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Covering the Modimolle monster

Date Released: Mon, 18 November 2013 14:55 +0200

By Annetjie van Wynegaard

“If you’re not affected by what you write, you shouldn’t be writing.”

Karyn Maughan, specialist reporter for eNCA and Rhodes JMS alumnus, has been covering the “Modimolle monster” court case since the beginning.

In January 2012 Johan Kotzé orchestrated the rape of his wife, Ina Bonette, and the murder of her 19-year-old son, Conrad. The trial came to an end two months ago, when Judge Bert Bam sentenced Kotzé and Andries Sitholeto to two life sentences each for rape and murder, and Pieta Mohlake and Sello Mphaka received life imprisonment for gang raping Bonette.

In these two months Maughan and Shaun Swingler co-wrote the book, Love is war, which was launched in Johannesburg last week and will be launched in Bloemfontein tomorrow, 19 November. University of the Free State Professor Jonathan Jansen will interview Maughan during the launch at Exclusive Books.

The book is a culmination of Maughan’s coverage of the trial and in-depth interviews with Kotzé’s and Bonette’s friends and families. Maughan said she “tried to track the damage”. She used the court transcripts to get a clearer picture of Kotzé. “I spent a lot of time in court watching him.” She said he tried to present himself as a decent, Christian person. During his trial Kotzé claimed that his love for Bonette had driven him to temporary insanity, but his plea did not stand in court.

“As a court reporter I have covered so many vicious and horrible rape cases.” Maughan said she has seen the complete devastation that violence has on human life, and she admires Bonette, who despite everything is a “strong and positive survivor”.

“It’s an incredibly hopeful book,” she said. “Victims often choose not to be identified. Ina has made brave choices in her life.”

In South Africa, Maughan said, women are more likely to be killed by a man who claims to love her.

“This is an extreme example of abuse suffered by women.” Through the book she asks two questions: What makes abuse possible? What makes people blame the victim?

“Our rape statistics are sickening, yet there’s always an attempt of rationalisation. It’s so apparent that it [rape] is wrong, but people still blamed her [Bonette].”

There have been times when the story has taken its toll and Maughan sat in the bath crying. “Don’t undermine your emotional response,” she said. “Being human makes the story better.”

Maughan graduated from Rhodes University in 2003 with a BJourn and an MA in Media Studies under the supervision of Prof Lynette Steenveld. During her studies she did vacation work at Cape Town based newspapers, among others the Cape Town Argus, who offered her a post as general reporter. She soon became the High Court reporter, and after a few years she moved to Johannesburg to work at the Star newspaper. She is currently the legal specialist at eNCA.

Love is war was published by Jacana Media and is available at Exclusive Books, CNA, and as an e-book on Kindle, Amazon and Kalahari.net.

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Source:Karyn Maughan