IdeaCandy, the production company behind Showmax record-breakers Devilsdorp, Rosemary’s Hitlist and Steinheist, has just released the first trailer for Convict Conman, a Showmax Original true-crime series premiering in two parts on Wednesday, 6 and 13 December 2023. 

In 2012, Carte Blanche journalist Sasha Wein receives a tip-off to investigate Dawie de Villiers, a Kempton Park photographer and founder of Modelling South Africa. Described in the first episode as “a sophisticated predator” and “the Kempton Park Hugh Hefner”, de Villiers is accused of fraud and of being sexually inappropriate with aspiring models, some below the age of 16. 

Nine years later, in 2021, with de Villiers sentenced to life in jail, investigative journalist Jana Marx (Devilsdorp) receives a tip-off to look into Michael O’Connor. He runs a photography publication and is looking to start business and fashion magazines too. It’s during the COVID pandemic, so his staff have never met him – or even seen his face. 

O’Connor claims de Villiers is a “good friend” but what else do they have in common? 

Convict Conman marks the documentary series directorial debut of SAFTA-winning editor Nikki Comninos, nominated for three SAFTAs in the past two years for her work on SteinheistDevilsdorp and Murder in Paris

“We dedicate this series to those who Dawie de Villiers hurt, and to all survivors of sexual assault,” says Comninos. “I feel outraged by the actions of Dawie – and sadly the actions of so many men, especially in South Africa, where we live with one of the highest rates of gender-based violence in the world. Convict Conman will make you mad, but will also warm your heart and make you laugh. It shows how our prison system is broken but it’s also about a celebration of how strong our media is, and how powerful good journalism can be. It’s a wild ride of plot twists and elaborate cons, anchored by real people and deep emotions.” 

In addition to Wein, Marx and their fellow Carte Blanche investigative journalist Bernadette Maguire Rothman, Comninos also interviews de Villiers’ victims and O’Connor’s staff, as well as the likes of Captain Veronica Bank, criminologist Professor Anni Hesselink, and model Thando Hopa, who speaks to the broader context of this “so crazy it must be true” story.

Trigger warning: Convict Conman contains descriptions of sexual abuse, involving both adults and minors, which may be disturbing for some viewers. 

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