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20 years ago today, TRC hearings started

The TRC hearings were an important and emotional milestone in the country's history.

This file photo taken on 21 August 1996 shows former South African president FW de Klerk (R), handing over the party's submission to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) during the National Party's submission before the TRC in Cape Town. Picture: Anna Zieminski/AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Today marks exactly 20 years since the start of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) hearings.

The TRC hearings were an important and emotional milestone in the country's history. The body was created to provide a platform for victims of violence of apartheid to speak out, while perpetrators were also allowed to speak before the TRC and apply for amnesty from prosecution.

Nearly 33 years since the disappearance of Nokuthula Simelane, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has finally decided to criminally prosecute four former apartheid policemen for her murder.

She was an Umkhonto we Sizwe member working in operations between Swaziland and South Africa.

At the TRC, three of the accused applied for amnesty from prosecution for her kidnapping, but not for her murder.

Former investigative unit head of the TRC advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza says it was a tense and emotional time during the investigations.

"There were challenges every inch of the way. We had to go through a whole web of legal gymnastics to see whether or not we could go ahead. Madiba said that guy must be given a 24-hour security protection."

Simelane's family says all they want is to have her remains for closure.

WATCH: Slain MK veteran's family wants closure