Tales of a top detective

Fanie Brits with his book in hand

A retired Murder and Robbery Unit detective has written a book about his days as a cop when murderers went to the gallows.

Fanie Brits, the author of Die Skadu van die Galg (In the Gallows’ Shadow), lives in Bellville and launched his non-fiction work in December last year.

Mr Brits said he was alarmed by the lack of specialised units in the police now because when he had been a policeman, the gangs had feared them.

“It’s scary to me that now there are no specialised units looking at gangs these days. We had ways to identify them then. Every gangster arrested had a profile captured and placed in photo albums,” said Mr Brits.

The book, which has an age restriction of 13 because of its graphic crime-scene photos, details the former brigadier’s early days in the police until he left in 1994.

The book delves into a number of cases, including several Mr Brits worked on, such as the father who slit his daughter’s throat and the son who murdered his parents.

“Two years ago, a colleague of mine encouraged me to write a book because of the things we’d seen, how our police work led to the guilty being sent to the gallows,” said Mr Brits.

The book also tells of his time in the Benoni police from 1964 to 1978. So why did he decide to write a book more than 20 years after retiring?

“Looking at how things are now, criminals walk free because there’s no investing in senior detectives,” he said.

“Magistrates and judges can’t come to the right decision if the police fail in their work. They don’t need more oversight and control but room to do the groundwork.” The former detective credits Sue, his wife of 50 years, for always encouraging him.

“We have two sons together, and she has been my rock, during my young days till today, and she helped me write the book, translate it to English, typed a number of the pages, read it and reread it a number of times because I am hopeless on the computer,” said Mr Brits.

But Sue said her husband was just being modest.

“He’s been working for his family for years, risking his life with these dangerous criminals. I was always worried if he would come home safely or not. I am very proud of him,” said Ms Brits. “It hasn’t been easy at all since the book has been released. We market it ourselves trying to get this story out there, so I encourage people to come and get a copy,” added Ms
Brits. The book is available in Afrikaans and costs R190. If you want a copy, call 082 875 2028.