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30 Degrees South

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Book Launch: The Kevin Woods Story – Under the Shadow of Mugabe’s Gallows

The Kevin Woods Story, Under the Shadow of Mugabe's GallowsYou are invited to the launch of 30° South Publishers new autobiographical title:

The Kevin Woods Story—Under the Shadow of Mugabe’s Gallows

Kevin worked as a double agent for the South African apartheid government and Robert Mugabe’s Central Intelligence Organization in the 80s. He was incarcerated in the notorious Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison (Harare ) for 20 years, five of which were spent naked on death row.

His release was pleaded to Mugabe by none other than Nelson Mandela in the 90s but this fell on deaf ears. Finally, a year ago he received a presidential pardon. Kevin now lives in South Africa and has launched a well-received career in motivational speaking. This is his story.

As part of a three-city author tour, Kevin’s book will be launched in Johannesburg on the 7th of November; in Cape Town on the 15th of November; and in Durban on the 22nd of November. The launches will take the form of a motivational talk and not a conventional book launch.

Here follow the launch details; please find more information about the book below.

Event Details — Johannesburg

Event Details — Cape Town

Event Details — Durban


“I have lost so many years of my life that my future is now behind me,” says Kevin John Woods, who endured nearly twenty years of living hell in Mugabe’s prisons, the first five on death row.

It is not a statement of self-pity, but of truth.

This book is not for the squeamish—it tells of murder, genocide, cruelty and torture, political duplicity and betrayal—and of the baseness and cheapness of life in an African prison … and Africa.

It is a story of hopelessness … and hope.

Woods on his sentencing …

I was sentenced to death on 18th December 1988. They don’t use the words, “You are sentenced to death” in Zimbabwe—the judge just said, “You are convicted of murder with constructive intent for which there is only one sentence.” Then, he just stood up and walked out. I was alone in court that day.

Woods on death row …

I was locked up naked in Chikurubi’s death row for five years, alone and in a cell twenty-three hours of every day. I could not see if it was day or night and I was not allowed into the sunlight in the exercise yard. During my exercise time I would stand and gaze down the corridor leading to the exercise yard with such a profound longing to feel the sun’s warmth on my naked body that I’d think sometimes my heart would squeeze itself shut with heartache …

It was close, so close to despair so many times. I made a rope out of shredded blanket, but somehow I endured, often just till the next day. “Just till tomorrow, Woodsie,” I’d tell myself. “Just till tomorrow.”

Woods on jail …

For one of my wife’s visits the power was out and we were allowed to visit in a interview room, separated only by wire mesh. My heart broke as I sat there, smelling her perfume, seeing her clearly for the first time in years, hearing her voice without distortion, and most of all being able to hold onto her little finger which she stuck through the mesh. For dear life I clung to that pinkie, the only contact with another human being in all those years, the tip of her pinkie, and I was like the proverbial drowning man, clutching to that straw for all I could.

Woods on his release …

Vincent van Gogh painted the picture that inspired Don McLean to sing Vincent with its haunting lines ‘Starry, starry night’. I have always loved that song and it holds many memories for me—none more poignant than that night of 1st July 2006 when after midnight on the second, I looked at a crystal-clear sky filled with stars so near and so bright … for the first time in twenty years.

Barry handed me a cell phone. “What do I do with this?” I asked. He showed me how to switch it on and the rest of that day dissolved into phone call after phone call, starting with my children, whom I hadn’t spoken to for nearly two decades.


Book Details