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All Is Not Forgiven

South Africa and the Scars of Apartheid

Peace without justice: near Johannesburg, August 2011. Siphiwe Sobeko / Reuters

In old black-and-white photographs, the antiapartheid activist Ahmed Timol looks elegant, with an open face and a ready smile. One classic shot captures him midstride. Clad in dark sunglasses with a pipe dangling from his mouth, he has the dashing air of a 1950s film star. Shortly after that photo was taken, on October 25, 1971, Timol—a member of the South African Communist Party—was arrested. Two days later, he was dead. His body was found on the pavement outside the headquarters of the notorious Security Branch of the apartheid police in Johannesburg. An inquest overseen by an apartheid judge determined that Timol had committed suicide by jumping from a window. He was not yet 30.

Forty-six years later, on an October morning in 2017, a court in the now democratic South Africa ruled that Timol had been murdered. The police had lied, and the judge had covered up their crime. Far from

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