David Fermer


David Fermer
Stuttgart: Thienemann, 2009
251 S.
ISBN 978-3-522-20055-4

A serial killer is alarming Cape Town. His victims are always culprits from the apartheid era. Apparently, the killer sees himself as an avenger. The "Apartheid-Killer" causes a public controversy: is he establishing a justice that the South African society is still withholding from the victims of apartheid or is he simply a vicious murderer?

Milan Julitz, the son of wealthy parents of German extraction, admires his History lecturer, Kurt Stein. When Milan falls in love with Zeni, the daughter of his parents' maid from Khayelitsha, he is directly confronted with crimes from the apartheid era that have still not been resolved. Zeni's father, the policeman Charles Kumalo was killed by his own colleagues after he discovered that one of them had tortured and killed his father-in-law. Milan's beloved grandfather, however, was on the side of the perpetrators. In 1968 he had taken part in the razing of District Six where Zeni's parents used to live. The teacher, Kurt Stein is also a victim of apartheid. Towards the end of the 70s he had an illicit relationship with a coloured woman, Dorothy. Both were thrown into gaol, Dorothy for a longer time than Kurt. Later he married a white activist who was murdered by criminals – but perhaps also by the apartheid secret service.

Then Milan discovers that Kurt Stein is the Apartheid-Killer. When Stein confronts his next victim in a Cape Town hotel, he is himself wounded. Milan saves him and helps to hide him, also hiding the murder weapon. Even now, when he realizes that his teacher is a killer, he still admires him. He wants to follow in his footsteps and avenge Zeni's grandfather by killing his murderer. "Man cannot live without justice, said Mr Stein. Often one simply has to take it." But when he stands in front of the former policemen with the weapon, he is not able to use it. Kurt Stein, who had warned him, was right: Only when one has oneself experienced the pain of injustice, can one kill because of it. Along with Zeni, he hands Stein over to the police.

Shortly afterwards, Milan discovers what Stein had meant in a gruesome way. When he comes home one day, he finds his mother lying in a pool of blood, murdered by burglars. They had forced Zeni's cousin to let them into Milan's house. In despair Milan races to Khayelitsha. Standing in front of the cousin with his pistol, he experiences the anger that makes killing possible. Now he can understand what Stein was feeling. But still he does not kill. Zeni convinces him that further killing only brings further suffering. "Blood only calls for more blood. At some stage we have to stop it. Simply stop it."

David Fermer: Justice

This is a suspense-filled crime and youth story that deals with burning ethical questions. What is justice? How can injustice be reconciled?More ...