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Book Review : Killing Kebble June 7, 2011

Posted by cmfry in Books, Politics.
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When I was growing up, my grandfather and father used to relay what life was like before the advent of television. They told me how they would listen to the ’66 World Cup final on a shortwave radio, with a picture of the 2 teams in front of them, while the signal would drop off intermittently. My grandad was very fond of saying how journalists were far better at their job back then.

With this book, Mandy Weiner has taken us back to the days when journalists were at the very top of their game.

In writing this book, Mandy has very skillfully mixed old school finesse with new school charm and vibrancy. When reading the book, one can’t help but feel like she called on the skill of the radio reporters of old, following the stories of J. Edgar Hoover, the Watergate scandal and the like, while putting you right on the street on the night of Brett Kebble‘s killing.

The many questions surrounding Brett Kebble’s death were never going to be easily answered.  As you read the book, you soon realise that there were far more nuances to this story than what you were led to believe at the time. And she is lavish in granting each facet its unique (and sometimes quirky) flare in painting the full picture. Sure, Nigel Mcgurk, Faizel Smith and Mikey Schultz were in the car that Brett followed (in the alleged assisted suicide),  and Mikey pulled the trigger (more than once), but everyone from Hazel Crane, the ANC Youth League, the Hell’s Angels, the Israeli Mafia, Brett’s father and brother and even James Dalton and Mark Batchelor had some role in this drama that Hollywood scriptwriters can only dream about.

These role players, of course are mere extras, when placed next to the likes of Clinton Nassif, Glen Agliotti, and by association, Jackie Selebi, the former (South African) National Police Commisioner.  These 3 men would ultimately reveal their true character in court, which would be witnessed by a nation enthralled by the notion that Johannesburg’s underground could be so well interlinked with the highest echelons of South Africa’s two professional crime fighting agencies (The Scorpions and the South African Police Service).

Mandy goes about knitting these stories together with a chilling precision, laying a solid foundation by always referring to that fateful night, and the circumstances surrounding it in the first section of the book. Then post the murder, she leads you through the investigation, the plea negotiations and the subsequent court case as if you were in every room, participating in every conversation.

Eventually, the story flows seamlessly, and is a complete circle. The tragedy is that the circle is a downward spiral of conivery, deceit and malice, that has far reaching consequences for South Africa, the effects of which wil be felt in various, significant ways.

During the investigation, the acrimony between the Scorpions and the SAPS got so personal, they were arresting one another in public. Eventually, the ANC passed a bill in parliament disbanding the Scorpions. However, you can’t help but wonder whether, in part due to Mandy’s (and the team at Eye Witness News) excellent work, bills like the Protection of Information Bill (currently before parliament) will be pushed through in order to protect others who have fallen fowl to corruption.

Throughout the book, Mandy gives her outstanding analysis based on information gleaned from the various role players through different means. If there would be a criticism, and that’s a BIG if, it would be that a few times she spoils the flow of the story by giving a subjective view of important events.

Overall, this book is skillfull in its portrayal of a news story that will live long in the South African psyche. If you want an indepth look into one of South Africa’s most prominent murders of recent times,

…read this book.

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