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What does it take to deceive those closest to you? How do you lead a double life and not lose yourself? Is there ever a point of return? Jonathan Ancer explores these questions in the tales of SA’s spies: from the navy superspy on the Russian payroll to the party girl who fell in love with Cuba and the idealistic students used and abused in apartheid’s intelligence war.
Ancer gets under the skin of what it takes to betray those closest to you – and what it is means to be betrayed.
It was in 1972 when the seemingly ordinary Craig Williamson registered at Wits University and joined the National Union of South African Students (NUSAS). Williamson was elected NUSAS’s vice president and in January 1977, when his career in student politics came to an abrupt end, he fled the country and from Europe continued his anti-apartheid ‘work’. But Williamson was not the activist his friends and comrades thought he was. In January 1980, Captain Williamson was unmasked as a South African spy.
Williamson returned to South Africa and during the turbulent 1980s worked for the foreign section of the South African Police’s notorious Security Branch and South Africa’s ‘super-spy’ transformed into a parcel-bomb assassin.
Through a series of interviews with the many people Williamson interacted with while he was undercover and after his secret identity was eventually exposed, Jonathan Ancer details Williamson’s double life, the stories of a generation of courageous activists, and the book eventually culminates with Ancer interviewing South Africa’s ‘super-spy’ face-to-face. It deals with crucial issues of justice, reconciliation, forgiveness, betrayal and the consequences of apartheid that South Africans are still grappling with.
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