Dinner with Mugabe author dies in Joburg

2012-08-11 20:36

Author and journalist Heidi ­Holland was found dead yesterday morning in her house in Melville.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Katlego Mogale said nothing was found stolen or missing.

Best known for her groundbreaking book Dinner with Mugabe about Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, Holland was a specialist on African affairs.

She also ran a guesthouse, The Melville House, in Johannesburg where African writers, journalists and civil society types would ­regularly gather.

A friend who last saw Holland earlier this week during the traditional sundowners at The Melville House said: “Every day at 5pm she would open a bottle of wine with the guests and then leave again at about 7pm.”

The next day, the friend said, she did not come for the usual drinks, but left a note in the morning ­saying she was unwell and would go see a doctor.

She was not seen again until a security guard went to check her house at the insistence of her son.

Holland grew up on a tobacco farm in Zimbabwe and said she was “spoon-fed prejudice with her breakfast ­cereal, like all whites raised in the region.

But she studied throughout her life to comprehend and conquer racism, resulting in the project she was working on at the time of her death – a book about racism.

Holland, who would have turned 65 in October, wrote columns for Independent Newspapers and was a known figure in the South ­African arts scene. Her most recent book, 100 Years of Struggle: Mandela’s ANC, was released earlier this year.

Holland leaves behind her sons Jonah, a journalist for TV network al-Jazeera in London, and Nick, as well as grandson Hugo.

No funeral arrangements were available at the time of going to press.

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