An acutely nuanced and original study of a state-sanctioned mass murderer, AHuman Being Died That Night explores what it means to be human—both the good and the evil within us.
Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, a psychologist who grew up in a black South African township, reflects on her interviews with Eugene de Kock, the commanding officer of state-sanctioned death squads under apartheid.
Gobodo-Madikizela met with de Kock in Pretoria's maximum-security prison, where he was serving a 212-year sentence for crimes against humanity. In profoundly arresting scenes, Gobodo-Madikizela conveys her struggle with contradictory internal impulses to hold him accountable and to forgive.
Ultimately, as she allows us to witness de Kock's extraordinary awakening of conscience, she illuminates the ways in which the encounter compelled her to redefine the value of remorse and the limits of forgiveness.
About the Author
PUMLA GOBODO-MADIKIZELA served on the Human Rights Violations Committee of South Africa’s great national experiment in healing, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She lectures internationally on issues of reconciliation.