1987, South Africa during apartheid. The 19-year-old, white prison guard Leon (Garion Dowds) commits an inexplicably violent crime when he murders seven blacks in a hail of bullets. The outcome of the trial – as much as the sentence – seems a foregone conclusion.
John Weber (Steve Coogan), human rights activist and passionate opponent of the death penalty, steps forward and assumes the defense. In the course of his research, John discovers that Leon previously worked in the death tract of the country’s most notorious prison. Like so many at the time, Leon was friend and hangman, shepherd and butcher to thousands of prisoners.
John realizes he’s dealing with a case that allows him both to bring the entire system of state-sanctioned murder to trial and, at the same time, to illuminate the traumatic conditions that caused Leon’s mental breakdown.