I was invited to take part in a panel discussion following the screening of Shepherds and Butchers at the Toronto South African Film Festival. Inspired by true events, the film tells the story of a young white South African prison guard, traumatized by his work on death row, who faces the death penalty after killing seven black men. In the film, chilling facts emerge about capital punishment in South Africa during the Apartheid years. For example, in December 1987 21 men were hanged over a period of 72 hours, bringing the total of hangings in that year alone to 164.
Also appearing on the panel, which was moderated by journalist and author Dan Robson, were professor of psychiatry Anthony Feinstein and criminal lawyer Leonard Miller. Some of the questions I fielded: Why did hanging become the go-to punishment for serious crimes in South Africa? What did Canada and South Africa have in common when it came to capital punishment? Did Apartheid affect the numbers of black vs. white persons hanged in South Africa?