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A look into South Africa's gangs: Jonathan Ancer in conversation with Liz McGregor, Mark Shaw and Caryn Dolley

A look into South Africa's gangs

Author Jonathan Ancer is in conversation with Liz McGregor, Mark Shaw and Caryn Dolley for this episode of Pagecast.

The episode delves into the lastest books by Liz, Mark and Caryn, which all touch on the role that gangs play in South Africa, personal dealings with gangs and the operations within.

Unforgiven, by Liz McGregor, tells a story seldom told: what happens to a family when one of their own is murdered? In a country where, year upon year, tens of thousands of people lose a loved one to violence. Where restorative justice is preached but not practiced. Where prisons are universities of crime. What would it take to achieve redemption? For the victim, the perpetrator and the country?

Give us more Guns, by Mark Shaw, is based on hundreds of interviews with police, experts and the gangsters themselves, telling the story of this callous crime for the first time. Shaw explores how the guns get into the hands of South Africa's crime bosses and describes the bloodshed that ensues. He also uncovers accounts of rampant corruption within the police and in the state's gun-licensing system, probing the government failure that has been instrumental in arming the country's gangsters.

To The Wolves: How Traitor Cops Crafted South Africa’s Underworld, by Caryn Dolley, tells the true-life story of how South Africa’s underworld came to be, what continues to fuel it today and how the deception and lies go all the way to the top.

Enjoy the episode!

John Maytham in conversation with Sarah Lotz author of Impossible.

A deliciously witty romance with a closing twist that will take your breath away, Impossible deploys all the suspense and craft of Lotz's bestselling thriller The Three in a gleefully unpredictable tale of two strangers looking for love.

This isn't a love story. This is impossible.

Nick: Failed writer. Failed husband. Dog owner.
Bee: Serial dater. Dress maker. Pringles enthusiast.

One day, their paths cross over a misdirected email. The connection is instant, electric. They feel like they've known each other all their lives. Nick buys a new suit, gets on a train. Bee steps away from her desk, sets off to meet him under the clock at Euston station.

Think you know how the rest of the story goes? They did too... but this is a story with more twists than most. This is impossible.

Unforgiven: Face to Face with my Father’s Killer by Liz McGregor

“Liz McGregor has always been a great journalist but only South Africa could have wrung out of her this single-minded account of the murder of her beloved father. The book is an indescribable duty, exquisitely done.” – Peter Bruce

“An enthralling account of the journey by a daughter to meet with those convicted of her father’s murder.” – Trevor Manuel

A searing, intimate memoir tracing the author’s attempt to find out the truth about her father’s murder.

Robin McGregor, an older man who has recently moved into a small town outside Cape Town, is brutally murdered in his home. Cecil Thomas is convicted for the crime, but his trial leaves more questions than answers. As much as his daughter Liz McGregor tries to move beyond her grief – she finds new work, she even discovers love – she still wants answers. What drove Thomas to torture and kill a complete stranger?

The author meets the murderer’s family and discovers that he comes from a loving, comfortable home. He is educated and skilled, there is no apparent reason for his descent into delinquency. After protracted obstruction from the prison authorities, she finally gets to confront him but not without putting herself in danger. She finds answers, but not the answers she is looking for.

Unforgiven tells a story seldom told: what happens to a family when one of their own is murdered? In a country where, year upon year, tens of thousands of people lose a loved one to violence. Where restorative justice is preached but not practiced. Where prisons are universities of crime. What would it take to achieve redemption? For the victim, the perpetrator and the country?

Mind Over Mountain by Robby Kojetin

A simple mistake at an indoor climbing gym sentenced 28-year-old Robby to a year in a wheelchair, shattering his aspirations of becoming a mountaineer. In the months that followed, Robby faced depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and a complete loss of his sense of identity.

But from somewhere deep inside him, he summoned up the strength to keep going even when all seemed lost; he embarked on a monumental journey, a feat of mental and physical strength. His weakness became his power. This story is more than a biography or an account of a mountaineering expedition – it showcases the human spirit and shows us all how it is possible to rewrite the definition of what is possible.

From those dark days, Robby has become the embodiment of perseverance and possibility, overcoming the odds to join the handful of people who have summited Mount Everest.

Terreur en Bevryding: Die ANC/SAKP, die Kommunisme en geweld (1961-1990) - by Leopold Scholtz.

Wie vandag se ANC, sy beleid en regeerstyl wil verstaan, moet feitlik ’n eeu terug begin delf. ’n Deel van die antwoord lê in sy verhouding met die Suid-Afrikaanse Kommunistiese Party (SAKP) en die invloed van die kommunisme, asook die ANC/SAKP se optrede in ballingskap, skryf die politieke kommentator en historikus Leopold Scholtz.

In Terreur en bevryding toon hy aan hoe die SAKP reeds in 1928 opdrag van die Kremlin ontvang het om die ANC te infiltreer. Die doel was om mettertyd die partyleiding oor te neem as deel van ’n beoogde revolusie in twee fases: ’n nasionaal demokratiese revolusie – ’n konsep wat steeds deel is van ANC-beleid – gevolg deur ’n Marxisties-Leninistiese “diktatuur van die proletariaat”. Volgens Scholtz sou dit ’n immorele stelsel met beperkte vryheid meebring.

Dit was ook die SAKP wat die dryfveer agter die gewapende stryd was.

Scholtz plaas die kollig op die dodelike kombinasie van erge interne intoleransie en onbekwaamheid binne die ANC/SAKP in ballingskap, die korrupsie deur ’n deel van die leierskorps en die ernstige menseregtevergrype in die ANC se buitelandse kampe. Hy voer aan dat dit wat tans in Suid-Afrika op al drie regeringsvlakke gebeur ’n voortsetting is van ’n kultuur wat al tydens die alliansie se jare in ballingskap gevestig is.

Rescue by Ian Goldin

An optimistic vision of the future after Covid-19 by a leading professor of globalisation at the University of Oxford.

We are at a crossroads. The wrecking-ball of Covid-19 has destroyed global norms. Many think that after the devastation there will be a bounce back. To Ian Goldin, Professor of Development and Globalisation at the University of Oxford, this is a retrograde notion.

He believes that this crisis can create opportunities for change, just as the Second World War forged the ideas behind the Beveridge Report. Published in 1942, it was revolutionary and laid the foundations for the welfare state alongside a host of other social and economic reforms, changing the world for the better.

Ian Goldin tackles the challenges and opportunities posed by the pandemic, ranging from globalisation to the future of jobs, income inequality and geopolitics, the climate crisis and the modern city. It is a fresh, bold call for an optimistic future and one we all have the power to create.

The Language of Food | Book by Annabel Abbs

Told in alternate voices by the award-winning author of The Joyce Girl, and with recipes that leap to life from the page, The Language of Food by Annabel Abbs is the most thought-provoking and page-turning historical novel you’ll read this year, exploring the enduring struggle for female freedom, the power of female friendship, the creativity and quiet joy of cooking and the poetry of food, all while bringing Eliza Action out of the archives and back into the public eye.

On this episode of Pagecast pioneering South African journalist, magazine editor, radio and television presenter, Jennifer Crwys-Williams chats with author Annabel Abbs about her latest novel.

England 1835. Eliza Acton is a poet who dreams of seeing her words in print. But when she takes her new manuscript to a publisher, she’s told that ‘poetry is not the business of a lady’. Instead, they want her to write a cookery book. That’s what readers really want from women. England is awash with exciting new ingredients, from spices to exotic fruits. But no one knows how to use them

Eliza leaves the offices appalled. But when her father is forced to flee the country for bankruptcy, she has no choice but to consider the proposal. Never having cooked before, she is determined to learn and to discover, if she can, the poetry in recipe writing. To assist her, she hires seventeen-year-old Ann Kirby, the impoverished daughter of a war-crippled father and a mother with dementia.

Over the course of ten years, Eliza and Ann developed an unusual friendship that crossed social classes and divides – and, together, they broke the mould of traditional cookbooks and changed the course of cookery writing forever.

Sunny by Sukh Ojla

Sukhjeet Kaur "Sukh" Ojla is an English stand-up comedian, novelist, playwright and comedy writer. On this episode of Pagecast she chats with fellow author Sara Nisha Adams.

Sunny is the queen of living a double life. To her friends, she's the entertaining, eternally upbeat, single one, always on hand to share hilarious and horrifying date stories. But while they're all settling down with long-term partners and mortgages, Sunny is back in her childhood bedroom at thirty, playing the role of the perfect daughter. She spends her time watching the Sikh channel, making saag and samosey with her mum, hiding gins-in-a-tin in her underwear drawer and sneaking home in the middle of the night after dates, trying but failing to find 'the one'.

She juggles both lives perfectly . . . on the outside, at least. But when her mum sees a guy dropping Sunny home one evening, Sunny's life gets a little complicated. Now her mum wants to know about the life she's hidden from her for so long.

Sunny is well versed in lying to her friends, her family, and, above all, herself. But how long can she keep it up for? Or is it finally time to start being honest?

SUNNY by Sukh Ojla is a relatable, moving, and life-affirming novel. It is warm and full of honesty, exploring family, love and mental health. Perfect for fans of Grown-Ups by Marian Keyes and Olive by Emma Gannon.

Love Marriage by Monica Ali


Established South African media personality and bestselling author Joanne Joseph chats with Monica Ali about this exquisite gorgeous, layered and immersive tale of a Bengali Muslim family.

Yasmin Ghorami has a lot to be grateful for: a loving family, a fledgling career in medicine, and a charming, handsome fiancée, fellow doctor Joe Sangster.

But as the wedding day draws closer and Yasmin's parents get to know Joe's firebrand feminist mother, both families must confront the unravelling of long-held secrets, lies and betrayals.

As Yasmin dismantles her assumptions about the people she holds most dear, she's also forced to ask herself what she wants in a relationship and what a 'love marriage' actually means.

Love Marriage is a story about who we are and how we love in today's Britain - with all the complications and contradictions of life, desire, marriage and family. What starts as a charming social comedy develops into a heart-breaking and gripping story of two cultures, two families and two people trying to understand one another.

The Last Beekeeper by Siya Turabi

‘Reminds me of Khaled Hosseini, poignant and heartwarming… Simply a beautiful story that had me reading until 3:30 in the morning’ Sarah, NetGalley

‘I am a friend of the bees. Like you.’
‘So, you have been waiting for me?’
‘The forest has been waiting for you.’

Pakistan, 1974: The secret-wreathed trees of Harikaya have always called to Hassan. He knows if he doesn’t find the last beekeeper and salvage a precious jar of his mythical black honey before the floods come, his mother will lose her sight.

But then he wins a scholarship to study with the state governor in Karachi amidst a brewing storm of political turmoil and simmering espionage.

His entire world is turned upside down when he meets Maryam, the governor’s niece visiting from London.

All the while the fate of his mother and his promise to the bees calls him back to the forest, and so he must decide: Maryam or the beekeeper, England or Pakistan, his head or his heart.

One of the most exciting debuts of 2021, this is a lyrical historical novel of family, friendship, and self-discovery exploring the power of choice in a changing world and love in communion with nature. Perfect for fans of Christy Lefteri, Yann Martel, and Monique Roffey.

The Fire Portrait by Barbara Mutch

‘An author with great skill in crafting a gripping and soul-searching story’ Leah Fleming

Cape Town-based radio presenter and book lover Pippa Hudson is in conversation with author Barbara Mutch about her latest book 'The Fire Portrait'.

About the book:
When Englishwoman Frances McDonald sets up home in a remote hamlet in South Africa in the 1930s, she is regarded with suspicion by the community. Confined by a marriage of convenience, she seeks an outlet by learning the local language, teaching art, and exhibiting her paintings of the stunning veld landscape. Soon the spectre of war threatens to divide not only the country but the town itself and scupper Frances’ hard-won acceptance.

When she reunites unexpectedly with a former love and her husband leaves to fight for the Allies, she gains a child but loses her home in a moment that will change her life and send her on a journey from the arid veld to the bright lights of London and beyond.

About the author:
Barbara Mutch was born and brought up in South Africa, the granddaughter of Irish immigrants. Before embarking on a writing career, she launched and managed a number of businesses both in South Africa and the UK. She is married and has two sons. For most of the year the family lives in Surrey but spends time whenever possible at their home in the Cape. When not writing, Barbara is a pianist, a keen enthusiast of the Cape's birds and landscape or fynbos.

When Secrets Become Stories edited by Sue Nyathi

The best-selling author Sara-Jayne Makwala King is in conversation with Sue Nyathi, editor of When Secrets Become Stories.

About Sue:
Sukoluhle ‘Sue’ Nyathi is a writer by passion and an investment analyst by profession. Sue has written three novels – The Polygamist (2012), The GoldDiggers (2018) and A Family Affair (2020). The GoldDiggers was longlisted for the Barry Ronge Fiction Award and the Dublin Literary Award, while A Family Affair has been longlisted for the Humanities and Social Sciences Award. She also contributed to Black Tax: Burden or Ubuntu? (2019) and Hair: Unpicking and Weaving stories of Identity (2019). Sue lives in Johannesburg.

About Sara-Jayne:
Sara-Jayne King is a South African journalist and author, whose career spans more than a decade and has taken her across the globe in search of extraordinary people with remarkable stories.

About When Secrets Become Stories:
She was asking for it.
She should have known better.
Bekezela (persevere), she was told.
It’s because I love you, he said.
It’s not that bad, she told herself.

In sharing their experiences from girlhood to the boardroom, from Cape Town’s suburbs to the hills of KwaZulu-Natal, women from different walks of life show how chillingly common male violence against women is. Together, their voices form a deafening chorus.

Gender-based violence feeds on shame and silence but in this extraordinary collection, brave women reclaim their power and summon the courage in others to do the same. In speaking out, sharing what was once secret, shame’s hold is broken.

With contributions by Lorraine Sithole, Desiree-Anne Martin, UCT vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng, Shafinaaz Hassim, Cathy Park Kelly and Olivia Jasriel, who as a child was sexually abused by tennis star Bob Hewitt.

Heart-rending at times, it is the honesty and courage of the writing that truly inspires.

33 episodes

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