Tag Archives: illustrated

Review: Bloody Lies – Citizens Reopen the Inge Lotz Murder Case by Thomas Mollett and Calvin Mollett

Bloody LiesInge Lotz, a Stellenbosch student, was found brutally murdered in her flat in March 2005. Her boyfriend at the time, Fred van der Vyver, was put on trial for the deed. Anybody who has ever held an opinion about what had happened to Lotz the day of her death should read Thomas and Calvin Mollett’s shockingly revealing Bloody Lies: Citizens Reopen the Inge Lotz Murder Case.

h its suggestive cover and brilliant title, the book not only profoundly questions the justice of Fred van der Vyver’s acquittal but the entire judicial system involved in arriving at the verdict. In times when high-profile court cases are becoming staple media spectacles in which many of us feel the need and right to participate, it might be of utmost importance for all concerned to consider what is at stake. The authors of Bloody Lies present compelling evidence that a serious miscarriage of justice took place in Lotz’s case. However, it is commendable that they do not try to sell their findings as gospel truth. All they ask is that readers think for themselves.

As the title of their book suggests, during their research the Mollett brothers uncovered some mindboggling discrepancies between the manifold interpretations of the evidence collected at the crime scene. One by one, they examined the available pieces of evidence – fingerprints, potential murder weapons, blood marks, autopsy report etc. – and in the process developed methods for analysis which have the potential of revolutionising such procedures in the future. Throughout they kept an open mind. They emphasise that their investigation sprung from their own fascination with the case, nobody hired them. Their meticulous scientifically-grounded experiments and revaluations are carefully presented and illustrated within the book (some of the visual footage is not for the faint-hearted).

In all the vital points the authors reached radically different conclusions to the ones presented to the court by so-called expert witnesses. Tasked with assisting a just ruling, instead expert witnesses are often called upon to intentionally mislead the court to affect a favourable outcome for one of the parties. Bloody Lies exposes a flawed system where the court more often than not is faced with negligence, indifference, or worse, ruthlessness and malice. During the Lotz trial careers of hard-working and well-meaning people were thus ruined.

It is impossible to cover all the relevant bases of this case in a single book, thus some niggling questions remain unanswered. But the authors have set up a website (Truth4Inge) to which they refer throughout the book and where interested readers are encouraged to address them.

Bloody Lies shines a penetrating light into the murky procedures of how evidence is collected and examined. People in the respective fields would be wise to re-examine both processes and to implement regulations which will make them less prone to error and misinterpretation.

Inge Lotz’s senseless death had tremendous impact on the lives of those who knew her and all who were involved with the investigation. Nobody walked away unscathed. Apart from the murderer perhaps.

Bloody Lies: Citizens Reopen the Inge Lotz Murder Case
by Thomas Mollett and Calvin Mollett
Penguin, 2014

An edited version of this review was published in the Cape Times on 11 July 2014, p. 10.

Interested in receiving a free copy of Bloody Lies? Please take part in my BOOK GIVEAWAY this month and stand a chance of having it (among others) sent to you. Good luck!

Book mark: Breyten Breytenbach, A Monologue in Two Voices by Sandra Saayman

BB_coverThe poet and painter Breyten Breytenbach was imprisoned in the 70s for high treason. In this exquisitely produced book, Saayman explores a new approach to this multifaceted artist’s work which was defined by his prison experience. Illustrated by quotes as well as the disquieting drawings and paintings from this period, Saayman’s analysis focuses on the key iconographic signs of Breytenbach’s oeuvre: bird, angel, strings and ropes. She remedies its fragmented reception by attempting to “find a way to look and read at the same time”, and invites us to study the web of meanings the visual and the textual mediations on execution, captivity, and fear of death create in context. They take the “reader and spectator beyond the threshold of easy contemplation” as they confront the horrors of imprisonment and the survival strategies of the artist.

"Steve Biko" and "Autoportrait devant le miroir" (both 1990) in Breyten Breytenbach, A Monologue in Two Voices (Fourthwall Books)

“Steve Biko” and “Autoportrait devant le miroir” (both 1990) in Breyten Breytenbach, A Monologue in Two Voices (Fourthwall Books)


An edited version of this book mark was published in the Cape Times on 4 July 2014, p. 12.

Breyten Breytenbach, A Monologue in Two Voices
by Sandra Saayman
Fourthwall Books, 2014

Interested in acquiring a copy of this book? Please take part in my BOOK GIVEAWAY this month and stand a chance of having a copy of Breyten Breytenbach, A Monologue in Two Voices (among others) sent to you. Good luck!

Review: Chatsworth – The Making of a South African Township edited by Ashwin Desai and Goolam Vahed

ChatsworthThe forty contributions to this voluminous collection give a remarkable insight into the trials and tribulations of a South African township. Comprising academic studies, personal essays, and eye-witness reports on Chatsworth and its residents, the richly illustrated volume spans large chunks of the history of the township and its multitude of residents since its inception in the early 1960s.

Purely factual accounts are interspersed with vibrant narratives, like the one offered by the playwright Ronnie Govender who captures the spirit of the entire book by writing that a “ghetto is designed to kill the spirit of its hapless denizens … Chatsworth is one of those ghettos that refused to buckle.” Nearly all pieces in the book convey this message of survival against all odds.

Each of the local and international contributors approaches the township from a different angle. Many pieces centre on historical events and socio-political processes which shaped the area, first and foremost the initial forced resettlements around which all other memories evolve. One report examines the protests which dominated the early 1970s against plans to ban private bus companies from Chatsworth. Others write about specific individuals and entire movements which have been combating the appalling living conditions in the township. They zoom in on the daily struggles of ordinary people facing displacement, dire poverty, unemployment, gang culture, drug abuse, or different forms of exploitation.

There is an account of the horrific incident which shook Chatsworth on 24 March 2000 when thirteen teenagers were killed in a stamped at a nightclub. The tragedy was a wake-up call for the community to rethink the infrastructures available to young people in the township. Such reports are contrasted with stories about people hailing from Chatsworth who have made a great success of their lives, like Kumi Naidoo, the present International Executive Director of international environmentalist group Greenpeace, or Kerishnie Naiker, Miss Africa of 1997, who through her Welfare Initiative has initiated and facilitated the building of the Chatsworth Youth Centre.

Reading about the uplifting role cricket and football played in the lives of Chatsworth’s players, their teams, and the communities which supported them makes one furious about the carelessness with which sports at school level have been dealt with by the post-apartheid dispensation. More inspiring is the story of the Denny Veeran Music Academy where legions of musicians are being taught to reach for their dreams.

The book includes a captivating photo essay by Jenny Gordon which focuses on the centres of worship in Chatsworth. It is a welcome companion to the few contributions which describe the religious make-up of the township and the challenges the various groups of worshippers encounter in their quest for spiritual guidance.

Chatsworth: The Making of a South African Township is not exactly a leisurely read and will not be of much interest to a general reader. For anybody wanting to look into the inner workings of a township, it will be a treasure trove of information and impressions. In this respect, I felt highly enriched by the book.

Review first published in the Cape Times on 2 May 2014.