Skip to main content

No Place by the Fire: The Story of South African Ex-Combatants and the National Peace Accord Trust

Resource type: Case Study

The Atlantic Philanthropies |

During the political negotiations for a democratic South Africa and in the formative years following the first free and fair elections in 1994, a crucial group of people were largely overlooked—the estimated 80,000 ex-combatants who had fought to end the country’s apartheid system.

This report tells the story of the trauma and struggles of these former soldiers to adjust to life in a country that seemed to want to forget about them and the past, and charts the path that many veterans took to reclaim their place in society.

Authors Marian Nell and Janet Shapiro portray how some former freedom fighters began to find their way back by participating in an innovative approach to trauma therapy, and how ex-combatants gradually gained political savvy and demanded recognition and government resources to meet their needs. Much of this work was shepherded by the National Peace Accord Trust.

Atlantic commissioned this report. The National Peace Accord Trust is an Atlantic grantee. 

Videos: Forgotten Freedom Fighters

Produced by  in 2009, these videos follow a group of former South African ex-combatants that decided to stop waiting for the compensation promised to them by the African National Congress and to start their own business. 

 Forgotten Freedom Fighters – Part 2  Forgotten Freedom Fighters – Part 3