A true classic of South African cinema that captures precisely and evocatively the politically charged atmosphere of the country in the late 1980s, when apartheid was at its most oppressive and destructive in daily life.
Panic stalks the streets of Jo’burg, waiting and lurking around street corners. Panic is a small-time crook specialising in picking pockets and mugging at knife-point. His criminal exploits are mostly solo, though on occasion he works with a partner. In one of the most memorable performances of South African film, Thomas Mogotlane creates the character of Panic. Whether moving slickly on the street, bullying his way at the shebeen, eluding his landlady, or taking advantage of his domestic-worker girlfriend, Panic is unforgettable. But it is his journey from petty thief to man of principle that is the true fabric of the film. Arrested one day with a group of political activists, Panic is interrogated by the security police. He is offered all sorts of financial inducements to testify against the activists sharing his prison cell. It is in these moments that he is forced to make some life-altering decisions.