When Allan Boesak entered Pollsmoor prison last month, even some of the prison guards demonstrated on his behalf. Before entering the gates, the theologian, antiapartheid activist and onetime leader of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches again asserted he was innocent of theft and fraud involving donations to his Foundation for Peace and Justice (FPJ).
Boesak’s imprisonment dominated the news in South Africa. The passionate outpourings both for and against the sentencing resembled those surrounding the O. J. Simpson trial in the U.S. In both cases, the trials exemplified some of the deepest stresses of their societies.
But key differences stand out. Undisputed documents and impeccable witnesses leave little doubt about Boesak’s guilt. And the central issue in the Boesak controversy is not race but the rule of law.