THE UNPRECEDENTED MEDIA CULT OF DAISY DE MELKER
Ted Botha, journalist, author; Nicole Engelbrecht, author, host of True Crime South Africa
Wednesday 17 January 1.00 pm COURSE FEES R110; Staff and students R55
Since her execution in 1932, Daisy de Melker’s name has lived on despite the fact that her star shone for a very short time. While her killing spree might have gone on for more than twenty years, she became famous for a sensational trial in Johannesburg that lasted just one month. Trials were the theatre of the time, reality TV in a way, and the media ate up Daisy’s story the same way the general public did, gathering outside court daily in their thousands. Daisy bathed in the limelight, waving to the crowds, reading the news reports every day, even writing her own life story for a film while in jail. Her case also pulled in two very dissimilar authors, who dislike each other intensely, Herman Bosman and Sarah Gertrude Millin, each taking a very different viewpoint on the accused, and then writing about her. So big was Daisy’s trail that it reached the biggest newspapers of the world. Despite her modest background, very plain looks, despicable crime, and distance from the world centres of New York and London, she became one of the world’s very first media stars.