South Africa: The Thread of Violent Light That Illuminates Crime Fiction

opinion

It's through these stories that we make sense of ourselves in relation to concepts of good and evil. It's here that we generate empathy or anger as we understand what makes criminals tick.

My crime fiction career started in a hot, biscuit-coloured room at a small-town police station in Eastern Cape. The lights burned too bright as I handed over the scroll of my underwear over the table to be bagged as evidence and gave a police officer my statement.

Outside, my dad, usually a tall, forboding figure, had fainted on the car park gravel, felled by stress. As the forces that are set into motion after a rape moved around me, from the district surgeon to the nurses who conducted the rape kit, to the detective who quizzed me on the physical characteristics of the attackers going pale when one of the descriptions matched his own son, I floated above my body unable to cope with the intensity of the scene, with the trouble I was causing.

I began to passively observe, taking mental notes, already editing and refashioning the story in my mind into something where I didn't feel so ashamed or helpless.

As South Africans, the existence...

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