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Archive for the ‘Law’ Category

Hazel Crampton Discusses the Demonisation of Marijuana at the Launch of Her New Book, Dagga: A Short History

Hazel Crampton

The only scent that permeated the Kalk Bay Bookshop at the recent launch of Hazel Crampton’s newest publication was rain on the pavement and the tang of windblown waves. No dreadlocked Rastafarians attended the celebration of the publication of Dagga: A Short History, but when Nancy Richards, the vivacious and much-loved radio personality who joined the author in a weird and wonderful conversation, asked how many folk in the audience had tried the “sacred herb”, at least half of the gathering of suburbanites (average age 55) put up their hands.

Hazel CramptonDagga: A Short HistoryRichards, whose book Being a Woman in Cape Town was launched on Women’s Day, sang praises for Dagga. She said it told a “fascinating and eye-opening story of the ‘weed’ as it tumbled through South Africa’s colourful past and into the present. Hazel breathes life and humour into the history and raises many important questions about its future.” Having talked about Dagga as well as about her previous books, The Sunburnt Queen and The Side of the Sun at Noon, on Richards’ SAfm Literature show before, Crampton and Richards share a longstanding rapport.

While doing research on non-indigenous plants and the trade routes that brought them to southern Africa, Crampton discovered mention of dagga. “I was quite surprised because I’d always assumed that because it grows here as a weed it was indigenous,” Crampton admitted. “Dagga came from Arab traders from Southeast Asia some 1 000 years ago, along with other medicinal plants and beads used for trading purposes.”

The author reflected on how the legal status of dagga has changed in South Africa. “For hundreds of years it was completely legal,” she said, “used in traditional medicines, as an Afrikaner home remedy, sold over the counter and advertised in the press. Within a 20-year period it went from being completely acceptable to being completely outlawed.”

To hear Crampton’s take on the demonisation of dagga was utterly fascinating. She advocates for dagga being legalised, licensed and taxed. To discover more about this intriguing matter, buy the book. At just 90 pages, it’s a quick read, “for short attention spans,” Crampton says, laughing.

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Liesl Jobson (@LieslJobson) tweeted live from the event using the hashtag #livebooks:


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Join Hazel Crampton, with Nancy Richards, for the Launch of Dagga: A Short History at Kalk Bay Books

Dagga: A Short HistoryJacana and Kalk Bay Books would like to invite you to the launch of Dagga: A Short History by Hazel Crampton.

Crampton will be speaking about her new book, a witty and thought-provoking overview of dagga in South Africa, with Nancy Richards.

The event will be on Tuesday, 29 September, at 6 for 6:30 PM at Kalk Bay Books.

Don’t miss out!

Event Details

  • Date: Tuesday, 29 September 2015
  • Time: 6 for 6:30 PM
  • Venue: Kalk Bay Books
    124 Main Road
    Kalk Bay | Map
  • Interviewer: Nancy Richards
  • RSVP:, 021 788 2266

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Join Hazel Crampton for the Launch of Dagga: A Short History at Love Books

Invitation to the launch of Dagga: A Short History

Dagga: A Short HistoryJacana and Love Books would like to invite you to the launch of Dagga: A Short History by Hazel Crampton.

Dagga: A Short History is a conversation piece, a witty and thought-provoking overview of dagga in South Africa, its origins, background as a legal drug, and later criminalisation.

The launch will be on Wednesday, 9 September, at 5:30 for 6 PM at Love Books.

Don’t miss out!

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 9 September 2015
  • Time: 5:30 for 6 PM
  • Venue: Love Books
    The Bamboo Lifestyle Centre
    53 Rustenburg Road
    Melville | Map
  • RSVP: Nomzamo Buyani,, 011 628 3200

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Dagga: A Short History by Hazel Crampton – A Book Sure to Ignite Debate

Dagga: A Short HistoryJacana Media is proud to present a book set to ignite debate on emerging issues such as licensing, legalisation and taxation of dagga in South Africa – Dagga: A Short History by Hazel Crampton:

“In a world stalked by biltong, Hazel Crampton’s latest literary cultivation is an enthralling and educative reminder of another enduring South African staple. Her pioneering short exploration of dagga displays a fine eye for telling detail, covers a lot of ground at an enjoyably brisk pace, and satisfies the reader’s inquisitiveness in all kinds of knowledgeable as well as unexpected ways. This gem of a book is enough to make you flap your wings.” – Professor Bill Nasson, Department of History, Stellenbosch University.

Dagga: A Short History is a conversation piece, a witty and thought-provoking overview of dagga in South Africa, its origins, background as a legal drug, and later criminalisation. An entertaining and informative take on the law and the current medical debate, it is an essential contribution to emerging issues such as licensing, legalisation and taxation.

About the author

Hazel Crampton is the author of the bestselling The Sunburnt Queen (Jacana, 2004), The Side of the Sun at Noon (Jacana, 2014), and co-editor of Into the Hitherto Unknown: Ensign Beutler’s Expedition to the Eastern Cape, 1752 (Cape Town: Van Riebeeck Society, 2013).

Dagga: A Short History (then, now and just now) is her fourth book. Hazel is an artist and lives in Grahamstown.

Praise for The Sunburnt Queen

Crampton’s style is compelling … as a reader, I was invited to delight, to analyse, to contemplate, to speculate, to critique – what more could one ask of such a text? – Wordstock, National Arts Festival

Praise for The Side of the Sun at Noon

The Side of the Sun at Noon is a perfect read for fans of South African history and is packed with facts and interesting information about historical events in our country’s story of the mysterious Chobona and the young fascinating Eva. – Sarah Beningfield

Crampton is a historian with unique sensibility who writes unique books. – Professor Jeff Peires

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“We Are a Black Country. Get Used to It.” – Stephen Grootes Explains Why #RhodesMustFall

SA Politics UnspunSA Politics Unspun author and political commentator Stephen Grootes has weighed in on the #RhodesMustFall debate in an op-ed for the Daily Maverick in which he categorically states that Cecil John Rhodes, and his legacy, should indeed fall.

Grootes explains the context of the situation, including the story behind the human faeces that was thrown on the statue in protest – an action which mobilised the current movement and brought the question of national symbols to the forefront once again. He addresses claims that people who have benefited from Rhodes should not speak out on this issue by arguing:

“To say that Rhodes somehow benefited education and is thus a great man is like claiming Hitler was a great man because he created full employment for all Germans. To set up his foundation was absolutely no sacrifice for Rhodes. He was already a more than wealthy man; he was super-rich. His wealth and power at the time are something that has no equal in today’s world. His scholarships cost him virtually nothing. He didn’t even notice. It’s like me giving five rand to a beggar at the street corner and claiming he can’t be frustrated at Apartheid because a white man has helped him.”

Grootes further addresses the argument that Nelson Mandela approved of Rhodes by tying his own name to the coloniser by creating the Mandela Rhodes Foundation and concludes that the drama and red tape surrounding this matter is “realpolitik at work”:

Somehow Madiba’s decision over a decade ago to allow his name to be attached to the Rhodes Foundation is now a justification to somehow keep the statue of Rhodes. Huh? Firstly, it’s a cheap shot; it’s grasping at straws. It’s shameful to try to cloak something in the shadow of Mandela. Stand on your own two feet. Secondly, Madiba was all about transition.

In those days, we were what you could call a black and white country.

Now, we are a black country.

Get used to it.

That doesn’t mean that we are not also a country for everyone; after all, it belongs to all who live in it. But it does mean that we can’t expect to keep symbols of our white-dominated past around. And why should we? Even if we were a different type of country, Rhodes should not be someone you want the young people of any country to look up to.

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Oscar: An Accident Waiting to Happen: A Disturbing but Loving Portrait by Melinda Ferguson and Patricia Taylor

Oscar: An Accident Waiting to HappenOscar: An Accident Waiting to Happen is the all-exclusive inside story of ex-girlfriend Samantha Taylor’s tumultuous romantic relationship with the gold-medal athlete which turned into every mother’s nightmare.

Told through the eyes of Sam’s mother, Patricia Taylor, it tracks the heady days of young romance when 24-year-old Pistorius met her 17-year-old daughter, Sam, and became part of the Taylor family’s close circle. The next two-and-a-half years would become a roller-coaster ride of extreme highs and dangerous lows as Pistorius’s growing international celebrity, emotional fragility, broken promises and recklessness consumed the Taylor family.

The lowest point was during the 2012 London Olympics. While the world watched and cheered, unaware of the dark and desperate space Pistorius found himself in, the distraught and weeping athlete was on the phone day in and day out to the Taylors. On his return home, promises to get psychological help never materialised as Pistorius became increasingly reckless with guns and drove cars at breakneck speed.

After one too many reckless incidents, where her daughter’s life was endangered, Patricia Taylor prophetically warned: “Oscar, something is going to go wrong and it’s going to happen soon. Your life is like a terrible accident waiting to happen.”

Three months later Pistorius would shoot and kill Reeva Steenkamp, with the same gun he fired through the open roof of a speeding car with Samantha in the back seat.

Of all the “Oscar” books to be released, An Accident Waiting to Happen is the only behind-the-scenes story shedding light on the athlete’s state of mind leading up to the night he fired four fatal shots through the bathroom door.

“The book sketches a very disturbing but loving portrait of Oscar Pistorius and his deep and dangerous flaws” – Marianne Thamm

About the authors

Oscar: An Accident Waiting To Happen (MFBooks, Jacana), is written by award-winning journalist and best-selling author (of Smacked) Melinda Ferguson, in close collaboration with a key state witness, Patricia Taylor. Oscar: An Accident Waiting to Happen will be on shelf and simultaneously released as an ebook after the verdict has been announced. The authors and book will be featured as part of the breaking news on Good Morning America while various newspapers are presently trying to outbid each other to serialise the book. Ferguson launched MFBooks in late 2012; this is the 10th book in her imprint.

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David Lewis Launches Thieves at the Dinner Table at The Book Lounge

David Lewis

Author, activist and academic, David Lewis, was welcomed at The Book Lounge early last week for the launch of his book, Thieves at the Dinner Table: Enforcing the Competition Act – a Personal Account.

Owen Rogers and David Lewis Thieves at the Dinner Table  Lewis, who was instrumental in drafting South Africa’s competition law, has a prestigious CV.

He is currently the Executive Director of the NGO, Corruption Watch, and was joined by Advocate Owen Rogers in a frank and scintillating discussion, permeated with wit. His personal account of his experience serving on the Competition Commission makes for riveting reading.

Rogers launched the discussion with the question, “Who are the thieves? And at whose dinner table do they sit?” Lewis replied that, when they tackled the case of the bread cartel and those involved became contrite and admitted guilt, the Human Rights Commission referred to those who fixed bread prices as “thieves at the dinner table”. This struck Lewis as an apt description of the scenario and completed the task of finding a suitably exciting title for his book. However, he noted that some readers had bought the book under the misapprehension that it is a thriller.

Rogers highlighted the 15 years Lewis spent as a trade unionist in the anti-apartheid movement and asked whether this time gave him an accurate and fair insight into the world of business or whether it had skewered his perception of the way business operated. Lewis said he’d gained a healthy skepticism and, although he has never worked in a business, his work has always been involved directly with business: “I was always fascinated by business, and even in the union movement grew to a grudging respect of certain business people. I did come into it with a strong skepticism and strong awareness of what damage could be done without countervailing forces,” he said.

Owen recalled that Lewis was no “lover of lawyers” and had been known to call down plagues and poxes upon the heads of his esteemed colleagues. Additionally, competition law is a highly complex mix of economics and law. When Owen asked Lewis what the challenges to the legal profession in the field are, Lewis said he “loved to hate lawyers” and really enjoyed the theatre of the law. While he takes pleasure in television court room dramas, seeing them in person is “fantastic”!

The lively and entertaining discussion concluded with questions and answers from the floor, in which a number of Lewis’ colleagues participated.

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Liesl Jobson tweeted from the launch using #livebooks:

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David Lewis Delivers a Personal Account of the Competition Commission in Thieves at the Dinner Table

Thieves at the Dinner Table  The Competition Commission (together with its Tribunal) is one of the success stories of the new, democratic South Africa, an institution that has won respect and admiration for its fearless, professional regulation of the market in the interests of the consumer and the citizen. David Lewis was one of the chief architects of the new competition authorities set up after 1994 and then became a leading actor in their work.

Thieves at the Dinner Table is a personal account of David Lewis’s headship of the Tribunal and tells, with insight, lucidity and often a fine sense of humour, of the way this new body dealt with the anticompetitive practices of South African big business. Three main aspects of the Commission’s work are dealt with in the book: mergers, abuse of dominance (i.e. monopolies) and cartels, and with each Lewis provides telling case studies drawn from the experience of the Commission. These are often enlivened by the author’s coruscating wit and by his delightful thumbnail sketches of the characters involved in the disputes, including the powerful and arrogant captains of industry, the wily Johannesburg competition lawyers, and the interfering and self-promoting politicians.

This is a book for people in business and in law, for those who want to understand how a key institution of post-apartheid South Africa came to be so successful, and for all those interested in the story of how some of the country’s most powerful businesses got their comeuppance after years of ripping off consumers.

Praise for Thieves at the Dinner Table

“This is a book on competition law that reads like a thriller. David Lewis has taken what might have been a dry, textbook topic and turned it into compulsive reading. But in giving the history of South African competition law some flesh and colour, he also imparts advice and opinions, which, whilst sometimes controversial, challenge the way we should think of economic regulation and the institutions that regulate.” – Norman Manoim, chairperson, South African Competition Tribunal

About the author

David Lewis, who taught at the Gordon Institute of Business Science after his term at the Competition Tribunal ended, is now head of the NGO Corruption Watch.

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Ronnie Kasrils Says the Latest Version of the Information Bill is More Dangerous Than Before

The Unlikely Secret AgentRonnie Kasrils, author of award-winning The Unlikely Secret Agent, says the revisions to the Information Bill favour secrecy over preserving the spirit of our constitution. He says the latest incarnation of the bill cites vague concepts such as “the public good” and “survival of the state” as reasons for protecting information from “unlawful disclosure”.

Kasrils argues that the new legislation poses a risk mostly for whistleblowers, journalists and social activists, who could be put away for five to ten years for “unlawfully disclosing classified information”:

The latest version of the Protection of Information Bill being discussed by the ad hoc parliamentary committee is looking more dangerous than ever.

Just what manner of creature are we seeing emerge? The committee is bogged down in a cut-and-paste job, and the legislation is becoming a web of ill-conceived notions, biased towards secrecy and less and less expressing the spirit of our constitution.

When I was considering the need to replace the 1982 Protection of Information Act, which presently governs us, the late Kader Asmal quipped: “Better let sleeping dogs lie.” Agreeing that the apartheid-era law needed repealing, however, he advised that I involve human rights lawyers to draft the new legislation. This I did. Our aim was to limit secret information to explicitly defined areas; contribute to a culture of openness befitting our new democracy; and release at the stroke of a pen tons of needlessly classified information from the apartheid-era to the present.

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