Fruit of a Poisoned Tree, by Antony Altbeker
Fruit of a Poisoned Tree is an important contribution to understanding the textures and dynamics of important aspects of South African culture as well as of the machinations of the criminal justice system. Antony Altbeker excels in his relentless and meticulous re-arguing of the Lotz murder case, painstakingly picking through evidence and testimonies, like a latter-day Sherlock Holmes.
The video begins with a shot of a doormat and the bottom quarter of a door. A muffled, off-screen voice says in Afrikaans, 'It is March 17, 2005. The video operator is Inspector Desmond Share. I am at Klein Welgevonden Estate, 21 Shiraz, Stellenbosch. The video begins.' Two shadowed legs move into frame. A hand swings the door open to the right, and a shaft of light falls onto a doormat before the camera bounces into the room. The cameraman steps over a yellow strip of plastic bearing the blue-printed legend 'South African Police Service: Do not cross'. We are in a small kitchen of plastic-coated, processed wood. As the camera turns to the left, before it pauses on the empty sink and the kitchen counter on which lie a pair of sunglasses, a set of car keys and a cellphone, before it is pointed into a half-opened straw basket in which we see something indistinct (a book or a large envelope, perhaps), before it scans the walls and curtains of the living areas beyond the kitchen, before it does all that, it captures a tangle of hair hanging over the arm of a small sofa. From the doorway, it looks like a young woman, having fallen asleep watching the television set in the corner, is lying on a light-coloured couch, her legs curled up in front of her. The woman doesn't move as the cameraman goes about his business. The camera turns to the kitchen, exploring it intrusively, forensically. A drying rack contains a single plate and mug. An oven glove hangs squarely, inch-perfect in the middle of the ovens horizontal handle. Pressed neatly against the wall are a kettle and two bouquets of plastic kitchen implements sprouting from matching stands. It is a compact space, and the housekeeping is prompt and conscientious. A waist-high counter separates the kitchen from the lounge. When the camera turns in that direction, we see, once again, the tangled hair of the woman on the couch away to our right. Another couch, dark blue with red cushions, has its back to us. There are also two uncomfortable-looking wooden chairs with high back- and armrests. Between the woman and the tv set in the corner, a small coffee table with a pile of books and magazines stands in its shadow on a carpet. A black dvd cover lies empty and splayed on top of the books and magazines. On the wall to the left hangs a painting that appears at first to be an abstract of a human head but which turns out to be an unremarkable image of a vase and flowers. Below it stands a pot plant, dark and green and healthy-looking. A decorative bunch of dried grass bristles in a corner on the far side of the couch on which the woman lies. On this side of the couch, between it and the camera, a cloth-covered side table is home to framed photos of family and friends along with a small glass dish of sweets. In a moment, the camera will reveal that the sweets, the carpet, the coffee table and some of the walls are spotted with blood. These spots, a police forensic expert would testify nearly two years later, sprayed from the woman's head as if from a fountain when she was struck by the blows that killed her; they did not fly off from the weapon as it was swung. An unnecessary detail? Perhaps. But it is one that has its ramifications. [...]
This is an excerpt from the book: Fruit of a Poisoned Tree, by Antony Altbeker.
Title: Fruit of a Poisoned Tree
Subtitle. A True Story of Murder and the Miscarriage of Justice
Author: Antony Altbeker
Type: Crime History
Publisher: Jonathan Ball Publishers
Johannesburg, South Africa 2010
ISBN 9781868423330 / ISBN 978-1-86842-333-0
Softcover, 15x23 cm, 438 pages, several colour photos
Altbeker, Antony im Namibiana-Buchangebot
Fruit of a Poisoned Tree tells a true story of murder and the miscarriage of Justice that happened in South Africa.
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