Paul McNally explores Joburg's rotten underbelly in The Street
From drug lords to gangsters to captured police who take bribes daily, McNally’s book chronicles in a very fresh way the breakdown that has happened in Sophiatown. – Mathatha Tsedu
This is an important piece of journalism that gives rare insight into Joburg’s rotten underbelly and the criminals, cops and citizens who co-exist there. – Anton Harber
Pan Macmillan is proud to present The Street by Paul McNally:
There are no villains here. Award-winning journalist Paul McNally finds corrupt cops, drug dealers, vigilante residents, addicts, torturers, murders and cops partnered to drug dealers. But no villains.
Raymond is a shop owner on Ontdekkers Road who takes a baseball bat to the dealers when they break his rules. He systematically records in his notebook the police officers who come – all day, every day – to collect their bribe money from the dealers, and is looking for someone to trust.
Khaba is a middle-aged police officer who wants a quiet life but whose demons will not leave him in peace. He is trying to regain his trust in what he once regarded as an honourable profession.
Wendy is a petite, ageing police reservist who can handle an R5 rifle with confidence, but not the sadness that accompanies her in her daily life – the loss of her police officer husband, brutally murdered by a drug lord, and the addiction that has her young son in its grip. She is looking for respect and affirmation and for her own life to have meaning.
Through different paths, the lives of Raymond, Khaba and Wendy intersect on the street as their attention is focused on the current power couple – a drug dealer named Obi and his police officer wife, Lerato. Seemingly untouchable, Obi and Lerato terrorise Ontdekkers, and in the process upset the balance of this already lawless world.
About the author
Paul McNally is a journalist living in Johannesburg. He is the founding director of The Citizen Justice Network, an award-winning media initiative that develops journalism in under-reported areas in local languages. McNally produces feature articles and narrative radio documentaries for Wits Journalism on criminal justice, health and science. He is a 2016 Knight Visiting Nieman Fellow at Harvard. This is his first book.