I'm an investigative journalist and a Research Fellow at the Institute for Safety, Governance and Criminology (SaFGo), University of Cape Town. Other connections are an associate of Southern Write, a group of African travel and natural history writers and photographers, a writer for the Conservation Action Trust and a former editor of Getaway magazine in Cape Town.

As a criminologist, I was one of the co-drafters of the Youth Justice White Paper for the Mandela government which became the Child Justice Act. I'm a specialist in adolescent deviance and was one of the founders of the Usiko Trust working with high-risk youth.  I am  also a trustee of the Chrysalis Academy and founder of Umzi Wethu, a residential programme for Aids orphans.

I have a PhD in political science, an MA in criminology, a BA in African history and have published a post-doctoral study on gangs, rituals and rites of passage. I have held lectureships in Journalism (Rhodes) and Criminology (University of Cape Town) and conducted my PhD research at SOAS, London University.

I was the first Writer in Residence at South Africa’s Antarctic Sanai 4 base (2005/6) and have written 17 books, many articles and chapters. My writing awards include a Mondi Award for my column on the environment, Natural Selections, and the City Press Non-Fiction Award for my book Gang Town. The Last Elephants, compiled with Colin Bell on the state of elephants in Africa, has been called the 'elephant bible'. It has been published by Penguin/Struik in Africa, Smithsonian Books in the US and Hardie Grant in the UK and Australia.

My wife, the novelist Patricia Schonstein, land I live in Cape Town.