A civil rights lawyer tackles the Boere Mafia

2008-10-02 08:05

JEROME Nossel is a civil rights lawyer in Johannesburg with impeccable struggle credentials - or rather he was, until he joined the National Intelligence Agency and tramped on some very powerful toes in an investigation into a scam involving some members of the new black elite and a large chunk of money that was meant to be paid out to ex-political prisoners. Thrown to the wolves, he has spent the past three years trying, not too successfully, to come to terms with what he perceives as his betrayal by the people he helped bring to power.

Then, on the same day that he receives a phone call from a well-connected friend whose son Sipho is in trouble with the law, he stumbles on a murder in The Wilds. The nature reserve, formerly an inner city sanctuary, is closed to the public because of a number of attacks on visitors allegedly committed by the vagrants who have taken it over. But this time the body is that of a shack dweller and the murderer is a white policeman - the same cop who earlier that day had accused Sipho of being a dagga dealer.

Nossel is rapidly sucked in to what becomes an investigation of an international drug trafficking syndicate and soon realises that he is dealing with what he calls the Boere Mafia, with tentacles stretching through the police force and into the upper echelons of the new government.

This is David Dison's first book and there's a good story in there, somewhere. It's a pity it's hidden behind so much kvetching and political tub-thumping, not to mention the gushing that taints so many South African books and a surfeit of adjectives. Dison is working on a second Nossel novel. I hope he cuts to the chase.

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