7 reasons to watch Huisgenoot: Ware Lewensdramas
South Africans have not stopped talking about Devilsdorp since it was released on Showmax at the end of July. One of the things that make the true-crime drama stand out is how the inconceivable bizarreness of event upon event makes up the canvas of the unbelievably horrific bigger picture of the Krugersdorp Killings between 2012 and 2016.
Our fascination with true crime stems not from the horror of the events themselves, but from the fact that those events really happened – in real life. You can, for instance, watch the horror movie IT: Chapter 2 and, though it’s a scary flick, you won’t be too affected because it is not a true-life drama Huisgenoot-storie that moers you in the feels.
In 1823 Lord Byron published his epic satirical poem “Don Juan” and the one-hundredth stanza of canto 14 included these two lines: “Tis strange—but true; for truth is always strange / Stranger than fiction: if it could be told.”
You are probably more familiar with an abbreviated snippet of Samuel Langhorne Clemens’ version, which was published 74 years later in his travel book, Following the Equator: “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”
Samuel Langhorne Clemens is too long a name to put on the cover of a book, and that entire quote is too long to put on the cover of a weekly Afrikaans magazine. That is why we have Mark Twain and Huisgenoot, and never say “never the twain shall meet”, because they did – both in magazine and TV series format.
Huisgenoot is the bizarre truth personified, but before we get this true-life drama show on the road I feel that you need a disclaimer:
There are 91 episodes of Huisgenoot: Ware Lewensdramas on Showmax, spread over seven seasons, which means there are, in fact, 91 very good reasons to watch this gripping show. I’ve grouped a few of them under my own seven themes, which might hit home for a lot of us.
1. Sexual predators get dealt with
This is a nasty subject, but the more we know how these types of people operate, the more prepared we hopefully are in identifying the early warning lights. Tennis coach Bob Hewitt, aged 79, was sentenced to six years in jail in 2016 for the rape of two young women and the sexual assault of another. He coached these women in the 1980s and 1990s.
There is also the Advocate Barbie and Dirk Prinsloo saga, which is as crazy as it gets. Remember that unbelievable mess? Sex offenders, grooming, robbery, fleeing to Russia, getting caught and numerous court cases, both locally and internationally.
Two names: Gert Van Rooyen and Joey Haarhoff. Van Rooyen was a South African paedophile and serial killer, responsible for killing at least six young girls in mid to late 80s. This story always seems to find its way back to the news. Last year, one of the many victim’s fathers passed away without any answers, because the two murderers committed suicide during a police chase.
2. Remember these financial crooks who stole billions?
I feel really terribly for people who get duped out of their hard-earned money, and, in most cases, it’s their entire life savings. It is destructive beyond imagination and tears families apart.
You probably know of a close family member or family member of a friend that fell victim to the Krion Ponzi scheme or Herman Pretorius’s Relative Value Arbitrage Fund. There is truth in the saying “there is no such thing as easy money”, so please share these episodes with anyone you think might be an easy target. It might just save them from the next Bitcoin cowboy.
3. Too many murders shocked the nation
If there is one thing to take away from this series, it is that the most gruesome murders are usually committed by people close to the victims – and that the motives are almost always financially motivated or driven by revenge. Think of the murders of Leigh Matthews, Anni Dewani, Jayde Panayiotou and the Springs house of horrors. Then there is Henri van Breda, who murdered his own family with an axe.
There is also an episode on the Krugersdorp “Appointment Murders”, but I would advise you to skip over that episode for now and first watch Devilsdorp if you haven’t done so yet.
4. Colourful, infamous and interesting South Africans who put us on the map
Remember the Stander gang?
How about teacher, activist and stripper, Glenda Kemp and her snake, Oupa?
Beau Brummel walking around kaalgat and getting into trouble?
The world’s first heart transplant by Chris Barnard?
Top cop, Piet Byleveld? Find out more about him in Die Byl, on Showmax.
5. High-profile figures felled by tragedy
The Dutch have an idiom that roughly translates to “the tallest trees catch the most wind” – meaning that those people who are at the top are the most exposed to criticism and attacks from others. South Africa has its fair share of fallen tall trees. In entertainment, we have Gé Korsten and Johannes Kerkorrel, who both committed suicide, Bles Bridges, who died in a car accident, and the premeditated murder of Taliep Petersen.
On the sports field, we have the Joost Van Der Westhuizen story, James Small and Jimmy Abbot, who both sadly passed away from heart attacks, Oscar Pistorius, who shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day, and Naka Drotske, who walked away with his life after an armed robbery in Pretoria during which he was critically wounded.
Professional boxer Corrie Sanders was less fortunate and paid with his life during an armed robbery. There is also an episode on Hansie Cronje, who fell from grace and later died in a plane crash. For more about this story, I would recommend you watch the movie, Hansie, on Showmax.
6. Natural and man-made disasters that shook us
Disasters, no matter how small, always seem to feel cataclysmic, especially to those directly affected, and there are numerous episodes on the subject. In 1981, Laingsburg was partially destroyed by a flash flood.
A decade later, the Oceanos disaster was regarded as the greatest maritime rescue operation in history.
The Westdene dam disaster is still talked about today – 40 out of 72 kids drowned when their double decker school bus burst through a barrier while crossing a bridge over the dam in 1985.
Two years later, South African Airways Flight 295, better known as Helderberg, crashed into the Indian Ocean, killing all 159 on board. Today, the East-Asia tsunami of 2004 still sits uneasily with international holiday makers and locals. When will the next big one be?
More recently, in 2017, the Knysna fires left a path of destruction and people likened it to walking through a war zone.
7. Overcoming the odds
Definitely not feel-good stories at all, but stories of overcoming the odds, Huisgenoot: Ware Lewensdramas also covers the unbelievable stories of the Somalia kidnapping, Shaninlea Visser, Zephany Nurse, Pippie Kruger and Vanessa Goosen, which serve as inspiration.
Binge-watch all of Huisgenoot: Ware Lewensdramas on Showmax (for less than the price of three of your favourite magazines per month).