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By unknown | Jul 15, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

If we had such a feature this would be our book of the week.

Read it.

The Resolve Group business card that Peter Harris proffers shows he has a BA and an LLB from Rhodes University, and a Master of Law from Warwick.

But he writes as if his training was in literature or, better still, creative writing.

One reasons why you will enjoy the book, other than that it is Transnet boss Maria Ramos' current read, is that Harris writes beautifully, effortlessly, almost conversationally.

Another reason is that the subject, the trial of the Delmas Four, is one of those need-to-know stories from our chequered past.

This is the story of MK operatives Jabu Masina, Ting Ting Masango, Neo Potsane, Joseph Makhura, Rufus Kekana and Justice Mbizana.

The first quartet is arrested, one after the other, in September 1986 after stealing into the country intermittently since June 11 1978, when Masina committed his first killing assignment of support pillars of apartheid, In his case Orphan "Hlubi" Chapi, a notorious Soweto policeman.

Harris, a human rights lawyer then with the respected law firm Cheadle, Thompson and Haysom, tells the story of the men he was assigned by Lusaka to represent with a lot of feeling and respect, from the day in April 1987 when he got the call to June 1991 when the four were released.

He became friends with the men and their families; a huge part of their lives during their darkest hour.

He tells the tale of how Kekana blows himself up with a hand grenade as he confronts his attackers in a shebeen with the same compassion with which he tells of how Mbizana's skull was split open with a garden spade by the security police at the instruction of Captain Harry Prinsloo.

He writes: "Then Lieutenant Momberg and Sergeant Goosen attached six mini limpet mines to Justice's feet, hips and his bloody head. Mines were also put under his hands to ensure no part was left that could later lead to the MK guerilla's identification.

"Once Sergeant Goosen had finished the men drove off a short distance, then stopped to listen for the explosion. Captain Prinsloo switched off the ignition. They waited.

"The blast came loud and reverberated across the grasslands. Afterwards the veld lay silent. Captain Prinsloo started the car and the three men drove back to Pretoria."

Though also tortured, the four were, however, spared this gruesome end to their lives.

The death sentence duly came, mostly at the urging of the two assessors who sandwiched Judge Marius de Klerk.

It's a book that will reopen many wounds if you lived through the sad days.


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