Gillian Slovo

The Politics of Forgiveness

We Are Not Such Things: A Murder in a South African Township and the Search for Truth and Reconciliation


Fourth Estate 528pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

On 25 August 1993, Amy Biehl, a 26-year-old African-studies major from California, agreed to give three friends a lift into the Cape Town township of Gugulethu. Amy was in South Africa researching the role of women in the coming transition to democracy. Now, with her studies complete, she was about to go back to America. She knew how bloody the years since Mandela’s release had been, but she’d also previously travelled in and out of Gugulethu without incident. This time, however, she ended up driving towards a demonstration organised by the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC). The PAC is an African nationalist movement that split from the ANC in the 1950s and whose supporters used the slogan ‘one settler, one bullet’, with anybody white being counted a settler. At the sight of Amy, members of the crowd attacked. A brick thrown through the windscreen hit her and when, disoriented and terrified, she stumbled from the car, she was chased, brought down and stabbed. ‘What did I do?’ she is quoted as saying (though we are never told who heard this), followed by ‘I’m sorry’, her last words before dying. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Tarantino's latest film is 'a fairy tale about Hollywood, where fantasy is an industrial product and the boulevards… ,
    • 'I don’t think we’re here on Earth to be Happy. I think we’re here on Earth to help God. I am a messianic writer'.… ,
    • 'Darley’s book is not a mad dash through this most compelling and complex of English counties. Nor is it another ti… ,
    • 'Moser’s book offers such a gripping account of a profoundly damaged human being, trapped in a cycle of repetition,… ,
    • 'Ideas that I’d thought were set down in full continue to smoulder ... this book is only a snapshot of some larger… ,
    • 'Full of invention which, at its most pedestrian, is eminently Victorian, and at its most unrestrained wildly imagi… ,
    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,