Your turn, Mr President

Dear Comrade Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma the First, by the Grace of God President of the Republic of South Africa, Head of the Household, Defender of the Faith, Pastor of the Flock, Defeater of the Mbeki, Unifier of the Nation, Msholozi of Msholozis, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, Conqueror of the Apartheid Regime and Owner of Property in Nkandla, greetings in the name of the third democratic revolution.

I say third because, as you may have heard, the second has been hijacked by students and the less said about it the better. In fact, you’ve had less to say than anyone. Do you even know there’s trouble at the universities? Perhaps you don’t get the papers any more. If I were you, I wouldn’t. You have enough on your plate, and I’m not talking about that kudu haunch drizzled with warthog jus, either.

Some say democracy and revolution make uneasy bedfellows. That’s rubbish. Uneasy bedfellows would be Julius Malema and Steve Hofmeyr. As you probably know, democracy is a Greek word invented by Plato. ‘Demo’ means ‘the people and ‘cracy’ means ‘are crazy’. An example of this is how 62% of the electorate voted for you and your party to remain in power for another five years.

And what a party it’s been. Especially for you. Not everyone gets the chance to travel the world, meet interesting people (Asians, mostly), play Monopoly with real money and chess with real pawn-people. If there’s one thing you do have, it’s time to spare. That’s the beauty of rule by collective. You take the money and the overseas trips, they take the responsibility.

Perhaps I’m being a little unfair here. I’m sure you’re very busy. A man in your position must spend at least six hours a day with his lawyers. That only leaves 18 hours for the wives. It sounds a lot, but it’s not really. Not when you have four wives. What does that work out to? Just over four hours per wife? No, wait. You dumped one of them after she tried to poison you.

Anyway, whatever time you have left in the day is probably spent helping your kids with their homework, tender applications and impending lawsuits. I can’t work out what that is divided between 22 children. That’s why I’m not your finance minister. Although if you had your wits about you, you’d dump that tight-fisted Gordhan and appoint me at once. I’m a reckless fool when it comes to money. You could take me out for lunchtime drinks and the Treasury would be yours by sunset.

I appreciate, though, that discretion is the better part of valour when it comes to snatching the organs of state. I don’t even understand what I’ve just written, that’s how much of an idiot I am. This is starting to sound like a job application. I do apologise.

I admire you for having the intestinal fortitude to continue going through the motions as head of state. For instance, early last week you addressed something called the South African heads of missions conference in Pretoria. Who are these people? No, wait. Don’t tell me. Upstanding citizens like Bruce Koloane who allowed friends of the Guptas to land at the Waterkloof Air Force Base, Mohau Pheko who lied about having a PhD and Sibusiso Ndebele who is facing corruption charges.

You told our diplomats a side-effect of democracy was that “processes tend to be slower”. This must be very frustrating for you. Progress is not achieved through committees. It is achieved through seizing the moment, the state-owned enterprises and, ultimately, the Treasury.

I am reluctant to quote you back at yourself, but this one has a special place in my heart. “Democracies go through difficulties, precisely because they are democracies. Only in the autocratic dictatorships … there are no problems. When the ruler says they want a bridge here, there is no debate, the bridge will be constructed. No one says there is no money.”

Precisely. Take, for instance, the bridge over the River Kwai. If Pravin Gordhan had been in charge of the Imperial Japanese Army in 1942, things would have been very different. Emperor Gordhan would have said there is no money for a railway and thousands of British prisoners of war wouldn’t have died building the Burma-Siam line. Thank god for autocrats like Hirohito.

And let’s not forget North Korea, one of our brightest stars in the firmament of autocratic dictatorships. Kim Jong-un might have had his hairdresser’s eyes plucked out so the commoner could never gaze upon the Loinfruit Leader’s glorious countenance, which is only right, but one cannot deny that the man gets things done. Despite selfish western sanctions, his nuclear programme continues apace. When he feels like launching a rocket to see if it is capable of reaching Washington DC, even factoring in the added weight of a nuclear warhead, he doesn’t ask permission. He doesn’t ask if there’s money. He just does it. This is why we love Kim.

The other alternative to democracy is, of course, a benevolent dictatorship. This is my personal favourite. Wikipedia says “a benevolent dictator portrays himself as compassionate and altruistic, allowing for some decisions to be made by a democratic process. A benevolent dictator remains in power only while the people allow him to.”

This, comrade president, describes you perfectly. If we ignore words like compassionate and altruistic, naturally.

Your final option – and this is where it gets interesting – is the military dictatorship. We had that under PW Botha. No reason it can’t work again. On the other hand, it’s not exactly the same army, is it? There are no pilots for our jets and the submarines are up on bricks. Also, the infantry is on sick leave. Perhaps the MK Veterans’ Association can prop you up.

You’re right, though. Things move painfully slowly in a democracy. You’re a fast mover – a man who likes to get things done. Look how fast you moved the other day when Thuli Madonsela sent you that list of questions. In no time at all, you were off to Kenya on a state visit.

You told our diplomats, “When people say to you, what is happening in South Africa, why these protests? Tell them it is democracy. When they say why does it look like the ruling party is fighting? That is democracy.” I suppose it could work. It might be better, though, if, faced with difficult questions, our diplomats simply exercised their right to remain silent.

We spend R3.2-billion a year on 122 diplomatic missions abroad. The only country better represented on foreign soil is America, with 126 missions. We need to beat America. Can’t you open a few more embassies or have we run out of countries? They don’t have to be fancy. Perhaps something along the lines of our least expensive embassy, which happens to be in Belarus’s glittering capital Minsk and costs a mere R5-million a year.

Anyway. Good luck with your court application to prevent the public protector’s report on state capture from being released. If the judge asks any awkward questions, get your lawyer to blame democracy. The same goes with Pravin Gordhan. If ratings agencies want to know why your boys in the Hawks are prosecuting the finance minister, tell them that’s democracy.

If things get too hot, you can always take another trip. I hear the weather in Dubai is lovely at this time of year.

An open letter to Shaun Abrahams, director of the National Prosecuting Authority

Dear Comrade Shaun,

Congratulations on rounding up the finance minister and two of his former henchmen from the SA Revenue Service. Like you, I despise people who understand numbers. They aren’t to be trusted. Numbers can mean anything depending on what you do with them. This is why your man, President Zuma, has trouble reading figures more than three digits long. And I need not remind you, of all people, what a trustworthy, reliable, honest person our leader is.

I see you are an advocate. Well done. Your title is so important that it even had a drink named after it. No, wait. I’m thinking of advokaat. Dreadful stuff. Rich and thick, like a lot of people in the legal profession.

You were admitted to the Bar a few years ago. I was admitted to the bar twenty minutes ago. Now I’m just waiting for happy hour. Sorry. That’s a drinking joke and this is not the time to be telling jokes. It is, however, the time to be drinking.

Prosecution is too good for the likes of Pravin Gordhan. The nation was shocked when they got wind of the heinous crime he committed while head of Sars back in 2010. Approving a colleague’s early retirement then rehiring him as a consultant is right up there with Stalin’s purges, if not the Holocaust.

Gordhan should be strung up by the heels and publicly whipped. Better yet, turn him over to the Saudis. They know what to do with people who approve early retirement packages.

None of this would be happening if Gordhan hadn’t dissed you when you ordered him to present himself for a warning statement in August. Basically, he told you to get stuffed. What’s the point of being sheriff if people don’t obey you? It reminds me of when I was made prefect in primary school.

This one red-headed kid kept ignoring my commands so I burnt the school down. It didn’t matter that everyone was affected. The important thing was that this boy suffered for disrespecting the rank of prefect. You, sir, are this country’s über-prefect, and even though your decision to prosecute the finance minister has caused the price of bread to rise and my retirement savings to shrink, I still respect your rank.

It seems, though, you might be prepared to reconsider if Gordhan makes the appropriate grovelling noises. I doubt he will, though. He comes from Durban.

Some people are whining that your decision caused the rand to fall by three percent. Oh, please. I got three percent for maths in tenth grade and I turned out just fine. Comparatively, anyway. These thin-lipped critics with their knowledge of numbers also say that nearly R50bn was wiped off the JSE’s banking index. People like us don’t even know what the JSE is. And we care even less. Right, Shaun? The important thing is to crack down on the evil-doers. Obviously you need to prioritise. Get the real criminals before they do even more damage. Let this one slide and the next thing you know, everyone is getting an early retirement package.

Once the finance minister is safely behind bars, you need to move on the jaywalkers and the litterers. Are you perhaps prosecuting people alphabetically? If, for instance, there was someone whose surname started with Z and who should, for argument’s sake, be expected to answer, say, 783 charges, you probably wouldn’t get around to him for 50 years at least. Can’t get fairer than that.

The timing of your announcement was perfect. Gordhan is due to deliver the medium term something-or-other in parliament in a few days. It’s important to distract him so that he makes mistakes. We need to minimise the risk of him showing up his cabinet colleagues as a mob of mouth-breathing imbeciles. Nobody likes a smartarse.

Come to think of it, Gordhan never even scored a cent from his crime against humanity. That’s not very smart at all. We have countless civil servants managing to successfully loot state coffers every day without being caught. Good for them. Your disinterest in prosecuting suggests that you, like me, have a grudging respect for competent career criminals.

All the president wants Gordhan to do is rotate the country’s gold reserves like Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson did with our oil reserves. Okay, so a billion rand went missing in that deal, but rotating is a tricky business. Incidentally, a couple of liberationists got into my house last weekend and rotated my laptop and camera.

As you know, the problem is that Gordhan selfishly keeps the keys to the treasury on a chain around his neck. We need a minister who will make copies for his friends. The Guptas, for instance, briefly had a key but then lost it when Des van Rooyen ended his weekend stint as finance minister.

The other problem with Gordhan is that he keeps allocating money to doomed causes like education and health instead of helping secure nuclear power deals with our Russian friends. My first choice for Gordhan’s replacement is Fikile Mbalula. Why not? Send in the clowns, I say.

Getting the Hawks to swoop on the finance minister’s home with a summons first thing in the morning was a stroke of genius. This would have sent a clear message to his grandchildren or any other relatives being harboured in his house that the NPA is not to be trifled with when it comes to the illicit granting of early retirement.

Unfortunately, Gordhan had already left for work so your men had to go all the way to his office. What kind of monster goes to work that early? This is another reason he belongs in jail. Putting in a solid day’s work sets a dangerous precedent and creates expectations that simply cannot be met. Diligence must be crushed as a matter of priority.

Your timing was impeccable, serving the summons on Gordhan just after returning from New York where he encouraged business leaders to invest in South Africa. Does the man have no shame? Few of us have the money to go overseas and by jetting off like that, he is rubbing our noses in our own poverty. Fortunately, your decision to prosecute him will ensure that nobody apart from maybe Whitey Basson and Patrice Motsepe will be able to travel further than Nelspruit. If, by bringing Gordhan down, you cripple our economy in the process, so be it. What is the rand, anyway? It’s just paper.

Even after getting the summons, Gordhan continued mouthing off. “The fight against corruption‚ maladministration and waste of public resources will continue,” he threatened from his leafy rebel hideout in Waterkloof.

It’s this kind of radical talk that will destroy our country. Can you not slap him with a gagging order? Why can he not emulate our awesome president and not comment on anything? Why does he not take leave instead of decisions?

While doing research to make sure you are who you say you are, I came across some interesting information. Your favourite movie, for example, is Gladiator. I get the fantasy of trapping people in a net and poking them with a trident, but I can’t help thinking you’re less of a Russell Crowe and more of a Karl Pilkington. Do you know him? He was in a series called An Idiot Abroad.

I also learnt that your mother’s nickname for you is “Pikkewyntjie”. In a language everyone can understand, that means “Little Penguin”. Apparently it was because of the way you walked as a baby and not, as one might imagine, because of your habit of spearing raw fish with your beak. If you face Gordhan in court, I think you should waddle like a penguin. That would throw him off balance.

I particularly enjoyed this quote from your mother. “He was really not an academic boy. Always rugby, rugby, rugby. I would battle to get that child to study.” As we know, rugby has produced some of this country’s finest minds. Look at Bakkies Botha. Man, that oke are clever like a fox.

Do you know who else you should prosecute? The Public Protector, that’s who. Not Busisiwe Mkhwebane. She’s on the team. I’m talking about the renegade Thuli Madonsela. Summons her to answer charges of impugning the dignity of the president. What that poor man has gone through at her hands.

Now that she is no longer in office, there is nobody to protect her. Well, I suppose the public might. In which case, prosecute the public. Issue summonses for all 53 million. Even if they say they have done nothing wrong, I’m sure you will come up with something.

Finally, thanks to you, we can all sleep a little sounder in our beds at night knowing that Pravin Gordhan isn’t out there somewhere, wilfully approving early retirements.


Going nowhere fast

I have been rudely ejected from my own home by complete strangers who want to give me money in return for the front door keys and me not being there. It’s outrageous. Sure, the outrage dissipated slightly when their filthy lucre landed in my account, but still. This is the problem with capitalism. We do the most degrading things – journalism being just one of them – in order to be able to survive in a system that’s not of our making. There has to be a better way. Got it. Make everything free. #Payingforstuffmustfall.

Temporarily losing my home meant embarking on a road trip from the east coast to the west and road trips are always good, except when they’re not. I generally set off with the notion that somewhere along the road I’ll either have a spectacularly torrid affair or die in a giant fireball. Admittedly, I have had the odd carnal encounter where, in hindsight, the fireball would have been a better option.

I set my alarm for half past hadeda, thinking I’d be the only person on the road at 6am. The M4 was jammed so I veered onto the N2, which was even worse. What the hell was going on here? Is it like this every day? These people should have still been in bed at that hour. I at least was on a cross-country expedition, even if it did only involve sitting on my arse for eight hours, yawning and scratching my nuts and trying not to fall asleep. Mind you, I suppose it’s the same for a lot of them, especially the ones who work for the municipality.

I recently did this trip in the opposite direction in my ancient Land Rover. It took me over a week and cost me dearly in physical, financial and emotional terms. I sold the beast shortly after and went out to test drive a Suzuki Vitara. I came home with a Subaru Forester. It’s like when you go to the SPCA to look for a kitten and fall in love with a pit bull instead. Not that I’m in love with the Subaru, but she responds well to my touch and hasn’t let me down. Unlike certain exes I could name but won’t.

She also goes a lot faster than the Landy, which means a lot more speeding fines and a lot more of not answering the door. Summons. What an ugly word. No hint of a please or thank you. Until the criminal justice system learns some manners, I shan’t be complying.

After filling up in the blot on the landscape that constitutes Kokstad, I pointed the Subaru’s snout at the Transkei and floored it. A lot of people won’t drive through the province of the damned without a bag of phosphorous grenades and a brace of high-powered handguns. All I had was a short-handled Zulu stabbing spear. Yes, I know. Culturally insensitive considering I was on Xhosa turf, but I reckoned that wouldn’t be the chief complaint were I forced to use it. Anyway, missionaries came here in the 1800s and told the locals they’d burn in an invisible subterranean pit if they didn’t start covering up their willies and going to church. That’s way ruder than getting poked with a pointy stick, even if it was invented by a rival tribe.

I swarmed into my usual stop in Cintsa – a backpackers offering top end accommodation with bottom end service – threw my bags into my room and ran for the bar. Celebrations are called for after one has successfully negotiated the unholy trinity of Mthatha, Dutywa and Butterworth without having to deploy one’s short-handled stabbing spear.

A gaggle of gawky flatfooted slackpackers loped past en route to share lodgings and bodily fluids. Each carried half a litre of bottled water. Listen, tourists. Don’t come to our country and drink all our water. We need it to make beer.

The wifi doesn’t quite extend all the way to the bar because the modem is at reception, a good fifteen metres away. Wifi is like crack to backpackers. If this was Europe, there’d be a riot. Actually, there’d be nobody staying here. Sure, the view over the lagoon and ocean is spectacular, but if you can’t get wifi in the bar, it doesn’t matter if you’re looking at unicorns and mermaids fornicating beneath a perpetual waterfall of free money.

The following day I was, not for the first or even second time, sucked into the chaotic maw of King William’s Town. Desperate to escape its gravitational pull, I switched on Google Maps. A tiny woman living inside my cellphone started babbling about non-existent roundabouts, then directed me deep into the taxi rank where I became trapped in an electronic black hole. The taxi rank in King William’s Town is South Africa’s Bermuda Triangle. That’s where all our missing people are.

Later I drove through the longest stretch of roadworks since construction began on the Great Wall of China. It goes from before Grahamstown all the way to Port Elizabeth. I waited so long at a stop and go that I had to fetch a beer from my boot or risk perishing from thirst. The boot of my car. I don’t keep beers in my footwear.

It was a darkling sky by the time I reached Knysna and I checked in to a place with walls so thin I could hear my neighbour sighing heavily. To avoid overhearing a suicide, I drove down to the waterfront where I came across a copy of one of my books. At a bookshop, of all places. It was marked down to R40. I was so embarrassed that I bought it myself. Then I was so depressed that I went to a bar and ordered a double gin and tonic. It cost R40. Basically, I write so that I can afford alcohol. One book, one drink. What a time to be alive.

Soon enough I found myself in Cape Town flailing helplessly in the diabolical netherworld inhabited by estate agents. A world where the sands of reality shift treacherously beneath your feet and nothing is as it seems. Where double volume means you can stand upright and contemporary means it was built this century. Where cosy means you can cook, shower and defecate simultaneously. A world where a distant glimpse of the ocean adds another R5000 onto the already heinously rapacious rent.

I put my name down for a one-bedroom hovel in Fish Hoek’s avenues of the doomed. There were thirty names above mine. The application ran to a dozen pages requiring everything from six months’ of bank statements to three DNA samples and my grandmother’s birth certificate. Also, a R150 non-refundable fee for a preliminary credit check. I suggested the agent notify the owner that I am a Famous Writer, gambling that this would rocket me to the top of the list. The agent came back, saying the owner is indeed familiar with my writing and that I should definitely apply (and pay the R150). A week later the agent called and said the owner had chosen someone else. I suppose it’s possible that name-dropping myself actually worked against me, but I suspect the more likely scenario is that the agency is making a tidy amount from all the non-refundables everyone has to pay for their application to even be considered.

I was on the point of resigning myself to a few months in the Haven night shelter when Hestia, the virgin goddess of accommodation among other things, came through. A friend knew of a cottage in Kommetjie that might be available. It was. And it was cheap. Best of all, it’s one row back from the beach. It’s also set deep in the milkwoods and completely secluded, which means I can be murdered without any interruptions. It’s a bit like the cabin in which Henry David Thoreau wrote On Walden Pond. Then again, it’s also very much like the shack in which Ted Kaczynski wrote his Unabomber manifesto.

Perhaps I shall do my best work here. Not that you can call this work.


Crime me a river

Since I don’t have a heritage worth celebrating, I went to a braai on that recent public holiday. I don’t usually go to braais because I suffer from a borderline misanthropic disorder and can’t always be trusted to behave appropriately, but it was either that or start experimenting with crack.

Braais aren’t what they used to be. It could be a generational thing or it could be location-sensitive. It could also be organised religion up to its old killjoy ways. Put any six people around a braai these days and at least one of them will be offended if you happen to shout, “Jesus!” for any reason other than being spontaneously suffused with the glory of God. Even if your flaming sambuca has set your hair alight. With these people, it’s either epiphany or damnation.

Braais used to be things you went to so you could relax. I have been to braais so relaxed that it would be way past midnight before anyone remembered to light the fire. By then the shops would be shut so the person delegated to buy the meat was also unable to meet his obligations. Many of our braais simply turned into fires, some of which burned out of control for days. Our braais were an opportunity for friends to let their hair down. Or dye it purple. Or shave it into a mohawk. The women weren’t in the kitchen making salads. They were staggering about the garden chucking tequila down their throats and laughing like dugongs. The children, bless their little hearts, were kept busy rolling joints for the grown-ups. It all worked very well.

This braai I went to was attended (in the old days it would have been invaded) by your common-or-garden SABS-approved types. Creative accountants, financial advisors who lie for a living, paunchy tax evaders laughing the loudest, estate agents with blood on their teeth, doctors milking the medical aid system, sweaty divorce lawyers fresh from bayoneting the wounded. You know the kind.

Once the chops are down, the talk turns to crime. Or rugby. Same thing, really. As far as I’m concerned, rugby is a crime. “Ja ay, speaking of the Boks getting robbed, I know this oke down the road that got hit by a bunch of them who cleaned his house out and then sommer ironed his face.” The stories get wilder. It turns into a game of oneupmanship. Everyone shakes their heads and mutters darkly. I take the gap. “That’s nothing,” I shout. “A dingo ate my baby!” It was the wrong moment to lose my balance and almost knock the braai over, but I think my point was made.

The fire appeared to be dying to I began throwing bits of scrunched-up newspaper onto the coals. Those who take their braais seriously rate this kind of behaviour up there with cross-dressing. Rather than getting a fork through the throat, I wandered off to sit with the dog and read what little remained of the newspaper. It was an obscure community paper, a mine of useless information swaddled in lashings of sunshine journalism. A bit like the SABC, really, but almost certainly edited by someone considerably less berserk than Field Marshall Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

Under the headline, “Safety in Durban North”, residents shared their views on the darkie problem. They don’t call it that, of course. They call it the crime problem. It’s a delightful euphemism that helps keep accusations of racism at bay.

Here’s a good one. “I feel unsafe knowing KwaMashu, the crime capital of South Africa, is on our doorstep.” I imagine her, sitting at her William IV mahogany writing table in her grim house dress and sensible shoes, dashing off one outraged letter after another in the hope that someone will take notice and move KwaMashu a little further to the north.

Madam, I do not know your name, but I shall call you Maude. It rhymes with bored. Which, I assume, is what you have been ever since your husband left you for someone who didn’t hear intruders in the house seventeen times a night.

If you are looking for someone to blame, Maude, which I expect you are, then may I suggest you follow the lead of our president and blame apartheid? Prior to 1958, a not-inconsiderable number of Africans lived in Cato Manor, a safe distance from your chastely decorated faux Tudor sanctuary.

When South Africa’s first gay president, the arch-liberal Hendrik Verwoerd, came to power, he heard about the plight of these people and created an entirely new town for them. He called it KwaMashu – Place of Indescribable Beauty. In a speech he made at home on a Saturday afternoon before going across the road to watch an international rugby match between Transvaal and the Orange Free State, he said all Africans deserved their place in the sun. Now, thanks to fifty years of deforestation, they have it.

Hold on. Where is this information coming from? Wikipedia has a completely different version. They claim the township’s name means Place of Marshall, in honour of Sir Marshall Campbell. An English settler, he was partly responsible for covering most of Durban’s hills with filthy sugar cane.

We also have him to thank for introducing rickshaws to Durban. Without having a black man to pull me around, I would never have gone anywhere as a child. Then, in 1915, he received a knighthood for services to the country. It doesn’t say which country.

Sorry, Maude. Got a bit carried away there. That was a rickshaw joke, in case you didn’t get it. So. What are we going to do about your problem, then? Either we move KwaMashu or we move your doorstep. I imagine you aren’t keen to move, and rightly so. I have no doubt you were living in your house long before the Nguni-speaking upstarts swarmed into the area two thousand years ago.

I am offering to spend the next couple of days driving through KwaMashu with a loudhailer fitted to my roof informing half a million people that Maude of Durban North has requested they disperse in an orderly fashion to a place that is nowhere near her home. These people will listen to me, Maude. I am known in these parts as the Zulu whisperer. Zulus are shouters. When you whisper they become confused and follow you, if only to find out what the hell it is you’re saying.

If all goes well, Maude, you will be able to safely leave your house by the end of the year. Just imagine – Christmas lunch next to the pool instead of in the panic room.

Someone else wrote, “I can’t even pop to the shop to buy bread without worrying if we are going to be caught in a robbery. What is happening? It’s like the devil has discovered Durban all of a sudden.” Don’t be ridiculous. The devil discovered Durban a long time ago. Why do you think it’s so damnably hot? And have you seen the Warwick Triangle on a Friday afternoon? If that isn’t hell, I don’t know what is.

Someone else wrote: “They aren’t scared of dogs either!” What? This is bad news. “They” have always suffered from cynophobia. Dogs were our last line of defence. Now what do we do? I’ve got it. I bet “they” are still scared of water. Dig moats, people! Dig for your lives!

Here’s another: “I really wish shoot-to-kill can be reinstated in SA. That way criminals are being eliminated, not just being thrown in jail for a day or two.” Someone needs to tell this concerned citizen that the government’s shoot-to-kill policy was never repealed. Also, that it was never policy in the first place, but more the demented yearnings of a frustrated property mogul with a penchant for Panama hats and powerful weapons.

And another: “Hijackings, robberies, house-breakings … it just seems to be happening to everyone we know.” Do you know what your problem is? You know too many people. Look at Thabo Mbeki. In 2003, he could stand up and honestly say he didn’t know anyone who had died of Aids. If you have no friends, nothing terrible can happen to them because they don’t exist. Give it a try. It works for me.

Swallow or spitting mad?

People who migrate to foreign climes to avoid winter in their home country are known as swallows. I am more of an eagle than a swallow. I don’t migrate so much as swoop in and take occupation. Like Hitler, without the moustache, uniform, harsh guttural tongue and hatred for Jews and gypsies. Nothing like Hitler, then. It was the eagle image that set me off. Perhaps I should have a tequila to calm down.

That’s better.

My plan to decamp from Durban to Cape Town for the summer has nothing to do with wanting to spend time in a city with clean streets, enforced bylaws and an almost complete absence of Indians and Zulus. That would be Eurocentric and racist and an almost certain career killer. Not that you can call this a career.

One of the reasons I’m heading south is because right outside my bedroom window a pair of hadedas have set up whatever it is these antichrists of the avian world live in. All hadedas get up early, probably because they stop drinking at a reasonable hour, but then, after waking everyone within an 800m radius, they generally take off and head for the wealthier suburbs to stab children in the eyes and suck their brains out. That’s where hadedas get their power from. So if one of your children is acting stupider than usual, you should know that a hadeda has got to him. They prefer boy children because girls’ brains tend to be on the acerbic side.

My hadedas are different. They start shouting at first light, sometimes earlier if one of them has had a bad dream. First light in Durban is ridiculously early. Like 4.45am. I can’t be sure because I keep throwing the alarm clock into the tree. Not the same clock, obviously. I live in a security complex with a body corporate trained by the Gestapo and I can’t afford to be found on my hands and knees beneath the mango tree in a pre-dawn raid by (name omitted).

“Who are you? Hande hoch!”

“Don’t shoot! I’m looking for my alarm clock.”

So I buy a new alarm clock each time. It’s costing me a fortune. I should probably throw something else. Fragmentation grenades would be ideal.

Unlike most hadedas, mine don’t fly off after first cry. In fact, they don’t fly off at all. Ever. I think they operate as some sort of navigational beacon for their brethren who do fly.


Hadedas passing by: “We know we’re passing Westbrook. We’ve been doing this for years. One of us should tell those idiots.” But because hadedas are morons, the message never gets passed on.

I am currently in Cape Town. I flew here to not only get away from the hadedas, but also to escape the tilers. A year ago I replaced a few square metres of tiles. The chaos was unimaginable. The shouting, the banging, the drinking, the half-naked women. It was too terrible. Now I have had to have the entire place redone professionally and I couldn’t bear to be in the vicinity of so much manual labour. The other reason I’m here is to find a place for the summer.

You might think it would be a simple matter to rent something in Cape Town for six months, but you’d be wrong. The city isn’t what it used to be. There was a time you could arrive at any time of year and stay for as long as you wanted for virtually nothing at all. But things have changed since Jan van Riebeeck sailed into Table Bay. The good news is that you can still negotiate a pretty good deal for two bottles of whisky and a bag of salt. Not property, obviously. But certainly an hour or two with one of Muizenberg’s finest, for sure. Or so I’ve heard.

I’m writing this on Wednesday. I should probably spell it out for some of you. I’m talking about last Wednesday, not next. I am not a time traveller. I’m just a guy standing in front of a waiter, asking him to bring me another beer.

I’m at Fisherman’s, one of only three bars in the deep south enclave of Kommetjie. The temperature has plummeted to minus seventeen and I’m wondering if I am not jumping the gun insofar as my eagling plans are concerned. I’m quite possibly the only person in the province who goes out at night wearing slops instead of fur-lined boots. I have Durban written all over me.

It’s 7.15pm and a kid in a wetsuit carrying a surfboard and dripping arctic water just walked past the bar. If you saw a surfer in Durban on the street at this time of night, he’d be carrying his kidneys and dripping blood.

I have now moved from Fisherman’s down the road to a bar called the Green Room. It’s 300m closer to Durban and feels much warmer.

My attempts to secure a summer lease in the deep south are not going well. The spirit of Gordon Gekko is strong. Greed is good. Not for me, though. Or for anyone trying to rent in these parts. For this, I blame the Germans. Just to be clear, when I say Germans I mean any white person who lives outside Africa.

They come here with their dollars and euros and pounds and buy up entire suburbs. I don’t have a problem with this. But instead of renting these properties out, they put them on Airbnb to gouge maximum dinero from the swallows, eagles and whatever well-heeled pilgrims might wander into their web. Now, for the first time, I understand why Berlin banned Airbnb from operating in the city. It shuts it down for people who want to rent for longer than a dirty weekend.

I’ve been here for almost two weeks and I still haven’t found anything. Not because I’m fussy. There are a handful of places available outside Airbnb, but I’m not convinced that R10 000 a month for a granny flat with a view of a Vibracrete wall, if not the actual granny herself, is worth it.

Airbnb has all but destroyed the rental market for students, young lovers wishing to cohabit against their parents’ wishes and itinerant freelance journalists of a certain age. This is nothing short of a travesty.

Aside from escaping the hadedas and the insufferable summer, I also have to get out of my home in Durban because I’ve, er, listed it on Airbnb and there are people coming to stay.

That’s right. We all need to stop kicking against the pricks and subscribe to our government’s new motto, “If you can’t beat them, fleece them.”


Twisted Koeksuster

The loss of life today has been quite spectacular, even by our standards.

Thousands of pigs, sheep, goats, cows and chickens fought among themselves for the honour of being the first to lay down their lives so that South Africans could celebrate National Braai Day in true style.

So far, the day has been a resounding success. Gutters ran red with blood, dogs ran wild with bones and paramedics ran themselves ragged tending to the usual braai-related assaults, rapes and homicides.

The Bad Yellow-Eyed Woman wanted to do something to celebrate Heritage Day. Quite frankly, I couldn’t see the point. “We’re white,” I said. “We don’t have a heritage.” We did, on the other hand, have plenty of meat. It made far more sense to celebrate Braai Day.

We arranged to meet friends down at the beach where we could fall down without worrying about concussing ourselves. This is always one of the biggest hazards facing those who choose to celebrate Braai Day instead of Heritage Day.

Encamped on the beach, we had just finished our first case of Tafel lager and were wrestling a second kudu haunch onto the grid when we were forced to take up braai forks and fend off a pack of hungry darkies. Look, I’m all for unifying the nation and whatnot, but there are limits.

Engorged with dead animal and thoroughly beerlogged, we returned home to celebrate Heritage Day like the decent god-fearing patriots that we are. Heritage Day is a relatively new addition to the public holiday calendar. Prior to 1994, it was known as Right of Admission Reserved Day.

We agreed that the country has a fascinating array of indigenous fauna, all of which go well with one or other of the many indigenous sauces available in supermarkets everywhere.

Our flora, too, is not to be sneezed at. Unless, of course, you suffer from seasonal allergic rhinitis, in which case you have no business living here.

Look at our national flower, the giant protea. Actually, I can’t look at it for too long because I find it hostile and ugly. To be honest, I would rather look at roadkill.

Fynbos is unique to the Cape Floral Kingdom and you will be fined if you pick it. Cannabis sativa is unique to KwaZulu-Natal and you will be arrested if you smoke it. That’s diversity for you.

The central image on our coat of arms is a secretary bird, a graceful creature known for launching random attacks on unsuspecting tourists. It specialises in pinning people to the ground and pecking their eyes out.

Canada’s national bird is the Common Loon. A bit like our minister of mineral resources, really.

The motto on our coat of arms is !ke e:/xarra//ke. Nobody outside of the /Xam tribe knows what it means. Most South Africans think it’s computer code.

When it comes to the national animal, we have the springbok. France has some sort of chicken. Our rugby team is also called the Springboks. The French once accused them of playing like animals. This made us feel tremendously proud.

Our national fish is the galjoen. Like most hard-drinking South Africans, the galjoen is regarded as a creature that will fight to the death. Cooked over an open fire, however, galjoen tastes a lot better than the national drunk.

A few years ago I was expecting to receive one of the national orders that President Mbeki handed out with gay abandon. Unbelievably, I was passed over. Instead, Morné du Plessis got one. So did Roland Schoeman. And Schalk Pienaar.

If you’re white you have to be Afrikaans to get any kind of recognition in this country. As English-speakers, we are doomed. Even though our forefathers invented gin and tonic, lap dancing, airbags, the cat flap, shrapnel and the rubber band, nobody around here seems to care.

Oh, now I get it. Of course. It’s far more important to reward a people who came up with jukskei, witblits, the Voortrekker Monument, the G6 artillery gun and a racial superiority complex so twisted that it makes their koeksisters look straight.

An open letter to Pastor Steven L Anderson

Dear Pastor

On behalf of all red-blooded, right-thinking heterosexual South African men, I would like to apologise for the appalling treatment meted out to you by the limp-wristed, cocktail-sucking pillow-biters in our government.

You were meant to arrive today – a day declared holy by God after he spent six days working his all-powerful arse off making the universe. And this is the thanks you get? How very dare they ban you from entering our country? You are a man of the cloth. You should be allowed to enter anything you like. Well, when I say anything, I obviously exclude certain categories. Just so there is no misunderstanding, I’m talking about leather-pantsed, Latex-rubbered men with lisps and whips.

Quite frankly, I was surprised our government even had time to get involved in this matter. As you may know, the entire executive has been tasked with the full-time job of protecting our president from prosecution and bankruptcy. Between you and me, I don’t give a damn how corrupt or dysfunctional he is. The important thing is that when he goes home at the end of the day, it’s not to a man wearing nothing but fishnet stockings and Manolo Blahnik stilettos, swivelling his girly hips to Born This Way, an anthem of blasphemy performed by a fallen Jezebel by the name of Lady Gaga.

When Jacob goes home, he has to put on gumboots to wade through raging torrents of oestrogen being secreted by his multitude of wives. What I’m saying is that you shouldn’t write us off just because of one man with a predilection for gold braid and pilot caps. Trust me when I say you won’t find a more butch president than ours. I thought maybe Vladimir Putin could give him a run for his money, but the Russian has a disturbing penchant for whipping off his shirt and mounting the nearest animal. I think it’s fair to say that our President Zuma loves women more than he loves … I was going to say money, but that would be a lie. More than he loves governing, let’s say.

In 2006, when he was deputy president, Big Z told a crowd attending Heritage Day celebrations in KwaZulu-Natal, “When I was growing up, unqingili (homosexuals) could not stand in front of me.” This was followed by an outbreak of stamping and flouncing and demands for a retraction. Well, not really an outbreak. There were complaints. As you’re undoubtedly aware, “retraction” is a term frequently bandied about in the homosexual community. I don’t know what it means. Nor does our president. It’s probably part of the secret code gays use to fool us normals.

Our so-called Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba, is obviously a closet homo. Why else would he ban you from visiting South Africa? Just because you believe homosexuality should be punished by death, that women who use contraception are whores, that abortion is a sin, that the Holocaust is a scam, that Islam is evil, that the Jewish Messiah is the Antichrist, that the unsaved will be consigned to eternal torment in hell, that Barack Obama deserves to die, that … I’m running out of space. Just because of this? Please. You’ve never even said that second-born girl children should be slaughtered. Or that people with disabilities should be drowned. You’re almost a liberal where I come from.

You said Gigaba was “damned” for standing with the “sodomites”. To be clear, it’s not so much the standing with them that unleashes the wild beast in these perverts. It’s the shirtless dancing and, later, the trouserless lying down. And sometimes the being roughly taken from behind on the balcony by a man wearing a nun’s habit, a titanium dog collar and a studded cock ring. Or so I’ve heard.

Gigaba said you were an undesirable person for “practising racial hatred”. That’s ridiculous. God-fearing folk like us don’t need to practice racial hatred. It comes naturally. I’m sure your 150-strong congregation at the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona, have had all kinds of hatred down pat for generations. That’s the beauty of in-breeding.

Our government, by the way, also considers the Dalai Lama to be an undesirable person, but that’s because he wears a dress and preaches peace and love and other hippy filth.

After you were grounded by our government, you called South Africa “a den of iniquity” and a “demonic stronghold”. I have to correct you here. You’re describing Cape Town. The rest of the country is filled with brethren smiting the scoffers and mockers with an abundance of righteous violence. O yea. Huzzah to the highest.

As you pointed out, there has been much wickedness in South Africa during its history. “It’s like the devil has a hold on that place. And don’t try to make it about this race or that race or this nation or that nation.” Nicely put, sir. This places the blame for colonialism, apartheid and overgrazing squarely on the shoulders of the devil himself. Or, dare I say, herself. There’s a reason devil worshipping and wooing women are so very similar in methods and outcomes. And yet women are not devils. We love women and hate the devil. Do I have this right? But what if the devil really is female? This could explain and, I hesitate to say, justify why so many men are becoming homosexuals. I’m very confused. I do hope this doesn’t signal the early onset of gayness.

I need clarity on something so that my hatred may be fully focused. You say that all GTBQLI people are “sodomites”. Are you certain about this? I can’t be sure, but I don’t think lesbians, for instance, are all that crazy about action in the botty area. As for intersex people, I’m not sure they even have botties. Either that or they have several. Can you send me some pictures? You must have a few lying around at home for research purposes.

You issued an angry message on Tuesday informing the free world that you’d been banned from not only South Africa, but the United Kingdom too. What irony. Britain is the original home of the deviant. Cabinet ministers are regularly found late at night in the parks and commons on hands and knees dressed as fairies and elves, snorting magic mushrooms and having their prostates checked by hirsute men with tattoos and bad attitudes. The nation is ruled by a queen, for heaven’s sake. Can you get more bent than that?

The quote you fired at the two aberrant countries was well chosen. “And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean; from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.”

I know what you mean. I have shaken my raiment many times, and even sometimes had it shaken for me, and have almost always gone unto the Gentiles, usually just for a wee but sometimes a shower, depending on the state of my raiment.

You also complained that the Christians in South Africa did not defend you and that you wouldn’t be surprised if you were unable to win any souls here. That’s our Christians for you. Bunch of backsliders who would rather get drunk and watch rugby than spread the word of King James. I’m not talking about King James the advertising agency. People who work in advertising serve the Dark Lord and should be set alight and thrown into a burning pit full of burning vipers along with the homosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals, sodomites, catamites, chilibites, Muslims, abortionists and the French.

Your message ended, “I feel sorry for people who live in South Africa, but thank God we still have a wide open door in Botswana. Stand by for reports of multitudes saved in Botswana, where religious freedom still exists.” I’m not altogether convinced that the multitudes in Botswana want to be saved. But if they do, my advice is to give them a bit of the old dimethyltryptamine before the sermon. You’ll have them eating out of the palm of your hand. Some of them may even try to eat the palm of your hand. Don’t worry. It’s an African thing.

See you at the Rapture.