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Confronting the South African Dilemma
on 12 January 2007
If it were possible to reduce an entire country's future to a dilemma, then you might say that post-apartheid South Africa's has been between forgiveness and revenge.
In this book, Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela very powerfully explores the intensely human aspects of this dilemma. Following on from her heart-rending experiences in the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, she becomes fascinated by Eugene de Kock, a man whose public persona came to personify apartheid's violent crimes.
Based on a series of prison interviews, the author provides a compelling account of de Kock's journey from loyal public servant to ruthless murderer. She describes how his conscience was numbed as his actions were implicitly condoned by the system he thought was protecting, and how he struggled after apartheid as his political masters deserted him and he is forced to confront his crimes. Dr Gobodo Madikizela is also generous in charting her own reactions to de Kock, less as a professional psychologist than as a black woman. Yet throughout she never loses her analytical edge, interweaving the narrative with authoritative commentary, clearly and compelling laid out.
The result is at once coolly rational and highly emotional; like the very best books, it challenges the mind as it tugs at the heart. I recommend it very highly.