Cover image for In the shadow of Sharpeville : apartheid and criminal justice
In the shadow of Sharpeville : apartheid and criminal justice
Parker, Peter, 1954 February 16-
Publication Information:
Washington Square, N.Y. : New York University Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xvii, 381 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
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KTL42.S38 P37 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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On September 3, 1984 in Sharpeville, South Africa, a peaceful demonstration about rent erupted into a bloody battle between white police and black residents. The Apartheid government arrested, tried, and sentenced to death six people for allegedly killing a town councillor. After an unprecedented international campaign, the prisoners were ultimately granted clemency and released.

In the Shadow of Sharpeville explores the case in comprehensive, personal detail. Among the "Sharpeville Six" was Francis Mokhesi, whose sister, Joyce Mokhesi-Parker and coauthor, Peter Parker, here scrutinize the crime and its investigation by the police, the prosecution's case, and the response of the defense. They argue convincingly that the convictions were obtained because of the inventiveness of the judge and the selective attention paid to the evidence. The authors further examine the corrupting effect of the system on its victims, using Francis Mokhesi's letters from death row to show how an individual responds to the pain and fear of impending execution.

In the Shadow of Sharpevill reveals the obduracy of a regime which refused to understand how indefensible its behavior had become and which still believed that a state could declare war on its people and win.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This volume examines the inherent bias and injustice produced by the apartheid-era criminal justice system in South Africa. It focuses on the arrest and trial of the "Sharpeville Six," charged with killing Sharpeville's deputy mayor during rent protests in September 1984. These protests occurred at the beginning of a long period of unrest that eventually led to the imposition of a state of emergency. The authors contend that the political dimension of this murder accounts for the miscarriage of justice that led to the death sentence for the defendants. Parker and Mokhesi-Parker, the sister of one of the defendants, trace the development of law under apartheid, the executive bent of the South African judiciary, and the lack of investigative expertise on the part of the police. Contradictions in the assertions of the authorities and the evidence of the case are clearly illustrated in detailed accounts of the prosecution's case, the defense, and the actions of the judge. Chapters also deal with the appellate process, the harsh conditions on South Africa's death row, and the successful international campaign to free the accused. Relying on extensive documentation, the authors indict not only the injustice of this verdict but also the apartheid system of criminal justice. Upper-division undergraduates and above. R. J. Griffiths; University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Table of Contents

Table of Casesp. ix
Acknowledgementsp. xvi
Authors' notep. xvii
Introductionp. 1
1 White Rule and Black Resistancep. 10
The road to Sharpevillep. 15
The aftermathp. 26
2 The Law and the Statep. 33
3 Apartheid's Criminal Lawp. 49
Police powers and the security lawsp. 56
The trial process--the availability of lawyersp. 60
... and their unavailabilityp. 64
The trial process--language and culturep. 66
The trial process--keeping the defence in darknessp. 71
The trial process--witneses, evidence and perjuryp. 75
The trial process--confessions and torturep. 80
Hearsayp. 85
Judicial prejudicep. 86
Judicial values and systemic biasp. 88
4 Judges and Torturep. 94
5 The Trial of the Sharpeville Accusedp. 111
A police investigationp. 115
Confessionp. 118
6 The Prosecution Casep. 123
7 How the Defence Repliedp. 131
8 The Judge's Contributionp. 144
9 The Nature of the Judgmentp. 151
The judge and his factsp. 151
The quality of reasonp. 154
10 The Sentence of Deathp. 166
Discretion and the gallowsp. 169
The liability of crowdsp. 172
Extenuation and the Sixp. 175
11 The Record of the Appeal Courtp. 181
South Africa's common purposep. 183
Legal professional privilegep. 195
Extenuation on appealp. 198
The second appealp. 199
12 Gaol and Death Rowp. 206
Incarcerationp. 210
Death rowp. 212
The regime of death rowp. 219
God in death rowp. 230
The approach of deathp. 237
Preparing for the gallowsp. 239
13 The Families and their Painp. 248
14 The Fight for Justicep. 260
The road to clemencyp. 277
Waiting on judgmentp. 290
Conclusion and Epiloguep. 293
Common purpose and the interim constitutionp. 300
The aftermath of death rowp. 302
Notesp. 305
Bibliographyp. 366
Indexp. 377