Category: Ben Trovato’s Art of Survival

Breaking news!

Right, then.

Thanks to the Sunday Tribune’s decision to axe my weekly Durban Poison column – a move right up there with Decca Records’ decision not to sign The Beatles in ’62 – I have spent the last couple of weeks gathering my thought and getting my duck in a row. I have only one thought and one duck, both of which involve finding something to keep me from drifting off the freeway and down the boulevard of broken dreams.

When I posted my farewell column, many of you were outraged and threatened to cancel your subscriptions to the Tribune, destroy Independent Media and make the country ungovernable. I was deeply touched by your messages of support and even offered to read some of them to my landlord in lieu of rent. He said he’d prefer money.

Craig was one of the first to suggest a viable alternative. “Simple solution,” he wrote. “A site all of us who appreciate Ben’s work can subscribe to. He has a huge following and rightly so. I suggest a stipend a month to read his incredible wit. Whatever you think it is worth. Cheaper than the paper and it is the only thing in it worth reading. Will keep him in beer and all of us highly entertained. I hope everyone is in.”

I thought he’d be shouted down by the anarchists and the tightwads, but the idea proved more popular than I expected.

Mark said he’d “happily pay a couple of bob, maybe even a pickled egg as well”. Anthea offered a case of beer a month. Dan said “We’ll pay” and Dave said he’d be happy to “sign up to some funny shit weekly”. Jennifer said she’d pay to get her “weekly chortle/eye roll/guffaw fix” while Penny, Sandy, Pamela and Sherry all said they’d be delighted to subscribe to my online posts. Penny also said she couldn’t live without my column, so we do need to keep her wellbeing in mind.

Matthew said he’d pay to read my stuff and he’s a lawyer. It’s almost unheard of for a lawyer to offer to pay for anything. Rigid (possibly drunk) said, “You’re one of my favourite thinkers. I’d pay to read your columns. Not what they’re worth, of course, but I’d pay. Let me know how.”

So now I’m letting you know how.

You will soon notice that my blog looks different. That’s because it has grown up, left home and become a website. I started my blog in 2011 and began using it as a kind of retirement home for my writing. During that time, it has attracted 50 000 followers. That’s more than even Jesus scored in his first seven years. He has overtaken me since then, obviously.

My 657 posts have been viewed a staggering 943 500 times. I say staggering because that’s the condition I was in after writing most of them.

In the past year, my blog has been visited by people from every country in the world apart from Central African Republic, South Sudan, Western Sahara, Iran, Turkmenistan, Greenland, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and North Korea.

When I told my friend Ted that I have readers in 186 countries, he projectile snorted beer through his nose with such force that a hadeda in the neighbour’s tree was knocked from its perch. WordPress fortunately provides very detailed statistics and he was forced to withdraw his claim that my relationship with the truth made Donald Trump look honest.

In what appeared to be an attempt to make amends, he said, “You should capitalise on your brand and monetise your content.” I thought he’d had a stroke because none of that made any sense to me so I slapped him hard across the head, which is apparently what you need to do if you suspect someone is having a brain attack.

After calming down, he used simple words and diagrams to explain. I have to admit that it made sense, although I did warn him to never again call me a brand. “I am a man!” I cried, rising to my knees and attempting to strike a noble pose.

Let’s not get sidetracked.

Editors haven’t exactly been beating a path to my inbox since the Tribune released me back into the wild. In some ways, I am relieved that I haven’t been sucked right back into meeting brutal deadlines and complying with the plethora of draconian editorial restrictions that come with writing for a mainstream newspaper.

On the website you’ll find a PayFast button. Or something like that. I appreciate that not everyone will be in a position to contribute and that’s fine. But if you are, that’s even more fine. You will also be able to buy books and posters and other contraband.

You, the people, are now my new employers. Congratulations!

PS. I’m taking you all with me to my new home and you should get redirected to the new site. But if you’re not, please make a note of my new address – – and subscribe to the site.

It’s not active just yet but it should be up and running first thing Monday morning. Unless my web guy has a nervous breakdown.

Here it is again –



Crime & Very Little Punishment

The SA Police have released their crime statistics for the period April 2014 to March 2015. Here’s my contribution to the national debate.

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 International Space Station.

These days, businessmen frequently 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 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 US more than $300 billion a year. Our government won’t give us the figure for South Africa in case we resign from 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 is 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-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 costs 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 and blown away.

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 rotten 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 the 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, plus the children 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.” He is either talking about the taxman or 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 arse 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 fiddling with 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 spiderweb 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.

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 or 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 grab a beer and a loose woman and start carousing. 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 drug dealer.


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


Investing in the military-industrial complex

Disallowing abortions

Banning the use of condoms

Ringing bells very early on a Sunday morning. 

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 170 000 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 and London to see our perlemoen. There is a reason 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.

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 kiddie-fiddlers, 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, grab 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.

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 too late for a blood test.

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 gawping at topless women on the beach or kissing your best friend’s boyfriend the moment her back is turned.

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.”

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, there 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’s 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’m surprised John Lennon never sang about it.


Prostitution is legal in South Africa. But 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 facebrick 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.

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 methed-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 their effects.


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, desperate 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.




By your own hand

It was World Suicide Prevention Day last week and it seems only right that I should contribute. Suicide is not a laughing matter. So don’t fucking laugh. Okay?

This is a chapter from my best-selling book, Ben Trovato’s Art of Survival, which quickly went out of print and went on to win no awards whatsoever.


A recent study released in Stockholm revealed that everyone contemplates suicide at one or other point in their lives. The Swedish researcher ended up killing himself when the institution that commissioned the study refused to pay him on the grounds that his findings were so blindingly obvious that a child raised by a family of meerkats could have come to the same conclusion.

And while all South Africans think about suicide, some more than others, only seven or eight thousand people a year progress from mere contemplation to the act itself. Even more worrying is that 20 people try to kill themselves every hour – and fail. What kind of message does this send to the rest of the world? There is something seriously wrong with a nation when not even its broken-hearted, manically depressed, chronically ill, substance-abusing, debt-riddled no-hopers can kill themselves properly.

Even people in happy countries like Sweden and Norway have a higher success rate than ours. In Scandinavia, ordinary people like you and me think nothing of flinging themselves off buildings or into the path of oncoming trains. Sure, alcohol plays a prominent role, although in their case it seems to be the obscenely high prices that drive them to it.

How Not To Do It

Like brain surgery and cunnilingus, surviving suicide is harder than it sounds. Much of the art lies in preparing the groundwork for your attempt. You do not want it to look as if you were engaging in a spot of late afternoon autoerotic asphyxiation; nor do you want people to think you were cleaning your gun when it accidentally went off. Or even that you inadvertently swallowed the wrong drugs.

Bear in mind that this section is not advice on how to kill yourself. This is advice on how to make it seem as if you have tried to kill yourself. You don’t actually want to die. You want to live. But you want people to think you want to die. They will treat you better and keep giving you free stuff for a long time afterwards.


In South Africa hanging seems to be all the rage, with shooting and poisoning lagging behind in the popularity stakes. If you have chosen hanging, avoid using the hangman’s knot. You will need a knot that works itself loose less than three minutes after you have strung yourself up. It may seem hard to believe, but there are over 1000 knots to choose from. If you are the obsessive-compulsive type, try to stop yourself from going through all of them. If you are a nautical type, you might want to try a gaff-topsail halyard bend or a gripping sailor’s hitch. If you prefer something more exotic, consider the tumbling thief knot or the twined Turk’s head. In the end, though, it is probably safer to stick with the bottom-loaded release hitch. The only real problem with hanging is that it comes across as dull and uninspired. Try to be more creative.


Shooting yourself will certainly attract the attention you crave. For this, you will need a handgun. Shotguns have their own romantic appeal but few people survive suicide attempts when they choose a weapon that sprays lead pellets. Try to get your hands on a .22. The bullets are small and the gun itself is easy to handle. The next thing you have to do is write a suicide note. This will make your attempt seem genuine. Try not to make spelling mistakes. Even close family members will regret that your attempt failed when they find your note saying, “I is going to kil myslef becorz i does knot wont to liff no more becors my gurlfrend left me.”

Now give some thought to where you are going to do it. Estate agents are right when they say location is everything. It’s just a pity that more of them don’t try suicide themselves.

Avoid remote areas. Remember that you want to be found and rushed to hospital. You don’t want to be crawling about a field in the middle of nowhere bleeding to death and weeing in your broeks while a cow looks at you with dumb, uncomprehending eyes.

Your bedroom is always a good choice. Or even better, your parents’ bedroom. That way they will at least feel guilty every time they go to sleep at night. And isn’t this one of the reasons you are going to so much trouble? Philip Larkin might well have been considering some kind of action when he wrote:

“They fuck you up, your mum and dad. 

They may not mean to, but they do. 

They fill you with the faults they had

And add some extra, just for you.”

Now lie down on the bed and shoot yourself. But not in the leg or arm. This will look like an accident and you won’t get nearly as much sympathy. You will need to shoot yourself in the head. Your best bet is to place the barrel of the gun under your chin. Angle it so that the bullet will exit through your nose. Any higher and you risk taking out a chunk of your frontal lobe. On the other hand, a lobotomy may be just what you need.

Even though you will require cosmetic surgery after tearing yourself a third nostril, people will get the impression you were deadly serious about killing yourself but that you had a miraculous escape. They might even say this was a clear sign that god wanted you to live – that you have an unfulfilled destiny; a higher purpose to serve. They will probably want to give you a car so that you can start doing god’s work. Take the car. Fuck the work. God has enough indentured labourers.


This will only work if you are known to have a soft spot for pharmaceuticals. If you are a gun nut, nobody is going to believe that you tried to kill yourself with pills. If you have never taken anything stronger than aspirin, you need to start developing a tragic air about yourself at least a month before the event. Leave scraps of poetry lying on the floor. Try not to plagiarise. You don’t want anyone finding a poem in your handwriting that starts off:

No more of mirth and rural joys,

The gay description quickly cloys,

In melting numbers, sadly slow,

I tune my alter’d strings to woe;

Attend, Melpomene, and with thee bring

Thy tragic lute, Euphranor’s death to sing.

Right off the bat, they will think you are barking mad and have you committed the moment your stomach has been drained. Rather write something simple like this:

I would rather die

Than tell a lie

And this is why

I want to …

Let your handwriting trail off the page. Smudge it a bit with water so that people will think you were weeping as you wrote.

If you choose pills, make sure that you take enough painkillers, antidepressants or benzodiazepines to warrant a stomach pump. You don’t want your mother or wife slapping you back into consciousness and telling you to stick your fingers down your throat. That is strictly for amateurs.

In all of these cases – hanging, shooting and overdosing – you need to ensure that somebody is aware of your intentions. There is no point in surviving suicide if no one knows you even attempted it. That’s a bit like having nobody around to hear the sound of one hand clapping when a tree falls in the forest.

How To Actually Do It

If you live in Durban, the quickest way to shuffle off this mortal coil is to hire a Mercedes SL500 and cruise the back streets of KwaMashu on a Friday night at the end of the month with your windows open and Steve Hofmeyr on the CD at full volume.

If you live in Johannesburg, start hooting at the driver in front of you before the traffic lights turn green.

If you live in Pretoria, cut a broomstick into equal lengths and tie them to your body, wrap a dishcloth around your head and take a long run at the American embassy. Wave your arms about and shout incoherent gibberish.

If that doesn’t work, slip into a pair of leather lederhosen, hang a brace of Canon digital cameras around your neck and take a leisurely stroll downtown. Any town. Any city. You won’t have to go far before a varmint hoves into view. If he grabs your cameras and walks away, call him back. Tell him you have some more stuff that he might want. Then stand on your tiptoes and hold your wallet and phone up where he can’t reach them. If he is taller than you, hide them behind your back and make him guess which hand has the phone and which has the wallet. Tell him he can only have them if he guesses correctly. At this point, he will shoot, stab or bludgeon you to death.

Suicide by Proxy

If you are serious about wanting to end it all but lack the courage to do it yourself, you should consider the option of getting yourself murdered. There are many people in South Africa who will quite happily kill you in return for your car, the contents of your wallet, your phone or that banana you have in your hand.

The benefits of getting murdered are obvious. For a start, most insurance policies refuse to pay out in the event of suicide. Getting someone else to do it for you means that your family will at least benefit from your death. Secondly, a lot of people who commit murders do it only once in their lives. Homicide is a bit like homosexuality in that way. Once they have done it, their curiosity is satisfied and it is out of their system. They might think about it from time to time, but it is unlikely that they will want to do again. In other words, by letting the one-off killer pop his cherry on you, so to speak, you could be saving someone else’s life.

Even though danger lurks everywhere, it is quite possible that weeks could go by without someone making an attempt on your life. Don’t give up. Stay weak. You have already lost the will to survive. Keep it that way. Here are some helpful hints on how to go about getting yourself killed without jeopardising the insurance payout.


Be aware of your surroundings at all times. You do not want to miss an opportunity to be killed, no matter how slight it may seem at the time. Keep your eyes peeled for cash-in-transit vans. They are not unmarked, as you might expect them to be. Instead, they resemble urban armoured personnel carriers. They have names like Coin Security Group, Fidelity Services Group and SBV Security emblazoned across their doors. Their reinforced smoked glass windows clear up any misconceptions that they might be transporting chickens instead of great steaming wodges of money.

Once you spot one of these vans, follow it. Don’t let it out of your sight. If it is going in the opposite direction, make a u-turn and stick right on its tail. Sooner or later, a BMW with no licence plates is going to come out of nowhere and slam into the side of it. Stop your car and get out. This is exactly where you want to be. There will probably be a shoot-out between the robbers and the guards. However, crossfire can be notoriously unreliable and you may find that the bullets keep missing you. Your best bet is to run up to one of the robbers and try to grab the boxes from him. At the top of your voice, shout: “This is my money, motherfucker!” Now you have the attention of both the robbers and the guards. Unless everyone is blind drunk, it will be almost impossible to survive the shitstorm of bullets coming your way.

If you are looking for something a little less dramatic, you might want to try staging a high-speed car smash. You don’t need a particularly fast car. In fact, the older and more run-down it is the better. The last thing you want is an airbag going off or any kind of German engineering ensuring the car retains its shape after rolling 17 times.

Forget about driving into walls, lampposts or over the edge of cliffs. That kind of thing makes insurance investigators jumpy. What you want to do is find a two-way road that is used by heavy vehicles. The N7 between Cape Town and Namibia is perfect. Head out of town as if you were planning to see the Namaqualand daisies instead of planning to cause a terrible head-on collision. Thinking of flowers will help take your mind off things. Sooner or later you will see a cattle truck coming towards you. Make sure there are no other vehicles in the immediate vicinity. There is no point in taking other people with you, even though there is a very good chance that they are also driving along thinking up new and innovative ways to kill themselves.

When the cattle truck is roughly 20 metres from you, swerve into its path. Aim directly for the steel reinforced bull bar. Cattle trucks are built to withstand collisions, so don’t fret about the driver’s safety. He will barely feel the impact. The worst thing that can happen, apart from you surviving the smash and having to spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair, is that the driver will swerve and the truck will overturn. But, in a way, this is also the best thing that can happen. Those sheep or cows he is transporting are on their way to be turned into mutton chops and hamburgers. This way, even though there may be a certain amount of collateral damage in the form of dismembered livestock, a substantial number will escape into the veld where they will be able to live out the rest of their lives as free animals. You will have saved innocent lives by sacrificing your own. God loves this kind of thing and I imagine He would have some kind of special surprise waiting for you in Heaven.


One of the best, but not necessarily quickest, ways to kill yourself is to walk and walk and walk until you collapse from hunger, thirst or cardiac arrest. Before you set off, remember to take your passport. If you are relatively fit, you could easily reach the Zimbabwean border and still be going strong. Cross the border and keep walking. If you have remembered to bring it along, put on your Democracy Now! T-shirt. It won’t be long before a member of Mad Bob’s Central Intelligence Organisation picks you up and takes you to CIO headquarters where you will be tortured to death. Okay, so it’s not quite the same as dying from walking, but it’s good enough.


People who run have a death wish, whether they know it or not. More people die jogging than they do sitting in front of the television drinking beer and eating pizza. You may, however, be one of those with the heart of an ox, in which case no amount of running is going to make it explode. Instead, you are going to have to run into heavy traffic or into the path of an oncoming train. Make it look like murder by throwing your arms up and pretending that someone has pushed you to your death just as you run past them.


The sea is full of animals that can cause you grievous bodily harm. But don’t for one moment think you can simply pitch up at the beach, wade in to the water and hope that something will jump up and bite your head off.

What you need to do is call the Natal Sharks Board and get an idea of where the best shark-infested beaches are located. There are an average of six shark attacks a year in South African waters. In the past 16 years, only 12% of attacks have been fatal. With such a pathetic strike rate you would be forgiven for thinking that sharks are hopeless when it comes to dishing out a decent savaging.

You don’t want to waste your time with second-rate sharks like Zambezis, Makos and Hammerheads. Let alone that big aquatic pussycat, the Ragged Tooth. For a start, you would have to slap them around a good deal to get them angry enough to take even a foot or an arm, which isn’t at all what you want. You need to find Carcharodon carcharias – the Great White – the most feared animal in the sea unless you happen to be swimming at Umhlanga in December. You can make it easier for the shark to find you by following these simple instructions:

  • Do not swim at netted beaches.
  • Use a razor blade to lacerate your legs and arms before entering the water.
  • Swim only at river mouths at dawn and dusk.
  • Make sure you are the only person in the water.
  • Swim out into deep water and splash vigorously while squeaking like a seal or whatever the fuck seals do.
Water In The Lungs

If death by shark is not an option (you might, for instance, want to have an open coffin with your head on), the next best alternative is to drown. Again, this has to be staged carefully to avoid attracting unwelcome attention from your insurance assessor. Take a packed lunch to the beach. Spread out a blanket and remove some of the goodies from your picnic hamper. Leave a book lying open and have a bottle of Dom Pérignon in the cooler box. Nobody in their right mind would kill themselves while there was a bottle of Dom to be had. The book shouldn’t be anything by Sylvia Plath.

Before going into the water check to see where the dangerous rips and currents are located. A good place to swim is alongside rocky outcrops where, if the tide is right, you will find a dangerous undertow that will suck you out to sea. Your first instinct will be to struggle. Don’t. Give in. Let the current take you right out into the shipping channel. It will only be a matter of time before you die of hypothermia. You should be warned, though, that the moments preceding drowning are generally filled with a fair amount of unseemly thrashing about. You need to override the survival instinct. Done properly, drowning can be one of the most graceful acts imaginable. I would go so far as to say that it compares to a prima ballerina performing a perfect pirouette, only wetter.


Phlebitis might sound like nothing more serious than an infestation of blood-sucking parasites, but you will be pleased to know that it can be a life-threatening occurrence. All you need do is book a round trip economy class ticket to Sydney, Hong Kong, Bermuda and New Delhi. Make sure you sit as still as possible on every flight. This will increase the chances of the blood in your legs turning to sludge. With a bit of kneading, you should be able to pry loose a clot that will lodge in your heart, lungs or brain once you are at cruising altitude and far from the nearest airport.

If the plane happens to crash in the middle of the ocean and you have not managed to induce phlebitis, you could well find yourself adrift in an open boat for weeks on end. You will develop painful blisters across most of your body. The only way to turn them into weeping sores is to squeeze them. After that, infection is not far off. At the same time, drink lots of seawater to ensure that your lingering death is made more pleasant through a series of colourful hallucinations. If you are dying and some do-gooder on the lifeboat tries to give you the kiss of life, quickly stick your tongue into their mouth and make moaning noises. That should deter them.


This is one of the easiest ways to kill yourself without it seeming deliberate. Book yourself a cabin on a cruise ship. The travel supplement in your local newspaper will have a listing of various cruises available. My favourite is from Cape Town to Nowhere. You spend two nights drifting aimlessly around the Atlantic and then you come back. Or, in your case, you don’t.

On your second night, go for a walk around the deck. Do I really have to continue? Head for the stern. It is always quieter at the stern. You may come across a couple of crewmen shagging passengers from Bellville. Wait for them to finish. Then, when the coast is clear, climb over the railing and let yourself go. The captain won’t know you are missing until the next day. And it’s not as if he would give a damn, anyway.

If you can’t afford R4 500 for a cruise (no wonder you want to die), then get yourself a berth on a yacht. Skippers are always looking for crew. Tell them you can cook and have no morals and they will take you on immediately. There will probably be seven or eight of you on board. This presents a minor complication as you don’t want to get caught jumping over the side. You’ll need to start getting rid of the others. Every time you are alone on deck with someone, sneak up and give him or her a powerful shove into the water. Pretend to have a coughing fit to drown out their cries for help. When you can no longer see the person, raise the alarm. Tell the others there was a terrible accident. Repeat until the boat is deserted. Now it is safe for you to jump.

The plan sounds a little loose on paper, but if it could work on the Marie Celeste, it could work on any boat.


Although they are not always aware of it, South African men regularly bring themselves to the point of death by drinking so much alcohol that it would induce organ failure in smaller men with more delicate constitutions. Japanese men, for instance. However, the most serious thing that happens is that they miss work on Monday. Over time, these men sustain varying degrees of brain damage, but since ours is a society highly tolerant of aberrant behaviour, nobody really notices.

If you have decided to drink yourself to death, first go to the video shop and take out Leaving Las Vegas. Nicholas Cage does it with style and panache. He also does it with a hooker, which is a lot more fun than doing it with a wife who keeps nagging you to stop drinking so much.

Next, go to the bottle store. You will already have seen how Cage does it. Fill your trolley with bottles of every shape, size and colour. Leave the beer. Nobody can drink themselves to death on beer. All that will happen is that you will get more and more bloated and possibly suffocate on your own noxious emissions, which is a horrible way for anyone to die.

Go home, lock all the doors and draw the curtains. Set up the bottles so that they are within easy reach. Start with the vodka. By the fifth double, you will feel a lot less depressed. You will start thinking that maybe life really is worth living. This is just the booze talking. Ignore it and switch to brandy. After the first bottle, you may find it difficult to pour a drink without it sloshing all over the carpet. The main thing is to remain calm. Panic will cause your throat to close up. This will interfere with your ability to continue drinking and you will need a friend to come around and hook you up to a drip to enable you to finish the rest of the alcohol intravenously. Drink as rapidly as you can. Don’t worry if you vomit. You won’t be around to clean it up.

Depending on your size, you should be able to induce a coma after three litres of spirits. By the time anyone finds you, your brain should be in a vegetative state. Don’t be afraid that nobody will be able to tell. They will. And you will be rushed to the nearest hospital (if you are not on medical aid, you will be driven slowly to a rat-infested clinic in the next province). After a couple of weeks on life-support, a member of your family will be called on to decide on pulling the plug. If you are lucky it will be your wife. She will ask for a few minutes alone with you. Then, when everyone has left the room, she will bend down, take you by the throat and whisper, “You filthy good-for-nothing son of a bitch, how can you leave me with unpaid bills, you sorry-arsed selfish pig of a man.”

By the time everyone returns, her tears will be genuine. Less honest will be her reason for taking you off life-support.


How to deliver a baby

At this time of year, it’s a good idea for all of us to have some sort of First Aid training. We – and not just the government – are a disaster-prone people and you never know when you might be called upon to deliver a baby or sew someone’s face back on.

Let’s stick with babies for now.

Say a virgin walking along Durban’s beachfront unexpectedly starts giving birth to Jesus II on Christmas Day. You would want to be able to help, right? Don’t laugh. It’s not impossible to still find a virgin in Durban.

Anyway. If you do see a pregnant woman’s waters break, the first thing you need to do is panic. This is a big moment for her and the last thing she wants is for people to act nonchalant. She will probably want you to take a photograph. First make sure she is comfortable (put your shoes under her head) and then take the photograph. Do it tastefully. You have not been commissioned by Hustler.

Some people say that childbirth is the most natural thing in the world. Of course it is. What could be more natural than having a tiny human growing inside your body for months on end and then, once it has reached the size of a watermelon, squeezing through an aperture designed to accommodate nothing more robust than a cucumber?

It is inadvisable to rely too heavily on nature for a hand with the delivery. If it were such a wonderfully natural thing, you and her could share a couple of beers and chat about your favourite books while she popped it out right there in the bar.

When confronted with an emergency delivery, you will find yourself in the unique position of having a woman hoik up her skirt and open her legs without you having to beg or pay for it. Don’t make a big thing of it. However, the entire process is fairly personal so you might want to get her phone number before getting down to business. If it turns out that she doesn’t know who the father is, forget the phone number. You don’t want to end up a surrogate dad for some little bastard born on a pavement.

When it comes to the birth, follow these pointers and everything should be fine:

  • Refrain from commenting on her vagina, no matter how complimentary you mean to be.
  • Tell her to push.
  • Tell her that she has dilated by, say, half a metre. That will encourage her to push even more.
  • When you see the baby’s head appear, resist the impulse to shout, “Alien spawn!” and run away.
  • If the baby is taking its time to come out, stick your hand in there and give it a good tug.
  • If you don’t have a knife or pair of scissors, chew through the umbilical cord and tie a knot in it. Close your eyes and pretend you are on Fear Factor.
  • If the baby is not breathing, this means he has already started with his nonsense and should be reprimanded with a gentle smack.
  • He will then start crying. So will his mother. It is best that you cry, too. If a crowd has gathered, ask them to join in.
  • Wait a few minutes for the afterbirth to appear. I don’t know why it doesn’t just come out with the rest of the carnage.
  • Put the afterbirth in some sort of container. A lot of mothers like to take it home and use it as a conversation piece.
  • Give the mother gin, cigarettes, drugs – whatever you have in your pockets. She deserves it.


Psst! Wanna book?

Not many people know that I have written twelve books. I imagine even fewer care. Be that as it may. The fact remains that I have, without even really trying, built up what writers and publishers refer to as a ‘backlist’ and what writers’ wives call ‘those bloody boxes at the back of the garage’.

Some of you might even own one or two of my books. Now you have no excuse not to own all of them.

I am doing this is a public service and not because I have been told to clean out the garage.

Books will not be sent via the Post Office, unless you specifically want them in time for Christmas 2015.

Here, then, are the Dirty Dozen listed in order of their year of release. Point and click.

Thank you.

Ben Trovato

Ben Trovato Files


Stirred not Shaken

Guide to Everything


Art of Survival

Hits and Missives

On the Run

Still on the run-2

Whipping Boy 2


Hearts and mines

Ben Trovato’s Art of Survival – Chapter 18

Chapter 18

Alien Attack


We all think an alien attack will never happen until it actually does and then no one is prepared for it and suddenly it’s the government’s fault. Well, let me tell you something. Forget the government. The department of home affairs can’t even cope with the invasion of aliens from other parts of Africa, let alone the universe. And the department of foreign affairs seems to have a policy of not getting involved in foreign affairs.

Should it happen that creatures not from Earth begin arriving in South Africa (and it will happen), the most you can expect from the government is a statement saying, “We take cognisance of the fact that non-humanoid beings (NHB) are in South Africa and that certain political parties (the DA) are urging the government to take action against them. The government wishes to point out that these NHBs did not cross any of our borders and have therefore not violated the country’s immigration laws. They will therefore be afforded the same rights as any other legitimate visitors. There is speculation in some quarters (the DA) that they have been sent here by their own government to colonise South Africa and perhaps even Earth itself. While rejecting these scare tactics with the contempt they deserve, the government wishes to place on record that it has no intention of meddling in the affairs of a sovereign state, whether it is Zimbabwe or a planetoid from the Andromeda galaxy.”

In other words, you are responsible for your own safety and security in the event of an alien attack.

Be Prepared

Ensure that your house is well protected. Unless they are able to stand outside on the pavement and incinerate your brain through the walls, or dematerialise themselves and reappear inside your lounge, the aliens will attempt to gain entry in much the same way as your typical housebreaker. The only additional precaution you need to take is to line your roof with aluminium foil. Aliens have hypnotic powers way beyond those of Andre the Hilarious Hypnotist. And let’s face it, he is pretty impressive, so you can only imagine what those little green fuckers are capable of doing. You may also want to wrap tinfoil around your head while you sleep at night.

The Landing

Most people have seen an alien spacecraft landing either in their garden (if it is big enough) or while they are out walking the dogs. However, because of the aliens’ hypnotic superpowers, our memories of the event are wiped clean. This does not work on everyone. There are a few Americans who clearly recall being taken aboard spaceships and given a body cavity search, then having an unborn child removed or an alien foetus implanted before being returned to their homes. Perhaps Americans have different brains to the rest of us. Perhaps their thoughts cannot be controlled because they have become so conditioned to rejecting any attempts by non-Americans at telling them what to do and how to behave.

If you sleep with tinfoil wrapped around your head and the aliens don’t see you looking at them, there is a very good chance that you will remember the landing the next day. In case you confuse it with something else, here are a few tell-tale signs to look for:

  • A very bright light illuminating your garden
  • A low-pitched electronic hum
  • Your dogs, cats, birds and fish are unconscious
  • The clocks have stopped
  • A round metal object resembling a giant silver fried egg is where your swimming pool used to be

Identifying An Alien

Extraterrestrials can take many forms and go by many names. It is important to be able to identify the one emerging from the spaceship in your front garden to enable you to get an idea of their intentions. Here are a few of the better-known aliens:

  • Brood Warriors. Home planet: Broodworld. They have the head of a python, legs like an insect, the tail of a scorpion, fangs like a snake and the wings of a dragonfly. There are no other distinguishing characteristics. They reproduce by laying their eggs inside the bellies of other sentient beings. When their young hatch, the host body is transformed into a new Brood Warrior.
  • Asgardians. Home dimension: Asgard. These are former Norse gods who live forever and are relatively harmless unless provoked. Asgard can only be reached via the Rainbow Bridge, a special interdimensional passageway. Avoid asking people in the street for directions unless you want to end up in a psych ward.
  • Kree. Home planet: Hala. These militaristic aliens desire nothing less than the subjugation of the entire cosmos. If you suspect your aliens could be Kree, go inside at once and draw the curtains.
  • Shi’ar. Home planet: The Aerie. This is a birdlike race that runs an empire in a galaxy named after them. Their interstellar conflicts often spill over into the Earth’s star system. The Shi’ar Imperial Guard is composed of superheroes from over a hundred worlds.
  • Ovoids. Home planet: Birkeel. Consider yourself very lucky if it is the Ovoids who have landed in your garden. They are a highly enlightened and peace-loving race that are able to place their essences in fresh, new bodies when their old ones become too aged or infirm. If immortality is what you are after, go out with a tray of tea and chocolate biscuits. Ovoids love biscuits.

What To Do

If you can’t tell your Ovoids from your Kree, it is best not to make any approaches, no matter how well intentioned your welcome may be. For all you know, this could be a race that uses chocolate biscuits as a declaration of war. Although it is difficult to know how to react until they have made their intentions plain, here are a few pointers on what not to do:

  • Don’t smile (baring your teeth could be seen as threatening)
  • Avoid eye contact (for your sake and theirs)
  • Don’t shout or talk in a high-pitched voice
  • Wear a hat (they will most likely be hairless and you don’t want to risk scaring them with stuff growing out of the top of your head)
  • Avoid smoking (they may think you are on fire and panic)
  • Don’t bend over (that’s just inviting a rectal probe)

Spotting The Difference

Some say there are aliens who walk among us every day. Apparently they look identical to humans, but those who claim to know these things say there is something different about their eyes. If I were in charge of extraterrestrial investigations, I would immediately check out former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the pope. On the other hand, neither of these “people” exactly walks among us. Which I think is a very good thing.

The Attack

Generally, aliens are enquiring by nature and it is likely that all they want to do is check us out, see how we live, have a bit of a laugh and go home.

However, as was witnessed in the award-winning 1996 documentary Mars Attacks!, it is quite possible for visitors from outer space to harbour extremely dangerous intentions. Filmmaker Tim Burton captured rare video footage of the Martians actually landing in Nevada ahead of their attempt to colonise Earth. White House surveillance tapes obtained by Burton also reveal American president Jack Nicholson giving instructions that the aliens were to be welcomed and not harmed. The documentary reveals, in graphic detail, how the president’s good intentions tragically backfire. Amateur footage collected from survivors show the Martians (bulbous-eyed and large-brained with transparent helmets covering their heads) using blue, red and green death-ray guns to deadly effect. In scenes not suitable for children, we see how thousands of people, many of them in the act of welcoming the aliens, are brutally vaporised. As the documentary reveals, the Martians were launching simultaneous attacks in Australia, Britain, India and France. Footage from public broadcasters in those countries shows national monuments being destroyed. In the gruesome final moments of the documentary, internal White House cameras reveal the aliens vaporising both the president and the First Lady. Many innocent lives were lost before it was discovered that Slim Whitman’s music exploded the aliens’ brains. Today, the documentary serves as a stark reminder to all of us that we need to be prepared. Thanks to Slim Whitman there are no more Martians left. But there are billions of planets out there and any one of them could have its sights set on Earth. Be ready.

Ben Trovato’s Art of Survival – Chapter 17

Chapter 17

Nuclear Attack


South Africans have grown complacent insofar as the threat of nuclear attack is concerned. We aren’t even particularly concerned when the Koeberg reactor shuts down because some or other Homer Simpson protégé has dropped a bolt into the cooling stack.

Being prepared for a nuclear disaster is as important as being prepared for other life-threatening events, like tsunamis and marriage.

In July 2006, former Namibian president Sam Nujoma said: “We have uranium in Namibia and we train our own scientists and engineers. If they (external forces) create nonsense, we can make our own atomic bombs.” The fact that Nujoma is a delusional recluse with a Standard Two education makes him all the more dangerous.

Preparing For Total Destruction

In the event of an imminent nuclear attack by Namibia, the people of South Africa will have plenty of time to take evasive action as the Cuban-trained pilot stops off in Lusaka and again in Harare to ask for directions to Pretoria. And our early warning system should kick in once intelligence agencies have verified the threat. Powerful air-raid sirens will be sounded in all the major cities. If you do not live in a major city, look for thousands of frogs heading in one direction. If there are no frogs in your area, then it will probably be a mass exodus of scorpions. Or even sheep and goats. Insects and animals are hypersensitive to the threat of attack, whether real or imagined. They are very similar to Americans in that way.

When you hear the sirens or see the frogs, stop what you are doing (unless you are having sex or drinking) and fetch the emergency nuclear attack survival kit that you keep ready at all times. Perhaps you have never got around to packing your emergency nuclear attack survival kit. What is wrong with you? Do you want to die with your flesh melting from your bones and your eyeballs turning to jelly?

Emergency nuclear attack survival kit for voters

  • Vaseline (rub on body to soak up radiation)
  • Earmuffs (to drown out sound of blast and hysterical wife)
  • Baseball cap (to prevent radiation from falling on head)
  • 50 cans bully beef
  • 100 litres water
  • Sandbox (for ablutions)
  • Heat magazine
  • First aid kit with aspirin, Band-Aid, thermometer
  • Portable radio

Emergency nuclear attack survival kit for members of parliament

  • Full-body airtight reflective safety suit
  • MP3 player
  • Titanium helmet with tinted visor and built-in two-way radio
  • Seafood selection (sushi, oysters, crayfish, caviar)
  • 100 litres Kristal champagne
  • Freestanding designer portaloo with heated seat
  • Leadership magazine
  • Personal paramedic with morphine, pethidine, cocaine
  • Plasma screen television

Ten minutes after the sirens have sounded or the frogs, scorpions, sheep and goats have disappeared, your council will begin its emergency evacuation procedures. You are not obliged to listen to them. After all, they never listen to you.

If you plan on staying, fetch your survival kit and your favourite members of the family and find somewhere to hide. Most South Africans have Wendy houses and tool sheds instead of bomb shelters in their back yards. This is an oversight that will ultimately claim millions of lives.

If you don’t have a basement, break into empty houses in your street until you find one. Make yourself comfortable. You could be there for anywhere between three days and 10 years. It all depends on how close you are to what New Yorkers call ground zero. Unless the bomb falls directly on top of the house in which you are sheltering, you stand a very good chance of surviving the blast.

The Attack

You will know when the bomb has dropped. Do not worry that you might mistake it for a car backfiring in the street. It will be considerably louder than that. Once you have heard the blast, resist the temptation to rush outside and see what happened to the nosy neighbours and their bastard dog that never stops barking. You need to wait a while for the radiation to blow away. If you get bored waiting for the wind to pick up, read your copy of Heat. Whatever you do, don’t have unprotected sex. This is not a good time for a woman to conceive. Unless, of course, you can afford to have another three mouths to feed. And you don’t mind if they are all attached to the same baby.

Keep your radio or television set on. News stations will let you know when it is safe to emerge from your basement. Watch or listen to independently owned stations only. Information disseminated by the government is unreliable at the best of times. Don’t leave the safety of your shelter even if you do get the all clear from the health department. The chances are extremely high that two minutes after you stick your head out into an impenetrable radioactive cloud, the ministry’s spokesman will issue a retraction, a denial and a warning that legal action will be taken against anyone who claims to have acted on any advice that the department never provided.

If the bomb drops before you can reach an underground shelter, avert your eyes or quickly put on a pair of good Polaroid sunglasses. The flash is very bright and could easily damage your eyes. The flash is also very hot and can leave you with a nasty burn if you’re not careful. If this does happen, put a little butter on it right away.

The detonation of a 300-kiloton nuclear bomb would release about 300 trillion calories within about a millionth of a second. If you make a habit of watching calories, you should be able to see these babies coming from a mile off. But even so, you are going to have to move quickly. Get behind a wall or down on the floor and make yourself as small as possible. You really can’t afford to pile on more calories.

The energy of the blast will also create a giant fireball. This wouldn’t be so bad if the bomb had to drop on Cape Town in winter, but if you lived in Durban and it was mid-summer, the additional heat would be unbearable. Waves of thermal energy will ignite fires across the city and suburbs. If you have been trying to light a braai in the wind, you will probably welcome the extra help. Very hot high-speed winds will also spring up, so postpone the paragliding or kite surfing if there is any chance of your city coming under nuclear attack that day. If you have any old furniture that you have been meaning to strip down, leave it outside on the veranda or in the garden. The blast wave will remove the paint nicely.

Once the blast wave has passed, have a quick shower to wash off some of the radiation and put the kettle on for a nice cup of tea. But be quick about it because the rising fireball will create a suction effect and a lot of stuff will start heading back towards ground zero. If you see cars, trees, cats and dogs flying past your window, hold on tight to something that is fixed firmly to the floor. Wait until the winds die down before letting go.

There will be a lot of dust and other stuff in the air, so if you suffer from hay fever, now would be a good time to take an antihistamine. The streets will be quite warm from all that hot air passing over them, so put on a sturdy pair of shoes before venturing out. When you see what the neighbourhood looks like, don’t panic. Keep telling yourself that at least the neighbours and their unspeakable dog are gone.

How To Build A Bomb

If you wish to launch a nuclear attack of your own, you will need to build your own bomb. Forget about getting a second-hand one from Iran. People from that region are notorious for their reluctance to share things. And the Namibians are still trying to find somewhere cool enough to store the one they haven’t started building.

If I told you how to build an H-bomb, the authorities would probably want a word in private with me. Since I don’t want any trouble, I am reproducing this recipe lifted from The Journal of Irreproducible Results, Volume 25/Number 4/1979. PO Box 234 Chicago Heights, Illinois 60411. So if anyone has any problems, you have the address.

    1. First, obtain about 110kg of weapons grade Plutonium at your local supplier. A nuclear power plant is not recommended, as large quantities of missing Plutonium tend to make plant engineers unhappy. We suggest that you contact your local terrorist organisation.
    2. Please remember that Plutonium, especially pure, refined Plutonium, is somewhat dangerous. Wash your hands with soap and warm water after handling the material, and don’t allow your children or pets to play in it or eat it. Any left over Plutonium dust is excellent as an insect repellent. You may wish to keep the substance in a lead box if you can find one in your local junkyard, but an old coffee will do nicely.
    3. Fashion together a metal enclosure to house the device. Most common varieties of sheet metal can be bent to disguise this enclosure as, for example, a briefcase, a lunch pail or a Buick. Do not use tin foil.
    4. Arrange the Plutonium into two hemispheric shapes, separated by about 4cm. Use rubber cement to hold the Plutonium dust together.
    5. Now get about 220kg of trinitrotoluene (TNT). Gelignite is much better, but messier to work with. Your helpful hardware man will be happy to provide you with this item.
    6. Pack the TNT around the hemispheric arrangement constructed in step 4. If you cannot find Gelignite, feel free to use TNT packed in with Playdo or any modelling clay. Coloured clay is acceptable, but there is no need to get fancy at this point.
    7. Enclose the structure from step 6 into the enclosure made in step 3. Use a strong glue such as “Crazy Glue” to bind the hemispheric arrangement against the enclosure to prevent accidental detonation that might result from vibration or mishandling.
    8. To detonate the device, obtain a radio controlled (RC) servo mechanism, as found in RC model airplanes and cars. With a modicum of effort, a remote plunger can be made that will strike a detonator cap to effect a small explosion. These detonator caps can be found in the electrical supply section of your local supermarket. We recommend the “Blast-O-Matic” brand because they are no deposit/no return.
    9. Now hide the completed device from the neighbours and children. The garage is not recommended because of high humidity and the extreme range of temperatures experienced there. Nuclear devices have been known to spontaneously detonate in these unstable conditions. The hall closet or under the kitchen sink will be perfectly suitable.
    10. Now you are the proud owner of a working thermonuclear device! It is a great icebreaker at parties, and in a pinch, can be used for national defence.

And that’s it. Easy as pie. Funny, though, how a simple act of plagiarism could quite possibly lead to the destruction of an entire city. If anyone does take the time to build an atomic bomb, could I ask you to please not drop it on Cape Town? Thank you.

Ben Trovato’s Art of Survival – Chapter 16

Chapter 16

Surviving When God And The Devil Go On Leave

Often, when things become hopelessly and utterly out of control, it is apparent that nobody is in charge either upstairs or downstairs. When you find yourself in the middle of a nuclear firestorm or under attack by aliens, there is little point in praying for help from God or cursing the Devil. There are things in this world that are beyond even their doing – things so terrible that Beelzebub would blush if you tried to pin the blame on Her – things so appalling that even Big G can’t do damage control.

Biological Attack

Some people will tell you that all you need to survive biological or germ warfare is a copy of the Bible. I believe pretty much anything people tell me these days, especially if they threaten to make sure I burn in the eternal fires of damnation should I dare question their faith.

Being a slow Sunday I thought I would put it to the test. Slipping through the doors of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, I took a seat at the back and picked up a well-thumbed copy of what appeared to be the Old Testament. While the parishioners were distracted by what looked like a riot down by the altar, I attempted to wrap the book around my face tightly enough so that no deadly bacteria or chemicals could find their way into my lungs. I began inhaling and exhaling deeply while pressing the Bible harder and harder into my face. Engrossed in my experiment, I failed to notice that the rioters had gone back to their pews and were now staring at me. A woman with a mouth pinched tight like a Doberman’s bum turned around and hissed something about alcohol in the Lord’s house. That’s rich, I thought, coming from a church that makes its followers drink wine they say represents the blood of Jesus Christ. And I won’t even get into the flesh-eating part of it. What kind of thing is that to teach your children?

Anyway, the upshot of the experiment was that I could still breathe no matter how tightly I wrapped that Bible around my face. So in the event of a biological attack, I would suggest that you provide your family with gas masks and not holy books.

Gas Masks

Gas masks are unsightly accessories with enormous staring eyes and pig-like snouts. They are suited to those with similar features. However, a lot of people might be reluctant to go out in public wearing one. Bear in mind that tearing at your face while your eyeballs bubble and your skin melts is even more unattractive. Wear your mask at all times, even when fulfilling your connubial responsibilities.


In the event of a biological attack, food sources will be contaminated. So you may want to start shrinking your stomach now. You do not want to be out roaming the streets like a homeless person begging strangers for a chicken burger when the air is thick with toxins and the streets piled high with bodies.


There are some biological agents that can turn people into zombies. I recommend that you get your hands on a documentary made in 1968 called Night of the Living Dead so that you may get an idea of how to identify these creatures and, more importantly, how to react should you come across them after a biological attack.

It is important to remember that zombies have very low blood pressure. Any higher and it would come spurting out of their suppurating wounds and decomposing flesh. This means that you need to raise their blood pressure by making them angry or by forcing them to run. Zombies tend to lurch a lot. They are not great runners but if you antagonise them enough, they will come after you at a fairly fast lumber. As they lose blood, they will become weaker. This is your opportunity to take a baseball bat or heavy piece of wood and hit them across the head as hard as you can. Inflicting a severe head injury is the only way to kill a zombie. None of this means much if you forgot to put on your protective suit before going outside, because the weapons-grade botulism, brucellosis and anthrax spores will get you long before the zombies do.

Forewarned Is Four-Armed

You will need a pathogen sensor to tell you when there has been a biological attack. If you have a flatulent dog, get rid of it. The last thing you need in these tense times is your pathogen sensor going off every time the dog does. If you can’t find a pathogen sensor, get a bird. Canaries in particular are highly sensitive to changes in air quality. Lappet-faced vultures aren’t. Just by looking at your canary you will be able to tell if there is something deadly in the wind. Signs to look for are:

  • Your canary lying on its back
  • That’s it.

Grow Your Own

If you have grown bored sitting around waiting for chemical or biological warfare to break out, you may want to consider launching your own attack.

There are more than 1500 biological culture libraries worldwide. Join the one that is nearest to you. A lot of these libraries will let you take out more than one culture at a time. But make sure you get them back by the due date. You don’t want to mess with these librarians.

First up, you will have to decide whether you want to use bacteria or viruses. Both can cause infectious diseases, so you need not be concerned on that score.

Bacteria are one-celled micro-organisms that are capable of multiplying. Viruses are simpler than bacteria. In fact, they don’t have much of a head for figures at all. It is important to remember that not all bacteria are harmful. It would be very embarrassing to open up your flask full of deadly bacteria inside a crowded Cape Town International Airport only to realise that yours is the kind that turns milk into cheese.

Bacteria’s natural enemy is the antibiotic, although some bacteria can build up a resistance if they work out regularly and watch what they eat.

Viruses laugh in the face of antibiotics. But they might not be so quick to laugh once the pharmaceutical companies work out how to make trillions of dollars through the sale of antiviral medication.

When it comes to choosing your poison, it makes sense to go for one of the more popular brands like botulism, anthrax, bubonic plague or smallpox. Make sure the dealer gives it to you in an airtight bag. If he tells you that he is having a special on viruses, tell him that you’ve already got some at home. There is hardly any pure Ebola, Marburg and Lassa on the market these days and you don’t want to take any chances.

When you get home, you will need a saucer, water, cotton wool and a little salt. Follow these simple steps and you will be well on your way to committing a major act of terrorism:

  • Fill the saucer with water
  • Stir in one tablespoon of salt
  • Soak the cotton wool in the water
  • Cut a corner off the bag containing your biological agent and quickly place it beneath the cotton wool
  • Keep the cotton wool moist at all times
  • Within 10 days your culture should have colonised the cotton wool. Remove it and place it in a petri dish.
  • Place the petri dish in a microwave oven and set it for one minute on high. The radioactivity makes the bacteria even more aggressive.
  • Place the petri dish on a windowsill that gets plenty of sun. Put it out of reach of the cat. Leave it there for five days or until it is crispy to the touch.
  • Put the petri dish in your deep freeze for two days. Do not come home drunk and eat it.
  • Remove the frozen cotton wool and grind it into particles of a respirable size.
  • Tip the microbes and spores into a conventional flask.
  • Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of a high-grade biological weapon.

Planning The Attack

When you have identified a target, check the weather before going out. Postpone your attack if there is a strong wind. You do not want to waste your spores by having them blow all over the show.

One of the most appealing aspects of biological warfare is that you don’t have to sacrifice your life to achieve your objectives. Suicide bombings are all very well, but in the current tough economic climate, few organisations can afford to have such a high staff turnover.

With biological warfare, all you have to do is sit on a park bench or on a train or in an aircraft, no, maybe not an aircraft, take a sandwich out of your lunchbox, read the paper, casually open your flask, put it down and walk briskly away. The air will remain contaminated for hours, if not days, and the spores will disperse over an area wide enough to kill more people than you could ever dream of killing.

Good luck!