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Franz Marx se eerste roman tref die rakke!

’n Spieël is ’n vreemde ding, want in ’n spieël leef ’n koue leuen; alles is andersom, verkeerdom en plat. Regs is links en links is regs. ’n Spieël lieg, dink hy, want jy kan jouself nie regtig sien nie, nes mens jouself nie kan kielie nie. Tensy jy natuurlik ’n soort aap is, dan kan jy jouself kielie. En lag. Maar Dolf Eksteen lag nie. Daar’s min rede die laaste tyd om te wil lag.

Joe Minnie se lewe raak verweef met dié van een van die rykste besigheidsmanne in die land. Sy opdrag is om Dolf Eksteen met sy lewe te bewaak. Dolf se weelderige bestaan word versuur deur bedelbriewe, afpersboodskappe en doodsdreigemente, en die beeldskone Belinda Eksteen, ’n opkomende vermaaklikheidster, is soos ’n emosionele en finansiële tikkende tydbom aan sy sy.

Met ’n rolverdeling wat ’n deursnit van die Suid-Afrikaanse gemeenskap bied – die onaantasbares, die onderdruktes, die onderduimses – word Spieëlbeeld ’n intense en meesleurende, psigologiese karakterstudie wat nog vir lank by die leser sal spook. ’n Wêreldklas spanningsverhaal waartydens die leser die speurder is.

Franz Marx is ’n bekroonde akteur, draaiboekskrywer, regisseur en vervaardiger met verskeie films, televisiereekse, enkeldramas en minireekse agter sy naam. Hy is ook die skrywer en vervaardiger van Suid-Afrika se eerste sepie, Egoli: Plek van Goud. Sy talle toekennings sluit in die Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns se SAUK-prys vir Televisiedramas vir die draaiboek van Die buitestaander (1986), asook die Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns se Erepenning vir Rolprentkuns (1995).


Unprecedented turnout at the launch of Jacques Pauw's The President's Keepers. Take that, SSA.

Peter Bruce in conversation with Jacques Pauw at the Exclusive Books, Hyde Park launch of The President’s Keepers. Pic: Exclusive Books.


The scene was set: a crowd nearing 1000 people. Former editor of Business Day and the Financial Mail, Peter Bruce, clad in a dapper waistcoat, whip smart mind at the ready. Photographers. Journalists. Bodyguards. Extra monitors placed on upstairs levels for those unable to find seating downstairs. And investigative journalist par excellence, Jacques Pauw, comfortably seated in a swivel chair.

Yes, the Johannesburg launch of the exceptional political exposé which is Pauw’s The President’s Keepers, a body of work exposing those keeping Jacob Zuma in power (think Guptas. Think mafia. Think Russian connections.) was about to kick off – with meaning.

And then, forty minutes into their conversation, the power tripped. Eina.

But before the whole of Hyde Park was engulfed in darkness (one bonus – no one had to pay for their parking tickets!), the CEO of Exclusive Books, Benjamin Trisk, opened the event by stating that this is probably the largest audience Exclusive Books has ever had – overshadowing Redi Tlhabi’s launch of Khwezi a few months ago by a margin.

Don’t believe him? See for yourself:

“I’d like to thank our marketing agency, the State Security Agency,” Trisk quipped to the audience’s delight. This comment was made in reference to NB Publishers, the publishers of The President’s Keepers, who had received a cease-and-desist letter from the SSA demanding that the book be withdrawn and certain parts of the book retracted.

Having sold out on the first day, with another 30 000 copies published little over a week after its initial publication date, and all 980 copies which were on sale at the launch sold out before the launch began (people were queuing for an hour), the sales of this book have been unprecedented and the attempt to censor it has only fueled South Africans’ curiosity.

“This is insane,” Bruce laughed. “I first read this book about two months ago. It was so terrifying I had to keep on leaving the room. He is so courageous; so relentless.”

(A similar comment was made by another reader, currently halfway through the book: “I actually wish I wasn’t reading it. What Pauw’s exposing is sordid. Simply sordid.”)

Pauw said he’s expecting even bigger reactions from law enforcement agencies. “If only they can sue us; we can have a court case, but it’s not going to help the state. South Africa’s legal reaction at the moment shows complete idiocy in law enforcement agencies.”

This book is of relevance to all tax-paying South Africans, with Pauw stating that “[I]n the space of two to three years, over a billion rand of your money was spent on the PAN-project,” adding that the director general of the SSA, Arthur Fraser, forged former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils’s signature on the document which condones this intelligence programme.

Fraser’s family is considering taking legal steps against Pauw, for exposing Fraser to be what he truly is – one of the (many) Zuma keepers.

The installation of a server in Fraser’s house which gave him direct access to state security secrets can be added to the list of crimes and misdemeanours committed by those currently governing our country.

And Pauw doesn’t stop at Fraser…

The auditor general has no insight into the budget of the state, Pauw declares. Light is shed on the mysterious break-ins at the office of the Chief Justice. South Africa’s National Protection Agency is named (and shamed) as having a hand in ensuring Zuma’s corruption-ridden party remains in power.

Riveted? So were we. Unfortunately Eskom thought otherwise.

The blackout didn’t deter Pauw or the stalwart bibliophiles, with Pauw signing books (by cellphone light) until 23:30. Ja-nee, kyk. Pauw and our concerned, conscious South Africans aren’t going anywhere.

Take that, SSA.

The President's Keeper

Book details

Join Julie Mentor and her team at Embrace for a day dedicated to storytelling and reading as a family

Two sets of chubby legs sit on either side of mine. Sticky fingers tap at the page in front of us, ready to turn at the right time. I sniff the sweet mix of dried sunblock and apples and a day full of playtime. Raising toddlers means that there are very few moments of ‘quiet and calm’ in our home. Our boys prefer to be roaring dinosaurs exploring the tops of my furniture to doing activities that require them to sit still.

The current single exception? Story time. “Would you like me to read you a story?” I ask, and off they run to their bookshelf to choose which adventures we will go on for the evening.

We settle in our favourite story-time spot, my eldest on my right and my youngest on my left, and I begin. “Wise old man, won’t you help me please? My house is a squash and a … SKWARK!” I exclaim with a glint of mischief in my eyes that I believe would get Julia Donaldson’s approval. This sends them into a fit of giggles and exuberant head-shaking – every time!

“No, Mommy. It’s a squash and a SQUEEZE!” They both yell, wrapping their arms around me in demonstration. “Oh is it really?” I ask, squeezing them back.

There are times where I miss my babies. My growing boys are, rightly, more selective with their affection. They seldom nap in my arms. They are too busy enjoying their growing independence. I get it, I really do, but oh how grateful I am for story time. Our bodies hug each other, our heads bend in and my boys are happy to just be. We create our own little world and our own rhythm and I’ve come to treasure this space in the bustle of our daily lives.

As a working mom, the burden of guilt is constant. I do not have endless time to spend taking in the wonder of my precious boys. I have to find creative ways to be in their world. Reading together sparks endless and often surprising conversations. Story time can be so much more than the story. It can be tickles and songs and squeals.

Story time is not only for the kids. I find myself drawn to the baritone lilts in my husband’s voice as he brings the book characters to life. We are both amused and amazed by our three-year-old’s ability to recall and recreate his version of his favourite tales. More questions, more belly laughs, more interpretations. Our family comes together around books. They fill our home, our car, our conversations and our imaginations.

You can join Julie Mentor and her team at Embrace at the Kids at the Centre event which takes place on Saturday 18 November at the Company’s Garden in Cape Town from 10am – 2pm. Together with Nal’ibali and a host of partners, the event will celebrate all children and focus on fun interaction through a variety of activities including a dedicated space for sharing the love of storytelling and reading as a family.

Reading and telling stories with your children is a powerful gift to them. It builds knowledge, language, imagination and school success! For more information about the Nal’ibali campaign, or to access children’s stories in a range of South African languages, visit:

"Zuma is symbolic of the rottenness of this country" - Ronnie Kasrils at the launch of A Simple Man

“Why did you decide to include the subtitle?” An audience member asked towards the end of the launch of Ronnie Kasrils’s A Simple Man: Kasrils and the Zuma Enigma on the second of November.

The answer is simple:

Was Jacob Zuma truly this ‘simple man’ people are making him out to be? A working-class hero (in the most simplistic sense); or someone with ulterior motives, who succumbed to the allure of power? Kasrils’s memoir explores their shared history in exile, and covers his years as minister of intelligence, the overthrowing of Mbeki, and his current views on the state of affairs in contemporary South Africa.

Kasrils’s initial impression of Zuma, upon meeting during their years of exile in the 1980s, is far removed from the one he presently holds; he remembers Zuma as an engaging, pleasant man; “a well-dressed activist”. The cover image of the book has managed to elicit response – the smiling, young man (with a substantial amount of hair…) can be regarded as the antithesis of the corrupt figurehead we call our president.

It is precisely the flawed nature of Zuma which encouraged him to write the book; to question whether he truly is/was the ‘simple man of the people’.

“Where cometh the flaws?”

Kasrils is intrigued by the nature of flaws, and does not believe that one is born flawless. In A Simple Man he attempts to gauge how Zuma’s flaws went unnoticed, and what led to his demise as an immoral, corrupt politician. Could it be that he was a ‘great guy who fell from grace?’ Or was he corrupted by the allure of money and power?

A continuous theme of A Simple Man is Kasrils’s concern of how South Africa came to be a country in dire straits, with Zuma’s role of the demise of the country explicitly stated. “I want to explain to people who this is man is and how we came to be where we currently are.”

Kasrils mentioned Jacques Pauw’s recently published The President’s Keepers: Those Keeping Zuma in Power and out of Prison (Tafelberg, 2017), lauding Pauw for writing a book set in the “now”, adding that Zuma is “symbolic of the rottenness of this country.”

In keeping with the subject matter of Pauw’s book, Kasrils declared that Zuma is made powerful by “his cronies and flunkies; this is a country entrenched in corruption.”

Despite outright declaring Zuma as a corrupt human, Kasrils does not believe in John Acton’s axiom that “absolute power corrupts absolutely”; according to Kasrils power reflects character. And, no, ‘power’ does not only apply to those ‘in power’ (eg. heads of states, CEOs, etc.) It can even be something as simple as your relationship with your domestic worker, he stated.

Zuma’s abuse and disgusting misappropriation of power was evident during his rape trial in 2005. When Kasrils received a phone call from Fezeka Kuzwayo (Khwezi) – who both he and Zuma helped protect in her parents home during their years of exile in Swaziland – telling him “Uncle Ronnie, Jacob Zuma has raped me”, Kasrils described Zuma’s defense as “utterly sordid”. His chauvinistic nature was exposed, and he took “so much away from this young woman, deeply disturbed by the events.”

“It was a glaring example of this man who showed himself to be a predatory monster – and more.”

Another element of Kasrils’s book, other than revealing the true nature of Zuma, is what he calls the Faustian Pact. Referring to Goethe’s tragic play in which his protagonist, Faust, sells his soul to the devil, Kasrils appropriates this classic tale — Zuma is the ‘protagonist’ who sells his soul to the devil(s): the Guptas.

The book does end on a positive note! Kasrils promises.

“Fundamental change is possible.

“Mass involvement between all South Africans managed to overthrow apartheid,” Kasrils said, and he believes that the inequalities currently experienced in the country can be eliminated. Unlike the Faustian Pact between Zuma and the Guptas, Kasrils firmly believes in the ‘People’s Pact’: a pact between South African citizens which gets into the roots of society, and is based on the ideals of eliminating illiteracy, uplifting our management of resources, and embedded in including the 60% of the population who live in abject poverty.

Viva, the People’s Pact, viva.

Book details

Book Launch: A hat, a kayak and dreams of Dar by Terry Bell

A hat, a kayak and dreams of DarJohn Platter says it’s “a terrific, uproarious story about the pluckiest, most ham-fisted, naïve, fun-loving and articulate couple ever to set off in a kayak.” – Join Terry Bell for the launch of his hilarious memoir, “A hat, a kayak and dreams of Dar”.

In December 1965, in a smoke-filled hotel room in Morocco, South African journalist Terry Bell accepted a challenge: to paddle a kayak from London to Tangier.

At the time, Terry and his wife Barbara were living as political exiles in London. By August 1967, they agreed it was time to get back to Africa. But they decided to up the ante.

Their plan: paddle 11 000 kilometres from England to Dar es Salaam in a 5-metre glass fibre kayak.

“You will paddle across waters high and low, cruise French canals, scrabble around the back streets of the Mediterranean world, hitchhike and travel in improbable vehicles across miles of desert before reaching the destination …” – Sholto Cross

“This is a crazy journey only true love could tolerate, in a time where everything seemed possible.” – Don Pinnock

Includes: a section on culinary kayaking – the recipes that Barbara cooked along the way.

“I’ll travel anywhere with Terry by land – but in a boat, never again! – Barbara Bell

About the author: A journalist and labour commentator, Terry Bell is author of several books, including Unfinished Business: South Africa, Apartheid and Truth. He co-authored Fordsburg Fighter: the journey of an MK volunteer (ISBN 9780994674425) with Amin Cajee in 2016.

Event Details

Book Details

Launch - Bantu Holomisa: The Game Changer by Eric Naki (21 November)

This autobiography looks at Bantu Holomisa and his journey into politics. As a son of a chief nothing less was expected of him than to go to school and get a university education. However he thought taking a gap year and starting a job in the post office would be great experience and make some money before going to university.

The book takes us through some life defining moments which lead to him joining the Defense Force, climbing up the ranks to being a respected Commander of the TDF. Alongside that we learn about the man who is generous and is known for helping his family, finding the love of his life and the family politics of being born to a royal family. Holomisa was a man who led with integrity and that is what carries him to being the Transkei leader. He has always had his own ways and not particularly leaning towards a political party or politics and that is what also leads to him being expelled from the ANC.

His expulsion stems from him wanting to always speak the truth and not letting others influence him otherwise. Due to numerous structures wanting him to still speak on their behalf he goes on to form the United Democratic Movement (UDM), which successfully gets elected into parliament a mere three years after his expulsion. He continues to be a thorn on the ANC’s side as an opposition in parliament.

Book details