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Survey of truth and reconciliation in South Africa, 2000-2001

Version 2 2024-05-07, 07:12
Version 1 2023-10-27, 09:42
posted on 2024-05-07, 07:12 authored by Gibson, James L.

The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between truth acceptance and reconciliation among South Africans during and since the political transition from Apartheid to democracy. The study investigated the extent to which South Africans participated in the truth as promulgated by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the degree to which they were "reconciled." The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was based on the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act of 1995. The TRC investigated past gross human rights violations and granted amnesty to individuals in exchange for full and public disclosure of information related to these crimes. The hypothesis that truth acceptance leads to reconciliation was tested in this research. Data were collected through a rigorous and systematic survey of South Africans. Nearly all relevant segments of the South African population were included in the sample, as well as representative subsamples of at least 250 respondents of most major racial/ethnic/linguistic groups. Questions about the TRC investigated respondent awareness, knowledge, and approval of the activities of the TRC. Respondents were asked for their opinions on the effectiveness of the TRC in its efforts to provide a true and unbiased account of South Africa's history and in awarding compensation to those who suffered abuses under the Apartheid regime. Other questions about the TRC asked respondents how important it was to find out the truth about the past and achieve racial reconciliation. Demographic variables include age, marital status, education level, and employment status.

Response Rates: A total of 3,727 interviews were completed. In the primary sample, 3,139 interviews were completed. The boost sample included 588 completed interviews. The overall response rate for the survey was approximately 87 percent.

(1) This study was conducted in collaboration with Amanda Gouws (Stellenbosch University, South Africa), Charles Villa-Vicencio (Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, Cape Town, South Africa), and Helen Macdonald (Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, Cape Town, South Africa).(2) Two weight variables are included in the dataset. One weight variable (NATWT) should be used when analysis is not conducted by race, and the other (RACEWT) should be used when conducting analyses comparing respondent race. (3) Users must cite the original NSF grant number in all materials produced from this project.

South African population, aged 18 and over.

The area probability sample included a primary sample of South Africans of all races and a boost sample of white South Africans. Representative subsamples of at least 250 respondents of most major racial, ethnic, and linguistic groups were also included.


National Science Foundation



Stellenbosch University


Gibson, James L.




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South Africa

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  • Arts and Social Sciences

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Recommended Citation

Gibson, JL. 2000. Survey of truth and reconciliation in South Africa, 2000-2001. Stellenbosch University. Dataset. DOI: