One of the main news items in South Africa this week comes after Mark Scott-Crossley handed himself over to police. A warrant for Scott-Crossley’s arrest was issued in December after an alleged racist incident in Limpopo. He now faces attempted murder charges. In 2005 Scott-Crossley was tried and convicted for the murder of a worker who he threw into a lion enclosure. In 1988 Jani Allan found herself in the Johannesburg family home of Mark Scott-Crossley whilst working as a journalist for the Sunday Times. The disappearance of Mark’s sister, Tracy was quickly developing into one of the most high-profile crime stories of the decade. Tragically, Tracy was one of six schoolgirls who disappeared in 1988 and 1989 shortly before paedophile Gert van Rooyen and his lover Joey Haarhoff committed suicide… more »
Category: South Africa
I wrote this column in the winter of 1989 – six weeks before the South African general election. The Sunday Times was leading with the story ‘NATS FACE VOTE CRISIS’ as a shock poll was predicting a deadlocked parliament.
I was tasked with accompanying the NP’s Sheila Camerer and the DP’s Tony Leon on the campaign trail in their Johannesburg constituencies. Leon would later become the gifted leader of the re-branded Democratic Alliance where Camerer would join him as an MP.
ALL politics, someone once observed, is based on the indifference of a majority.
With only 47 more days to The Election, JANI ALLAN pounded the pavements with a pair of politicos and came FACE TO FACE with that privileged species, the White Registered Voter.
Sheila Camerer, MP for Rosettenville is quite charming about agreeing to let me tag along with her for a morning’s canvassing in the deep south.
We meet at the…
When my friend Bruce told me that he and his chums go for a barefoot walk in Melville Koppies every Sunday and I should try it, I looked like a hen stupefied by a chalk line.
Why? Why would I want to walk barefoot anywhere except from my bed to the bathroom?
Living in America makes one pathologically afraid of outside. There are extremely unpleasant things. Snakes, mosquitos the size of Chinook helicopters, plagues of cicadas, poisonous bumblebees called Red Jackets, praying mantises and sloths.
Why would I want to risk stepping on or indeed being in the vicinity of these creatures?
The only Barefoot in the Park I used to be familiar with was the 1967 American comedy film starring Jane Fonda and Robert Redford….
My Mother, Myself
My moon is in Capricorn. Astrologers will tell you that this signifies a plate-glass cold maternal figure, distant and given to withholding praise and affection.
So it was with Janet Sophia.
She scooped me up when I was a runt with cabbage ears. I could fit in a shoe box. She named me Isobel Janet. She didn’t tell me I was adopted until I was eighteen. She was short-fused and I had annoyed her about something or other. ‘I didn’t want you. I really wanted a little boy!’
I ran out of the house and sat in the stable for hours.
But I am my mother. More importantly, I am her creation. Then – and still…
Twenty-seven years ago Jani Allan interviewed the Rev Beyers Naudé at his modest home in Greenside, Johannesburg. His endless soul-searching in defining the concept of an Afrikaner continues in Afrikaners’ ongoing existential quest for belonging.
Christi van der Westhuizen, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Pretoria, advances andersdenkendheid – a condition of thinking differently – as the democratic duty of Afrikaners. Andersdenkendheid lies in direct opposition to eendersdenkendheid – a condition derived from the doctrinaire advances of JG Strijdom. The Afrikaans word refers to a condition of thinking the same. In 1948 Strijdom claimed that opposition to apartheid was as treasonable as refusing to defend one’s own country during an outbreak of war.
The hallmarks of andersdenkendheid – dogged questioning and critical…
I wrote this column some thirty-six years ago on the eve of the release of the Star Wars sequel, The Empire Strikes Back. Trapped in a maelstrom of political uncertainty, South Africa in the ’80s was like Berlin before the war. People tried to blot out the reality of what was happening in the country with the same desperation. I think that this piece captures the spirit of my young avatar, spellbound by the magic and escapism of the epic space opera franchise.
THE Empire Strikes Back! Slide into your spacesuits and leap onto the spacewagon (again) with Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Darth Vader, extra-terrestrial, celestial Uncle Tom Cobbly and all.
Hold onto your PLSS (Portable Life Support System) and get ready to make the jump into cyberspace!
Swop your Maserati Mercedes or Mini for a Millenium Falk, and when he says ‘Your place or mine?’ remember he might just mean ‘galaxy’ and not ‘pad’!
Twenty-seven years ago Jani Allan interviewed Afrikaner musical guerrillas Johannes Kerkorrel and André Letoit at a restaurant in Hillbrow. Their rendezvous coincided with one of the most sensational developments in South African history: State President P W Botha met with Nelson Mandela at Tuynhuys in Cape Town.
Marianne Thamm has explained how this “Voëlvry” generation of the 1980s laid the foundations for progressive Afrikaans music of the 21st century. The likes of Francois van Coke and his alternative punk band, Fokofpolisiekar make music that is ‘defiant, provocative, rebellious, subversive and engaged in deeper existential questions.’
Kerkorrel would tragically end his own life and Hillbrow would become unrecognisable. I have chosen this passage from Marq de Villier’s White Tribe Dreaming. This pair of ‘boere punks’ embody the spirit of Afrikaners that made the dramatic leap in rejecting the Afrikanerdom of Die Groot…
I met Doug Gordon in the mid-seventies. He was a news reporter on the Sunday Times. It was Doug who suggested that I apply for a job as a columnist on the then great broadsheet.
The Sunday Times in those days was a unique and often bizarre blend of tabloid journalism and serious political analysis. Tertius Myburgh, the editor, called it ”quali-pop”.
Myburgh referred to the “craft” of journalism and how “we” could make our “craft” a socio-political force in South Africa.
It worked. The Sunday Times had a readership of some four million.
It snagged the serious attention of local politicians, international statesmen and some of the best political analysts from South Africa and abroad, all of whom jostled for space in the paper’s opinion pages.
Politically? Myburgh said we were ‘extreme centre.’
To be a journo on the Sunday Times in those days was to have a job with kudos. There were high standards and…
You were hugely influential as the successful editor of the country’s largest newspaper. You were seen as a builder of bridges in a deeply divided society. Before we both become a footnote in history, let the record show I believe you used me as a cabaret turn.
Dear Mr Myburgh,
Almost 25 years to the day after you died, John Matisonn’s book God, Spies and Lies has been published.
Most journalists are doing a “yawn yawn snore”, pretending that everyone knew that you were an apartheid spy.
I remember our first meeting.
I thought you were handsome and debonair,
(Andy Garcia in the movie.)
You looked exactly as I thought an editor should look. Lots of thick wavy hair. Big strong teeth. Braces. You were vain about your clothes. Your shirts were made in Jermyn Street. Your…
In the early eighties two young men came to the offices of the Sunday Times in downtown Johannesburg on a Monday morning to be interviewed.
One was a Lancashire-born son of a Jewish immigrant from Poland; the other was a Zulu migrant worker. During the interview (which took place in the office while someone hoovered the newsroom) they were slightly awkward and most obliging.
It was transparent as cellophane that neither Johnny Clegg nor Sipho Mchunu were used to the adulation that they were receiving.
They met when they were in their teens and formed Juluka. Juluka went on to become one of South Africa’s biggest musical exports. Their “Scatterlings of Africa” was first released in 1982 and remains the band’s biggest hit.
Although their albums were pointedly political, “Scatterlings” remains the track that all…
This column appeared in the August 2015 edition of Fair Lady.
Earlier this year, Ricky Gervais found a photograph of huntress Rebecca Francis smiling like a carrion beside a dead giraffe.
“What must have happened to you in your life to make you want to kill a beautiful animal and then lie next to it smiling?’ he tweeted to his 8 million followers.
When asked why she feels the need to trophy hunt, Rebecca says ‘I’m gonna provide meat for my family, I’m gonna have an experience in nature. I’m gonna be one-on-one with the animal.”
Being one on one with the animal is getting a thrill from hearing the thwack as the arrow pierces the flesh, following the trail of blood and hoof prints of a fatally wounded beast – and then waiting for it’s death gargle.
How long is society going to allow this barbarism to continue?
As the sage said, all truth goes through three stages. First it is ridiculed. Then it is…
This column was originally published by De Kat in August 2014.
This column was originally published in the July 2015 edition of The Big Issue South Africa.
Then, Daniel 4:34 records the king’s response: “At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored.” Interestingly, the king said that his pride caused him to lose his sanity and that now, as a result of being humbled by God, his sanity was restored. In order to humble him, God humiliated him. Indeed, a humiliating experience will almost always humble someone.
Perhaps my sanity has been restored.
I will be in South Africa in the middle of April for my book tour.
That is if SAFFASTRACK works its magic and secures for me a passport in time!
A book tour. Hnh.That sounds about as daunting as going on an Iraq tour.
Everyone wishes to know whether I will return to South Africa. Well, they keep humming “Should I stay or should…
When I was working at the Sunday Times in Johannesburg on Valentine ’s Day, my office looked like a florist shop.
‘No one has the right to have so many admirers!’ adjudicated a reporter spitefully.
It’s a very South African thing to define someone by what they have, what they wear, what they drive and where they live.
I tried to heed the caveat of my yogi raj Mani Finger: Take your work seriously, but not yourself. If you take your possessions seriously what will happen if you lose them.
What will happen if you lose them?
I thought about that when I took the roof off the car and drove home with Talking Heads blaring, the song-snatching wind blowing through my hair. At times like this it was easy to believe that I had hit three gold stars on the fruit machine of life. Did I deserve my good fortune? What gods…
‘Terror rushes through my body and floods my brain, roaring in my ears. He shoves the gun against my right temple.’
Jani Allan recounts her ordeal of when she was held up at gun-point outside her Clifton home in 2001. She also weighs in on the new debate surrounding gun control in the wake of the murder of Senzo Meyiwa. Allan contends that a licensed firearm is a viable means of protection. She continues to diagnose a ‘gun culture’ image problem in South Africa.
Cape Town, 2001
It is one a.m. in the morning. I have just finished doing a radio show at Cape Talk in Cape Town.
I drive along Victoria Road in Clifton in the black, bandaged night.
As I turn…
Slut-shaming is the act of criticising a woman for her real or presumed sexual activity, or for behaving in ways that someone thinks are associated with her real or presumed sexual activity. I left the country in 2001. I live in a blaze of obscurity (sic) in America. I am a recluse by choice and a PONTI – a person of no tactical import in South Africa. Yet my epic humiliation and allegations about my sex life remain, it seems, an all-consuming story to certain South Africans.
On Friday, 19 September at the Open Book Festival at the Fugard Theatre, Cape Town, the Daily Maverick hosted a mini-gathering to debate the future of independent, free and intelligent journalism in South Africa. At one point…
‘Art has been the needle that has pulled the tapestry of my life together’
I started Art lessons when I was 9. I was taught by Betty Clur in Linden in her tiny dining room. Margaret Brewer, another little girl in the class has gone on to become a famous botanical artist and lives in Canada.
One of my drawings – a dog and a kitten entitled ‘Me and my tiger’ was published in the Blairgowrie school yearbook – along with an essay I wrote about ‘Road Safety Depends on me.’
The latter was a bossy little tract about how you…
Jani's best-selling memoir, Jani Confidential, can be ordered here
Jani's other blog, My Grilling Life, about life as a New Jersey waitress, is available here
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