Permanent Removal is a beautifully written political thriller focusing on the nature of justice, truth, betrayal, socio-political and ethical quandaries, complicity and moral agency. The novel introduces readers to a cast of players whose destinies intertwine in a particularly gruesome murder.
The novel is set in apartheid South Africa and the start of the Rainbow Nation. South African security forces set up a roadblock to intercept a car near the city of Port Elizabeth. Two of the four anti-apartheid activists in the car were secretly targeted for assassination. The police abducted the four and murdered them in cold blood. Their burnt bodies were found later near the Port Elizabeth suburb of Bluewater Bay. These murders are one of apartheid's murkiest episodes.
On the day of the funeral, President PW Botha declared a State of Emergency. It was the beginning of the end.
Works such as Jacob Dlamini's penetrating and discursive Askari and the recent publication on Eugene de Kock as state sanctioned perpetrator of various evils will be complemented in no small measure by this intriguing fictionalised exploration of political executions and culpability/loss during the apartheid heyday.
About the Author
Alan S. Cowell is an award-winning New York Times journalist. He was assigned to Johannesburg in the mid-1980s and was awarded the prestigious George Polk Award for courageous reporting. The government of the day ordered him to leave in early 1987 and he was not allowed to return until the early 1990s. Since then he has been a regular visitor, most recently covering the Oscar Pistorius trial and anchoring coverage of the death of President Mandela.
Author Alan Cowell
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