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Women Writers Reigning Readers

A NEW CORP of progressive female authors is making waves, covering red-button issues and controversial topics; a brand of femmes’ fatales who are riding the crest of the wave in the books business.

These women writers have discovered their niche and are lobbying to break out of conventions.

Here is a salute to the latest work of some women authors.

 Within the conservative Afrikaner community – against a full-blown backdrop of the controversial apartheid hegemony of the old white ruling elite, Christi Van Der Merwe has raised eyebrows with her brilliantly researched and written book, Sitting Pretty – White Afrikaans Women in Post apartheid South Africa (UKZN Press).

 Investigative psychologist Dr Micki Pistorius lifts an iron-cast lid off South Africa’s dark and grim

underworld of serial killers in the racial groups in Catch Me A Killer – A Profiler’s True Story (Penguin Random House). The bilingual edition is Skimme in die Skadu – both storylines captured in a national television series.

 In a similar genre, acclaimed author Angela Makholwa has borrowed from her journalistic skills and experiential training covering crime and presents an interview with a convicted serial killer and rapist in The Reed Dancer Stalker – a stunning sequel to her best-selling Red Ink (Pan Macmillan).

 Entrepreneur and money trauma coach Vangile Makwakwa explores the inner-circle of how majority African-black compatriots handle money matters – including controversial issues like black tax, eternal child cash syndrome and other payback rituals in her third book – What’s Your Money Personality? – Changing the way Black families manage their finances (Pan Macmillan).

 Tackling a national issue that is bound to become a political hot potato to garner votes in the 2024 election, Bulelwa Mabasa, explores the pros and cons and historical time lines of property rights in My Land Obsession – A Memoir (Picador Africa).

Across 240 pages of Sitting Pretty, the acclaimed author kicks off by pushing back the boundaries of Afrikanerdom. An associate sociology professor and researcher, the former Vrye Weekblad journalist transited into academia and has skilfully captured the legacy of two famously notable persona to take readers behind the Iron Curtain – a despised apartheid era where Afrikaner women were ambivalently viewed as oppressor and oppressed – also denied the vote and

consigned in their politics to the kitchen. Her reference point is the iconic head of state’s outreach to an unlikely constituency – white, middle-class Afrikaner women to integrate into the liberating possibilities of a constitutional democracy after 350 years of Dutch, British and Boer rule and regimes. This insightful,

path-finding, nuanced and broader-based social commentary underscores the volksmoeder – Afrikaner mother of the nation – and the dynamics of the wide-ranging issues of colonialism, apartheid and the complexities of race, gender, sexuality and class.

From the birth of the new nation in 1994 to 2000, South Africa was stalked and haunted by a series of brutal serial killers. Psychologist Pistorius became a police profiler of serial killers and trained detectives to identify and interrogate serial killers/rapists. Across 225 pages, she shares a captivating story of how she – a victim of a broken family and divorce – came chillingly face to face with the Station Strangler – teacher Norman Afzal Simons – paroled in 2023 for Elroy van Rooyen’s killing; Stewart Wilken, alias Boetie Boer; the Phoenix Cane Killer, the Saloon Killer and dozens of other sexual predators and prostitute murderers. She worked alongside detectives Piet Byleveld and Suiker Britz and broke new ground by diving into the abyss of the mind, body and soul of serial killers with her theory and profiling of the origin of serial killers who experienced the power over life and death as omnipotence.

On the back of a publishing feat of five books in 18 years – with central themes speaking powerfully to a contemporary country at the crossroads of crime, Red Ink, The 30th Candle, Black Widow Society, The Blessed Girl and Critical But, Stable, Makholwa is celebrating her impressive career with a 300-pager,

The Reed Dance Stalker. From a crime reporter to a public relations diva, this latest offering traces the journey of Lucy Khambule from receiving the alarming news that her nemesis, a convicted serial killer and rapist’s, escape from a maximum-security prison to her firm clinching event planning for the Durban soccer world cup 2010 draw to being stalked on Facebook and the copycat slaying of two women at the Reed Dance in Swaziland.

Across 350 pages, What’s Your Money Personality? explores people who are passionate about money, people who monetize their work, the moneyed people and how money makes the world go round. The author provides a handbook guide into financial freedom and how black people can change the way of managing their finances. She poses this: are you a lioness who leads the tribe, a dolphin who ducks and dives, or an ostrich who buries its head in the sand when it comes to money matters? Or traditionally, ancestrally or culturally, should young, salaried people continue paying black tax as a payback to elderly parents or relatives who educated them or suffer money trauma?

My Land Obsession is the poignant charting of Mabasa across a 250-page-turner from a matchbox home to law studies to suburban lifestyle to her labour of love in obsessively seeking justice for victims of land dispossession, the migrant labour system, land reform and property and land restitution – cornerstone of apartheid’s 1950s Group Areas Act injustices – and into courtroom battles, commercial disputes and mining litigation.

In Sitting Pretty, the author invokes President Nelson Mandela’s singling out of Ingrid Jonker, for proffering her gloriousvision.  Jonker’s father Abraham was a National Party Member of Parliament and chairman of the parliamentary select committee responsible for censorship laws on art, publications and entertainment. To Abraham Jonker’s embarrassment, his daughter was vehemently opposed to the censorship laws he was charged with enforcing and their political differences became public. With a speech in parliament, he disowned her as his daughter. Ingrid Jonker was honoured in the inaugural State of the Nation Address in a democratic parliament in 1994.

Makholwa penned Red Ink based on her exclusive behind-the-bars interview with serial killer-strangler, Moses Sithole, sentenced to 930 years in 1997, for savagely raping and butchering 38 women.

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MARLAN PADAYACHEE is a still-practicing and seasoned journalist and photographer, former political, diplomatic and foreign correspondent, currently a media strategist, consulting editor, freelance journalist and publisher at MapMedia GreenGold Consulting (Pty) Limited; recipient, 2021 Ammen Award for Excellence in Media, member, International Federation of Journalists, Southern African Freelancers’ Association (SAFREA), SA National Editors’ Forum (SANEF), and Institute for the Advancement of Journalists, recipient, USIS International Visitor and British Council Fellow and Life Member, Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (Gopio International), board member, RK Khan Hospital  (2001-2022).

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