Books

FORGOTTEN TIMES

Excerpt from Forgotten Times

June is mid-winter in Cape Town. Thursday 16 June 1988 was cold, icy cold, with a strong wind that blew through the city centre. The streets in the inner city were deserted at 3am. The homeless were huddled in whatever shelter they could find. A corrugated board packing case and a sheet of heavy plastic tucked away in an alley between two buildings through which the wind whistled, or in a sheltered entrance to a department store, were considered luxury.

It was the twelfth anniversary of the Soweto uprising in 1976 when students rose in defiance of government edicts requiring that they receive education through the medium of Afrikaans, which many regarded as the language of the oppressors. Security forces patrolled the streets to ensure that the remnants of the earlier anniversary protest crowds had dispersed. The patrols were, in any event, regular features of life because of the increasing crime rate in the Mother City and Umkhonto we Sizwe attacks on nightspots.

The three men were dressed in black tracksuits and running shoes. Black balaclavas masked their faces. Two carried heavy suitcases. The leader had a sub-machinegun slung over his shoulder. They moved silently and swiftly in the dark shadows of buildings along a route they had previously reconnoitred, stopping outside a locked side door. It yielded readily to their leader's key. They moved downstairs to the empty parking basement.

return to books | order now