Source: (1996) Mayibuye History and Literature Series No. 74. Claremont,South Africa: David Phillip Publishers and University of the Western Cape.

This book, published in 1996, was written in the early years of the transition from apartheid to democracy in South Africa – the period of constitution-writing and of the work of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The authors, all with legal and human rights experience, represent nevertheless a variety of backgrounds. Kader Asmal grew up in a small town in South Africa, was drawn into politics in apartheid South Africa, was eventually exiled, and lived for nearly three decades in Ireland. Louise Asmal, Kader’s wife, was working for a British civil liberties organization in London when she met him. Ronald Suresh Roberts, from Trinidad, studied in the United States and Britain, with a particular passion for issues and realities of race, law, and politics. Their book consists of an examination of the apartheid past of South Africa. In scrutinizing the past, their aims are several, among them the following: to tell the truth about that past; to identify historical, political, and moral issues of apartheid in the international context; to assess apartheid in terms of human rights and morality and establish its illegitimacy and immorality; to assess the resistance to apartheid in terms of moral legitimacy; and to achieve a measure of justice for the victims of apartheid through a true accounting of the past. Yet their aims are not oriented merely to the past. They intend through this historical and moral examination of apartheid’s criminal governance to assist South Africa in the development of a new, democratic social order in pursuit of truthful and genuine reconciliation, not revenge or retribution.