This book offers a history of murder and rape in South Africa. Based on confidential reports written by judges, attorney-generals, prosecutors and law advisers, it provides a disturbing insight into both the dark flow of passion that warped the mind of the murderer or rapist, and the judicial and political mind that determined who would hang and who would be reprieved. How impartial were white judges in sentencing black men to death for murder? Were men hanged on racial grounds? Were women treated more leniently than men? Were innocent men and women hanged? The book investigates domestic and public murder, ritual and political murder, wife and husband murder, racial murder and rape.
Each chapter revolves around the narrative of one exceptional crime: the child murderer, Mietje Bontnaal; the husband murderer, Agnes Dhlamini; the wife murderer, Bernard Schoon; ritual murderer, Mkhandumba Buthelezi; the Cape rapist, Solomon Africa; the Transvaal rapist, Fish Maloi; the political murderer, Samuel Long; the farmer murderer, Samuel Makgaai; and the robber murders, Samuel Sikepe, Josepyh Ndwakulu and Jack Sheshonga (this final chapter is a critique of the myths perpetuated in Alan Paton's Cry the Beloved Country).