testimony about apartheid-related events. They will also be asked to interpret a cartoon, and to think about the long-term effects of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

Lesson plan
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The truths that hurt
Contains extract from the SABC’s coverage of the TRC showing the testimony of Singqokwana Ernest Malgas and Archbishop Tutu’s emotional reaction to it.