A Pretoria Boy begins with the story of how Peter Hain’s journey came full circle when he used parliamentary privilege in 2017-18 to expose looting and money laundering, supplied with the ammunition by his ‘deep throat’ inside the Zuma State. In so doing, he put South Africa’s state capture and corruption on the front pages of the New York Times and Financial Times, which some suggest played a part in Zuma’s toppling. Going back to an anti-apartheid childhood in Pretoria in the late 1950s and early 1960s, there are vivid descriptions of his parents’ arrest, banning, harassment, helping an escaped political prisoner, the hanging of a close white family friend, and enforced exile to London in 1966 after the government prohibited his architect father from working.
It tells of how, at aged 19, Hain organised and led militant anti-Springbok demonstrations in exile in London in 1969-1970, for which he was denounced by the South African media as ‘Public Enemy Number One’. It is about how he narrowly escaped jail after a South African government-financed prosecution landed him in the Old Bailey in 1972 for conspiracy to disrupt those all-white South African sports tours and, then in 1975, how he was framed for a bank theft committed by an apartheid security agent. His return to South Africa came first on a secret mission in December 1989, then as a parliamentary observer during the 1994 elections.
The book ends with his perspective on the country’s future.