A Human Being Died That Night
Forgiving Apartheid's Killers
By Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela
[pounds sterling]8.99 Portobello Books
With a foreword by Nelson Mandela, A Human Being Died that Night recounts an extraordinary dialogue between Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, a black psychologist who grew up in South Africa and Eugene de Kock, the commanding officer of state death squads under apartheid. Gobodo-Madikizela met De Kock in Pretoria's maximum-security prison, where he is serving a 212-year sentence for crimes against humanity. It was here that she began a journey that would lead her to examine the far reaches of human cruelty and cause her to redefine the value of remorse and the limits of forgiveness.
Pumla tells the gripping story of how one of the most depraved state-sanctioned killers of the 20th century came to be, and the ways in which he rationalised his actions. She also explains how she and other black South Africans from the townships struggle with the sometimes contradictory impulses to hold such killers accountable and to forgive...