The twenty-seventh of August, 1984. We’re in Empangeni’s courthouse, a single-storey brick building next door to the post office. Mr Justice John Broome, presiding, is a dignified eminence. His manner is ascetic, his language grave and precise. Glenda Sanders, counsel for the defence, is young, blond and ambitious. She has a Cambridge degree behind her and a job with a major American law firm in her near future. The prosecutor, Dorian Paver, assistant attorney-general, is a graduate of the liberal University of Cape Town. Save for the interpreter, the officers of the court are all white.

It’s not just their skins that are white; their minds are white, too. They are generic whites with western values. They are all of the same high caste; all speak an English devoid of the flat, angular vowels of the white South African commoner. The ritual of justice about to be enacted is white, western, ancient and alien. It has nothing to do with Africa.

Africa is outside. You can hear it through the open windows – a clamouring throng of several hundred Zulus held at bay by cops with dogs. They’re climbing trees and standing on one another’s shoulders to catch a glimpse of their hero of the moment, the captured Hammerman.

The Extravagance of the Italians