Drama - Development 2015

Screen adaptation of Peter Harris award winnig book about his almost unwinnable task to protect the legendary Delmas Four from death sentence.

    • Year of production
    • 2015
    • Genres
    • Drama, Thriller
    • Countries
    • Languages
    • Budget
    • 5 - 10 M$
    • Duration
    • 100 mn
    • Writer(s)
    • Greg LATTER
    • Producer(s)
    • Nils DÜNKER
    • Synopsis
    • Based on true events and real people, ‘In a Different Time’ is a
      window into an extraordinary period in South Africa’s history when
      one man’s terrorist was another man’s freedom fighter. It was a time
      when government forces committed appalling atrocities to quell
      growing resistance to Apartheid whilst the exiled ANC, intent on
      destabilizing the ruling regime, sent in trained Umkhonto we Sizwe
      (or MK) operatives to assassinate and bomb.
      Human rights lawyer Peter Harris is appointed by the ANC to
      represent four MK soldiers being held at Pretoria Maximum Security
      prison on charges ranging from murder to High Treason. The
      infamous four – Jabu, Ting Ting, Neo and Joseph, commonly known
      as the ‘Icing Unit’ – choose to neither deny nor defend their actions,
      insisting they are soldiers fighting a just war. They are worried about
      the fifth member of the gang – Justice – who has disappeared without
      a trace. Without a defence, Peter warns they have little chance of
      escaping the death penalty. So be it.
      The past, present and future are interwoven to create a suspenseful
      political thriller played out against the backdrop of a courtroom drama
      where the outcome is predictable but the ending unexpected and
      General Swart from the Security Branch (SB) instructs bomb expert
      Japie Kok to create a devise intended for a very critical target.
      Scenes from the past reveal the traumatic and humiliating experiences
      endured by the four accused growing up in a country hostile to the
      colour of their skin, that ultimately led to their decision to take up
      arms. They carry out their deadly missions with precision and
      discipline and, when finally apprehended, are mercilessly tortured by
      the SB before being charged and imprisoned. Justice is captured
      separately by Captain Dirk Coetzee and his partner Almond
      Nofomela. Like so many in the SB, Coetzee is a reckless and
      dangerous man. Justice is tortured to the point of death and then his
      body disposed of using explosives.
      Peter and his assistant Bheki Mlangeni, a newly qualified black
      lawyer and political activist, sit through the trial in frustrating silence.
      As expected, the court rules the men guilty as charged and sentences
      them to death, all except Joseph who will serve life on Robben Island.
      Peter proposes that Jabu, Ting Ting and Neo’s families lodge an
      appeal against the death sentence but the three only agree to it once it
      has been sanctioned by ANC head office in Lusaka.
      Whilst the prospect of death looms large over his clients, whom he has
      come to regard as friends, Peter’s wife Caroline gives birth to their
      first son. Their joy is tinged with fear – there is so much violence all
      around them.
      Sometimes separate lives become strangely interlinked. Coetzee and
      Nofomela attempt to retrieve Coetzee’s money from a fraudulent
      diamond dealer – things go wrong and Nofomela shoots the dealer and
      lands up in Death Row, ironically alongside Jabu, Neo and Ting Ting.
      Coetzee gets shunted to narcotics. Outcast from the police, Nofomela
      follows Jabu’s advise to talk to a lawyer about the secret hit squads
      operating within the South African police. When the story breaks in
      the newspaper Coetzee knows he has to get out of the country, fast.
      Without even telling his wife he heads to Mauritius and later seeks
      protection from the ANC in Lusaka. Peter and Bheki are sent to
      Lusaka to interview Coetzee who describes his exploits in graphic
      Japie Kok informs General Swart that the device, a cassette player
      with earphone bombs, is ready. The package is posted to Lusaka.
      A commission of inquiry, presided over by Judge Harms, is convened
      in London to investigate Coetzee’s allegations regarding hit squad
      operations within South Africa. Both Peter and Bheki are in
      attendance. Despite Coetzee’s violent outbursts and erratic behaviour,
      the horrendous truth of state sanctioned assassinations is finally
      Back in Lusaka, Coetzee goes to the post office to collect a parcel.
      Instinct tells him it’s a bomb and he refuses to accept it. The postal
      clerk checks the sender’s name and address: Bheki Mlangeni.
      The appeal, affected by Coetzee’s confessions, comes through – Jabu,
      Ting Ting and Neo are sentenced to life on Robben Island instead of
      the gallows. Everyone is overjoyed. A parcel arrive at work for Bheki.
      Later that evening, at home, Bheki unwraps his parcel – it’s a cassette
      player with a label reading: EVIDENCE OF HIT SQUADS. He
      inserts the earphones and presses the Play button…
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