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Protea Boekhuis

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Archive for the ‘Law’ Category

Disputed Land and Clarence van Buuren on 2013 Alan Paton Award Longlist

Disputed LandClarence van Buuren Knew the Words But Not the MusicProtea Boekhuis is proud to announce that two of our titles, Clarence van Buuren by Chris Marnewick and Disputed Land by Louis Changuion and Bertus Steenkamp, have made it onto the longlist for the prestigious 2013 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award.

The longlist was announced yesterday and the shortlist of five will be revealed on Saturday evening at the Franschhoek Literary Festival.

Best of luck to Marnewick, Changuion and Steenkamp!

About the books

Disputed Land gives a comprehensive review of the origin of the problems surrounding land ownership in South Africa from 1652 and how it still continues in 2011. The book describes how it happened that the white minority of the South African population could own in 73% (in 1980) of the land while the black population only owned 14%. (The state owned 12%.)

When Apartheid ended, this imbalance in land distribution had to be set right. Today, it is an ongoing process. In this process it is expected of white farmers to sell their land to black farmers. Some South Africans feel that South Africa as a whole should be in the hands of black farmers.

Louis Changuion and Bertus Steenkamp question whether land reform by means of dispossession is the answer to South Africa’s land distribution problems. Are there other possible solutions and can white South Africans have a claim on South African land?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Clarence van Buuren: Knew the Words But Not the Music is the English translation of Clarence van Buuren: Die man agter die donkerbril.

In 1957 Clarence Gordon van Buuren was convicted of the murder of Myrna Joy Aken and executed. He denied murdering her up to the very end. A young boy, Chris Marnewich, read the details in the newspaper and he had nightmares about them: Why was Van Buuren hanged if he had maintained his innocence?

The case was sensational for several reasons: It was alleged that a clairvoyant found the body after a séance; There were indications of a sexual relationship between Van Buuren and Aken
There was the crude sexual mutilation of the corpse.

The press leapt at the sensation: Women queued outside the court in long lines, trampling each other when the doors opened. Van Buuren enjoyed the attention and he flirted with them during the entire hearing.

Despite all the attention focused on the case, the author found that the evidence led in court simply was the tip of the iceberg. The police dossier revealed so much more. Information indicated that Van Buuren was a narcissistic psychopath, a sadist who battered women. He was an emotional vampire and a sadistic sex murderer. Or was he? None of this was mentioned in the court case, nor in the newspapers.

When Marnewick decided to reinvestigate the case, the case record had disappeared. Eventually Marnewick tracked it down.

Today, more than 60 years after the murder, we are in a position to relive the crime through Marnewick’s legal eye. The book tells the story of the murder, but it also traces Marnewick’s own journey with the book.

Book details

  • Disputed Land: The Historical Development of the South African Land Issue 1652-2011 by Louis Changuion, Bertus Steenkamp
    EAN: 9781869197742
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Chris Marnewick Discusses Clarence van Buuren: Knew the Words But Not the Music

Clarence van Buuren Knew the Words But Not the MusicThe fascinating case of Clarence van Buuren, who was hanged for having killed Joy Aken, has disturbed and invaded Chris Marnewick’s conscience to the extent that he wrote a book about it: Clarence van Buuren: Knew the Words But Not the Music (in Afrikaans, Clarence van Buuren: Die man agter die donkerbril).

With the Oscar Pistorius case making headlines around the world, and mirroring the attention around the Van Buuren case, Marnewick spoke to Margaret von Klemperer of The Witness about his attempt at finding out why Van Buuren was driven to murder. His book is a look at the idea of evil, and why a man might kill.

OPEN a local newspaper in February 2013, and it is all about the Oscar Pistorius case. The level of obsession was the same back in 1957 when it was the Clarence van Buuren case.

Those papers are yellow and brittle now, and alongside the murder there is more international news than you can see in these days of the so-called global village. But it was murder that grabbed the headlines.

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Chris Marnewick Questions Why Men Murder at the Launch of Clarence van Buuren

 
Clarence van Buuren Knew the Words But Not the MusicWhile South Africa is currently gripped by the proceedings of a different murder case, Chris Marnewick’s Clarence van Buuren Knew the Words But Not the Music, a work of non-fiction about a murder trial from the 1950s that intrigued him since he was eight years old, was launched at Adams Books in Musgrave, Durban.

Originally written in Afrikaans, and called Clarence van Buuren: Die man agter die donkerbril, the translation was published by Protea Boekhuis late last year. At the launch, Marnewick, a retired senior advocate who worked in Durban for many years, but who now lives in New Zealand, explained that writing the book enabled him to find closure for his “obsession” with this case.

In 1956, 18-year-old Myrna Aken was given a lift by a salesperson, Clarence van Buuren, in Durban. A few days later her naked disfigured body was found on the south coast with the help of a medium. Marnewick, who was at the time only a boy, living in Johannesburg, followed the story closely in the newspapers. By day he would read about the case and Van Buuren’s eventual hanging. By night he would be haunted by nightmares about the murder and the accused’s claims that he was innocent.

“A psychic was the first person to find the body. My book is partly about whether there is any real substance in that claim,” he said. He also examines Van Buuren’s claims that he was innocent, investigating rumours that Aken had had an affair with him. “I also look at the curious parallel between the lives of the police officer, Frans Steenkamp, investigating the case, who left school at 16 because he had no money for school books, and ten years later became a detective sergeant, and the killer who ran away from school at 16, stole a car, was involved in several crimes and imprisoned for five years before writing his exams, qualifying as an engineer, and then for three years leading what appears to be an ordinary life with his wife and two children,” he says.

Chris Marnewick Chris Marnewick

Marnewick mentioned some of his main sources: a journalist called Gehri Strauss, who had done a series of interviews with the accused while he was imprisoned, and published the stories in The Star. He said Strauss was “objective but empathetic”. After Strauss’ death, his long-term partner Ricky Hamilton gave Marnewick a battered old cardboard suitcase that Strauss had kept full of newspaper reports and magazine articles on the case. Also in the suitcase were notebooks, revealing Strauss’ thoughts as he followed the case, and photographs of the crowds at the trial, the accused and the policemen who caught him, the prosecutors and various locations identified in the investigation. Marnewick brought the suitcase with him to the launch, saying that without it there would have been no book.

He also mentioned the late investigating officer Frans Steenkamp’s wife, Maxi, who had kept the Van Buuren docket after her husband’s death, and allowed Marnewick to use it for his research.

Marnewick explained that the book works as an analysis of Van Buuren’s mental state, and possible motivations for the murder. Why, when he led such a comfortable life, did he commit such a heinous crime? He said the same questions can be asked about Oscar Pistorius, who has been charged with murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Marnewick said he believes in tangible evil that exists in men, that makes them commit crimes against women.

During the question and answer session, a member of the audience asked Marnewick whether he believed in capital punishment. He said he did not, although he invites the reader to make up his/her own mind in this book. He expressed concern that the act of killing changes one, saying he thought it was bad for the executioners to be doing such work.

Next up for Marnewick is a legal book about bail, followed by a novel, with “lots of sex”. He said he plans for it to be a detective story set in South Africa.

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Join Chris Marnewick as He Launches His Book Clarence van Buuren in Durban

Clarence van Buuren Knew the Words But Not the MusicYou are invited at the Durban launch of Chris Marnewick’s Clarence van Buuren: Knew the words but not the music to be held at Adams Books on Tuesday, 19th February at 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM.

Marnewick has written an intriguing account of the investigation and the trial in the Clarence van Buuren case – a murder that caused a sensation in Durban in the 50s.

The case has haunted him since childhood and the material he used has taken him a lifetime and much luck to collect. It will be fascinating to hear Chris share the story of how this book came to be written.

See you there!

Event Details

  • Date: Tuesday, 19 February 2013
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: Adams Books,
    Musgrave Centre,
    Musgrave Road,
    Durban | Map
  • RSVP: Beverly Keyser on 031 319 4300

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Chris Marnewick Investigates a 1950s Murder Case in Clarence van Buuren

Clarence van Buuren Knew the Words But Not the MusicProtea releases Clarence van Buuren: Knew the Words But Not the Music, the English translation of Clarence van Buuren: Die man agter die donkerbril, this month:

In 1957 Clarence Gordon van Buuren was convicted of the murder of Myrna Joy Aken and executed. He denied murdering her up to the very end.

A young boy, Chris Marnewich, read the details in the newspaper and he had nightmares about them: Why was Van Buuren hanged if he had maintained his innocence?

The case was sensational for several reasons:

  • It was alleged that a clairvoyant found the body after a séance
  • There were indications of a sexual relationship between Van Buuren and Aken
  • There was the crude sexual mutilation of the corpse

The press leapt at the sensation: Women queued outside the court in long lines, trampling each other when the doors opened. Van Buuren enjoyed the attention and he flirted with them during the entire hearing.

Despite all the attention focussed on the case, the author found that the evidence led in court simply was the tip of the iceberg. The police dossier revealed so much more. Information indicated that Van Buuren was a narcissistic psychopath, a sadist who battered women. He was an emotional vampire and a sadistic sex murderer. Or was he? None of this was mentioned in the court case, nor in the newspapers.

When Marnewick decided to reinvestigate the case, the case record had disappeared. Eventually Marnewick tracked it down.

Today, more than 60 years after the murder, we are in a position to relive the crime through Marnewick’s legal eye. The book tells the story of the murder, but it also traces Marnewick’s own journey with the book.

About the author

Chris Marnewick has retired as a senior advocate in Durban. His first book on crime was Shepherds & Butchers and for that he was shortlisted for the M-Net Literary Awards and the Sunday Times Award. Chris is also wrote The Soldier Who Said No and A Sailor’s Honour.

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