Today I’m delighted to be joined by Michael Stanley for the next stop on their DEADLY HARVEST Blog Tour. Deadly Harvest, the latest in their popular Detective Kubu series, is out now. On the tour today, Michael Stanley take their detective to lunch and chat to him about his latest case.
But first, here’s the blurb on Deadly Harvest: “A young girl goes missing after getting into a car with a mysterious man. Soon after, a second girl disappears, and her devastated father, Witness, sets out to seek revenge. As the trail goes cold, Samantha Khama –new recruit to the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department –suspects the girl was killed for muti, the traditional African medicine usually derived from plants, sometimes animals and, recently and most chillingly, human parts. When the investigation gets personal, Samantha enlists opera-loving wine connoisseur Assistant Superintendent David ‘Kubu’ Bengu to help her dig into the past. As they begin to discover a pattern to the disappearances, there is another victim, and Kubuand Samantha are thrust into a harrowing race to stop a serial killer who has only one thing in mind…”
And now, over to Michael Stanley …
A couple of weeks ago, Orenda Books released the fourth Detective Kubu mystery Deadly Harvest in the UK and Europe. Naturally we wanted to tell you about it, but we decided to let the person who knows most about it – our protagonist Assistant Superintendent David “Kubu” Bengu – talk about it instead.
We were in Botswana recently, so we lured him away from the Criminal Investigation Department of the Botswana police by offering him lunch at one of his favorite restaurants in Gaborone, the Caravela, which serves delicious Portuguese fare.
Once we had settled down and Kubu had regretfully passed on the wine because he was on duty, we chatted. Of course we are old friends so we used his nickname “Kubu”, which means hippopotamus in the Setswana language. Kubu doesn’t mind. It is part of his persona and has been with him since his school days at the Maru a Pula school.
Michael asked him about being a detective in Botswana.
Kubu laughed. “I thought you’d want to talk about food and recipes! You know there’s a cookbook out now with my favorite African dishes? Sometimes I think I’m better known as a gourmet than a detective. But don’t ask me to be the cook! By the way shall we order? Joy says I should have a salad for lunch. It’s part of my diet. So I’ll start with the avocado salad. It’s excellent. Then I’ll have the peri-peri whole chicken. I really recommend that. We can wait till after the main course before we order the desserts.”
While we were wondering about the salad ‘diet’ and whether we’d brought enough pula to pay for all these courses, Kubu returned to the subject of police work.
“Michael, you have to understand that Botswana is a very big country. The size of France. Less than two million people though. We have about twenty main police centers, but they all have a lot of area to cover and lots of places for criminals to hide. And the countryside is very diverse. We’ve got the huge Kalahari desert with very low population – mainly Bushmen. There’s the lush northern area along the Chobe and Linyanti rivers, with all that spectacular wildlife. But, at Kazangula, Botswana has a joint border with three other countries – Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Namibia. Think of the smuggling possibilities that offers. Then there are the cities like Gaborone and Francistown, nothing like Johannesburg, but they have their share of crime.”
We really wanted to know about muti murders: people – especially children – being murdered so that witch doctors can use their body parts for black magic. It’s a scary practice becoming more, rather than less, prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, and it provides the backstory of Deadly Harvest. Michael asked Kubu how these cases were handled in Botswana.
He hesitated, then said: “You must understand that most witchdoctors do good. They have a variety of herbal remedies, usually supplied with a dash of good advice or a prayer. My father is a herbalist, although recently… Well, that’s another story. Now a few witch doctors might add animal parts – like the heart of a lion to give the client strength. But a very few – reputed to be the most powerful – use human body parts. Children are abducted. It’s horrible. And the culprits are very hard to find because the victims aren’t related in any way to their abductors. Worse, everyone is too scared of the witch doctors to give information. Even some policemen are nervous. Not me, of course.”
We said we found it hard to understand that educated people in today’s world still believed in these types of potions. Kubu shook his head. “It’s supposed to give the evil witch doctors tremendous power, the ability to change shape, invisibility. The witch doctor I had to deal with in the Deadly Harvest case was thought to be invisible. As you can imagine, it was a very hard case to solve. Fortunately the CID has a new detective – a woman, believe it or not – who really pushed us to make progress. It took both of us to get to the bottom of it all.”
He paused. “These cases really shake things up. There is the infamous case of a young girl, Segametsi Mogomotsi, which occurred in Mochudi in 1994. She and her friend were selling oranges and became separated. Segametsi disappeared and her mutilated body was found weeks later. Segametsi’s murder caused the community to come out in violent protests because they believed the police were protecting the witch doctor’s powerful clients. One person was shot and killed by a policeman. The government eventually felt it necessary to conduct an independent enquiry, so it called in Scotland Yard from the United Kingdom.”
We nodded. We had heard about that awful case at our first meeting with the previous director of the CID, Tabathu Mulale. The Scotland Yard report was never released and the case remains unsolved.
To lighten the rather sombre mood, Stan asked: “Have you ever met Precious Ramotswe? You’re sort of in the same line of work.”
Kubu laughed. “No, not really. She’s that lady private investigator? She solves people’s problems, but I’m after murderers. She’s very resourceful, but our cases don’t overlap much. Maybe I’ll bump into her one day.”
At that point the food arrived, and that was all we could get out of Assistant Superintendent David “Kubu” Bengu.
A big thank you for Michael Stanley (and Assistant Superintendent David “Kubu” Bengu for talking about Deadly Harvest on the CTG blog today. You can find out more about Michael Stanley over on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @detectivekubu
DEADLY HARVEST is out now. You can buy it from Amazon here
And be sure to check out all the great stops along the Deadly Harvest Blog Tour …