Cape Times

Hunting a serial killer – and front-page story


WHEN you read an interestin­g newspaper article, do you give a thought to who wrote it, or what it took to gather the informatio­n? If your penchant is to follow crime stories, the name Janine Lazarus may be familiar to you.

Janine made her name as one of this country’s finest true-crime investigat­ive journalist­s back in the early 1990s, working for The Star, Saturday Star and Sunday Star.

In her book, Bait – To catch a killer, she takes the reader on the reporting beat with her and in one particular case, that of the Norwood Serial Killer in Johannesbu­rg, and shows the extraordin­ary and brave lengths she went to to get the story.

“During the early 1990s the crime-reporting beat was not regarded with the same esteem that political journalism attracted.

“It was deemed just a few notches above the bum end of the news hierarchy.”

Lazarus’s harrowing years covering crime began to take an emotional toll and led to her putting down her journalist­ic pen forever.

Bait provides detail and insight into the world of serial killers, and Kobus Geldenhuys, the Norwood killer, in particular.

This is not a Hollywood gloss version of that world and Lazarus was far from the big-screen image of a crime journalist.

The vivid depiction of the newsroom of the 1990s and that era’s personalit­ies, and Lazarus’s not-afraid-toget-her-hands-dirty approach are Bait’s powerful core.

Reading about the price Lazarus paid for those crime journalist years is moving and distressin­g.

It should hopefully bring readers’ awareness of who writes what they read into sensitive focus.

Bait is powerful stuff and must have been challengin­g for Lazarus to write.

I am glad she did.

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