Almost everyone agreed the end of Apartheid was inevitable and necessary. But there were those who felt that they were losing the country they love. Gysbert Moolman, one of them, believed there was no future for him or his children in South Africa under the new ANC government. As a demonstration of his anger and to make clear the hopelessness of his situation he plants plastic explosives in a school hostel. One of the police interrogators, trying to get the truth out of him, gets carried away and Moolman is unconscious after being tortured.
Time to save the children is slipping away and Yudel Gordon is called in to revive him. He agrees, but only if he can use his own methods to try to extract the truth from the suspect. “You have half an hour,” he is told. Yudel’s challenge is to find the hostel, before he blows it up, and so save the children. The case brings back memories of another one thirty years earlier when in that case too the subject was beaten by the police of the Apartheid government in almost the identical way.
The one big town in the Kalahari Desert was a quiet place. But in 1994 because the first democratic election was taking place and because the mighty river that flows by the town was coming down in flood it had stopped being a quiet place. Two deluges were facing the town, one political and the other caused by the flooding river.
Adding to the effect of the political deluge was the mob killing of a police officer in the township and the determination of Judge Meyer to find the entire mob guilty of murder for which the sentence is death. Yudel Gordon, in town on prisons business, and Colonel Kobus Malan, the town’s most senior police officer, find themselves struggling to deal with this seemingly impossible situation and a murderer.
Yudel Gordon saw the killing himself. One man, at the centre of an excited mob, did the killing, but only one. Judge Meyer felt increasingly uneasy during the days when it was clear the old Apartheid order was losing power. What kind of an object lesson was it, he asked himself, if a mob kills a policeman, to sentence only one person? How was that going to stop a communist-inspired revolution? Insurrection seemed to be everywhere. If blood was going to run, let it be the blood of revolutionaries, he thought, the more the better.
The case is a recipe for confusion that becomes even more confused when, in the court room, Yudel arranges an example of the problems around the blind acceptance of witness testimony. His demonstration is striking, but Judge Meyer is not amused by the chaos Yudel causes in his courtroom.