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Chris Steyn-Barlow became a journalist by an unexpected twist after she took a secretarial post at the Sunday Tribune's Johannesburg's bureau. She proved herself a useless secretary but her boss, the legendary Viv Prince, sent her out on stories instead of firing her. Her first job was to interview British fashion guru, Mary Quant, and ask if it was true she had her pubic hair shaved into a heart shape. Horrified at the prospect, she still passed her first journalistic test by asking that question. Quant answered in the affirmative!

Her short stint on the Sunday Tribune was followed by two-and-a-half years under The Citizen's very difficult Johnny Johnson. The late Johnson had started his career as a copy boy at 13 and went on to become the longest serving editor in SA press history. She learned the craft of investigative journalism the hard way under his tutelage; on the city's back streets writing stories about politics, crime, disasters and tragedies; rubbing shoulders with criminals, drug addicts and prostitutes.

Poached by the Rand Daily Mail she continued to develop her own hard-nosed style of reporting. Spells at The Star and the Cape Times followed. She was subpoenaed to give evidence against witnesses to the so-called zero-zero hand grenade incidents in the East Rand where the fuses had been covertly converted to instantaneous settings by the Security Branch C later admitted by them at a TRC hearing. Chris fled to the UK and worked for The Times of London to avoid giving evidence until the subpoena was withdrawn and she was able to return home.

After her return she was arrested for taking part in a demonstration where journalists protested the new emergency regulations that had placed onerous restrictions on press freedom. For many of her stories she dug in sensitive political areas where many editors were afraid to trespass, one describing her as an 'unguided missile'.After a second spell at The Citizen she spent time writing murder mysteries and freelancing for magazines. In her final years as a reporter Chris was appointed editor of the Independent Newspapers Investigative Unit where she uncovered major political and criminal scandals.

Paperback, 362 pages. 

Customer Reviews

Based on 1 review
Chris steyn

I read this book and found it extremely fascinating as many of the incidents I knew about from the other side as I was an investigator and was involved in some of the incidents
They were all written in a very interesting manner and were the truth with no embellishments.
At the time I did not know the about author neither when she wrote the book and she had very good sources and did excellent research.
I recommend the book to all to read as a true history of incidents which occurred in South Africa


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