Book Review – Spy – Uncovering Craig Williamson

by Jonathan Ancer (Jacana) ISBN: 9781431421497

Craig Williamson was heralded by the Apartheid propaganda machine as their ‘super-spy’. Whilst a Wits student he was recruited by the notorious Security Branch and ingratiated himself in the student activist movement.

Several years later he went into exile where he supposedly penetrated the outlawed ANC. He was a white student who attended the prestigious St. John’s College in the heart of Helen Suzman’s liberal constituency – by all accounts the perfect spy.

Ancer’s investigation however begins with a fascination with Ruth First. Inspired by her life and prompted by a conversation with a young colleague on the Ruth First Highway, Ancer decides to persue this super-spy.

From his upper-class schooling, National Service in the Police, through his apparent student years, what Ancer uncovers is an arrogant bully. And the bully becomes a monster as he orchestrates the brutal murders of Ruth First, as well as Jenney Schoon and her infant daughter.

Spy includes Williamson’s eventual submissions to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as well as countless recollections by those who encountered Williamson – reading like a who’s who across South Africa’s political landscape. But perhaps the most eerie account is when the author sits down for coffee with the killer at Hyde Park Corner.

Spy is a necessary, yet harrowing read for all South Africans.

Wayne Bouwer

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