IdeaCandy continues to prove there’s no one producing true crime documentaries quite like this production company. In the latest Showmax Original series, the team behind Devilsdorpand Steinheistunravels the intersection of the stories of Dawie de Villiers and Michael O’Connor in Convict Conman. The people who closely followed the reports in the news will be familiar with the shocking connection of these individuals and how it’s symbolic of the failures and stench of corruption that exists in the South African justice system.
Split into two episodes, Convict Conman follows the journey of two journalists determined to uncover the truth of two individuals: de Villiers and O’Conner. In 2012, alarm bells were rung about Kempton Park photographer de Villiers and his model agency, Modelling South Africa, through accusations of fraud and sexual inappropriateness with minors. In 2021, O’Connor – described as a friend of de Villiers’ – faced his own allegations as employees of his photography publication grew suspicious of their boss, whom they had never met or seen in person.
Much like its previous series, IdeaCandy’s editing and presentation format remain on a higher level than other production companies. Even though there are two main stories being told across lengthy timelines, Convict Conman never overwhelms or feels difficult to follow for the viewer. The reason it works is due to the effort taken into painting the full picture. The series presents the information directly from the investigative journalists, the victims, and other experts who lend credence to the topics at hand. In between these interview segments, the programme also breaks down other important elements of the stories through media coverage, social media posts, and animated sections.
Surprisingly, this series works as a two-parter – not being too fast-paced or appearing as if information is missing. While IdeaCandy’s other documentaries are often longer – sometimes double the length of Convict Conman – the story comes across as a cohesive and by the time it ends, it feels as if the audience knows more about the events than before. In addition, considering the shocking conclusion of the series, there’s the chance there could be more to tell in the future, so don’t be surprised if more episodes get added further down the line.
A reality check for South Africa
Convict Conman also doesn’t pull its punches about the harrowing rate of gender-based violence in South Africa, and the need for society to do better and hold each other accountable. It showcases how many perpetrators get away with their crimes because of gaslighting, the low conviction rate, and the concerning attitude toward victims that still exist in society. Hearing the victims’ stories frightens and angers the viewer, but it’s nothing compared to what the victims have gone through. More than anything, it’s a wake-up call to South Africans, or even a call to action. Each person plays a part in affecting change – not only through their own behaviour and actions, but also by speaking out against perpetrators and ensuring there’s no tolerance for gender-based violence in our society.
Sergio Pereira is a prolific and recognised journalist and writer from Johannesburg, South Africa. His expertise encompasses the topics of comic books, film, television, and video games. For over 16 years, he has built up his reputation and knowledge in entertainment journalism by writing for and learning from the world's largest publications.
Sergio is also an accredited Rotten Tomatoes reviewer and has interviewed numerous celebrities, such as Andy Serkis, Ben Barnes, Idris Elba, Letitia Wright and Frank Miller. He is the author of the highly rated fantasy comedy novel The Not-So-Grim Reaper and numerous short stories. In addition, he is the co-writer of the South African crime drama film The Lifesaver. As a regular columnist, he contributes to Looper, Grunge, Screen Rant, Ranker, CBR, SYFY WIRE, IGN Africa, Thought Catalog and Fortress of Solitude.
For Sergio, all he wants in life is to see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles eclipse the Justice League as the greatest heroes of all time. Then, he will sleep peacefully.