Dwaalpoort is an old family farm in KwaZulu-Natal, known for generations for its herds of cattle, for its oxen that fetch record prices at auctions year after year. But it is also known for its peculiar white hartebeests, a herd that even the world's earliest inhabitants had known about. Rentia inherited Dwaalpoort from her father, and the farm is now managed by her husband Henning. Also on the farm is the game herder Bullet, an ex-soldier. He was Rentia's father's right-hand man but also her lover. Theirs is an uncomfortable coexistence at a time when the farm is undergoing a crisis. The tension comes to a head when one of Henning's former lecturers arrives for a hunting safari
Strachan lets each of those involved in the key events of Dwaalpoort tell their story, and the voices themselves become meandering tracks that eventually and inevitably head for the last dark defile. It sounds as if the voices harmonise into a kind of death march - the music of an era that is passing.
And as all of this draws to a conclusion, the silhouette of Mhlope stands etched as he looks down on Dwaalpoort from the edge of the plateau, as it has done for ages past. With Dwaalpoort Strachan gets the magical mix right: on the surface his is a story of lust and love and violence and secrets - utterly enjoyable and immediately accessible. But it is also a fascinating reflection on the way humans react to the crumbling of an order.
Alexander Strachan receives the third prize in the Sanlam-Tafelberg novel competition from Frank Louw (Sanlam).