Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE

Penguin SA

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Archive for the ‘Zebra’ Category

Erich Rautenbach passes away in Canada

Erich Rautenbach pictured in Cape Town. Image: Erich Rautenbach CTHS Scholarship.

Erich Rautenbach, author of the South African memoir The Unexploded Boer, died in Vancouver, Canada on April 18th due to an aggressive relapse of leukemia. He was 63 years old.

Erich was born June 16, 1954 in Swakopmund, Namibia and grew up in Cape Town, leaving South Africa as a fugitive at the age of 21 after escaping from police custody. After some months in Europe and the Middle East as an undocumented refugee, he arrived in Canada where he eventually settled, raising four sons with his wife Mary Ann McKenzie, and returning to South Africa and Namibia as much as possible. He was planning a permanent move back to his home country when his cancer returned.

The Unexploded Boer, described as “a wild story of rebellion and retribution”, was published in 2011 by Zebra Press/Random House. It vividly recreated the hippy/glam subculture of 1970s Cape Town and followed Erich as he tried anything to avoid conscription into the South Africa army, leading to incarceration in infamous prisons including John Voster Square and The Fort. It received strong critical acclaim.

In Erich’s honour, the family is planning to create an annual bursary to be given to a Cape Town High School student who shows promise as a writer. Funds are being raised in Canada and South Africa through a Go Fund Me campaign:

The Unexploded Boer

Book details

» read article

Good Cop, Bad Cop: Confessions of a Reluctant Policeman – a personal account by Andrew Brown

Good Cop, Bad CopZebra Press is proud to present Good Cop, Bad Cop: Confessions of a Reluctant Policeman, the new book by Andrew Brown:

Once an enemy of the apartheid police, Andrew Brown has worked as a police reservist for almost 20 years. In this book he takes the reader on patrol with him – into the ganglands of the Cape Flats, the townships of Masiphumelele and Nyanga, and the high-walled Southern Suburbs.

Good Cop, Bad Cop is a personal account of the perilous and often conflicting work of a SAPS officer. Brown describes being shot at, arresting suspects in a drug bust, chasing down leads in a homicide investigation and keeping the peace during the UCT student protests.

Brown illustrates how difficult the job of the police is, and how easy it is to react with undue force. Yet he argues passionately that the role of the police is to be a service to communities and not a force to suppress social discontent.

Gripping and thought-provoking, this is a fascinating insight into the social fabric of current South Africa.

About the author

Andrew Brown is an author, an advocate and a reservist sergeant in the South African Police Service. While a student in the 1980s he was arrested after confrontation with police and was sentenced to imprisonment. On appeal, the Cape High Court overturned the sentence and imposed community service instead. Brown now practises as an advocate in the same High Court that heard his appeal. Since 1999 he has also worked as a police reservist, his duties taking him from the tree-lined avenues of Rosebank to the squalor of Masiphumelele. His previous books are the novels Inyenzi, Coldsleep Lullaby, Refuge, Solace and Devil’s Harvest, as well as Street Blues, about his earlier experiences as a police reservist. He has won the Sunday Times Fiction Prize and his work has been shortlisted for the Alan Paton Award and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Africa Region). He is married, with three children.

Book details

» read article

Life, rugby and everything else: Stories from the Touchline by Springbok legend Theuns Stofberg

Stories from the TouchlineStories Van Die KantlynNew from Zebra Press, Stories from the Touchline by Theuns Stofberg:

A collection of humorous, touching and uplifting stories about life, rugby and everything else by one of South Africa’s true rugby legends …

Theuns Stofberg’s illustrious rugby career spanned from 1976 to 1985, and he is commonly considered one of the all-time Springbok greats. As the 36th captain of the Springboks, one of only 56 players to be given this honour, he was tough and uncompromising on the field but a true gentleman and great raconteur off it, which he proves with the anecdotes collected in this book.

In Stories from the Touchline, he takes the reader behind the scenes, from his childhood days as a schoolboy rugby player to the 1981 flour-bomb tour of New Zealand and winning the Currie Cup for three different provinces – a feat unmatched to this day. He also writes about what it was like playing with legends such as Morné du Plessis, Gerrie Germishuys, Schalk Burger Sr and Gysie Pienaar, marvels at the fans’ odd and often colourful behaviour, and affords readers a fascinating glimpse into the amateur days of rugby in South Africa. He also shares his personal struggles with a speech impediment and ill health, and coping with family tragedy, in his own inimitable way. By turns deeply personal, amusing and nostalgic, this book will be treasured by each and every South African rugby fan.

Also available in Afrikaans as Stories van die kantlyn.

About the author

Theuns Stofberg is the only player in the history of South African rugby who won the Currie Cup for three different provinces: Orange Free State, Northern Transvaal and Western Province. In the 10 years that he played senior rugby, his side always advanced to the Currie Cup final, winning six and drawing one. He became a Springbok at the age of only 21, replacing the legendary Jan Ellis in the second Test against Andy Leslie’s All Blacks in 1976. He scored six tries in his 21 Test matches and captained four international matches, against New Zealand, England and South America. He and his wife Martie live on Rouana, a small wine farm among the vineyards of Stellenbosch.

Book details

» read article

Times are tough: be smart and save with Jillian Howard’s Best Pocket Guide Ever series

Economically speaking, times are tough. Whether you find yourself in a tight spot or have some cash to spare, it is always a good idea to consult a financial planner to help you manage your money.

Jillian Howard is well known in this industry. Her Best Pocket Guide Ever series breaks down difficult and sometimes intimidating concepts such as family finances, wealth-building investment, debt and insurance. Visit her website – – to read articles she has written, sign up for her newsletter or get in touch and make use of her financial coaching services.

Some articles by Howard on financial topics:

Have a look at Howard’s books and consider them for your shelf so you can save, save, save:

The Best Pocket Guide Ever for Family FinancesThe Best Pocket Guide Ever for Wealth-building InvestmentThe Best Pocket Guide Ever for Eliminating DebtThe Best Pocket Guide Ever for Minimising InsuranceThe Best Pocket Guide Ever for a Financially Secure Retirement


Book details

» read article

A macabre discovery in a freezer in Welkom – Read an excerpt from Grave Murder

Grave MurderIn April 2011, the sleepy goldmining town of Welkom was deeply shocked when the dismembered, decapitated body of Michael van Eck was discovered buried in a shallow grave on the outskirts of the local cemetery. Was this a muti murder, the work of a deranged madman or part of a satanic ritual?

For the investigators and psychologists involved, the mystery only deepened when a seemingly unlikely arrest was made: a soft-spoken girl next door and her intelligent, well-mannered fiancé.

This gruesome true story is told in Grave Murder: The Story Behind the Brutal Welkom Killing by Jana van der Merwe, a gripping work of non-fiction published by Zebra Press last year.

In a third excerpt shared by the publishers, read about the eerie moment in which Van Eck’s body parts are discovered in the “soft-spoken girl-next-door”‘s fridge and the couple’s reaction to their arrest:

* * * * * *


At the flat’s entrance, Chané unlocked another steel gate, which led into their semi-detached garden flat, situated to the right of a larger house. On the windows were white burglar bars.

Once inside the flat, Nel carefully observed her surroundings. It looked like the messy living space of a rebellious teenager. At first glance, there did not seem anything disconcerting about the living room’s contents. There were a beige couch and a single bed, whose baby-blue mattress was covered only with a tucked-in winter blanket. Ashtrays overflowing with cigarette butts and two red cigarette lighters were on the armrest of the couch, while several items of clothing, including a pair of stonewashed blue jeans, and a yellow laundry basket filled to the brim were on the bed.

Against the wall was a small table with a desktop computer and a cabinet housing an old box TV set. On the floor was a small, unplugged heater, a pair of black-and-white lace-up long-top sneakers, a book by Stephen King, a black backpack decorated with white skulls with items of clothing pouring out of it, as well as a hardcover notebook, cherry LipIce and a pen.

Nel took a moment to examine the paintings that took up much of the wall space. The images resembled Chané quite strikingly: a series of large, alien-like self-portraits, the faces all in shades of bright, screaming yellow, tinted with luminous green and black shadows, the teeth rotten and X-raylike, the eyes dark wells of sadness.

In the small kitchen, Nel stood by as Chané voluntarily walked to the white, medium-sized fridge. On the table top next to it were some half-full bottles of liquor: Red Square and some peach schnapps. Stuck to a magnet on the fridge was a sheet of paper that read:

Angels with needles poke through our eyes and let the ugly light of the
world in and we were no longer blind.

Below it was another piece of paper, also handwritten in ink, of quantum physics calculations and formulas.

Chané casually opened the door to the smaller freezer compartment at the top of the fridge. A pack of Country Crop mixed vegetables was on the top shelf. On the middle shelf were three polystyrene containers with minced meat covered in cling wrap.

Nel and Steyn watched as Chané carefully reached inside and removed a flattened white plastic grocery bag, squeezed in between a small packet of frozen garden peas and a packet of sweetcorn, from the bottom shelf.

With great care, she put the plastic bag on the kitchen counter and removed the contents, revealing what looked like a flat pizza base. Nel did not even wince as she looked at what was, in fact, a macabre mask of Michael van Eck’s face.

Where the eyes once were, there were now only holes, absurdly framed by the young man’s dense, dark-brown eyebrows. His nose was still perfectly intact, and his cheeks still bore a slight, rough stubble. The mouth was sewn shut. A cut ran from the right corner of his mouth and another from the left, not more than three to four centimetres respectively. These cuts had also been stitched closed. ‘His face,’ Chané said, as if she were talking about a bag of tomatoes or an arbitrary grocery item. This was her trophy, Nel thought. She was showing off her work of art.

‘His eyes and ears,’ she continued, while removing small plastic medicine canisters from the fridge. Two white floating jellies in salt water were all that remained of his eyes. In another canister were Michael’s ears, cut off with surgical precision and preserved for who knows what.

‘You are sick,’ was all Nel could get out.

Steyn felt as if she was being pushed out of the room. She sensed a dark force she did not understand. Void of emotion, Nel took out the metal handcuffs. ‘You are under arrest for the murder of Michael van Eck.’

She read Chané her rights. They arrested Maartens, too. The couple stood waiting as Steyn called Chané’s father.

Van Zyl and Krügel then entered the flat. Van Zyl felt as if he was being smothered, as if the devil itself had wrapped its tail around his neck. He saw the mask. Chané’s eyes followed him from every corner of the flat.

Nel felt oddly calm as she asked Chané where Michael’s possessions were. Chané pointed to a jar on top of the fridge, next to a nasal spray. In it were some hundred-rand notes and some silver and copper coins. It was the money Michael had had in his wallet; the money he had drawn from his first pay cheque to pay his parents back for the car they had helped him buy; the money Henriëtte had said he must keep and use for petrol and pocket money; the money he was supposedly going to use to take a girl to the movies on the night of his death.

‘We used some of it already,’ the girl shrugged.

Stuck to the jar, handwritten in black Koki pen, engulfed in handdrawn red flames, was a label that read: ‘The spawn of our prostitution.’

Maartens mentioned that they planned to use some of this money to buy some spades for ‘the next time’. ‘It’s not easy to dig a hole with a soup spoon, you know,’ he said matter-of-factly.

For a while no one said a word.

Book details

» read article

Kalk Bay Books understands readers – Luke Alfred

The Art of LosingWhen the Lions Came to TownLuke Alfred, renowned sports journalist and author of The Art of Losing: Why the Proteas Choke at the Cricket World Cup and When the Lions Came to Town: The 1974 Rugby Tour to South Africa, recently paid a few visits to Kalk Bay Books in Cape Town, one of the country’s best loved bookshops, and found it to be one of the finest out there.

Alfred supports his argument by listing, and explaining, the reasons readers read and visit bookshops. Kalk Bay Books, according to him, understands this and presents itself as both a place “with a sense of self and of humour”.

“What academic monographs and run-of-the-mill reviewing fail to do is to take us into this place – part fantasy, part reverie, part stunted friendship – at the very core of how readers read.

“We read soulfully, vulnerably, and the bookshop in Kalk Bay seemed to acknowledge this, resisting the temptation to link the experience of selecting a book, buying it and taking it home to read with any other form of consumption. Here we had a strong black with a dash of milk and one sugar,” Alfred writes.

Read the article, then start planning your trip to Kalk Bay to experience this remarkable bookshop for yourself:

My family and I found ourselves in Cape Town’s Kalk Bay for the holidays. As well as the village’s many delights — the Olympia Café and the decadent seals twirling in the harbour — Kalk Bay possesses a fine bookshop.

If it is not independent of ownership, it is certainly independent of spirit. During several immersions there, I found myself wondering about the shop’s range and atmosphere, realising that as well as the staff clearly being readers and loving books, the shop pedalled a view of the world.

Book details


Image courtesy of SA Venues

» read article

Simplify your financial planning with The Best Pocket Guide Ever for Family Finances

The Best Pocket Guide Ever for Family FinancesJillian Howard offers indispensable financial advice in The Best Pocket Guide Ever for Family Finances, now available from Zebra Press:

Do you know what practical steps to take to ensure that you and your family thrive financially? If not, this book is for you …

It is much easier to control your finances and plan your investments when you are single. But once a partner comes along and financial decisions are shared, planning can become more complicated, as different people often have different ideas about how to spend and invest money. Without some guidance on dual finances, a marriage or partnership can easily become a statistic – a major cause for break-ups is financial stress. Add children to the mix, and the financial pressure increases.

But it is possible to achieve a financially successful life for your family despite the huge costs involved, and this book will show you how. It covers all aspects of family life – funding the wedding, children, lifestyle and education, as well as divorce, retirement, and the death of a spouse or partner.

Comprehensive yet easily accessible, this is your guide to financial planning throughout all stages of normal family life. A must-read for anyone who is married, is planning to get married or is cohabiting in a long-term relationship.

About the author

Jillian Howard has a BCom degree from Unisa, a CFP® from the University of the Free State and a Results Coaching qualification. She has been a qualified financial planner since 2003. Her mission is to help people understand and simplify their financial planning because being in control of their money is fundamental to being in control of their lives and dreams. Jillian lives in Gauteng on a small farm with her husband and their youngest son.

Book details

» read article

Julian Rademeyer: Rhino poaching down in SA, but ‘up significantly in Zimbabwe and Namibia’

Killing for ProfitJulian Rademeyer has responded to today’s government report that Rhino poaching levels in South Africa fell in 2015.

Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa and Justice Minister Michael Masutha held a press conference today on the Integrated Strategic Management Approach they have undertaken to tackle rhino poaching. The strategy involves compulsory interventions, managing rhino populations, long-term sustainability and national and international cooperation.

“The onslaught against our rhino has continued unabated, which has necessitated we step up our efforts,” Molewa said.

The number of rhinos killed in South Africa rose every year from 13 in 2007 to 1 215 in 2014, but stablised slightly in 2015, with 1 175 killed.

However, Rademeyer, an investigative journalist and the author of the award-winning Killing for Profit: Exposing the Illegal Rhino Horn Trade, tweeted that the stabilisation in numbers should not be taken purely as a positive sign.

Rademeyer links to an article he wrote in 2013 for Africa Check, which states: “South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority routinely boasts remarkably high conviction rates. It uses them to reject criticism of its performance. But as it only prosecutes cases it is likely to win, they are unreliable measures of success in tackling crime.”

He also points out that while there may be a drop in South African numbers, bordering countries’ statistics indicate a “significant” rise in poaching:

More tweets:

Related stories:

Book details

» read article