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Post Apartheid South Africa,
This review is from: Red Dust (Hardcover)
Sarah Barcant is a successful young lawyer in New York who grew up in Smitrivier, South Africa. One day she gets a call from Ben Hoffman, a retired lawyer who used to be Sarah's professional mentor, asking her to come back to Smitrivier to take up a case. And so after fourteen years, Sarah returns to the town where she grew up to do Ben a favour because she thinks she owes him so much. A policeman, Pieter Muller, is suspected of having killed James Sizela's son Steve during the Apartheid. Muller's culpability has been a belief in Smitrivier for thirteen years, ever since Steve was arrested on Pieter Muller's orders and then disappeared. So now the Truth Commission is James's last chance to find his son's body and have him properly buried. The timing appears to be perfect since the Truth Commission is about to deal with the jailed policeman Dirk Hendricks who applied for amnesty for the torture of Alex Mpondo, now an MP in the South African government. The plan is to use Alex Mpondo's presence at the hearing to threaten Hendricks that unless he reveals Pieter Muller's complicity in the murder of Steve Sizela, he may not get his amnesty. But the search for the truth is going to be far more arduous than Sarah imagined - perhaps even an impossible task.
Mrs Slovo casts a merciless look at contemporary South Africa where heroism and perfidy are no longer distinct, where new truths are as painful as old lies, where torturers, once heroes, are now victims. An excellent novel which shows the absurd relationship between aggressors and victims and the power between the torturers and the tortured.