New Sound Africa series: They Killed Dulcie

On 29 March 1988 five bullets ended the life of liberation movement activist Dulcie September. After years in prison and decades in exile, she spearheaded anti-Apartheid efforts in France, Switzerland and Luxembourg from a small office in Paris. Why was she killed? Who profited from her murder? Why do her killers roam free?

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Sound Africa Podcast

7: They Killed Dulcie – Impunity?

The final episode of They Killed Dulcie takes a critical look at what happened to the investigations of Dulcie September’s murder. So pervasive is the impunity for the economic crimes that sustained apartheid, that Dulcie September’s tenacious struggle for freedom was abruptly ended without redress. Why were victims like Dulcie forgotten, and why were the perpetrators allowed to go free?

Before her murder, Dulcie September was investigating the global networks that financed and armed the apartheid regime. So far, They Killed Dulcie has explored why she was assassinated and looked at the corporations, spies and arms dealers who may have had a hand in Dulcie’s murder.

As will be seen in the podcast, some of the same corporations Dulcie was investigating have continued to do business with the post-apartheid government. Why were Dulcie September’s comrades, today’s leaders, so eager to make friends of their old enemies? Dulcie, however, has been erased from South Africa’s history books, though not entirely from our memories. They Killed Dulcie but they could not erase her.

Bonus: They Killed Dulcie – Dangerous Goods

In this episode, we unveil the murky world behind the Danish shipping
industry’s pristine façade. In Dulcie’s handwritten notes, Danish ships and
companies are exposed as integral to the apartheid regime’s arms money

We tell the story of these companies, and their extensive role in arming the
apartheid regime in contravention of UN sanctions.

In the late 1970s, complaints from crew members on Danish ships kickstarted a
union-led investigation into illegal arms smuggling to apartheid South Africa on
Danish vessels. This episode of They Killed Dulcie tells the story of an evasive
shipowner and the seafarers who joined the anti-apartheid struggle.
The Seafarer’s Union begins an investigation that takes them across the world to find evidence that disproves the claims of ethical behaviour by the Danish shipping industry.

06: They Killed Dulcie – Woman in Exile

Dulcie September’s life was shaped by struggle against injustice. As a freedom fighter, she boldly confronted gender based discrimination, even amongst her allies.

In this episode we take a deeper look at the discrimination Dulcie September’s experienced and reflect on the experiences of women in the struggle for South Africa’s freedom. We hear from writers and thinkers and fighters.

Dulcie Septembers role in the struggle has been erased by many. The same can be said of the apartheid supporting Belgian businessman, banker and politician André Vlerick. He was at the centre of the arms money machine – yet his legacy is still celebrated today. We walk the streets in Belgian and ask why?

05: They Killed Dulcie – The Arms Money Machine

For almost two decades starting in the 1970’s the South African embassy in Paris was the centre of a large scale sanctions busting operation. It was connected to the arms dealers, spies and banks that formed part of the arms money machine. In episode five They Killed Dulcie, we find out if this top secret operation was connected to the murder of Dulcie September.

On the banks of the river Seine, the South African embassy in Paris was a common site for anti-apartheid demonstrations. Unbeknownst to the activists outside, an entire floor of the embassy housed Armscor staff running a sophisticated sanctions busting operation. They armed the apartheid security forces to the teeth. Moving the cash to buy guns required the complicity of powerful European banks who profited from their role in the arms money machine.

The evidence suggests that Dulcie September was investigating parts of this sinister machinery shortly before her murder. If she had succeeded the consequence would have been dire for plutocrats, bankers, and politicians alike.

They Killed Dulcie is made by Sound Africa and Open Secrets. They are supported by: The Claude Leon Foundation; Heinrich Böll Stiftung Southern Africa; Joffe Charitable Trust; Luminate; Open Society Foundations & Open Society Foundation for South Africa and Hindenburg Systems.

04: They Killed Dulcie – Prisons Of the Past

In the fourth episode of the podcast They Killed Dulcie, the time has come to look at the evidence. What was Dulcie investigating when she was killed? We dust off archival documents found by Open Secrets that provide important clues.

These documents once buried in archives across the world help us understand the secret network of intelligence agents, arms dealers and bankers, who made their fortunes by arming and sustaining the apartheid government.

We also find Dulcie September’s personal notes not seized by intelligence agencies and double agents. Through scribbles and notes we begin to understand how Dulcie was investigating the murky networks of apartheid profiteers which for far too long have remained unexposed.

If Dulcie was trying to expose the illicit arms trade connecting South Africa and countries like France was this the reason that an assassin was ordered to have her “removed from the equation?”

03: They Killed Dulcie – Double Agents

In the third episode of “They Killed Dulcie,” we delve into the world of informants and double agents and how the apartheid security forces used them to infiltrate the liberation movements in South Africa and abroad. It remains a sensitive topic in South African politics today – some comrades were also collaborators.

Following the assassination of Dulcie September in Paris in 1988, the ANC moved swiftly to install a new man in her old job. Solly Smith, also known as Samuel Khanyile, was to continue Dulcie’s work. But Solly Smith served two masters who were at war with one another.

Was a double agent placed in her office immediately after her murder to undo all her work in investigating the sinister world of politicians, spies, arms dealers and bankers?

This was not the first time that Dulcie September was in the proximity of a double agent. In the 1960’s she and her comrades were arrested following the infiltration of the National Liberation Front by a police agent.

They Killed Dulcie is made by Sound Africa and Open Secrets. They are supported by: The Claude Leon Foundation; Heinrich Böll Stiftung Southern Africa; The Joffe Charitable Trust; Luminate; Open Society Foundations & Open Society Foundation for South Africa and Hindenburg Systems.

02: They Killed Dulcie – The Spies

On the wall of a grey Parisian apartment building, a small plaque commemorates the life of activist Dulcie September. She lived in the building at the time of her murder in 1988. The plaque reads: “Dulcie September was killed by apartheid.”

The second episode of the podcast series They Killed Dulcie continues where episode one left off. The journey begins in a Parisian suburb, but ends in Johannesburg, where former Apartheid era spy Craig Williamson opens the door to the murky world of espionage.

Dulcie’s childhood friend, activist Betty van der Heyden recounts the story of Dulcie’s emergence as an activist, she explains how what started as a “study group” became a militant organisation with the intention to overthrow the government.

If you haven’t heard the first episode of the podcast you can find it here.

They Killed Dulcie is made by Sound Africa and Open Secrets. They are supported by: The Claude Leon Foundation; Heinrich Böll Stiftung Southern Africa; The Joffe Charitable Trust; Luminate; Open Society Foundations & Open Society Foundation for South Africa and Hindenburg Systems.

01: They Killed Dulcie – The Scene of The Crime

On 29 March 1988 five bullets ended the life of South African freedom fighter Dulcie September. She was imprisoned, driven into exile and by the 1980’s she spearheaded the anti-apartheid efforts in France, Switzerland and Luxembourg from a small office in Paris. Why was she killed? Who is the shadowy network that profited from her murder? Why do her killers roam free?

This is the first episode of a podcast series about Dulcie September’s life and assassination. The epic story explores the life of a struggle hero who appears to have been erased. It tells the story of arms dealers, spies, politicians and bankers who continue to profit from her murder.

This first episode begins in Cape Town in the 1930s, and ends on a staircase in Paris more than 50 years later. It sets the scene for an eight part podcast series that winds its way around the world and ends in 2019. Episode 1 is ‘The Scene of the Crime’.

De Bijbel

Like our country, many of us in South Africa have complicated histories. Our ancestral backgrounds are almost always a mix contradicting the simple apartheid era classifications of Indian, black, white and colored. For many of us, these classifications are simply not enough, we need to know where we’re coming from, so we’re able to move on. In this story, Candice Nolan tries to find the answers she is looking for by looking in an old bible. This episode was written and arranged by Candice Nolan and produced by Danny Booysen.

Examining Doctor Death

On a summer morning in 1997, a man was arrested with a plastic bag full of party drugs in a park in Pretoria. The man was Wouter Basson, also known as Dr. Death.
Basson was the head of the apartheid-era chemical and biological warfare program Project Coast. Today he works as a cardiologist in a private practice in Durbanville outside Cape Town.

In this Sound Africa episode we re-visit the story of Wouter Basson. We try to find out who keeps him in the medical business, why they do it, and ask Basson what he believes his legacy is.

Re-Published: The Heart Problem

The first ever heart transplant in the world was performed in South Africa in 1967. It was an international triumph, and the surgeon in charge, Dr. Christiaan Barnard became an over night celebrity. But did Christiaan Barnard deserve all the credit?

In this Sound Africa podcast we investigate the persistent rumor that a black man named Hamilton Naki played a much bigger role in the surgery than he has been given credit for. Some even claim that Naki personally performed the operation and it was kept secret because of apartheid’s discriminatory laws. What is the truth, and why does it matter?

The story of Hamilton Naki is a re-broadcast of our episode “The Heart Problem”. It was first released in December 2017, on the 50th anniversary of the first ever heart transplant.

He ran all the way

This Sound Africa Podcast is a story of a man and his mother. While it is set in the transition years between the old and the new South Africa, the story is a deeply personal narrative of how the past never goes away, but always travels with us. It is a story of grief and how a son tries to escape his own.

 Bad Blood in Graceland

In 1985, South African music legend Ray Phiri collaborated with a number of other South African artists on Paul Simon’s legendary Graceland album. From the beginning, the recording of the album was mired in controversy. But, it was not until almost 30 years later that Ray Phiri revealed he felt had been cheated of his royalties and composer rights by Paul Simon and that there was bad blood between them.

Bowie The Poet

In this episode we meet Anthero Bowie, a former gang member who is out of prison and trying to reinvent himself as a poet. But is it possible for Bowie to reinvent himself? The entire episode plays out in his neighbourhood, Belhar Extension 13 in Cape Flats. A neighborhood that produces young men like Anthero everyday, and now refuses to see him in a new light.

Brother, This is Cape Town

Bongani Dyalivana is a 29-year-old man from Cape Town. He has been out of jail for just over two years after serving a 10-year sentence. In this Sound Africa podcast we hear Bongani’s story. It is a story of loss, of growing up in a gang and then in jail. Of finding oneself and trying to break a new path.

Bongani shares the outline of his story with many other South African men. And we hear about these young men often. But while we hear about them, we usually never hear from them. In this podcast Bongani Dyalivana speaks for himself.

The Ghost

Sometimes taking a detour can show you an entire world you did not know existed. That is what happens to reporter Lars Overland, who drives into a Karoo ghost town on his way to somewhere else and ends up chasing ghosts through a sleepless night.

This story is about the small town of Matjiesfontein in the Karoo. It is a story where the desert wind blows, and the lines between the past and the present, reality and dream are blurred.

Freedom for Sale

When apartheid ended, the big companies that helped the regime buy weapons continued to do business with the new government. Until today, these companies have never been held accountable for helping the apartheid government to buy weapons illeagally. This was the subject of the first People’s Tribunal on Economic Crime held in February this year.

In this episode, producer Neroli Price takes us to the Tribunal and delves into the three corruption cases presented there from apartheid to state capture. Economic crime contines to cast a long shadow over South Africa, but luckily there are those prepared to dig up the past.

This episode is made in collaboration with Open Secrets

Auntie Patty’s Garden

When the coloured population of Simon’s Town was forcibly removed, Aunty Patty’s family remained. They were forgotten by the authorities for years. Her nephew Jackie, on the other hand, was moved to the township of Ocean View, and he clearly remembers the day he loaded his belongings onto a truck and left the town of his childhood behind. He has not forgiven the people responsible.

Today Auntie Patty has made her family home into a museum. In this Sound Africa podcast, producer Rasmus Bitsch visits the museum and walks down memory lane with Auntie Patty and Jackie. Even after several decades, the past casts a shadow that the beauty of Simon’s Town cannot expel.

This is the first episode in the Sound Africa series “Re-visits.” In this series Sound Africa take another look at stories from the past that may only linger in the back of our minds, but continue to affect our lives.

The Heart Problem

Its fifty years since the world’s first heart transplant was performed at Groote Schuur hospital in Cape Town. But, there remains a persistent rumour that a black man called Hamilton Naki played a much bigger role than he has been given credit for. In this podcast SOUND AFRICA investigates and asks why this question still lingers all these years later.

Nuclear SA: Countdown

What will the future of South Africa’s energy sector look like? This is the guiding question that leads Sound Africa’s newest producer, Neroli Price, to paint three possible future scenarios. Speaking to a range of experts, activists and those trying out innovative alternatives, she takes the listener on a journey from paradise to hell, and ending up somewhere in the middle. Where we end up depends on the choices that we make now and who we include on the proverbial lifeboat to the future.

Nuclear SA: Uranium Rush

In this third instalment of Sound Africa’s Nuclear SA mini-series, Dhashen Moodley takes a look at the potential consequences of uranium mining in the Karoo. We speak to a Khoi-San activist who, drawing parallels with recent protests at Standing Rock in the USA, worries about the threat uranium mining poses to water supplies in this arid land. Meanwhile local farmers voice their concerns, politicians are enticed with promises of job creation, and mining companies continue to chase profit margins. Uranium mining in the Karoo is a potentially explosive story, with enormous social and economic consequences, yet it has largely been overlooked.

Nuclear SA: Enrichment

South Africans would already be familiar with headlines warning of the likelihood of enormous corruption in the nuclear procurement programme. Is this just hysteria, or is there reason to fear that we’re headed towards something like the “arms deal on steroids”? To help answer this question, we situate the nuclear deal in its international context, finding out what went wrong with a current nuclear programme in Finland, and getting a better sense of the Russian state-owned company involved in both the Finnish and South African deals.

Nuclear SA: The Laager

In 1993 South Africa became the only country to voluntarily dismantle its nuclear arsenal. But behind this widely-praised move was a shadowy history of a secret apartheid nuclear programme. In this episode, we delve into this hidden chapter of our nuclear past.

This is the first of a four-part Sound Africa series exploring the tangled web of South Africa’s nuclear past, present and future.

Reporter Rasmus Bitsch begins this story at an art gallery in Johannesburg’s stylish suburb of Maboneng, where artist Vincent Bezuidenhout is shining a spotlight on South Africa’s secret nuclear history through his exhibition Fail Deadly. From there, we connect the dots between the struggle against apartheid, the Cold War, and South Africa’s development of nuclear weapons.

How important was the nuclear programme in the close-knit defensive position, or laager, adopted by the Afrikaner nationalist government? And did the bomb contribute to the state’s siege mentality? What history shows is that the nuclear programme fostered secrecy and paranoia, and it arguably still casts a shadow over South African politics today.

*We regret an error in the recording of this episode in which we incorrectly state that Che Guevara led troops into the war in Angola.*

Episode 7: SPECIAL – African Space The Live Documentary

African Space – The Live Documentary is a live recording of a collaboration between Sound Africa and Encounters South African International Documentary Festival.

It is a poetic journey featuring internationally renowned astronomers and townspeople of the Karoo. What they all share is a proximity to the biggest science project in the world: a giant radio telescope called The Square Kilometer Array (SKA) under construction. Sometimes the journey is intergalactic other times dusty and local, but it always takes place somewhere between technology and dream.

Episode 6: Hilton Schilder’s Catheter Symphony

Hilton Schilder’s Catheter Symphony is a jazzy journey through the mother city and the hypercreative mind of pianist and composer Hilton Schilder. We get a musician’s-eye view of what it was like growing up in the Cape Flats under apartheid, and an intimate glimpse into Schilder’s current struggle with cancer. Hospital bed compositions and irreverent humour help this colourful and quintessentially Capetonian artist get through the hard times.”

Episode 5: The Wait is Almost Over Part 2

In this episode, Yolande recalls the details of her and Pierre’s captivity, relations with her captors, and the ever-present threat of done strikes. We also take an in-depth look at the efforts of the civilian negotiators to bring Pierre home, and how these efforts ran into conflict with government policies.

Episode 4: The Wait is Almost Over Part 1

In May 2013, Pierre and Yolande Korkie were kidnapped by Al-Qaeda. In the chaos of post-revolutionary Yemen, it was left up to an innovative local aid worker and his South African boss to secure the couple’s release. This is the story of their painstaking efforts to track down the Korkies and the delicate negotiations that ensued.

Episode 3: The Devil In Joburg

A reporter investigates the high number of reported occult crimes in South Africa. Among others he meets an archbishop, a passionate academic and a man they call Gods Detective.

Episode 2: The Boy Who Didn’t Die

Mdalaga Mrisho  shares his incredible story of fleeing war in Burundi, escaping an army and traveling through the deep Congo forest and half the continent alone as a child. This is both an extraordinary tale and a much too common story today, where an estimated 6000 children from Burundi are alone on the run.

Episode 1: African Space

The Afronaut: An introduction to a largely forgotten space program in Zambia in the 1960s. Did the leader of this wildly ambitious project, Edward Nkoloso, have a plan or was he just the delusional eccentric he was later made out to be?

The Telescope: A small town in the Karoo Desert of Northern South Africa has finally found its place in the world with the establishment of one of the biggest international science projects of our time. As the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) begins to take shape, we look at the telescope network that will likely transform the way we understand the universe and our place in it.

Founded in 2015, SOUND AFRICA is a podcast that aims to capture some of the dizzying complexity of South Africa and the continent.

It is the brainchild of a group of dedicated journalists who saw a need for innovative, informed, and in-depth coverage of the world’s second most populous continent, told in ways that are creative and accessible, and through a rapidly expanding new medium.

Podcasting is a new frontier in journalism, and as more and more people are connected to the internet across Africa there is growing potential for podcasts to transform the media landscape.

Huge gaps are waiting to be filled in the way Africa’s stories are told across the continent and abroad, and Sound Africa is playing its part in filling these gaps. We’re a homegrown media organisation producing original content that is able to upend the weary old clichés we’ve become accustomed to in the coverage of Africa. We seek out the untold and obscure, go beyond surface-level coverage of big events, and shed light on matters of public interest without losing sight of the human interest. In doing so we aim to amplify African voices through the power of digital audio and the internet.

Podcasting enables us to do a lot with a little, to tell powerful and compelling stories that reach international audiences. We’re at the forefront of the podcast medium in South Africa, and we aim to foster a greater appreciation for podcasts. Which is why we not only produce high quality content but are also the creators of South Africa’s first Radio Cinema.

We’ve also begun a training programme for storytellers and aspiring journalists, which we plan to expand through regular training workshops. Meanwhile our network of contributors and media partners continues to spread. We’re always on the lookout for talented journalists from different parts of Africa who share a deep interest in the continent and its diaspora, and we’re open to new ideas, so if you fit the mould then get in touch with us! Send us an email:

Sound Africa is supported by Hindenburg Systems