When This American Life launched its groundbreaking show Serial in 2015, they chiseled into the medium all sorts of legitimacy and validation as both a storytelling and journalistic medium. Since then, we’ve watched the floodgates open and podcasters compete to fill the feeds with spoken word, interviews, music, theatre, book readings and inspired messages on every topic imaginable, from news to horror fiction to hip hop culture.
Writing the music for the podcast Alibi was a project that resonated very strongly with me early in the dialogue with the show’s multiple award-winning creator Paul McNally. The written material deals with a distinctly South African theme – injustice; one benefiting from another’s misfortune. Every day in South Africa, you’re presented with opportunities where you feel compelled to balance out this injustice of your own volition. The ongoing parade of unfortunate individuals begging at traffic lights, lying on the sides of the street and drinking their hopes away is a byproduct of a systematic, decades-long oppression that all South Africans feel, whether they want to or not.
In episode 8, the finale, we conclude with finding a lawyer to help, a cop to tell Anthony’s story and a prison warder to argue for our guy’s innocence.
Listen to Episode 8
Read about episode 8 and our summary on how we feel about the case in general on The Daily Maverick here.
In episode 7, we finally track down where Anthony’s co-accused have been all these years. What we discover makes it more astounding that he was ever convicted.
Listen to Episode 7
The names of his co-accused were Steven Mkwanazi and Calvin Collins. Since the start of the investigation, Anthony has said he only met his co-accused on the day of the arrest. This was specifically on a patch of field beside a car crash where the police collected and photographed their suspects. Though there is no blood on Steven and Calvin, they look like they are in their mid-twenties and are standing on a grass bank on a beautiful, sunny March afternoon.
Read about episode 7 on The Daily Maverick here.
In the sixth episode, we go to court and finally get to see Anthony face-to-face. We are also put into a spiral as we try to understand an injury he suffered over twenty years ago. What we discover reframes the extent that evidence can be manipulated, and how paperwork – even from doctors – can lie.
Listen to Episode 6
Read about episode 6 on the Daily Maverick here.
The fifth episode takes a deep look how a man was tortured by police in order to figure out if he was innocent of murder. To do this we meet Rebiki Joyphus Moremi. He lives in Davyton, an East Johannesburg township.
Listen to Episode 5
Moremi now offers his time as a private investigator, but used to be an internal investigator for the police, so he spent his time looking at the crimes of other cops. He is a man who can reveal information to us about certain police atrocities he worked on during the nineties and specifically the case of Anthony De Vries.
Read about episode 5 on the Daily Maverick here.
For episode 4 we spend a morning in a Wimpy eating bacon and eggs, witness a man shoot an AK-47 from a moving car back at the cops and find a second set of statements, ones that never made it to trial, that give us a completely different picture of the case.
Listen to Episode 4
Read about episode 4 on the Daily Maverick here.
For episode 3 we visit the crime scene in Vereeniging. The crime, an early morning cash-in-transit robbery at a Checkers supermarket, resulted in the murder of two security guards. The changes and similarities of South Africa then and now become incredibly apparent in this episode.
Listen to Episode 3
The shoot-out happened in front of the video store, piercing the glass beside posters for Sylvester Stallone’s dodgy mid-nineties movie Cliffhanger. The clerk working that day at Video Check had to duck down behind the counter as the shots were fired. The owner, for years afterwards, used posters for each month’s new releases to cover up the bullet holes so they were concealed from customers.
Read about episode 3 on the Daily Maverick here.
In the second episode we have a panga fight, find masses of brotherly love and uncover an important deception that could sabotage the whole series…
Listen to Episode 2
Read more about episode 2 here.
The Alibi story starts with Paul bringing to Freddy what he thinks could be a wrongful conviction case. It is about a man called Anthony De Vries and he has been in jail for 17 years.
Listen to Episode 1
Read the article for episode 1 on The Daily Maverick.