These Are Not Gentle People by Andrew Harding
(MacLehose Press (UK), Pan Macmillan (SA), 2020)

These Are Not Gentle People

by Andrew Harding

Land. Race. Murder. Betrayal. The true story of a case that broke a South African town.

At dusk, on a warm evening in 2016, a group of forty men gathered in the corner of a dusty field on a farm outside Parys in the Free State. Some were in fury. Others treated the whole thing as a joke - a game. The events of the next two hours would come to haunt them all. They would rip families apart, prompt suicide attempts, breakdowns, divorce, bankruptcy, threats of violent revenge and acts of unforgivable treachery.

These Are Not Gentle People is the story of that night, and of what happened next. It’s a murder story, a courtroom drama, a profound exploration of collective guilt and individual justice, and a fast-paced literary thriller. Award-winning foreign correspondent and author Andrew Harding traces the impact of one moment of collective barbarism on a fragile community - exploding lies, cover-ups, political meddling and betrayals, and revealing the inner lives of those involved with extraordinary clarity. The book is also a mesmerising examination of a small town trying to cope with a trauma that threatens to tear it in two - as such, it is as much a journey into the heart of modern South Africa as it is a gripping tale of crime, punishment and redemption.

When a whole community is on trial, who pays the price?

Reviews

A smartly paced true crime thriller with a vivid cast of characters, “These are not Gentle People” is as tense as it is disturbing, richly evoking the mood of a dark, dry place in the heart of South Africa where racial fear lingers, brutal rage flares and everyone remains trapped in the cruel coils of history.”
- John Carlin
This is a book of profound importance. Through its pages there runs a deep and sympathetic understanding of a troubled country. A masterpiece.”
- Alexander McCall Smith