Shepherds and Butchers

Chris Marnewick

Umuzi; April 2008

Paperback, 415 pages


Leon Labuschagne’s livelihood depends on death. At nineteen, he is a warder on Death Row: a shepherd who cares for the condemned – and a butcher who escorts them to the gallows. After a gruelling two-week stint in which thirty-two men were hanged, Leon loses control, with tragic results. And now he’s the one facing the death penalty. Only the most precarious line of legal argument stands between Leon and the gallows. Chasing a defence, his advocate trawls the deepest recesses of life in the Pot – the twilight world of Death Row. A gripping courtroom drama steeped in the factual, Shepherds & Butchers begins in 1987, a year in which 164 people were executed. Two years later, the last man went to the gallows in Pretoria, after more than four thousand hangings that century. This novel portrays legal execution in unprecedented detail, revealing its devastating impact on all those involved.

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