People Who Have Stolen from Me by David Cohen
Rough Justice in the New South Africa

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Synopsis

A decade after the fall of apartheid, South Africa is attempting to rebuild itself as a safe, just and democratic society. But an exponential rise in property theft threatens to derail that future. In People Who Have Stolen From Me, journalist David Cohen looks at his native country through the microcosm of Jules Street, at once the longest straight street in Johannesburg and a rambunctious thoroughfare on which crooked men thrive.

On Jules Street, Cohen tracks the tragicomic fortunes of two charismatic businessmen and their colorful coterie of employees, who include former carjackers. The furniture store owned by Harry Sher and Jack Rubin is caught in the middle of an undeclared war: they are raided, robbed and defrauded by gangs of criminals, customers, even some of their own trusted employees. The descendants of Jewish immigrants who came from Eastern Europe at the beginning of the 20th century, Harry and Jack welcome the new democracy but must deploy all their humor, cunning, and salesmen's instincts to counter the criminals who threaten their business and sometimes their lives.
Spending time with the perpetrators as well as the victims, both white and black, Cohen reveals as never before the hidden psychology of the new South Africa. Some say they merely steal material goods, while the system of apartheid has robbed them of their future. If you steal something from someone who has stolen from you, they ask, is that crime? Or is that justice? People Who Have Stolen From Me is the dramatic but true story of life at the sharp end in a country at the crossroads. It is also a hilarious and universal tale about conscience, betrayal and trust.
 

About David Cohen

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David Cohen was born in England and raised in Johannesburg. He is an award-winning British and South African journalist, and the author of Chasing the Red, White, and Blue, which won the South African Jenny Crwys-Williams Prize for Book of the Year in 2002. He lives in London with his wife and two daughters.
 
Published February 1, 2004 by St. Martin's Press. 336 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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In the decade since South Africa became a multiracial democracy, crime, as British and South African journalist Cohen (Chasing the Red, White, and Blue, 2001, etc.) notes in this informative account, has risen “169 percent, housebreaking by 33 percent, cash heists, as well as carjacking, by 30 pe...

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Publishers Weekly

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London-based journalist Cohen (Chasing the Red, White, and Blue ) reports in this tight, perceptive study that crime—which has soared in the past 10 years—is now South Africa's biggest growth industry.

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