Day: July 1, 2014

Juju and the wrong arm of the law

The Honourable Comrade Julius Malema has been appointed to the Judicial Services Commission. This is not a drill. Women and children first.

When I heard the news, I went into a spin, began drinking heavily, lost it on the dismount, vomited on the cat and accidentally shredded my passport along with a pile of incriminating files.

The Teletubby-in-Chief in the bright red onesie and plastic hat is being allowed a say in who will become a judge. A terrifying prospect. Or is it? This is, after all, a man who has been in front of the equality court, the insolvency court and soon the criminal court. He is familiar with laws. He knows how to break them and, as a member of parliament, he is learning how to make them.

The ANC’s Mathole Motshekga was also appointed to the JSC. Motshekga was recalled as the ANC’s chief whip in parliament a year ago. At the time, his colleagues diplomatically described him as “less than effective”. The JSC consists of at least 23 members. I have been less than effective in meetings consisting of fewer than six people and nobody has noticed. Have a good rest, Mathole. You deserve it.

The JSC advises the government on matters relating to the judiciary and the administration of justice in South Africa.

“Point of order!”

“Yes, Mr Malema?”

“As a member of the JSC, I advise the NPA to drop all charges against me.”

It might just work. JSC meetings are, after all, presided over by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, whose most recent communication with the judiciary was an advisory note strongly recommending that everyone from advocate up book their places on Noah’s Ark II. Attorneys to make their own arrangements.

In an act of sublime sublimity, Thandi Modise has also been appointed to the JSC. She threw Juju out of parliament the other day. She’s going to wish she were back in Angola training with Mkhonto we Sizwe.

Sitting around the giant slab of mahogany, perhaps even next to Juju, will be Hendrik Schmidt. There are people still in jail because of him. No, he’s not a police informant. Worse. He’s a lawyer. A prosecutor. An advocate. With a Masters in Philosophy. And, just to make Juju’s nightmare complete, he’s also the DA’s shadow minister of mining. There will be blood. Or, at the very least, raised voices over tea and cake.

To Juju’s left is the IFP’s Narend Singh, best known for owning a bus company and losing his job as an MEC through a leaked sex tape. I’m not sure what’s more shameful. I mean, really. Buses?

Then there’s Dumisane Ximbi, the Twelve Apostle’s Church in Christ’s main man in the Western Cape who was with the UDM but then skipped to the ANC. And then there is … oh god. I can’t. I can’t go on. I just can’t.

The chief whip of the Freedom Front Plus, Corné Mulder, described Julius Malema’s appointment to the JSC as “outrageous”. Yeah, well. Here’s the thing, Corné. You need to find another word. Outrageous is taken. It’s what normal people use to describe apartheid.

Perhaps, if you sustained a head injury and looked at it through half-closed eyes, with your head turned to one side like a dog listening for an ultrasonic signal, you could see the new JSC as representing the mythical Rainbow Nation with the best of what we have to offer.

Or you could see them as a punchy, power-drunk mishmash of skabengas, god-botherers, narcissists and political truffle hunters afflicted with complexes ranging from Messianic to paranoiac. The real joke, though, is that they report directly to the president, a large man capable of defying the laws of physics by slipping through the smallest of legal loopholes.


Would you like your Schnauzer medium or well done?

Oh, to have been in the ancient Chinese prefecture-level city of Yulin a few days ago. To walk along the shores of Lake Hongjiannao, smelling the peach blossoms and basking in the sultry summer air. To amble around the Dongkou market, languidly browsing through the schnauzers and the chows.

I do love the way Chinese towns each have their own delightful traditions. In Yulin, for example, visitors are encouraged to celebrate the summer solstice. This is best done by picking out a plump Pekingese and having it grilled right there in front of you. Your host will serve it with a side order of plump lychees and a glass of potent grain alcohol. Yum!

The annual festival is a vibrant swirl of sights and sounds – mainly the sounds of ten thousand dogs vying for the privilege of being barbecued, stir-fried or boiled. Much like the Chinese themselves, the dogs are happiest when called upon to sacrifice themselves for the greater good.

Personally, I can’t think of a better pet than one you can play with and then, when you’re feeling peckish, snack on a leg or nibble on its tail. A playmate in the morning and dinner at night. What’s not to love?

The news report I read about this charming tradition of the orient said there were a few spoilsports who tried to dampen the festive spirit by shouting about cruelty to animals, but all this seemed to do was encourage vendors to hold their animals hostage. One dangled a dog from a noose and threatened to kill it unless the bunny-huggers paid him a handsome ransom. Now that’s what I call an entrepreneur.

There was also a swaddle of Buddhists who wandered about the market performing a religious rite to “console the souls of the slaughtered dogs”. I have no doubt the dogs were awfully grateful, but I can’t help feeling their cause might have been better served had a platoon of Tibetan monks armed with AK-47s turned up instead.

Vendors, like 55-year-old Zhou Jian, lamented the presence of people who think dogs belong on couches, not menus. This year he only managed to offload three shar peis, two pugs and a Manchurian hairless. Most of his merchandise went unsold.

“How am I meant to feed my family?” he said, packing away several cages of Chinese crested dogs. “Oh, right. But that is eating into my profits.”

The locals say feasting on dog meat on the summer solstice provides health benefits that last through the winter. They may be right, given that the average age of a Chinese pensioner is 142. Then again, we don’t know if they have dogs to thank for that or some other tasty tidbit like bear bile or tiger testicles. Or snorting a gram of rhino horn twice a day.

Not everyone on that side of the Bamboo Curtain believes dogs are man’s best meal. Actress Yang Mi wrote, “Dogs are more loyal to people than I’d imagined – I think of dogs as friends, not meat.” That kind of talk can get you 20 years in a labour camp. Next thing you know, she’ll be thinking of pro-democracy dissidents as people with rights.

One local resident, Zhang Bing,defended the practice. “Yulin people eat dog meat in all seasons, just like Cantonese eat chicken every day and foreigners eat beef.” Mmmm. Labrador. A dog for all seasons.

A woman in an anorak and sensible shoes, representing Animals Asia, said the practice was inhumane. “Traditions and customs inconsistent with modern civilisation cannot be maintained.”

Try telling that to Mr X and his mates from the Marikana mine. If eating fried dog can see you through the winter without getting the sniffles, then eating the body parts of a Lonmin security guard should also get you a long life. Sentence.

Anyway. I’d like to hear what Professor Tim Noakes has to say on the subject. My guess is this: “Look, you get good Shih Tzu and bad Shih Tzu. Stay off the fast food, like whippets and greyhounds. And avoid the Yorkshire terrier pudding. It’s a killer. Retriever is dangerous because you’ll keep coming back for more. Dalmatian is bad for the skin and Husky will affect your voice. Bloodhound is too rich and Boerboel too tough. You can’t really go wrong with a lightly grilled Griffon Bleu de Gascogne or, if you’re feeling adventurous, a Miniature Schnauzer mit kartoffels und sauerkraut drizzled with Rottweiler jus. Remember. High-fat, low carb. Or is it the other way around? I do apologise. I had a bite of bulldog for breakfast and, as you know, they are very high in carbohydrates. I don’t feel well at all. You will have to excuse me.”