Author Q&A with Mandy Wiener

Exclusive Books recently hosted a live Twitter Q&A session with Mandy Wiener as part of their annual Homebru Campaign, which promotes the finest range of South African books during the month of June. We’ve put together some of the questions from fans, customers and readers and Mandy's answers.

One of South Africa’s best-known and most credible journalist and author, Mandy Wiener worked as a multi-award-winning reporter with Eyewitness News from 2004 until 2014 and is currently a freelancer. Ministry of Crime is her fourth book, following on from the best-selling Killing Kebble: An Underworld Exposed, My Second Initiation: The Memoir of Vusi Pikoli, written with the former head of the National Prosecuting Authority and Behind the Door: The Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp Story, co-authored with colleague Barry Bateman.

Exclusive Books recently hosted a live Twitter Q&A session with Mandy Wiener as part of their annual Homebru Campaign, which promotes the finest range of South African books during the month of June. We’ve put together some of the questions from fans, customers and readers and Mandy’s answers.

What was your inspiration for writing Ministry of Crime?

I always felt that I had the book inside me, I had reported on these various stories for Eye Witness News. The inspiration was all the knowledge that I had that hadn't seen the light of day and really doing a proper examination of the criminal justice system and its capture.

Did you face any legal challenges while working on the book?

The manuscript had a very thorough read by Dario Milo and his team. The only minor drama was literally five minutes after we went to print. We got a lawyer’s letter from one of the characters which delayed printing slightly. But, the book still made it onto the shelves.

Are you ever scared for your life with these people? 

I do take precautions and try not to be completely naive! I don't get scared because I try to be non-judgmental. I never had any direct threats and wasn't seriously concerned about my safety or that of my family. Most of the people who posed a threat had seen the text, given interviews and knew what was coming. It's the whistleblowers, cops and prosecutors who face real danger.

Have you ever received death threats from politicians or law enforcement agencies?

I'm a bit disappointed that I haven't actually! I thought the police would be a bit more upset about the content of this book but obviously, they realised that it's all true and there's no disputing it. Politicians haven't been happy, but are they ever?

What didn’t make it into the book?

There was quite a lot left on the cutting room floor because of length. I did quite a bit on the bouncer industry and a few other murders that couldn't fit in. Also, couldn't find a way to fit in the Arno Lamoer story. I would have loved Krejcir and Mdluli interviews!

In South Africa, real life can definitely be stranger than fiction. What is one of the most bizarre stories you have ever covered and did they make it into the book?

The story that I tell in the book about the red Polo incident at Krejcir's Money Point shop is truly the stuff of James Bond novels. Twelve barrels popping out from behind a number plate, remote detonated, a car going up in flames. Can't make that up!

Have you ever considered writing a novel?

I have thought about it, but I don't know if I could come up with a believable storyline because the non-fiction narratives are truly bizarre. Maybe I'll give it a bash, but I suspect I'll write one chapter and give up.

When is your next book project and any hints to the subject matter?

No book project planned just yet, but I have some ideas bubbling. Ministry of Crime was a mammoth task, I'm still recovering!

Ministry of Crime traces an underworld trajectory from Kebble to Krejcir to Modack. It features new revelations about high-profile, unsolved hits and the intricate relationships between known criminals and police officers at all levels. Mandy Wiener examines the nexus between organised crime figures, corrupt police officials and powerful politicians.

Behind the Door

by Mandy Wiener

Book cover for Behind the Door

The news of successful model Reeva Steenkamp’s fatal shooting by her boyfriend and global sporting star Oscar Pistorius stunned the world. Over the ensuing weeks, as Pistorius appeared in court and applied for bail, every detail that emerged was analysed, debated, justified and digested. South Africa and the world in general were haunted by the events as they were repeated and discussed at length. Public perception vacillated from version to version and from hour to hour.

Behind the Door is a compelling narrative, which unpacks the story as revealed in the courtroom and beyond during the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius and as told to the authors in several exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes briefings. It looks at the characters involved, relates the courtroom interactions and dramas, the construction of each side’s argument, the analysis of forensic and circumstantial evidence and exchanges between the personalities, as well as a broader look at violence and criminal justice in South Africa.

Vivid and gripping, insightful and authoritative, Behind the Door is the book to read on the Reeva and Oscar story.

My Second Initiation

by Vusi Pikoli

Book cover for My Second Initiation

As national director of public prosecutions from 2005 to 2007, Advocate Vusi Pikoli pursued criminal charges against the current president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, and the convicted former national police commissioner, Jackie Selebi. It was his dogged determination to bring the country’s top cop to account that ultimately saw Pikoli removed from office and the subject of a public inquiry into his suspension.

My Second Initiation traces Pikoli’s journey from his first graduation to manhood in the hills of the Eastern Cape, to his second life-shaping experience in the corridors of power in government.

Pikoli has a deeply ingrained loyalty to the Constitution of the country and a keenly developed sense of justice, cultivated on the politically aware streets and rugby fields of New Brighton township. He recounts how he fled with his ANC unit into exile and spent 10 years away from his home and his family, suffering the loss of a child and of a man he considered a brother.

He provides an insider’s perspective on cases that have dominated discussion over the past decade from the Arms Deal and the Scorpions to the Brett Kebble murder, Travelgate, the Special Browse Mole Report and the Hoax E-mail saga. Pikoli reveals how he grappled with the dilemma of prosecuting friends and comrades, how he navigated through repeated attempts at political interference and how he confronted one of his persecutors in a poignant face-to-face encounter.

Killing Kebble

Book cover for Killing Kebble