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Jani Allan (born 11 September 1953) is a former South African columnist and radio commentator. She became a household name as a Sunday Times columnist between 1979-89. She is also known for her alleged affair with an interviewee, the right-wing political leader Eugène Terre'Blanche, and subsequent assassination attempt and libel suit.

Biography

Personal life

Roedean School
Allan was born the daughter of an Italian expeditionary and a Rhodesian socialite. She was adopted by a wealthy British South African couple, John and Janet Fry at age one month old. The family briefly lived in England before relocating to South Africa as her Scotish father had to move to a warmer climate for health reasons. John Fry died when Allan was 10 years old. She is a trained classical pianist and recorded a televised piano concerto as a child. She attended Roedean School in Johannesburgmarker. Later she graduated in Fine Art and attained an honours degree in English.

In 1982 she married the finance magnate and art collector, Gordon Schachat. The couple filed for divorce in 1984 partly-citing career issues, they remained friends and Schachat supported Allan's testimony in the 1992 libel suit she brought against Channel 4 in Londonmarker.

Allan became a born-again Christian in 1994.She returned to South Africa two years later to be with her dying mother and later had a relationship with Mario Oriani-Ambrosini, an IFP MP and Italian expatriate. She emigrated to the United States in 2001 and a year later married Dr Peter Kulish, the founder and chairman of 'Magnetizer' water-ionisation process. The marriage subsequently ended.

She speaks fluent Italian.

Association with Eugène Terre'Blanche

In December 1987 she was asked at an editorial conference to "go and have tea" with the right-wing militant Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging leader Eugène Terre'Blanche. She later admitted, "I had not heard of him" as she had not been a particularly "political person" and that he was a strange subject for a newspaper she described as "extreme centre". On January 31 1988, the Sunday Times published Allan's interview with Terre'Blanche for Allan's Face to Face column. In the interview, Allan wrote of her fascination with Terre'blanche: "Right now I've got to remind myself to breathe ... I'm impaled on the blue flames of his blowtorch eyes." Despite claiming that she became the "heroine of the newsroom" for her frankness, she later told the Sunday Times journalist Stuart Wavell that she regretted describing Terre'Blanche in these terms, not realising the political veneration that would be read into them. She pointed towards the lack of knowledge she had about the Hitler personality cult "It sounds farfetched, but we are only taught South African history at school." Although Wavell identified that the words were not significant compared to her other material; "a perusal of her interviews shows a fondness for such extravagant language..".

Meanwhile, she accompanied the AWB to some of their rallies and reported for her newspaper at the behest of her editor, Tertius Myburgh. Two weeks after the January 31 1988 interview was published she attended an AWB rally. The rally was also frequented by the world press. She was followed by television crews. Allan later relayed the significance of the episode: "I was an ordinary journalist attending an event with the world press; how come they had footage of me if I hadn't been set up? The cameras were on me the whole time."

Again, she interviewed the AWB leader for the Sunday Times in November 1988, with an interview published by the Sunday after the Wit Wolf (Barend Strydom) massacre in Pretoriamarker. Her words in the January interview were relayed when there was speculation regarding an affair, when they were photographed together at the Paardekraal Monument in Krugersdorpmarker on December 27 1988. Following the meeting, Terre'Blanche allegedly rammed his BMW through the Paardekraal Monument's gates. The crash prompted police and media appearances, and Allan and Terre'Blanche were photographed together on the Paardekraal monument steps. On the first Sunday of 1989, the Sunday Times published a front page article by Allan with the headline The REAL story of me and ET and the SAP. In the article, she denied affair allegations and claimed that she and Terre'Blanche had arranged to meet with a media crew at the monument and that she had been commissioned to do a feature on Paardekraal revisited for a London-based news agency. Terre'Blanche asserted that "My relationship with her is absolutely professional" and related to his co-operation for her book project.

Allan later spoke about the Paardekraal incident in an interview with the London Sunday Times, remarking that it resembled a "set-up". She explained to Stuart Wavell; "Fifteen police cars appeared and I don't know how many policemen. It was like the movies. I said, `Am I on Candid Camera?'".

Later relations thawed and an acrimonious battle ensued in the press, with Allan taking legal action against Terre'Blanche because of repeated nuisance contact.

A case of crimen injura was laid against Terre'Blanche in March 1989 relating to the damaged gates, with Allan subpoenaed as chief witness for the state. Ultimately Allan was not required to testify, and Terre'Blanche was acquitted.

In the early hours of 14 July 1989, the affair allegations and suspicions that Allan was a spy led Cornelius Lottering, member of breakaway AWB group Orde van die Dood, to place a bomb outside Jani Allan's Sandtonmarker apartment. The bomb exploded on a wall abutting Allan's apartment shattered all the windows in the apartment complex up to the seventh floor but there were no casualties in the blast. Allan's newspaper reported in a front-page spread that the attack was a culmination of a campaign of intimidation against her that had included prowlers outsider her apartment and telephone death threats. Lottering was subsequently convicted of the assassination attempt.

In an article published by the Sunday Times on 23 July 1989, Allan recalled a significant episode when Terre'Blanche had drunkenly hammered on her flat door and eventually slept on the doorstep and that she had to step over him the next morning. Despite her objections, her editor insisted on publishing answering machine messages allegedly by Terre'Blanche, the transcripts were subsequently published accompanied by a denial by Allan of counter claims that he had made against her. Allan recounted conversations with her editor "After the bomb he said, `Right, we'll publish the tapes.' I said I didn't think that would be wise, as the security police had told me my life would be in danger. He said, `We're going to blow them out of the water.'" She had just emerged from a course of traction for her seized back, and was then rushed to hospital with a bleeding ulcer because of the stress. Allan fled to Britain permanently for security reasons in the same week that the transcripts were published.

In retrospect, in an interview published by the London Sunday Times in 1990, Allan questioned whether her association with Terre'Blanche had been orchestrated by her editor, Tertius Myburgh. Despite having become his "blue-eyed girl" she questioned whether Myburgh had used her as part of a National Party government plot to discredit the far right. Several South African journalists have alleged that Myburgh colluded with the South African Bureau of State Security in the 1970s and its successor intelligence agencies in the 1980s.

Libel suit against Channel 4

In 1992, Allan sued Channel 4, the British broadcaster, for libel, claiming that in the documentary The Leader, His Driver and the Driver's Wife by Nick Broomfield she was presented as a "woman of easy virtue". Amidst a montage of photographs from Allan's earlier days as a photographic model and Sunday Times quotes; Broomfield claimed that Jani Allan had had an affair with Terre'Blanche. The documentary-maker and his crew were following the AWB and its activities for the documentary that was watched by 2.3 million Channel 4 viewers.The significance of the case led to its inclusion in the 1992 annual edition of Whitaker's Almanack.

During the trial, Channel 4 denied the claim that they had suggested Allan had an affair with Terre'Blanche. Prior to the case, Allan had been awarded £40, 000 in out-of-court settlements from the Evening Standard and Options magazine over suggestive remarks made about the nature of Allan's association with Terre'Blanche.

Allan was represented by the late Peter Carter-Ruck in the case and Channel 4 was represented by the late QC George Carman. Carman described the case as rare in that it had "international, social, political and cultural implications."

The case sparked intense media interest in both Britain and South Africa, with several court transcripts appearing in the press Allan famously told Carman"Whatever award is given for libel, being cross-examined by you would not make it enough money." Several character witnesses were flown in from South Africa.

Terre'Blanche also submitted a sworn statement to the London court denying that he had had an affair with Allan. Allan's case was dealt a heavy blow by the statements of her former flatmate, Linda Shaw, the Sunday Times astrologer. Shaw admitted that she peeped through a keyhole and witnessed Allan in a compromising position with a man. Allan's QC, Charles Gray dismissed Shaw's "wildly unkindly" testimony and stressed the physical impossibility of her claim. He continued to express that her field of vision through the keyhole would not be sufficient to support her claim.

On day 2, Allan's 1984 notebook was myseriously delivered to Carman's junior counsel and used against her by Carman in cross examination. This was investigated by the police, according to reports a "one-time friend" had taken the notebook from the home where Allan stayed with an English couple in 1989.

On day 5, faxes were sent to British and South African media sources describing details of a recent sexual encounter between prominent defense witness, Linda Shaw and Andrew Broulidakis. Broulidakis supplied a draft statement, explaining he was attempting to decipher what evidence she was going to give. The details of the encounter between the two was described as "pornographic" and would have brought into question Shaw's character and reliability as a witness. Subsequently the faxes were not used as evidence in court. Allan's former husband Gordon Schachat provided evidence supporting claims Allan had made about sex and insisted she was neither an extreme right-winger or anti-semitic.

On day 11 of the case, Anthony Travers, a former British representative of the AWB and spectator of the court was stabbed. A court usher received a call saying Peter Carter-Ruck, Ms Allan's solicitor, had been stabbed. This stemmed from a message by Travers who was lying in an alleyway he said to a passer-by 'tell Carter-Ruck I've been stabbed'. It quickly spread that Carter-Ruck had been stabbed, followed by speculation that he was the intended victim.

During the trial, Jani Allan's London flat was burgaled. She said that she received a death threat on a telephone call in the court ushers' offices. The hotel room of a Channel 4 producer, Stevie Godson was also ransacked.

Allan eventually lost the case on August 5 1992. Although the judge found that Channel 4's allegations had not defamed Allan, he did not rule on whether or not there had been an affair. Although reports emerged that Allan was considering an appeal and Terre'Blanche also expressed the possibility that he may sue the broadcaster for libel.

Following the verdict, Allan reiterated her stance "I am not, nor have I ever been, involved with Terre'Blanche".

Soon after, several publications speculated about political forces at play during the case. The Independent published details of what it called "dirty tricks" used during the trial. Allan suggested that pro-government forces in South Africa wanted her to lose the case so that Terre'Blanche would be 'irreparably damaged' in the eyes of his 'God fearing Calvinist followers'. Another interpretation is that the AWB wanted to steal a manuscript of a book she was writing about the organisation. The AWB countered these claims, although Travers described the book as "dynamite." The South African business newspaper Financial Mail published a lead story on 6 August detailing "The theory" that F.W. de Klerk had orchestrated the libel case to discredit Terre'Blanche and the far right movement in South Africa.

Allan later detailed how her interrgogator Carman puts his victims through a "bloodless abattoir", delivering them into the "bone yard of damaged reputations".

In 1995, during an interview with Cliff Saunders broadcast by the SABC, she said "The facts of the matter are (that) I did not do any of the things of which I was accused by paid witnesses." She was soon interviewed by Lin Sampson for Playboy and reinforced her disagreement with the defence witnesses. In the favourable article, Sampson described the rage against Allan as "the first public showing of what would become the new South African psychosis". Sunday Times defence witnesses were said to be irate that their shared publisher, Times Media published the article. The newspaper proceeded to publishing an extract of the interview to promote its sister magazine sales.

In a 2002 BBC film Get Carman: the trials of George Carman QC, Allan's case was dramatised together with a number of other high-profile Carmen cases. Allan was portrayed by English actress Sarah Berger in the production starring David Suchet. The Guardian decried Berger's accent for the role as "crude" and "caricature"-like, unlike that of Allan's described as "relatively cultured and by no means excessively strong South African accent".

The libel suit is mentioned amidst a montage of photos and camera footage of Jani Allan and reporters outside the London court in 1992, in the 2006 Nick Broomfield sequel His Big White Self, a sequel to The Leader, His Driver and the Driver's Wife, the documentary that spawned the libel suit.

Career

Early work

Prior to becoming a journalist, she worked as a photographic model and an English and Art teacher at Wynberg Boys' High School and Bryanston High School.

Journalism

Allan was employed by the Sunday Times editor, Tertius Myburgh on the strength of four music reviews. In particular Allan enjoyed success as a popular and respected columnist for the newspaper. She was voted "the most admired person in South Africa." in a Gallup poll commissioned by the Sunday Times. In 1979 the newspaper began publishing her Just Jani column, an interview-based column with public figures from diverse fields such as entertainment, sport, business, art and politics. She was invited to sit for a portrait by Vladimir Tretchikoff, the acclaimed artist and interviewee. She later appeared in a 1998 documentary Red Jacket to discuss the artist, that he also appeared in. At the request of another acclaimed artist and interviewee, Walter Battiss, she agreed to become a resident of the famed Fook Island, an "island of the imagination". She also published several pieces and interviews with the UFO contactee Elizabeth Klarermarker She also interviewed several international celebrities for the newspaper such as Goldie Hawn, Barry Manilow, Ursula Andress and Oliver Reed.

In 1987, she launched Face To Face , a political interview column for the newspaper. Political subjects were diverse, with guests such as Eugène Terre'Blanche, Winnie Mandela, Denis Worrall and Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

During her tenure at the Sunday Times, she also contributed features for the Sunday Times Colour Magazine, which was relaunched in 1981.

In 2006, her ex-flatmate, libel suit witness for the defence, Sunday Times astrologer Linda Shaw referred to Allan's profile as a Sunday Times journalist in the 1980s; "Jani used to write articles about all the leaders and all the top people in the country or the world at the time. And she was almost a movie star in her own right." Myburgh described her journalistic style as "highly individual" and cited New Journalism as an influence. In the 1980s, the Sunday Times was Africa's largest newspaper with a circulation of 3 million. Allan also represented the newspaper as a guest on several South African television programmes.

Following the failed assassination attempt in 1989, she left South Africa and relocated to Londonmarker. In 1990 she worked as a society columnist for the London Sunday Times, writing about prestigious social events she attended on assignment. She also interviewed celebrities such as Charlton Heston and published opinion pieces for the newspaper.
She worked for the SABC broadcaster and journalist, Cliff Saunders's London press agency following the 1992 trial and continued publishing articles for various publications. These included the London Evening Standard where she published reports on her inquisitor George Carman's latest case, Carman was defending The People against a libel case taken by Mona Bauwens. She also wrote for The Spectator where she memorably described Carman as "a small bewigged ferret".

Her return to South Africa in 1996 was marked by an appearance on the cover of Style magazine and an in-depth interview. Soon after establishing a radio show in Cape Town, she was contracted by Mweb to launch the website CyberJani with a weekly column, letters page and live chatline. David Bullard accused her of plagiarising his work in one edition of her MWeb column . In February 2000, she gained media attention over her claims which she published in an article for Sunday Newspaper Rapport. She claimed that whilst working at journalist Cliff Saunders's London press agency in the early 1990s, she was used as an "unwitting spy" against Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and its leader and her close personal friendMangosuthu Buthelezi for the state. Between 2000-2001, she was a speechwriter for Buthelezi.

Between 2004 and 2005 she contributed a number of columns to Christian and conservative, right-wing publications and sites such as the Jeff Rense website, AfricanCrisis, WorldNetDaily and she also published a number of columns on her personal blog. She has also been working as a published astrologer.

Books

250
In the 1980s, she published Face Value, a selection of Just Jani columns. Allan provided background details in the collection, detailing the reactions of some interviewees to their stories and evaluations by Allan herself. The photographer was Andrzej Sawa.

Her book that had been embroiled in controversy over its content during the libel case was titled White Sunset based on right-wing groups in South Africa, the book had been alluded to in 1988 during her association with Terre'Blanche. In 1992 Her agent described the book to the British media as "a very serious look at the break-up of white society in South Africa" which features "fly-on-the-wall reportage". Several chapters had been seen and cover art had been developed but the project was ultimately not pursued. She had also completed Fast Cars to Ventersdorp, a satirical look at her involvement with Terre'Blanche. It was compared to the style of Tom Sharpe and in the foreword she explained that she had wrote it because, "I want to leave the past behind me.".

In 2006, Allan's more well-known Face to Face columns were republished in the book, A Century of Sundays: 100 Years of Breaking News in the Sunday Times. The book included several photographs of Allan and details of her tenure at the Sunday Times. It also elaborated on the newspaper's role in the 1992 libel case and reproduced reportage from the era.

In 2009, it was revealed that Allan was writing her memoirs.

Radio

In 1997 she took up a position as a host on Cape Talk Radio, a Cape Townmarker-based radio show and launched her show Jani's world, which aired on Friday evenings between 9 p.m. and midnight. The guests were from various fields and backgrounds, and often included New Age guru-types by telephone from the United States.

The show became one of the station's most popular, but became controversial in September 1999 when Allan interviewed American right-winger Keith Johnson of the Militia of Montana. Johnson denounced homosexuality, race-mixing and former South African President Nelson Mandela and offended Jewish listeners with his antisemitic views on rabbinical teachings and Judaism. Although Allan distanced herself from these views, she offended a number of listeners in that she did not acknowledge it was a mistake to broadcast the interview . Due to the negative reaction from listeners, including the South African Jewish Board of Deputies the station was instructed to issue an apology two days later.

Toward's the end of her tenure, on-air she accused the station owner, Primedia of nepotism and said that they found her show too controversial and politically incorrect. Her contract was terminated in October 2000, although no official reason was given; when questioned, the station manager, Lucia Venter, claimed that "All the announcers receive positive and negative feedback. Allan does not necessarily get more than others."

She relocated to the United States in 2001, where she has appeared on a number of radio shows. On 17 June 2004, Jani Allan appeared as the guest on the conspiracy theorist Jeff Rense's show. During the show, which had a listenership of 7 million, Allan accused the South African government of a genocidal campaign against white Afrikaners, citing South African Farm Murders and she encouraged Americans to sponsor white Afrikaner "refugees". She later became the regular Friday night weekly guest-commentator. In 2005, she made several appearances on the Republican radio show Flipside with Robby Noel. She also appeared on the Larry Pratt show, discussing gun laws in place in South Africa.

Filmography

Documentary
Year Film Role Other notes
1998 Red Jacket Herself Documentary-film on the artist, Vladimir Tretchikoff.
Portrayals
Year Title Role Notes
1992 The Great Comedy Trek Jani Allan Joan Collins as Jani Allan in the Pieter-Dirk Uys film.
2002 Get Carman: The trials of George Carman QC Jani Allan Sarah Berger as Jani Allan in the BBC film.


References

External links




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