Between life and death: stories from John Vorster Square - DVD and Educators' guide

"Whenever you were there,

you knew you were between life and death."

- Tsankie Modiakgotla, former detainee

This guide for educators is based on the DVD, Between life and death: stories from John Vorster Square, a virtual walk through the police cells of the 10th floor of South Africa's most notorious police station, where the security forces reigned in apartheid South Africa.

Commissioned by SAHA as part of the SAHA / Sunday Times Heritage Project and produced by Doxa Productions, the DVD features interviews with former detainees and security police as well as photographs, press clippings, drawings and other archival materials.

This guide, developed in collaboration with Shikaya, draws on the DVD to provide educators with sources, lesson plans and activities to teach aspects of apartheid history in line with curriculum requirements. 

The various sections of the guide can be downloaded for free by registered users:


Nature of the apartheid state and complicity of state structures
The challenge of Black Consciousness in the 1970s
The crisis of apartheid in the 1980s and the nature of resistance
What was the natrue of state repression in the 1970s and 1980s
How did the work of the TRC help South Africans confront the past?

Enrichment - Part 1

  • What was the psychological impact of violence?

Enrichment - Part 2

  • What contribution did the arts make in the resistance to apartheid?
  • What was the role of religious organisations in resistance to apartheid?
  • What kind of support did detainees have?

Interviewees and notes on the interviews

To purchase a copy of the guide and DVD, please contact our offices on 011 718 2560, or email