In Conversation: Justice David Smuts "There's a crack, a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.

—Leonard Cohen, “The Anthem”, 1992

In a new memoir, Justice David Smuts explores one of the darkest decades for human rights in Namibia, perpetrated by the South African apartheid regime. Using several cases he worked on as a young lawyer, he brings to light the arrest and torture of detainees, Koevoet killings, and the extent to which the country’s legal system was plunged into lawlessness.

As a work of Namibian nonfiction, Death, Detention, And Disappearances is a valuable historical work which adds to the country’s national memory.

In the first episode of the In Conversation series, Rémy Ngamije, Doek!’s editor-in-chief, sat down with Justice David Smuts to talk about his forthcoming book as well as his literary interests.


David Smuts is a current Justice of the Supreme Court of Namibia and the author of Death, Detention and Disappearance, a forthcoming book about the rule of law in pre-Independence Namibia. He holds an LLM from Harvard Law School. Justice Smuts has received an award as a Human Rights Monitor from Human Rights Watch in 1990 and was elected an Orville Schell Jr Fellow at Yale Law School in that same year. He was recently chosen as a member of the American Academy for Arts and Science in 2019. Justice Smuts is a current member of the WWC and a Doek! contributing editor.