Books

Clarence van Buuren: Knew the words but not the music

I first encountered Clarence van Buuren in 1956 when his photograph appeared in the papers after the police had arrested him for the murder of a Pinetown girl, Joy Aken. I was an 8-year old living in Johannesburg when these events occurred. Van Buuren was hanged in Pretoria on 10 June 1957, another event that made a deep impression on me. The case has since entered my life’s journey at odd and unexpected times and it has intrigued me from the beginning.

You see, Van Buuren maintained his innocence to the end and there had been no eye witnesses. And then there was the curious claim of the medium who maintained that he had accurately divined where the dead girl’s body would be found, and, curiouser still, that he was in fact the person who discovered the naked and disfigured body some 100 kilometres south of Durban where it had been concealed in a culvert under the road at Mtwalume. Many questions arise from these events. What role did the dog Patch play in the dicovery of the body? How come the police did not find the body first? Was Van Buuren responsible for the sexual disfigurement of the body, or could wild animals have caused those injuries? Where, how and why did Clarence van Buuren kill Joy Aken? What sort of man was he, this highly intelligent, qualified engineer?

It is 55 years later and I now, for the first time, have the sources at my disposal to answer these and other questions arising from this extraordinary case in South Africa’s library of crime. This book is about my search for those sources, and what I found in the Gehri Strauss’ suitcase, the Van Buuren case record and the Joy Aken police docket.

Article in The Crest

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Clarence van Buuren:Die agter die donkerbril

Ek die eerste keer Clarence van Buuren in 1956 toe sy die foto verskyn in die koerante na die polisie het hom vir die moord van ‘n Pinetown meisie, Joy Aken in hegtenis geneem. Ek was ‘n 8-jarige in Johannesburg woon wanneer hierdie gebeure plaasgevind het. Van Buuren is op 10 Junie 1957 ‘n ander gebeurtenis wat ‘n diep indruk op my in Pretoria gehang. Die saak is intussen het nie in my lewe se reis op vreemde en onverwagte tye en dit het my van die begin af gefassineer.

Jy sien, Van Buuren sy onskuld aan die einde onderhou en daar was geen ooggetuies. En dan was daar die vreemde eis van die medium wat beweer dat hy akkuraat divined waar die dooie meisie se liggaam gevind sou word, en nuuskierig nog steeds, dat hy in die feit dat die persoon wat die naakte en verminkte liggaam sowat 100 kilometer suid van ontdek Durban waar dit was in ‘n duiker versteek onder die pad by Mtwalume. Baie vrae ontstaan ??as gevolg van hierdie gebeure. Watter rol het die hond Patch speel in die ontdekkingsdag van die liggaam? Hoe kom die polisie nie die liggaam eerste vind? Was Van Buuren verantwoordelik vir die seksuele skending van die liggaam, of kon wilde diere wat beserings veroorsaak? Waar, hoe en hoekom het Clarence van Buuren doodmaak Joy Aken? Watter soort man is hy, hierdie hoogs intelligente, gekwalifiseerde ingenieur?

Dit is 55 jaar later en ek nou, vir die eerste keer, het die bronne tot my beskikking hierdie en ander vrae wat voortspruit uit hierdie buitengewone geval in Suid-Afrika se biblioteek van misdaad te beantwoord. Hierdie boek is oor my soektog na die bronne, en wat ek gevind het in die Gehri Strauss ‘n tas, die Van Buuren geval rekord, en die vreugde Aken polisie dossier.

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Litigation Skills for South African lawyers

Litigation Skills for South African Lawyers is the only publication providing practical training material for the legal profession. The first edition was released in 2006 and sold out almost immediately. This book provides a step-by-step guide to the litigation process, from your first meeting with a client, through the court process, to meeting after the appeal has been finalised.

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A Sailor’s Honour

Pierre de Villiers has walked a hard road. Tortured by his own army, his family killed, surviving cancer; his new life in New Zealand is supposed to bring him peace.But just when his life seems to be on an even keel, his daughter is kidnapped in Auckland and his brother-in-law’s wife abducted in Durban. What possible common enemy might the brothers-in-law have? The clues to the riddle stretch from Nazi u-boats of Africa’s coast to a sinister Third Force pulling the strings of darkest South African history.Determined to defend his family.

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Shepherds & Butchers

South Africa in the late 1980s. A young warden is arrested after killing, in a senseless shooting spree, 7 black members of a karate team. Admitting guilt and accepting his fate, he refuses to speak about his crime. A Pro Deo attorney is appointed to defend him, who in turn secures the services of a senior counsel from Durban. In the process it turns out that the young man has been doing service on death row, supporting the condemned in their last days with care that was almost tender, before effecting their slaughter at the gallows. 

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The Soldier Who Said No

New Zealand was supposed to be where Pierre de Villiers would escape his past. A misadventure in Angola had cost him his faith in the military, and almost his life and sanity. Another event cost him his family. But no. After a bizarre attempt on the NZ Prime Minister’s life De Villiers recognises the arrow used: it is of Bushman origin. And suddenly he, now a policeman in Auckland, is a suspect. He must go back to South Africa for answers, and to face his demons. Can he unscramble his memory? Will he find the men who devastated his life? 

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