Month: September 2012

An Open Letter to Julius Malema – Washer-in-Chief of Filthy Lucre

Dear Julius,

What’s happening, old boy? Seems as if you have landed yourself in another frightful mess. The hounds of hell are hot on your heels and you don’t appear to be in any shape to outrun them.

These charges, to even the most indolent of observers, are a travesty. Do you know what is a travesty? Of course you don’t. And why should you? There is no word in Pedi for travesty. Let me give you an example of a travesty – President Zuma getting invited to be part of a United Nations initiative on education.

Still, I suppose it’s marginally less ironic than him being part of an initiative on the importance of vasectomies in developing countries.

Speaking of which, if I were you I would keep your legendary Limpopo lizard well-sheathed for now. There is talk of them putting you away for a thousand years and it wouldn’t be right to have a herd of pregnant groupies skulking about the prison gates in the hope of getting a fistful of taxi fare flung through the bars of the top window in the A block.

You must have been awfully disappointed when the court released you on R10-thousand rand bail. Back in the day, a man was judged by the size of his penis. Now, his worth is measured according to the size of his bail. Larceny, my fat little friend, has never been more grand. Go big or go home.

We, and I speak for the few South Africans who have not yet been jailed, are growing bored with petty crime and paltry punishments. If our politicians are incapable of thinking ambitiously, then we should at least be able to rely on our miscreants and rogues to impress us.

Your business partner, referred to in professional circles as your co-accused, was given R40-thousand rand bail. In one foul swoop, Selbie Manthatha became Al Capone and you were relegated to goon status. Julius “Lamb Chop” Malema.

A terrible miscarriage of justice has been perpetrated. I am appalled that your lawyer did not insist on bail being set at a higher amount. Fire him at once.

Hang on. If I am not mistaken, your lawyer is in fact a she. One Nicqui Galaktiou, if I recall. No wonder your bail was so low. Women are bargainers by nature. They are hagglers and whores and will stop at nothing to reduce a man’s worth to the lowest possible price. We are like shoes in their eyes.

I am talking metaphorically, Julius. Please do not go around saying I told you that women like shoes in their eyes.

By the way, who advised you to hire a Greek lawyer – Jacob Zuma? Have you seen what these people did to their economy? Souvlaki, they know. Money, not so much. On the other foot, she’s pretty damn hot for a lawyer. She could handle my defence any day.

It’s a pity, though, that you didn’t come to me first. I would have had you off the hook by now. My training as a journalist enables me to think like a civil servant, drink like a thief and lie like a lawyer.

There’s nobody at the courtroom door checking degrees. I could walk right into the Polokwane Regional Court wearing my black coat and sunglasses and represent you without a murmur from the bench. In Polokwane, you’d be lucky to get a murmur from the bench under any circumstances.

From what I’ve heard, half the provincial judiciary has a holiday home in Premier Cassel Mathale’s back pocket. This is just a rumour, mind you. Don’t go around repeating it or we’ll both end up downstairs being buggered by a fighting general in the 28s.

Well done on arriving at court in the same big black BMW that the prosecution says was bought with dirty money. Well, dirty before you had it cleaned, anyway. It shows you have panache and style. It also shows you have three functioning brain cells. If you had arrived on a donkey cart, the court would have taken this as a gesture of solidarity with the poor and released you immediately.

You must be very disappointed in the Hawks. After threatening you with grown-up charges like fraud and corruption, all they could hit you with was money laundering. Is that even a crime in this country? I do it myself now and again.

After a long, hard night in the company of Mr Jack Daniels and Mrs Palmer’s five daughters, I ram my sticky jeans into the laundromat’s washing machine and regularly lose a couple of hundred bucks before the spin cycle is over.

I lose money and you make money. I work for the Sunday Times and you’re on television. You’re black and I’m white. I don’t know why God is punishing me, but there it is and there’s nothing I can do about it.

And why are you way down in the cheap seats in the dock? Accused number 10. R10-thousand bail. IQ of 10. There’s some bad juju going on here. Somebody in the prosecution is a tokoloshe. Get your men to find him and burn him. Inside the court, preferably. Lessons need to be learnt.

Listen to me now. Here’s how you get out of this.

While the sultry Ms Galaktiou is giving her closing statements and the magistrate is incapacitated with lust, get your people in the Limpopo roads and transport department to grant a tender to On-Point Engineers to build a highway through the courtroom. Then get your grandmother to send a runner with a cleft stick, or, if you prefer, a cleft palate, to Gwama Properties to put Polokwane up for sale. The Ratanang Family Trust then puts in a cheeky offer and in under twenty minutes, the city is yours. Segwalo Consulting Engineers supervises the demolition of Polokwane, allowing everyone except the prosecution and the media to escape. Selby Construction rebuilds the city, surrounds it with moats and minefields and unilaterally declares independence. The People’s Republic of Malemania creates a powerful army over a long weekend. Led by your five-year-old son, the army succeeds in smashing down the barriers. It doesn’t matter which ones. There are so many in that province.

By the time your army has negotiated Limpopop’s four million stop/go roadworks, Helen Zille will be president and she will be waiting to embrace you because embracing darkies is what she does best. I expect you will be needing a hug after all this is over. My advice is that you take it.

I enjoyed your speech outside the court on Wednesday, even if it did lack the usual rabid extemporisation we have come to know and love. I especially enjoyed your, “I have nothing to hide. I have never been part of any criminal activity. What you see is what you get.” It was positively Shakespearian, if not Selebian.

Speaking of which, it’s never too early to start dropping a few hints about the state of your kidneys. No, wait. Jackie Selebi claimed that one. Hypertension, maybe? Nope, that’s what Schabir Shaik used. How about early Alzheimer’s? That way you can pretend to remember nothing, behave like a child, get a medical parole and a cabinet position when Zuma gets mangaunged in December.

My advice is to continue referring to yourself in the third person. At worst you can plead insanity. At best it will confuse the prosecutors when they try to indict you on fresh charges. As they will, if you don’t shut the fuck up.

Anyone For Chemo And A Nice Cup Of Tea?

I lost my mother a few days ago. Not in the way that you might lose your car keys. Keys can be replaced. Mother’s hardly ever.

It all started several months ago when she developed a cough. Our family doctor, who must be 104 years old, gave her cough mixture. Later, when she complained of chest pains, he gave her a modern miracle drug he’d just come across. Panado, I think it was. Then she started coughing up blood. “How much?” he demanded to know. “A cup full? A bucket?”

A few weeks later, my father suggested she saw someone other than a geriatric GP who spent most of the time complaining about his own ailments.

Her consultations went something like this: “Please sit down. How are you? I’ve got this terrible pain in my knee that just won’t … would you mind not spitting blood onto my carpet? Thank you. As I was saying …”

So she went off to see a man who took some X-rays, told her she had six months to live and suggested an around-the-world cruise rather than chemotherapy. Not being married to Richard Branson, my mother went to another specialist who scoffed at the first specialist, saying: “What does he know? He’s a cutter.” What? You mean this is his part-time job and he actually works for the municipality trimming verges along the M4?

Not quite. He’s a surgeon. For some reason, doctors who aren’t surgeons look down on those who are. Jealousy, I suppose. After all, what red-blooded South African man doesn’t long for a sharp knife and a couple of hours alone with an unconscious woman?

Oncologists look down on everyone because they are fabulously wealthy and also because they get to play with lots and lots of human guinea pigs who eventually stop bothering them because they are too weak to pick up the phone and make another appointment.

House calls? Please. I have no idea what you’re talking about. James? Bring the Jag around to the front and get these weeping peasants out of my office. They’re upsetting the angelfish.

Thanks to the tobacco industry, red meat and deadline stress, oncologists are able to afford offices the size of Khulubuse Zuma’s breakfast nook. Which, in case you didn’t know, is the size of a tennis court.

Oncologists would rather their patients didn’t take a cruise around the world. At least not before signing up for one of their once-in-a-lifetime chemo courses at just R40-thousand a day. Free tea and biscuits included! If lines are busy, call later! But do call!

By the time my mother’s hair fell out, the medical aid was squealing like a stuck pig and the tumour in her lung had shrunk to the size of a grape. I don’t know how big it was to start with. If you ask the family doctor, he’d probably say: “Oh, I don’t know, the size of a hippo? Did I tell you about my leg?”

Then the oncologist, giving us the full benefit of his dazzling smile (no extra cost), suggested she went for radiation. The tumour loved the radiation. It got big and fat off it. Radiation causes cancer, so let’s give cancer patients radiation. I’m missing something, here. An enormous salary and perfect teeth, for a start.

Her tumour was inoperable because she also had emphysema. And why shouldn’t she? After all, she came from an era when they made cigarettes that were good for you. Better than fruit. Yum yum. Got a light?

I had already uprooted the family – if you can call Brenda and two dogs a family – and moved from Cape Town to Durban so I could help out and spend time with my mother. I bought her a wheelchair when she began struggling to walk and forged a disabled sign so we could get the best parking, even when she wasn’t in the car.

Not being a fan of country music, Brenda had apparently never listened to the song, Stand By Your Man. After a while, she packed the dogs and disappeared two weeks before the grand finale.

I suspect all cancer patients ultimately face their fate with extraordinary courage and fortitude. But not all face it with the same degree of acceptance. Some go quietly. Others, like my mother, rage, rage against the dying of the light. Even after she slipped into incoherence, she was still shouting at us. I shouted back, trying to get her to take her medication. Then my sister would shout at me and my father would shout at her. It was like my childhood. Lots of shouting and nobody making any sense at all. The only difference being that I was too big for anyone to hit me.

A hospice nurse dropped off a bottle of morphine. I insisted on trying it in case it was poisoned but my father slipped the bottle into his pocket and gave me the lazy eye.

My mother died in her bed, but I wasn’t there. I was down the road at a strip club playing pool with three lesbians from a local biker gang. Maybe I was, maybe I wasn’t. It doesn’t really matter. When I left the house two hours earlier, she was already in a coma. I said my goodbyes while she was still breathing.

The crematorium was fun. To get there, we had to negotiate a part of the city that makes Cormac McCarthy’s The Road look like Disneyland. Hesitantly, we walked into what they call a chapel. Not a sound. No one around. Just rows of cheap blue office chairs facing a low stage. A curtain twitched and a coffin glided into the room.

A monochrome man appeared from nowhere. “Is that one ours?” asked my father, perhaps expecting more coffins to start appearing and a sudden rush of people claiming them as if it were the baggage carousel at OR Tambo International Airport after a suicide bombing in Kabul.

The ghoul nodded, unscrewed the coffin lid and went to stand a few metres away, watching us in case we stole something.

My father recited a Hindu prayer because he doesn’t know any Christian ones. Then I kissed my mother on her ice-cold forehead and walked out into the sunshine.

Hamba kahle, Ma.



Dr Piazza’s School Of Conflict Resolution

I like Facebook. It’s full of cuddly animals, happy families and squirrelly sociopaths. Amidst this foul repository of inexcusable spelling errors and grammatical atrocities committed by people who received a superior education at the expense of the great unwashed and consequently have no excuse for their reckless abuse of the English language, one occasionally comes across a character interesting enough to warrant further investigation.

Dr Ignatius Piazza is among them. His name popped up on the newsfeed, presumably posted by someone who follows me. Much like Jesus, I am followed by some of the most rabidly disturbed people imaginable.

At first glance, it sounds as if he could be a gynaecologist from Rome. Or perhaps further south. Calabria, maybe. Dr Piazza will see you now, signorina. Grazie.

If not a gynaecologist, then an architect. The last in a long line of Piazzas who designed public squares across Italy. Or perhaps he is a venerable member of Sicilian society. While Dr Piazza is no longer with the Cosa Nostra, his opinion is highly valued by the next generation of mafioso.

In reality, if there is such a thing on Facebook, Dr Piazza is the founder and director of Front Sight Resorts. Excellent. A real estate company dealing in properties with sweeping sea views. I clicked on the link to his website, thinking I might put in a cheeky offer on something nice in the Bahamas. Not too close to where the locals live, obviously, but certainly close enough to score cheap weed.

His page popped up and right away he began talking to me. There was no mention of fabulous homes with ocean frontage. Instead, he said: “Welcome to Front Sight. Your firearms training starts right here.”

What? Wait! Where’s my gun? Brenda, where the hell is my gun? You’re kidding. This is no good at all. Apparently I don’t even own a gun. What the hell kind of South African am I? Being hopelessly unprepared for Dr Piazza’s training session, I did what all unarmed men do in times of crisis. I slipped my hand down my tracksuit pants and gripped my willy. I blame the SA Defence Force for this. Back in the good old days when older men gave teenagers automatic weapons and the freedom to kill strangers, we would be punished if we called our rifle a gun. We would have to stand in front of the rest of the troop, drop our brown trousers and giant Santa Maria undies, and chant: “This is my rifle, this is my gun, this is for fighting (hold up rifle), this is for fun (point at willy).”

This is all I remember from two years in the army. Everything else was in Afrikaans, which was little more than gibberish to an 18-year-old from Durban. To this day I don’t know who the enemy was. He could walk up to me right now and I wouldn’t recognise him. Just a minute. Fill it up, please. Unleaded. Hey, I like your Swapo T-shirt! Were you part of the group? I heard you guys put on a great show at Covent Garden in the ’80s. Do you still dance?

So. Dr Piazza. Not so much property as weapons. He runs a “firearms training institute near Las Vegas”. The only thing near Las Vegas is the Mojave Desert, which contains more dismembered corpses than the Maitland Cemetery.

Still and all. If you are going to carry a piece of metal capable of exploding someone’s head using little more than a squint and a twitch of your index finger, it’s not a bad idea to get some training. Squinting can make your face unsightly if you don’t know how to do it properly. And then nobody will want to have sex with you. On the other hand, you do have a gun …

Dr Piazza, who I imagine has his PhD in humanitarian studies, posts videos lifted from security cameras. The one I saw involved four burly white men standing inside the lobby of a building somewhere in America. They had just returned from a night on the town. If it were four white South African men caught on CCTV in the early hours of the morning, they would be flashing their bottoms at the camera, vomiting down their shirts and playfully punching one another in the face. These guys were standing around chatting – right up until a scraggly black dude knocks on the glass door. One of the whiteys lets him in. The dude pulls a pistol out of his pocket and points it at them. You can’t hear what he is saying, but it’s probably something along the lines of: “Which one of you dumb motherfuckers stole my future? I want it back right now. Y’hear?”

The fratboy on the left suddenly tries to disarm the gunman. The other three pile in but nobody can get the weapon away from him. It’s four against one, but this dude was raised on blows to the head. As a kid, his stepdad would whack him upside the nut before school. He called it his breakfast punch. So he shoots two of the white boys and runs off into the night.

Like any doctor worth his degree, Dr Piazza says there are lessons to be learnt from this. He tells us about the Survival Triad. The Combat Mindset. Skill. Action. Nothing about not opening the door at 3am to an unidentified darkie with luminous red eyes and a Snoop doggish demeanour.

First, he says, you must have “the mental willingness to inflict incapacitating damage to your opponent through overwhelming violence with no regard for your opponent’s well-being”.

Second, you must have the ability to use “tools of defense to inflict immediate damage to your opponent”.

Third, you must move decisively to incapacitate your opponent and not stop “until he is vanquished”.

What worries me here is his use of the word “vanquished”. It’s Middle English with French and Latin roots and was last heard at the Battle of Bannockburn when Robert the Bruce whipped Edward II’s ass and secured Scottish independence. It was heard a few years later at the Battle of Neville’s Cross, when the English whipped King David Bruce’s ass. I don’t know if he was related to Robert. Feel free to look it up.

My point is, vanquished is not a word that should be used in polite company these days. Then I saw a photograph of Dr Piazza. He is Freddie Mercury, had Freddie ever bothered to use a condom. The moustache is pure gay biker bar, which is fine. Some of my best male friends like nothing more than riding powerful motorcycles into the hills and having wild animal sex with one another before pulling out their guns and killing themselves.

Dr Piazza is disappointed. Although the four citizens had the Combat Mindset and demonstrated Action, they lacked Skill.

As a result … the fourth citizen who is hitting the armed criminal with the effectiveness of a junior high school girl ends up paying for his lack of skill with his life.”

Dr Piazza says this is unfortunate because these citizens “did what was right”. Out here in South Africa, where there is no violent crime at all, the experts advise us not to fight back. This doesn’t seem to be an option at Dr Piazza’s institute.

He says the citizens should rather have “used a thumb to gouge out an eye of the gunman, or smashed the lateral aspect of the gunman’s knee with a forceful kick, or crushed his windpipe with a directed punch”.

Or, I suppose, they could have handed over their wallets and not been shot at all. Or maybe invited him upstairs for a bit of racial bonding and a drink. And then gouged his eyes out.

The good doctor says the situation would have had a dramatically different outcome if even one of the citizens had been trained by Front Sight.

For a start, your “persona” is changed dramatically after spending time in Dr Piazza’s hands. I bet it is. He says your newly acquired “quiet confidence” will be sensed and “criminals will leave you alone and attack someone else”.

This is a far happier scenario. As a loyal Christian, I consider myself to be my brother’s keeper. But when it comes to taking a bullet, rather him than me any day. So I’m signing up.

I’m just a bit worried that our local criminals might lack the ability to pick up on my quiet confidence. Perhaps they could go for sensitivity training. This is something Dr Piazza might want to consider offering. Maybe slot it in between the Uzi submachine gun and the tactical shotgun courses.

An Open Letter to King Goodwill Zwelithini

Howzit Comrade King,

I hope you don’t mind the informality. I am the king of the white people and feel that, as equals, it wouldn’t be right for me to come across all fawning and obsequious. That’s the kind of behaviour we expect from our loyal subjects, do we not? Well, when I say loyal, I’m largely referring to the Zulus. My subjects are a bunch of capricious ingrates who would sooner bugger off to Perth than approach me on their knees.

Well done on trying to squeeze the KZN treasury for another R18-million. It’s outrageous that the Royal Household is expected to get by on a mere R62-million a year. I spend that kind of money in a month. And that’s just on beer.

Your chief financial officer (I must get myself one) says you will need at least another R12-million to build a new home in Nongoma. I gather your current residence in Osuthu is little more than a bunch of huts. This kind of thing is fine for your subjects, but as their king you certainly deserve something more lavish. Thatch is all very well, but it doesn’t exactly glitter in the morning sun, does it? You need chrome and glass for that.

I like your idea of building a modern palace behind your traditional palace. Get Sol Kerzner to design it. When you’re in the mood, you can pop down to the huts for a couple of tins of umqombothi with your mates on a Friday night. Maybe keep a stockpile of fresh virgins. You never know when you’re going to need one.

I hear Queen Zola Mafu, your sixth and youngest, wants a palace of her own. At the moment she’s bunking with Queen Mantfombi. Why should she have to share? It doesn’t seem right. If I were her, I’d also want my own palace. Especially if I lived at the KwaKhangelamankengane Palace and had to spell it every time I phoned Mr Delivery.

I understand you paid 264 000 euros in lobola for Queen Zola. Apparently this was taxpayer’s money that went straight into Swaziland. Good for you. This wouldn’t be the first time I have paid for a woman from a foreign country. It would, on the other hand, be the first time I’ve paid for a woman and not got so much as a kiss out of it. Oh, well. Glad I could help a fellow king into a tight spot. I’m sure you would do the same for me.

You seem to like the Swazi girls. Is there something I don’t know? Don’t answer that through the media. Call me on my private line otherwise everyone will want one.

At 27 and counting, you have more children than our president. Congratulations! This is a fine example to be setting in a country that is crying out for more people. I think a film should be made of you.

Brenda said with the level of conjugal activity in the royal boudoir, it could be called Goodwill Humping. You will be pleased to know that I beat her soundly, then impregnated her while she cooked my dinner.

There are some – my subjects mainly – who whine about you not complying with the prescripts of a ridiculous piece of legislation called the Public Finance Management Act which allegedly governs the use of so-called public funds. Keep ignoring them. Your customary needs come first. As do mine.

A word of warning. You need to do a sweep of your staff. There are people in the department – Xhosas, probably – who think the palaces should be generating income through tourism. This is an appalling idea.

Look what happened to Walt Disney, the last king of America. He ruled Disneyland for years until his senior advisor, Michael Mouse, convinced him to throw it open to the proletariat. Nothing was ever the same again. Last year, sixteen million gum-chewing, coke-snorting, burger-scoffing peasants passed through the gates.

Do you really want Nongoma to be the portal to Fantasyland? A land where everyone has three dozen beautiful wives and a million cows, swimming pools full of money and a private jet in the back yard? Yes, our subjects deserve to have their unrealistic expectations tarted up every few years, but at what cost?

It’s a slippery slope, my friend. Once you agree to lower the drawbridge, there is no going back. Next thing you know, you’re trapped on the top floor of the palace as angry mobs with flaming torches – oops, I’m getting ahead of myself here. You’re trapped because hordes of gormless tourists are queuing up for Tomorrowland, a magical place where you can have any job you want regardless of skin colour or political affiliation.

If Tomorrowland is full, they can go to Yesterdayland, where IFP assassins dressed as chipmunks randomly accost groups of visitors and make them swear allegiance to Gatsha, a loveable old puppet who needs all the support he can get. To infirmity and beyond!

If you decide to go down that terrible road, here are a few more ideas.

Adventureland – car guards dressed as authentic Zulu warriors lure groups of white tourists into the Michelin rated Dingane’s Kraal restaurant for a meal and a massacre. Don’t leave your weapons outside!

Critter Country – win a free bankie of Durban Poison after successfully negotiating your way through a section of bush infested with black mambas, green mambas, boomslangs, button spiders and members of the Cato Manor organised crime unit.

Mineland – you have two hours to bribe a government official into giving you a licence to explore for heavy minerals and then, before your time is up, try to destroy as much of the environment as you can in a small coastal town like, say, Mtunzini.

NPAland – help hilarious cartoon characters from Uruguay sell dysfunctional and overpriced water purification plants to the health department. Avoid prosecution by calling the right people!

Metroland – bribe your way home through mobs of rioting metro police. You might get shot, you will be fined! Fun for the whole family!