Ben Trovato’s Art of Survival – Part 1

Art of Survival-2

Part One


Chapter 1



Prophets of Doom and Lambs to the Slaughter



“Watch your back in South Africa. They kill folks here. Murder them at a bewildering rate. Robbers kill their victims, bystanders kill criminals, family members kill each other. Gun battles erupt on streets or in shopping malls. Passers-by whip out pistols and join in fire fights between criminals and police or security guards.”


These are the loin-stirring words of Associated Press reporter, Terry Leonard, as they appeared in the New Mexican on August 1st, 2006. Thanks, Terry. Thanks a million for sticking a knife into the skinny ribs of our fragile economy. Mexicans are the mainstay of our tourism industry and now you have gone and scared them off. I don’t know what we are going to do without them. All we are left with now are busloads of impoverished German industrialists and shifty aeronautical engineers from Scandinavia spitting in the streets and fondling our women.

There are many South Africans who share “Terror” Leonard’s cheerful depiction of life on the southern tip of Africa. These are the true patriots, men and women who love their country with a passion so powerful that they had to emigrate just to be able to express it. The fact is that this country will never slide into the abyss. Not while there are still white people living here (I hope you’re tuned in, Sidney from Springs now living in Surry Hills, Sydney! That one was just for you!)

I have no intention of leaving South Africa. Not because I can’t afford the airfare or because I have reached an age where no country wants me or because I fail the immigration points system by a wide margin or because I don’t meet the criteria for a visa of any kind or because I don’t have a single relative who holds citizenship of another country or because I have no money to invest and no real skills to offer. Far from it.

Ours is a very special country. For a start, our murder rate is second only to that of Colombia. And how about this? People like you and me are 12 times more likely to be murdered here than in the United States. At 50-1, the odds are better in Europe, but even so, these are impressive figures by anyone’s standards. Here are some other statistics to make you feel even more proudly South African:

  • South African men are seven times more likely to have sex on a first date than Korean men and 185 times more likely to get away with driving drunk than Australian men.
  • South African women are nine times more likely to bear good-looking children than Inuit women and 30 times more likely to secure an enormous divorce settlement than Bulgarian women.
  • South African children are 12 times more likely to become drug addicts than Icelandic children and 900 times more likely to be spanked than Swedish children.
  • We eat more dead animals each year than any other nation our size and we are second only to Germany in the girth of our men’s beer bellies.
  • South African men have bigger willies than Japanese men but smaller underpants than American men.
  • South African women have lower self-esteem than Danish women but higher testosterone levels than Chinese women.

If nothing else, these statistics serve to illustrate the inescapable truth imbedded in this ancient Zen koan:

When the question is common
The answer is also common.
When the question is sand in a bowl of boiled rice
The answer is a stick in the soft mud.

Types Of Crimes

There are many different types of crimes. Not all of them are illegal. An example of a legal crime is America’s unilateral decision to invade Iraq on the trumped-up pretext that Saddam Hussein was about to blow up the world with a bunch of non-existent weapons of mass destruction. Another example is supermarkets in South Africa still not being allowed to sell beer.

The law makes a distinction between civil and criminal cases. Crimes of a civil nature are committed when the perpetrator shows his victim a degree of courtesy and respect, thanking him for his forbearance and making sure the telephone cord isn’t cutting off his blood circulation. Crimes of a criminal nature are committed when the perpetrator shows his victim a blunt machete, then uses it to hack off as many limbs as he can in the shortest time possible. 


White-Collar Crime

The term “white-collar crime” was coined to describe illegal acts committed by men who tend to be more fastidious about their appearance than your average shack-dwelling vagabond with a criminal streak so wide you can see it from the air.

These days, however, businessmen wear primary colours. Their shirts are electric blue or violent red or shocking pink. White is no longer considered a colour. White got its hands dirty and has a nasty reputation. Nobody wants to hear its story.

White-collar criminals are the aristocrats of the crime world. They have breeding and charm. Highly educated and well groomed, their daughters have ponies and their wives take only the most respectable of lovers.

When they commit a crime, there are no unsightly stains left behind on the carpet. The only thing that bleeds is the economy. Fraud, bribery and corruption help to keep the body count down. When a commercial crime is committed, nobody ends up in the intensive care unit. So, yes, if you feel compelled to live a life of crime, we would rather you became a white-collar criminal.

It is estimated that white-collar crime costs the United States more than $300 billion a year. Our government won’t give us the figure for South Africa in case we give up our jobs and become white-collar criminals.

For those of you thinking about putting down that panga and taking up corporate crime, there are a few things you need to do right away. First, run a hot bath and scrub yourself for a couple of days. The stigma of violence is a hard thing to get rid of. Then enrol for night classes. Learn to speak proper English. Fraud requires communication skills and no one is going to trust you with their money when it only members of the 28s who can understand what you are saying.

You may feel swamped by the range of choices available, so to make things a little easier for you I have compiled a list of some of the more popular white-collar crimes.


Computer and Internet Fraud

This is one of the few white-collar crimes in which black people are more successful than white people. To a large extent, we have Nigeria’s telecommunications infrastructure to thank for that. However, if it were not for computers, I would never have had the opportunity of going into a Sea Point internet café and sitting alongside the entire staff of both the Bank of Africa and the African Development Bank’s foreign remittance departments. Once, I even sat next to Mrs Sussan Adams, a large bald woman with a beard who was currently receiving treatment for cancer problems at the Lagos General Hospital (I would have thought she might have been there for a sex-change operation). She must have flown to Cape Town just for the day so she could send a few emails. The expense was obviously not an issue given that her deceased husband had left her $10.5 million dollars, which had somehow got tied up in the Reserve Finance Company. It was fortuitous that I happened to be there otherwise the poor dear might not have found someone to provide her with their banking details so she could get the money out of Nigeria.


Stick with the postal service. If you need information, go to the library. Rent a small wooden cabin in the Knysna forest and mail letter bombs to companies that make computers. If you need expert advice, contact this gentleman:

Mr Ted Kaczynski

US Penitentiary Max

PO Box 8500

Florence, CO 81226-8500



Credit Card Fraud

Credit card fraud loses South Africa R100 million a year. I know how that feels. I lost R150 once when I pulled my car keys out of my pocket and the money blew away in the southeaster. I was very angry at the time because I needed the money for a bottle of tequila, but nowhere near as angry as I would have been had R100 million fallen out of my pocket.

Credit card fraud is what happens when you order Viagra from an internet address in New Delhi and after a month of desperate ploys to avoid sex, the Viagra arrives at the same time as your bank statement indicating that you have purchased a small factory in Mumbai, three child brides and shares in a Bollywood production called Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Sathiyo.

Credit card fraud also occurs when you treat your waiter badly. At the end of the meal, he takes your credit card to the back of the restaurant and runs it through a skimmer. By morning, you have bought him a bachelor flat in the London borough of Chelsea. It’s a good thing you never tipped him on top of it.


The best way to prevent credit card fraud is to cut up your credit cards and carry wads of cash in a money belt, in your underwear, down your socks, under your hat and in your bra.

If you have an aversion to banknotes because they are thick with germs and bad karma, then don’t let your credit card out of your sight. Keep it taped to the inside of your thigh. If you have to pay for dinner, follow the waiter all the way to the credit card machine. Scrutinise the machine before he uses it and watch his face closely for signs of nervousness. If his hands shake and he sweats heavily, you can be fairly certain that he is trying to defraud you. While he is busy swiping your card through his skimmer, grab his left arm and twist it behind his back. He will cry out in pain and fall to the floor. Pin him down with one knee across his throat and the other on his chest. Call for management. No, wait. Management is probably in on the scam. By now someone should have called the police. When they arrive, explain the situation clearly and concisely. Our police are trained to deal with homicidal maniacs and gaping head wounds, not the intricacies of credit card fraud.

It may turn out later that the waiter was shaking and sweating because he had 12 double vodkas, a case of beer and five hits of methylenedioxymethamphetamine the night before. No matter. Anyone who abuses his body that much deserves to be jailed.


Insurance Fraud

Every once in a while, South Africans refurnish their homes and upgrade their electronic equipment after someone breaks in and steals a couple of brass ashtrays and granny’s silver gravy dish. Like anal sex, everybody has done it at least once in their lives but will never admit to it.

One of better things about living in South Africa is that insurance assessors are unlikely to be suspicious when you report eight robberies in three weeks. They have absolutely no reason not to believe that a gang wearing matching uniforms drove a furniture removals truck into your driveway and loaded up the entire contents of your home, including the fridge and the dog.

However, there are some assessors who are part bloodhound, part polygraph machine. These hateful little people with their recording devices and scuffed shoes are also responsible for committing insurance fraud. This happens when you lodge a legitimate claim for something that was genuinely stolen and they arrive at your house and look at you through narrow, sceptical eyes and it is all they can do not to spit on your feet and call you a liar to your face. And when they find the loophole that exonerates them from paying you out (and they will find it), their smug faces crease into grotesque approximations of a smile and they drive off in their boxy little sedan cars leaving you feeling dirty and betrayed. Often, it is the young and inexperienced who have their faith so brutally violated. No longer virgins and scarred for life, they go on to become accomplished insurance scammers.


Preventing insurance fraud is harder than it sounds. First, you have to resist the urge to embellish. That jacket is made of vinyl, not from the hides of 15 juvenile South American howler monkeys and it cost R49.99 at Pep, not $5000 from a dealer in a small Peruvian town whose name you can’t remember. And that digital video camera? It is not being sold for a pittance on a street corner in the township as you speak. It is in a box hidden in the roof of your garage. And as for that 108” plasma screen – well, it simply never existed anywhere outside your mind. But if you find it impossible to be honest (perhaps you are a defence attorney), it is not the end of the world. Your insurance company is insured so go right ahead and claim all you like.

Tax Evasion

This is the only white-collar crime in which people take great pride in committing. Go to any dinner party on easy street and you will overhear someone saying, “I beat the fucker.” It is almost certain that he is talking about the taxman and not a street kid who tried to mug him outside his office.

The taxman has become the friendly guy in the bar who buys you a drink and then smashes his glass into your face on his way out. He is the pretty girl who gives you syphilis on your first date. He is the homeless man who rings your doorbell and asks for a sandwich and then when you go to the kitchen to make it he steals your wallet off the entrance hall table.

He is the Fresh Prince of Darkness who giveth with one hand, taketh away with the other and biteth you on the bum for good measure.

There are 70 tax havens in the world – 71, if you count my house. In a bid to avoid paying tax, people around the world have shovelled an estimated $11,5 trillion dollars into these havens. I have about R380, maybe R400 if I look under the cushions and behind the couch, of undeclared income hidden in different places around my house and I am damned if the taxman is going to get his hands on it. I dare him to send his attack dogs to collect his pound of flesh. My home is protected by a moat, electrified blade wire, landmines, laser-operated alarms and a pack of vicious timber wolves that were captured in the forests of British Columbia and flown directly to South Africa. I am, after all, a master of survival. Let them come. I am ready.


A famous British tax dodger by the name of John Maynard Keynes once described the avoidance of taxes as the only intellectual pursuit that still carried any reward. I am unable to vouch for this since I have never dabbled in intellectual pursuits of any kind.
Paying taxes flies in the face of human nature. It is an unnatural act and yet we are powerless to stop it. So we declare some of our income and falsify the rest because we know that if we don’t submit a return, one of the consequences could be infection with a deadly disease and a slow, lingering death. Gang members prefer to take tax evaders as their bitches because they are incapable of resistance. Their hands are soft after years of pushing papers and manipulating figures and their muscles have grown weak and flaccid. Ironic, then, how they spend years trying to avoid being shafted by the taxman only for it to end with them on their knees in the corner of an overcrowded cell being shafted by men with spider web tattoos on their necks.

What it comes down to is that, whether through genetic defects or sociopathic tendencies, we are all unable to stop ourselves from cheating on our taxes. This means that we can never altogether prevent tax evasion, however hard we may try. However, if you feel strongly enough about it and cannot sleep for the guilt, you could always turn in your friends and family by calling the SARS fraud hotline at 0800002870.


Bank Fraud

Bank fraud is committed every day in South Africa. Every minute of every day. Come to think of it, why hide the terrible truth. Bank fraud is committed every second of every minute of every day of every month of every year in South Africa.

Every time you walk up to an ATM or through those hateful time-delay security doors, you walk into an ambush. With no warning at all, you get assaulted from all sides with a battery of fees and charges for depositing money, withdrawing money, paying by cheque, taking money out of an ATM, putting money into an ATM, checking your balance, taking out a stop order, transferring money electronically. The fraud goes on and on. Even while you sleep, electronic devices are coldly calculating how much money the bank can squeeze out of you.

South African bank charges are 142% higher than in Canada. If Canada were not so boring and so full of South Africans, I would move there for that reason alone. Bank charges are also five times higher here than they are in the United States. And if half the Arab world wasn’t jostling for a clear shot at America, I might even consider moving there, too.


If your bank charges you for depositing money, stop doing business with them immediately. Close your account, put your money in a biscuit tin (or a shipping container) and bury it in the back yard. If you are worried that it might not be safe, send it to me and I will look after it for you.

If, on the other hand, you are unable to extricate yourself from this web of lies and treachery, there are a few things you can do that, while falling short of actually preventing bank fraud, will go a long way towards making you feel better:

  • After using the ATM, kick it in the shins. If there is a security camera, give it the finger.
  • If you are forced to conduct business inside the bank, steal the refills from their pens.
  • Write death threats on the deposit slips and leave them lying around for other customers to find.
  • Write scraps of Jim Morrison’s poetry on the withdrawal slips.
  • While waiting in line, stand on one leg and talk to yourself. Fondle the buttocks of the person in front of you. Do whatever you can to get people to switch banks.
  • When you reach the teller, speak gibberish. Make her understand that you demand to see someone who speaks Esperanto.


Healthcare Fraud (Trust Me, I’m A Doctor)

You might think doctors would be happy earning a fortune, prescribing their own drugs and seducing their more vulnerable patients, but a lot of them want more. This syndrome, known as Greediensus Medicalus, also affects dentists, anaesthetists, surgeons and specialists. Gynaecologists only ever wish for younger, better-looking patients.

Healthcare fraud is committed when a non-existent patient makes an appointment to see the doctor. While the patient is being examined, the doctor goes out for a round of golf. By the time he gets back, the patient has been diagnosed and has gone home to die. The doctor dashes off an invoice to a medical aid company and sits back to wait for the check.

Fraud costs the medical aid industry between R4 billion and R8 billion a year. I expect your immediate reaction is to leap into the air, grab a beer and a loose woman and start carousing forthwith. This is understandable. Trying to get reimbursed by your medical aid is like trying to get a crocodile to give your arm back. So you may think that any losses suffered on their part are really nothing to take anti-depressants over. However, this kind of fraud pushes up your premiums so you end up getting screwed regardless.
In the space of three years, an investigation by a single medical aid scheme recovered more than R100 million from crooked doctors. The billionaires who head up medical aid scams, sorry, schemes, are strangely reluctant to refer to these doctors as “crooked”. Instead, these upstanding members of the medical profession are “engaged in unhealthy practices”. I would laugh if I weren’t afraid that the bile rising in my oesophagus would choke me.

But it is not just your average GP who is unilaterally promulgating amendments to the Hippocratic Oath.  That same investigation discovered dentists billing for gold or diamond inlays when they were inserting crowns, optometrists billing for designer sunglasses but dispensing spectacles, radiographers using an ultrasound over the skull and charging for a brain scan, pharmacists switching generics for an ethical drug prescription and charging for the brand name, specialists using a general practitioner as a locum and general practitioners owning a butchery and dispensing meat to patients. One doctor submitted 214 consultation claims in one day. This would have made him the first doctor in medical history to have patients who were never even given the chance to sit down in the waiting room.


Don’t waste your time and money sitting for three hours in a waiting room only to be told: “Hmm yes interesting I see hmm okay I want you to take three flapulaxes twice a day for ten days you can fill in the prescription downstairs at the pharmacy in which I have shares goodbye.” After taking a personal loan to pay for the pills, you drive home and there, lying in your post box, is the doctor’s invoice. I still haven’t managed to work out how they do that. In future when you are feeling poorly, visit a sangoma, herbalist, alternative healer or shaman.



There are people out there right now who are luring unsuspecting couples into darkened rooms and promising to give them all sorts of things if they just watch a video. They select their victims openly in broad daylight in front of young children and the elderly. It may seem hard to believe, but this despicable practice remains legal.

Timeshare survivors often form support groups where they discuss their horrific experiences in the hope of one day being able to resume a normal life. Many people feel strongly that there should be strict laws against this sort of thing and, increasingly, timeshare and the death penalty are spoken about in the same sentence.


The perpetrators are known to frequent public places like shopping malls. If you are approached, back away slowly. If you run, they will become aggressive and pursue you relentlessly. Maintain eye contact and shout, “Satan, get thee behind me!” Pray that mall security gets to you before they do.


Dog-Collar Crime


Dog-collar crimes are favoured by the clergy. Some of the earliest recorded dog-collar crimes were committed on slow days during the Crusades when Christians would indulge in a spot of looting and pillaging while on their way to start a whole bunch of trouble in the Middle East that still hasn’t died down. Then there was that nasty business with the Spanish Inquisition. And the schmoozing with Hitler.

Let us not even talk about what the missionaries did to Africa.

These days, dog-collar crimes are largely restricted to:

  • Fondling of altar boys
  • Guilting the faithful into giving the Church more than they can afford
  • Usury
  • Investing in the military-industrial complex
  • Disallowing abortions
  • Banning the use of condoms
  • Ringing bells very early on a Sunday morning.



Say three Hail Marys and encourage your children to become Buddhists.


No-Collar Crime


No-collar crimes are committed by people who can’t afford decent shirts. They can be found wearing anything from T-shirts, vests and wetsuits to full-body tattoos and straitjackets. Almost all of the 167 000 people in jails around South Africa are no-collar criminals. These crimes are popular because you do not need to be particularly bright to commit them. Nor do you need any special skills, positive attributes or human emotions of any kind. Here are some examples of no-collar crimes:


Perlemoen Poaching

Most of us are prepared to turn a blind eye to perlemoen poaching because nobody gets hurt. Well, nobody but the perlemoen. And I am far from convinced that they experience pain. Sure, they have eyes and a cute little mouth, but that doesn’t mean they are capable of feeling sad or angry. Anything dumb enough to see a fully-grown diver heading towards it with a bag in one hand a tyre lever in the other and do nothing but close its eyes and cling to the rock deserves to die.

It’s not as if they are leopards. People don’t come all the way from Frankfurt, Stockholm and London to see our perlemoen. There is a reason that these moronic molluscs aren’t one of the Big Five. For a start, they live underwater. How stupid is that? Secondly, they serve absolutely no useful purpose that I am aware of. If all the perlemoen in the world had to die instantly, nobody would even know about it. Well, the Japanese would because then they would have to find something else to make their little Oriental willies grow to normal Western size.



Perhaps I should have started with murder and not perlemoen poaching, but, to be honest, violent death just doesn’t have the same dramatic impact that it used to have. These days, the word “murder” has about as much shock value as the word “sardine”.

Murderers in this country have two things in common. The first is that a human life is roughly equal to the price of six beers and half a roast chicken and chips. That is on weekends only. During the week, the price drops to a hamburger and two beers. The second is that almost all of them are black. This is not a racist statement. Some of my best friends are murderers.

As I mentioned earlier, South Africa is the world’s second most violent country that is not at war. The first is Columbia, but the affordability and quality of their cocaine alone makes it well worth living there.

South Africa’s rating is surprising given that only 18 000 people are murdered here each year. That’s just 50 a day. Please. More than 60 million people died in World War Two over a period of seven years. That works out at 2 348 a day. How about three million in three years? Say hello to the Korean War. And the Battle of Stalingrad? Nearly two million in six months. And what about Iwo Jima? It was a tiny island in the Pacific, for God’s sake, and yet 29 000 people managed to get themselves killed in less than two months. Check this out. Eight thousand dead in a single day in the battle of Hastings. Never mind that. It took the Zulus less than a day to kill 1 300 British troops at Isandlwana. Mind you, they did lose 3 000 of their own warriors. However, they probably turned on each other after running out of redcoats. You know what the Zulus are like. Never happy unless they are eating or killing something.

Anyway, these are impressive figures by any standards, and I am almost embarrassed to tell tourists that we can only manage 50 a day.



Rapists, along with child-molesters, are the bottom-feeders of the crime world. Having sex with a woman against her will is popular among men who are too stupid, dirty or ugly to get a girlfriend. They are people who can barely converse in their home language. If they had to lose a hand, they would never again be able to count to ten. Exterminate on sight for the sake of the gene pool.



This increasingly popular way of earning a living comes with the advantage of keeping your own hours and reporting to no one but yourself. Overheads are low and the code of conduct is open to interpretation.

After being robbed at knife or gunpoint, a victim’s first instinct is to chase after the muggers, take each one by the hand and thank them over and over for not taking his life along with his wallet and cellphone. The sense of relief one feels after walking away from a mugging can be quite exhilarating.

Mugging is essentially an apprenticeship for trainee murderers, although there will always be those who lack the stomach for blood and thus adhere to the basically non-violent nature of the sport.


Public Drunkenness And Public Indecency

These two no-collar crimes are committed across the social spectrum, although the poor tend to do theirs in public while the wealthy prefer to transgress in the privacy of their own homes. This means that it is only ever the poor who get arrested. Which is as it should be.

If you are lucky, you will get to see someone being indecent and drunk at the same time. Look out for the impromptu shows that sometimes take place in the breakdown lane on the freeway. This involves the performer narrowly being hit by passing cars while simultaneously staggering around urinating on himself. It’s great entertainment for the whole family.



Rising petrol prices have made arson a dying art in South Africa. However, people do still occasionally set Table Mountain alight. If you are in the area when this happens, grab the kids, a packet of marshmallows and head for the flames. It’s the most fun you can have for free in Cape Town.

When a business is failing, it is not unusual for the premises to burn to the ground overnight. The owner then has to take a cruise around the Caribbean to recover from the trauma. When he gets back, he uses the rest of the insurance money to start another business. The careless ones sometimes have to wait for up to five years before starting anything at all. And even then, nobody really wants to do business with an ex-con.


Armed Robbery

Armed robbery is a firm favourite among criminals of all classes. It has a certain je ne sais quoi, something that sets it apart from your less sophisticated unarmed robbery.

“Hand over your money or I’ll blow your brains out!” hardly compares with “Hand over your money or I’ll give you a really hard slap!”

There are 4.5 million registered firearms in the country, 2.8 million of which are handguns. On top of that are between 500 000 and a million unregistered weapons. The country is awash in guns. You can barely walk down the street without tripping over one of the older models that have been dumped by someone who is upgrading.

Under these circumstances, who isn’t going to want to rob something? I know I would. A gun is your passport to instant wealth. Point it at someone and say “give me money”, and they do. It’s like a miracle.

If we all went around doing that, none of us would ever have to work again. And what a beautiful world that would be. I am surprised John Lennon never sang about it.



Prostitution is legal in South Africa. If it’s not, it should be. Just to be safe, if you get caught with Jade’s head in your lap down a cul-de-sac, tell the officer that I said it was okay. If he has never heard of me, give him R100 and inform him that he is now on the payroll. I will reimburse you.

There are two types of prostitutes. The kind that works on the streets and the kind that works in a whorehouse (let’s leave parliament out of this for now). Both of them value your business equally and it is insensitive and unethical to discriminate against them on those grounds alone.

Having said that, I should also point out that girls on the street are a lot cheaper than those who operate out of brothels. This is because their overheads, along with their standards, are a lot lower. They are also 100 times more likely to be addicted to crack and have a nasty disease. When you take them home, they will be more interested in what you have in your fridge than in your pants. Or so I am told.



Strictly speaking, paedophilia is a crime committed without regard to collars. It stretches from a shack in the township to the Catholic Church on the corner. It goes on in sea-facing mansions along the Atlantic seaboard and face-brick houses in the working class suburbs. If paedophilia weren’t so wrong, it could go a long way towards uniting South Africans of all races and religions.

Paedophiles and child molesters should not be treated as common criminals and sent to prison. They should be taken to places of safety and provided with comfortable rooms. The doors and windows to these rooms should then be sealed with reinforced concrete slabs.



More than 60% of all crimes in South Africa are committed by people under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This leaves a staggering 40% who are doing unspeakable things without even a drink to help them conquer their shyness. Either there is not enough booze and drugs to go around, or we have some of the cleanest-living crooks in the world. I reckon a police raid at the local Virgin Active is long overdue.

A more likely scenario is that, given the levels of multi-skilling among the criminal community, nobody wants to take the chance of smoking a little ganja ahead of a lazy afternoon of pickpocketing only to find themselves in a high-energy situation where they are compelled to kill someone. And what could be worse than getting all tikked-up for a bank robbery only to get there and remember that it’s a public holiday and the best you can hope for is a couple of car stereos?

Drugs are as popular in South Africa as anywhere else in the world. However, nobody here knows for sure why they are illegal. Drugs brighten up a miserable day and give your self-esteem a boost. Is that so terrible? In a free market system, adults should be permitted to sell drugs to other adults. Kids should have to get theirs from somewhere else. Here are some examples of drugs and the effects they have on police officers:


This drug, well, it is more of a weed, really, induces a sense of hostility in policemen. Their eyes narrow and they tend to speak louder than normal. There is a strong possibility that they will turn violent for no apparent reason. Humour them. Play along. Never assume that they know what they are doing.


Coke makes policemen very jumpy. Symptoms include an inability to sit still and relax. They become restless and fidgety. Often they will tell you to keep quiet and let them do all the talking. They will come up with lots of unrealistic notions and ideas, like sending you to jail for the rest of your life. Nod and smile. That’s all you can do, really, until they have got it out of their system.

Tik (crystal meth)

Police become very self-assured when exposed to tik. They exude confidence. Their positive demeanour can lead to them slapping one another on the back and, in extreme cases, hugging. The comedown can be dramatic, especially when they spend two weeks testifying only for the magistrate to acquit the accused because the evidence has disappeared.

Acid (lysergic acid diethylamide)

LSD has a dangerously unpredictable effect on the police. Either they are happy with a couple of caps, or they will tear your house apart in desperation to get their hands on more of the stuff. Even if you swear on your mother’s life that there is no more in the house, they will not believe you. These hallucinations are quite normal. Do not make any sudden moves. Their imaginations are already in hyperoverdrive and the last thing you want to do is startle them. When they fire irrational questions at you, reply in low, soothing tones. They will soon be back to normal. Well, as normal as any policeman ever can be.

Drunk Driving

Driving drunk is not so much a crime as it is a rite of passage. When boys turn 18, their fathers buy them their first car. Not all of them, of course. If, for example, they are from the Xhosa tribe, their fathers send them away to have their foreskins chopped off by bush doctors equipped with rusty knives and a callous disregard for hygiene. Personally, I would take the car every time.

Then, to celebrate their son’s transition to manhood, fathers throw neighbourhood parties – sort of open bar mitzvahs without the mitzvah – where everyone is encouraged to drink their own body weight in beer. At some point in the evening, there is an official handover of car keys. The teenager is carried to the car, strapped in to his seat, slapped back into consciousness and told to take his new wheels for a spin. He almost makes it to the first corner before veering into a tree and there is much cheering and falling about. A neighbour calls the cops but by the time they arrive the kid is two days shy of his 21st birthday and it is a bit late for a blood test. Besides, the only witness has already died.

Every South African between the ages of 15 and 85 has at one time or another driven a car while intoxicated. This includes the deeply religious. We have such draconian drink-driving laws that your average Catholic taking communion twice will find that the blood of Christ has pushed him over the legal limit.


Resisting Arrest

It seems hard to believe that anyone would have the nerve to consider this to be a crime on its own. Resisting arrest is as natural an impulse as staring at topless women on the beach or kissing your best friend’s boyfriend when she goes to the toilet.

It should be your constitutional right to resist arrest. The courts should regard a failure to resist arrest as an admission of guilt and lock you up without the benefit of a trial.

If physical resistance is not in your nature, you would be within your rights to take off down the street at the first sign of trouble. In the unlikely event that the policeman is fit enough to chase after you and bring you crashing to the ground, a good defence is to say, “I’m sorry, officer. My legs ran away with me.”

In 1951, police wrestled Welsh poet Dylan Thomas into custody after he started a brawl in his local pub. Soon after being released on bail, he wrote these immortal lines:

Do not go gentle into that police car,
Better that you burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against them dragging you from the bar


2 thoughts on “Ben Trovato’s Art of Survival – Part 1

  1. Mark, where can I buy this? do you have it in e format on Amazon yet, if not why not…?


    Sent by mobile


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