This image was taken by South African photojournalist, Jillian Edelstein as part of a project entitled, Truth and Lies. The project focused on telling stories related to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She writes:
" "In April 1996 an extraordinary process began in South Africa. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, under its chairman Archbishop Desmond Tutu, held its first public hearings to investigate over thirty years of human rights violations under apartheid. The Commission had been founded in the belief that truth was the only means by which the people of South Africa could come to a common understanding of their past, and that this understanding was necessary if the country was to forge a new national identity in the future. In the first two years more than 20,000 victims made statements to the commissioners and, encouraged by the possibility of amnesty, some 7,000 perpetrators came forward to confess their crimes." "
Her project for me takes on immense significance because of the bold aesthetic she employed in the creation of it. Using a large format view camera and showing the images uncropped forces the viewer to realise that these are indeed representations of the people involved. Edelstein then expands upon this by creating a series of images that feel more similar to film stills than traditional photojournalism. I can't help but think that this was a comment on the nature of truth and the role it would play within the TRC.
Finally, for anyone who grew up in apartheid South Africa the name Eugene Terreblanche holds significant meaning.
As the leader of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging, at the time probably the most right wing political party in South Africa, he was viewed as a type of boogie man by a large portion of South Africa. I wouldn't be at all surprised if there were families within South Africa's disenfranchised black communities that would warn their children to behave otherwise Eugene Terreblanche would get them. And it is this quality of humourless savagery that I feel this image conveys so well.
Of course, this reputation began to fray over the years as he became more famous for falling off horses than terrifying minorities. This wasn't helped when he struck up a relationship with a bottle blonde temptress from a liberal South African newspaper named Jani Allan (as England's Daily Mail described her). This relationship and the bizarre lawsuit that followed it allowed South Africa to peer behind the myth that Terreblanche had created and to be concise the population found not a monster but a clown.
In the end he became a further example proving the law that everything that is once feared inevitably becomes an object of mockery and ridicule. With a neighbour of his providing this particularly apt description of him, 'Ag, he's not a farmer, he's just a drama student.'
- EDELSTEIN, J. (2001). Truth & lies: stories from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. London, Granta Books.