2019 Annual Short Story Award


For Emerging Writers in South Africa



SA Writers College 2019 Short Story Writing Competition

The Winners


  We are proud to announce our winners for the 2019 SA Writers College Short Story Competition.

The winning stories were charismatic, with strong narrators and clever prose making for compelling reading.

For the first time since 2009, our first-placed writer has won two years in a row. Another exception this year is that the writer who placed fifth is a high school student.

Congratulations to these enormously talented writers.




FIRST PLACE: ‘Tulbagh By Gaslight' - by S.F. Ratcliffe

RUNNER-UP: ‘Sit Down; You're Brown’ - by Javi Reddy

THIRD PLACE: 'Record Cards' - by Merle Grace


In fourth place is Taki Scordis’s ‘Enswell’.

‘Fine’, written by Finn Emily Bowden, placed fifth.

  Read the judges' comments, as well as the top three stories, below the Highest Honours, Honours, Honourable Mention and 'More Stories We Loved' results lists.  



Highest Honours

  These stories narrowly missed making the top five. The characters are authentic, plotlines are credible and unpredictable, and the style and grammar are generally excellent.  

‘The Day Regina Rolbutt Remembered Her Roar’ – by Sanet Veldtman Odendaal
‘The Weight of Damiana’ – by Emma van der Velden
‘An Unfinished Symphony’ – by Anthony Louis von Zeil
‘What's a Doctor Gonna Give Me that My Bones Don't Know How to Do’ – by Janine Milne
‘Working You Out’ – by Delight Kangara
‘The Conscious Act of Arranging’ – by Aimee Dyamond
‘The Secret Miracle Cure’ – by Morne Visser
‘A Sixpence in her Shoe’ – by Sonja Marx
‘The Scripture’ – by Bongumusa Mnisi
‘We All Have Our Struggles’ – by Vuyo Kwakweni
‘Loving You Came at a Price’ – by Monique Brink
‘Project Neighbour’ – by Marilize Loxton
‘The Bus of Good and Evil’ – by Mary-Ann Thomson
‘All of God's Colours’ – by Joy Adewumi
‘Wacky Wednesday’ – by Johan van der Merwe
‘Begin the World from Zero’ – by Sisonke Papu








  Good storytelling in these enjoyable stories. Some good imagery and description in places, and mostly the writing appears to be effortless rather than contrived.  

‘One of Us Is Bleeding’ – by Melissa Gow
‘Would You Like Me Better If...?’ – by Claire De Wet
‘The Country Club’ – by Inessa Rajah
'Quits’ – by Raymond Hattingh
'The Smallville Messiah’ – by Ross Ian Fleming
‘Eímai Arketá I Am Enough’ – by Hermien Owens-Collins
'Be What You Seem To Be’ – by Woody
'Her Blood’ – by Precious Abam
‘Vigilante’ – by S.C Gerritsen
‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ – by B Swart
‘All Hail, the Nonpareil’ – by Simon Winter
'Reality TV Isn't Real' – by Jody Sampson
'Shards of Guilt' – by Edmirie Fourie
'The Secret Admirer' – by Makgoba M.H
‘Hitchhiker’ – by Ellen Fritz
‘Hot Java’ – by Craig Rolando Meyer
‘Cease to Exist’ – by Dominic Adendorff
'Fires of Injustice' – by Rebecca Pillay
‘Named for the Stars, Made for War’ – by Taffy Lamba
‘So Hum (I Am That)’ – by Therveshree Canniappen
‘The Eternal Walk’ – by Relebogile Seokoma
‘Clinically Sane’ – by Willemien Jansen
‘Seven for Perfection’ – by Sibusisiwe Shangase






Honourable Mention

We enjoyed reading these stories.


'Trigger Warning' - by Rashalia Pather
‘Hallstead and DeVries’ - by Lezaan Visagie
‘To Serve’ - by Melaney Peters
‘Aminah Rose among the Thorns’ - by Prenisha Singh
‘A Crazy, Wonderful World’ - by Danelle Roets
'Damsel' - by S D Mashilo
‘A Mother Knows Best’ - by Trish Oglesby
‘Perfect Timing’ - by Jacinta Moetlo
‘Saving Grace’ - by Erika Taylor
‘Grandpere's Words’ – by Darrel Hofland
‘Vredehuis’ - by Krpasha Govindasamy
‘The Drunk, the Damned, and the Dead’ - by Kira N
‘But He's Mine’- by Petuela Africa
‘When Being Better is Bad’ - by Annelien Moller
'Homocide'- by Matthew B Thomo
‘Boxed and Labelled’ – by Savannah Brogneri
‘A Trial to Remember’ – by Nina Claudia Hessler
‘The Pale Mists of Winter’ - by Jacques Smith
‘Burning the Leeches’ - by Kemmy-Leigh Moodley
‘The Girl in the Attic’ - by Tasneem Moolla
‘Once upon a Hairstyle’ - by Kebarileng Molefe
‘Me versus the Chemical Imbalance in My Brain’ - by Nontsikelelo Gumede
‘Karma's Kiss’ - by Tarryn Bannister
‘Choice Economy’ - by Jean-Paul Willemse
‘The Funeral’ - by Serene Bayne
‘Always in the Wings’ – by LJ Livesey
‘The Dream Job’ – by Liezl van Rooyen

      More Stories We Loved

Great writing is about attention to detail, and making considered choices around words, characters, structure and grammar. Next year we'd like to see these authors rise up the results ladder.

‘The Cold Sparkle’ – by Noluthemba Bhanti
‘Hope’ - by Claire Tucker
‘The Buzzkill’ – by Kabir Jugram
‘Dua Roh (Two Spirit)’ - by Shreshtha Ramsout
‘Tango with the Drunken’ – by Lookman Laneon
'A Strange Breed of a Person' – by Meagan du Plooy
‘The Gift of Loving’ – by Traci-Lee Philander
‘Remember’ – by Lebogang Maragelo
‘A King's Flame’ – by Shamsa Hosanee
‘Ayanda the Outcast’ – by Mtibza eM
‘I Am My Own’ – by Simangele Lekhuleni
‘For Whom the Wedding Bell Tolls’ – by Nicole Meyer
‘On Days Like These’ – by Ciru Israel
‘July the 1st’ – by Mbalentle Mdange
‘The Transition’ – by E Letlhogonolo Thela
‘A Vicious Circle’ – by Nicole Engelbrecht
‘Sister’ – by Mashila Tlangelani
‘uSibahle - The Untold Story’ – by Samkelo Siyabonga Skosana
'Pietersburg - Here We Come’ – by Hosi Maluleke'
‘You're My Angel’ – by Judy De Bruin
‘Three Strikes of Luck, for One Lucky Sock’ - by Tshepo S. Molebatsi
'That One Hopeful Day' - by Masego Motlhabane
‘In the Eyes of the Beholder’ – by Thandile Malunga
'In Loving Memory' – by Germaine Keraan
‘The Day Death Fell from the Sky’ – by Denise Bell
'Each Other's Backs'- by Vision Gholele
‘Refraction’ – by Misha Krynauw


Keep up the great writing! We look forward to hearing from you again for our 2020 SA Writers College Short Story Competition.


The judges’ ratings and comments for the top three stories

A huge thank you to our judges this year: Ginny Swart, Alexandra Smith, Andrew Salomon and Karen Jeynes.


First Place


'Tulbagh By Gaslight'

by S.F. Ratcliffe

Readability: Does it hold your attention? 17/20
Originality 17/20
Flow (Does the reader move smoothly through the story from point to point?) 17/20
Characterization 17/20
Imagery and use of language 18/20
Overall gut response to story 17/20

TOTAL 103/120


Judges’ comments
  • Great dialogue, I can hear the chirpy cadences of Honey’s voice as she tells her story spiced with South African slang. She is an attractive character and the reader is totally with her all the way as she drives faster and faster. Her unemotional middle finger - wonderful! The voodoo doll in the boot - maybe rather reference the sangomas she had worked with and her knowledge of their powerful herbs. It would be more effective than a doll and fit in better with her South Effricaness. Ginny
  • Excellent descriptions and great characterisation in this insightful road-trip story-within-a-story in which two friends catch up. Alex
  • Excellent descriptive writing and sharp dialogue immerse the reader in the setting of this story with a barbed surprise ending. Andrew
  • There's a very roadtrip kind of energy to this story, which suits the subject matter. It's an interesting choice, telling the story at a slight distance - someone is telling our narrator their story, and they are telling us. We get a few hints about the narrator, but really we know very little. A nice mellow tale. Karen

Runner Up



'Sit Down; You're Brown'

by Javi Reddy

Readability: Does it hold your attention? 18/20
Originality 16/20
Flow (Does the reader move smoothly through the story from point to point?) 16/20
Characterization 18/20
Imagery and use of language 15/20
Overall gut response to story 16/20

TOTAL 99/120


Judges’ comments
  • Thoughts of a lonely disillusioned Indian man who is discontented with his life and more especially with Heritage Day at work. Ginny
  • This is an hilarious take on the antics of Heritage Day, wonderfully non-pc with a delightful ending. It reads more like really good newspaper satirist opinion piece than a short story though. Alex
  • Accomplished use of language and humour bring a sense of real honesty to this story. The very contemporary South African conundrum of the mixed results of the near-maniacal drive for inclusiveness is reflected through the personal dilemma of a character not fitting the expectations heaped upon them through race and culture. Funny and sharp. Andrew
  • Engaging and charming, a lovely narrator who feels authentic and fresh. Nicely structured, with a good balance of facts and feelings. Karen

Third Place



'Record Cards'

by Merle Grace


Readability: Does it hold your attention? 16/20
Originality 16/20
Flow (Does the reader move smoothly through the story from point to point?) 14/20
Characterization 16/20
Imagery and use of language 16/20
Overall gut response to story 16/20

TOTAL 94/120


Judges’ comments
  • A bit confusing to start with. The short sentences and jumping around in time give it a chopped feeling. Although there are some good phrases, I found it slow going. This didn’t have the wow factor I am looking for. Ginny
  • Very fascinating ideas at play in this story of a daughter trying to learn more about her deceased father. The characters have fantastic potential. Some of the details were not entirely convincing. Alex
  • The finely balanced tone of this story manages to speak volumes through things that remain unsaid. The main character’s profound longing, set against a backdrop of deepening intrigue help to shape a poignant portrayal of how an unjust regime built on fear and intimidation leaves none unscathed. Andrew
  • This feels very honest, and manages to conjure ideas vividly. There's a light touch, which gives space for the depth of meaning to come through. Karen




  • First Prize: R10 000.00 and publication in an anthology of winning stories
  • Second Prize: R 5 000.00 and publication in an anthology of winning stories
  • Third Prize: R 2 500.00
The top three winners will receive editorial comments on their submitted works.


"No One is Better Than You"

30 April 2019 (Now closed for submissions)
Friday 24 May 2019
Friday 14 June 2019


Have a look at our Literary Short and Flash Fiction course here

  • We aim to support beginner writers. We only accept stories from writers who have never been published, or who have been published fewer than four times in any genre. This includes fiction and non-fiction, in any publication (for payment or otherwise). Journalists, copywriters or web writers must please not apply. People who made a living from writing at any point in their life (e.g. decades earlier) are also not eligible for entry. We make an exception for unpaid articles for community or work newsletters, or blogs, where the circulation is under 1000.
  • The competition is open to anyone living in South Africa over the age of 16. The top 20 entrants may be asked to provide a photo of their ID or passport.
  • Entrants must submit a story of maximum word count: 2000 words. Any entries exceeding the word count by 50 words will not be considered.
  • Writers can interpret and represent the theme in any way they choose. Stories that appear to be entirely unrelated to the theme will not be considered. Writers must produce their own title.
  • Only one story per entrant is allowed.
  • We only accept entries written in English.
  • The competition closes at midnight on 30 April 2019. The longlist will be published by 25 May, and the winners announced and displayed on our website on Friday 14 June.
  • Prizewinners will be notified via email as well as on our web site; please ensure you supply a valid email address with your entry.
  • Prize money will be paid via electronic transfer.
  • Stories must not have been previously published. Entrants must own full copyright to the story submitted.
  • Writers retain copyright, but give permission for their work to be displayed on our website.
  • Winning entrants give permission to be published in an anthology. This is a not-for-profit venture and 100% of proceeds will be added to the competition prize money for subsequent annual contests.
  • The judges' decision is final; no disputes will be entered into.
  • All submissions and enquiries can be sent to Nichola Meyer: [email protected]
  • If your entry has not been acknowledged within three working days, please contact us as your email may have got lost in transit.
  • SA Writers College reserves the right to extend the competition deadline, or cancel the competition should the entries not be of publishable quality or up to the required standard.

  • Only e-mail submissions are acceptable, with stories attached as Word Documents.
  • Mark your entry clearly with the email subject line: SAWC Annual Short Story Competition.
  • In your email, please include the following declaration: 'I declare that I am a beginner writer, and a resident of South Africa.'
  • Each story must have a unique title. Do not use the theme as your title.
  • Your email must state the story title and your name. E.g. 'Once Upon a Time' - by Tumi Solomon
  • Do not include your name on any page of your story. All entries will be judged blind.
  • Use a font such as Arial or Times New Roman, size 12 or more. Use 1.5 or double spacing between lines. We prefer a clear line between paragraphs rather than indenting.
  • Make sure your story has been edited and polished according to tips and guidelines provided on our college site under “Writing Resources”, or on our webzine. Read these:

View the details of our fiction writing foundation course


Read past winners stories for some inspiration


Ginny Swart Short Story Tutor Ginny Swart has sold over 700 short stories all over the world. Read more about her award-winning writing here >

Alex Smith Award-winning author Alex Smith has published five novels. Read more about her here >

Karen Jeynes Award-winning playwright Karen Jeynes has written several plays and TV series. Read more here > Andrew-Salomon Andrew Salomon has published several novels and has won the PEN/ Studzinski literary award. Find out more about him here >


Sign up for our free monthly newsletter

* indicates required
Follow us on Facebook Join us on Twitter


Click here to pay with PayPal

Pay via Mastercard
Click here to pay with VISA


About Us

We offer specialised, online writing courses tutored by award-winning writers in South Africa. Get the writing tools you need, expert insider advice and hours and hours of writing practice.


Study from anywhere in South Africa: Cape Town, Western Cape; Johannesburg and Pretoria, Gauteng; Durban and Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal; Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape; Bloemfontein, Free State; Nelspruit, Mpumalanga; Kimberley, Northern Cape and Polokwane, Limpopo.

Contact Us

Nichola Meyer or Koos Turenhout
Email: [email protected]

You can also leave a voice message on 021 813 9224 and we will phone you back within one working day.

9am to 5pm Monday to Friday

Work for Us

Vacancies at SAWC

Writing Services