Die Byl (The Axe) is a South African, Afrikaans-language police procedural television series inspired by legendary South African detective Piet Byleveld, who caught some of the country's most heinous murderers.
Featuring a fictitious specialist police squad that was formed to bring serial killers to book, in every 90-minute episode the highly trained specialised squad is confronted with another series of brutal murders.
They are all strong minded individuals who often have conflicting ideas of solving the case at hand. But when they stand together they are a formidable outfit that face the most dangerous criminals in their bid to be of service to their community.
The title of the series is derived from the nickname of the leader of the squad Colonel Piet van der Bijl – "Die Byl" for short.
Die Byl deals with important issues and ills in South African society. The characters' personal lives inevitably suffer under the strains of the highly dramatic and demanding task that they are confronted with. Each one deals with the gruesome nature of their everyday lives in a different way.
The stories are also full of surprises and the audience is invited to decide who the guilty suspect is. Sometimes they may be right, but often they will be wrong. All is revealed in the last scene of every episode.
At the same time the ongoing story throughout the series delves into the private lives of the main characters and presents unexpected twists and turns in the turbulent lives of career murder detectives.
The stories of Die Byl are entirely fictitious. The police squad - as well as their existence in Cape Town - is fictional. All the characters, including Die Byl, are fictitious.
Retired detective Piet Byleveld acted as technical advisor to the production, sharing his ideas and methodology of investigating murder cases with the script writers. He also had a brief meeting with Waldemar Schultz, to give him some practical tips on policing.
The series stars Waldemar Schultz as Kolonel Piet van der Bijl, the lead detective; Marvin-Lee Beukes as Sersant Juan Stuurman, a detective; Lika Berning as profiler Kaptein Lena Maree; Eric Nobbs as Dokter Fritz Barnard, the pathologist; Tertius Meintjies as Generaal Neels van As, the head of the Violent Crimes unit; and Milan Murray as Advokaat Nicky van As, the state prosecutor.
Die Byl was executive produced by Herman Binge for Lion's Head Productions. The series was written by Anton Treurnicht, produced by Elmarie Botha and directed by Regardt van den Bergh. The supervising producer for kykNET was Marida Swanepoel. The theme music was by Braam du Toit.