BOOK REVIEW | The Unlikely Mr Rogue: A Life with Ivan Pillay


By Evelyn Groenink

Written by the author of Incorruptible, The Unlikely Mr Rogue: A life with Ivan Pillay is the story of the quiet man behind the so-called ‘rogue unit’ at SARS who has become a lightning rod for so many in politics.

It takes the reader on a journey from Ivan’s growing up in Merebank, KwaZulu-Natal, to his politicisation, his friendship with Pravin Gordhan and the story of Operation Vula, which Ivan ran from Lusaka, reporting to Oliver Tambo.

SARS’ Operation Vula

In some ways, the setting up of SARS was Operation Vula revisited. Many of the same operatives, working for a higher purpose. And this higher purpose, of providing the money to reduce inequality in the state, was a daily mantra for Gordhan, Pillay and others. They really believed in it.

Groenink tells of the early 90s in Lusaka, of their falling in love, of the insecurity in coming back to the country, and the times when Ivan was in charge of stationery in the bowels of Shell House.

It’s the story of a good man, an unlikely man, a quiet man, determined to use SARS to fund the post-liberation nation building, and his downfall at the hands of his enemies and a scurrilous Sunday Times.

About the author

Evelyn Groenink is a veteran journalist who started her journalism career in the early 80s at a small left-wing newspaper in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

After 1987, and partly as a result from her association with the Anti-Apartheid Movement in the Netherlands, her journalistic focus changed to South and southern Africa. She was deputy editor for Dutch Anti-Apartheid News.

  • PUBLISHER | Jacana Media |
  • ISBN | 978-1-4314-2946-2 |
  • Recommended Retail Price | R320.00 |
  • Classification | Biography, Political Corruption |



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