A final letter to Msholozi


Dear President Zuma,

I have become accustomed to congratulating you on one or other of your remarkable successes – whether it be state capture or simply the acquisition of a fresh wife – and it grieves me terribly to have to offer condolences this time around.

It is always sad when a democracy loses its president at the hands of a political lynch mob instead of at the polls. When presidents are removed in dictatorships, they at least go out in a blaze of glory. With a bang rather than a whimper, as it were. Although I dare say even courageous leaders like Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi might have indulged in a spot of whimpering at the end.

I have to admit that at the time of writing this you were still pulling a Mugabe and refusing to budge. I guess I’m approaching you with the optimistic assumption that it’s just a matter of time.

If you still intend resigning – and it seems to me that Monday’s NEC meeting is a massive incentive – let me assure you that there is no shame in it. I have resigned from several jobs over the years. Sure, impeachment wasn’t my only other option. Nor was getting hounded out of the office by angry, disillusioned colleagues.

When I read last week that your pet poison dwarf Jessie Duarte had said a clear decision on your fate was urgent, I knew the cat was truly among the pigeons. The ANC’s top six do not use words like “decision” and “urgent” unless something pretty damn serious is about to happen to one of their own.

Then the quisling Baleka Mbete, who tried so hard to protect you in parliament for so long, turned on you and announced that your State of the Nation Address was being postponed. To her credit, she was kind enough to make out that this was at your request. Everyone knows it wasn’t, though. But that’s okay. When you’re cornered by a buffalo, you do whatever it takes to stay alive.

It’s a shame, really. That would have been your last opportunity to speak to the nation. To remind us, in your own unique somnambulist style, of how much the ANC has done for the country. I never tire of hearing the good stories. Every year it’s the same and every year it sounds like I’ve never heard it before. Perhaps I keep falling asleep. It’s not you, comrade. It’s a biological survival mechanism.

I was so hoping you would complete your term in office, not only because you provide a constant source of material and even income for struggling satirists and cartoonists, but also because … no, that’s it.

You have always insisted you’ve done nothing wrong and that the people love you. I made the mistake of thinking the same about a girlfriend once. It turned out that she loathed me. I completely misread the signals, as you seem to have done. To be fair, you only ever watch ANN7, read the New Age newspaper and surround yourself with people devoted to osculating your gluteus maximus. Given these quixotic conditions, how on earth were you to know how unpopular you had become?

What a pity you never really got the chance to experience what it must feel like to run the country. Right from the start you were fighting a rearguard action to stay out of court and there’s been no time for anything else. As a taxpayer, I have contributed substantially to your legal fees and I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but if you do go to jail, you can expect an invoice from me.

Listen, I was wondering about that meeting you had the other day with Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini. I’m in Cape Town at the moment and at some point will need to return to my home in Durban for a glass of water and a bath. I need to know that it will be safe. If you and the King are planning to secede the province and unleash the Amabutho, please let me know. I have seen the movie Shaka Zulu and, quite frankly, I have no wish to end up like Michael Caine with an assegai up my bum.

A lot of people are wondering how you managed to convince Cyril Ramaphosa – the pretender to the throne; the Capulet to your Montague – to give you a stay of execution by postponing last week’s NEC meeting. I don’t want to imagine that you both stripped off, coated yourselves in baby oil and wrestled for it. Damn. Now I am imagining it.

Not only did you get him to call the dogs off, but you also gave him a list of conditions to meet before you’d even consider stepping down. That takes audacity to entirely new levels.

From an outsider’s perspective, it seemed that you had about as much negotiating power as a frog dangling from a heron’s beak. Your options, on the surface, were to resign, be recalled by the party or face a vote of no confidence in parliament. Finishing your term seemed not to be among the options. And yet there you are, still behind your desk.

The NEC has turned into a nest of vipers and even in the top six you can count on the support of just the poison dwarf and Ace “Dairy Queen” Magashule. That’s not enough. You’ve already survived eight votes of no confidence in parliament. Cats and people like you get nine lives only. You wouldn’t want to risk it. Not with the likes of Vladimir Putin waiting to have a quiet word with you. And let’s not forget that your tame penguin in the NPA, Shaun Abrahams, could well drift off with the prevailing current.

I have to say, Jake old buddy, you really are something else. Africa has never seen a leader quite like you. You are neither democrat nor dictator. You are a man of the people with no mandate from the people. You literally laugh in the face of adversity. By tarnishing the reputation of the ANC, you single-handedly succeeded where the National Party failed. And that’s quite an achievement, particularly since it was done inadvertently.

Dragging a once-respected liberation movement’s name through the mud was merely collateral damage in your headlong pursuit of wealth. I don’t judge you, Jake. We’re all after money. What is perhaps more surprising is that so many of your comrades either turned a blind eye or helped you in your quest. That’s genuine loyalty, that is.

In the political milieu, you have redefined concepts like honesty, commitment and sacrifice. And, thanks to you, ubuntu now translates as, “I am rich because you are a Gupta.”

Don’t feel bad, though. You’ve had a damn fine innings. Longer than your predecessor, that’s for sure. You have travelled the world, met some interesting people from India, own a lovely property in Nkandla and have a bit of cash in your pocket. You’ve done very well, Jake. All you have to do now is stay out of prison. By the way, if you had to look up the word schadenfreude in the dictionary right now, you’d see a picture of Thabo Mbeki.

I want to see you and your old financial advisor kiss and make up. Play a round of golf together. Buy him a meal. It’s the least you can do. After all, it was because of you that Schabir spent a week or so in prison where he contracted a fatal illness which, miraculously, has improved his handicap.

So there’s only one question now, really. Is it better to jump or be pushed? Can’t help you there, old friend. Whatever you decide, it’s a long way to the bottom. Tuck and roll, Jake. Tuck and roll.


Day Zero’s bubble bursting bonanza


The water crisis in Cape Town isn’t all doom and gloom.

I saw a newspaper headline this week that said, “Drought could damage property values.” This is excellent news for everyone who isn’t an estate agent or a homeowner who might be thinking of selling. I don’t own property in Cape Town because I never listened to my mother when I left school and became a journalist instead and now it’s too late.

I couldn’t afford to buy a place when I first came to the Mother City in 1998 to help start up e.tv news, so I became a serial renter. Then, in 2004, just when I thought I might be able to get a small place of my own, property prices went utterly berserk. Virtually overnight, estate agents went from vulpine Mazda-driving gin junkies to vulpine BMW-driving champagne junkies. Not all of them, obviously, but certainly the ones who scavenge along the Atlantic Seaboard.

Over the festive season Pam Golding sold property along this gilded seam of ocean frontage worth R167-million. That’s pretty damn festive. It was their busiest December ever. A parking bay was sold for R1.65-million.

The agency’s area manager said despite the water crisis they were still seeing “keen interest from buyers looking for trophy properties”. And why not? If foreigners with tiny willies can bag a lion as a trophy, why can’t they also bag a mansion in Clifton? Actually, many of the buyers are from Gauteng. A trophy house to go with the trophy wife, perhaps.

Since arriving in Cape Town I’ve been behind the curve in every successive property boom. Truth is, it’s just been one long endless sonic boom driven by a real estate industry gone insane with hubris and greed.

Owner: My place isn’t much but I’m hoping to get R700-thousand.

Agent: Don’t be ridiculous. There are people who will pay R3-million for it.

Owner: Are you on drugs?

Agent: Shut up and take the money.

And so the bar for entry was raised sharply and savagely, quickly outstripping the ability of workers, shirkers, revolutionaries and right-brained romantics to get a foot in the door. Hell, by the time the rapacious feeding frenzy had subsided to a dull roar, we couldn’t even get a toehold.

Now, thanks to the lack of divine intervention, things are looking up.

“Drought could damage property values.”

That headline, were it written by a well marinated subeditor with anarchist tendencies, might just as easily have read, “Drought could slash property prices to realistic levels.” But there are no more anarchist subeditors. In fact, there are no more subeditors. They’ve all been darted and sent to the knacker’s yard in the unholy name of cutting back on costs. Let me not get distracted.

The story started off well. There were no typos or grammatical errors. Perhaps there is one subeditor left, banished to a corner of the newsroom where he sits rotting quietly from prolonged exposure to weak grammar and strong alcohol.

However, before the paragraph was out, I was reeling and confused. Because I had been drinking? Perhaps. I prefer to blame the paragraph. Let’s see what you make of it.

“For as long as the Western Cape’s water situation remains unresolved, the property market could take a knock in the short term and first-time buyers could face even higher prices.”

Perhaps it is the alcohol. It has, after all, a bit of a reputation for interfering with one’s thought processes, especially those deployed to the common sense department.

I have become increasingly reluctant to read beyond the first paragraph of any news story. No good can come of it. It will leave you feeling homicidal or suicidal. Sometimes both. Most of the time I get by on a quick scan of the headlines. So it was with long teeth that I read further.

“The influx of property investors is expected to slow.” All well and good. I’ve never been a big fan of these people. They rarely live in their investments, preferring to leave them shuttered up and empty or rented out to nouveau riche white trash who made their money through contract killings, wine farms or medical aid schemes.

Right off the bat, the director of a real estate company said there was “little evidence” that the drought would affect “Cape Town’s buoyant property market”. He would say that, though, wouldn’t he? If you were thinking of buying a house in Cape Town, isn’t this the kind of reassurance you’d want to hear? As opposed to, say, reading a notice from the municipality that from April everyone in the city will be expected to defecate in a bag and wash themselves with sand.

It’s no secret that estate agents have their own unique conception of ethics and truth – a crack house is a renovator’s dream, a vibrant neighbourhood is one where the police and ambulance sirens play all night long and a slight sea view involves standing on the bog and leaning out of the window in the guest toilet.

Claiming the drought won’t affect the property market is like the black knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail getting his arm chopped off and insisting that it’s just a flesh wound.

Perhaps sensing the need to dilute his denial with a dash of honesty, the director admitted that sales in the middle to upper end of the market might start to slow. “This means we’re not going to have as many affluent Joburgers and Durbanites driving demand for luxury property and prices could take a slight knock in the short term,” he conceded through clenched teeth.

Affluent Durbanites? Oxymorons notwithstanding, anyone properly born and bred in Durban isn’t driving demand for luxury property in Cape Town. They are driving to Blue Lagoon for a bunny or to the airport to emigrate to Australia.

Then he said something that had me scratching my head, bollocks and cat. Not all at once, obviously. He said that if the “double-figure capitalisation in property over the last two years is left unchecked, there is a risk that property values would lose touch with their underlying economic fundamentals and we’d end up in a bubble situation”.

The reporter, I imagine, reacted much like I did. A bit of slow nodding, some drooling, a vegetative state and then brain death. The reporter dragged himself back from the brink. Something had been troubling him from the start. Why would a water crisis mean even higher prices for first-time buyers?

“The first is the likely influx of people that we’re going to see coming to Cape Town to look for work, as our outlying rural and agricultural areas take strain.”

Either the subeditor blacked out at this point and deleted a bunch of words with his face or the reporter, like me, abandoned all hope of making sense of anything and went drinking. The story wrapped up with quotes from the regional head of another agency.

Hedging his bets like a true professional, he said it was too soon to say whether the crisis would affect people’s decisions to buy in Cape Town. “A contained situation for a few months will not impact the long-term desirability of living in Cape Town, but a prolonged situation would temporarily impact sentiment and valuations in the short term.”

It’s a sentence wringing its hands, drenched in false optimism and crippled with contradictions. For a start, the situation is nowhere near contained. If anything, we have a container situation. I don’t even have a bucket.

The chairman of a Western Cape property forum had the last word. “For now things are still good, but we expect that it might change for the worse as the industry is water dependent.” Nonsense. If anything, the real estate industry is tonic dependent.

Gin and water is an abomination.


The new dorsland draadtrekkers

I find it hard to take things too seriously because in a hundred years from now everyone on the planet will have vanished and been replaced by eight billion people who don’t currently exist. Also, we live on a giant rock floating in space.

So when people come to me with fear in their eyes and say that Cape Town – where I am at the moment – is about to become the first city in the world to run out of water, I guzzle tequila shots and do cartwheels until they go away.

And while everyone is whispering in urgent tones about the water crisis, I haven’t heard anyone talking about a shortage of beer. That’s because there isn’t one. The solution is obvious. Stop using water and switch to beer. After all, beer is, like, 50% water. The other 50% is supernatural happy juice. You can drink it, soak your clothes in it and even use it to wash your face and gentleman bits. Ladies should wash in wine.

Actually, I did have cause to panic earlier in the week when Western Cape Premier Helen Zille tweeted, “Talking to @WorldOfBeer about bottling 12 million quarts of water (instead of beer) to help us in the event of day zero.” What is wrong with this woman? Beer is the only thing that is going to get everyone through this nasty business.

After Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille went berserk and blamed everyone except herself and her party for the crisis, she was fitted with a muzzle and led away. Zille is now in charge of saving us all from certain death with a series of well-placed tweets. Like this one. “If everyone using water in greater Cape Town, Drakenstein and Stellenbosch sticks to upper limit of 50 litres per person per day, the dams will reach a low of 15%. Day Zero is 13,5%. We can still prevent it by the skin of our teeth.”

By then we won’t have any skin on our teeth. Not being able to brush will have us walking about with mouths seemingly filled with small marsupials.

As princess of the province Zille gets to live in Leeuwenhof, a lavish 17th-century estate lounging elegantly on the slopes of Table Mountain. This week she posted a picture of a tomato in a quarter of a cup of water. “Washing a tomato for supper in a cup. I will use it for other fruit (nectarines and grapes) as well. Then the water left in the cup goes into the toilet cistern.”


Another tweet had a photo of her standing in a tin basin having a wash – mercifully showing only her bare feet. In response, Mududzi tweeted a photo of himself bathing with kitchen utensils. Zille responded, “No no no! No baths, not even with your pots and pans. Take them into a 90-second shower instead.”


In an effort to shame the city’s top 100 water abusers, a list of addresses from Camps Bay to Crossroads was released. Just the name of the street, suburb and water consumption. In other words, no shaming at all, really. Topping the list is someone in Haywood Road, Crawford, using 702 000 litres a month. That’s got to be a clandestine grow house. Thanks to this list, everyone in Haywood Road is now a suspect.

So far there is no technical strategy in place for dealing with Day Zero. The city’s only plan seems to be to urge residents not to use more than 50 litres a day. What a brilliant idea. Let’s rely on the inherent goodness in people. On their willingness to sacrifice for a common cause. Does Zille even know what people are like? It reminds me of the time Neville Chamberlain met Hitler and made him pinky swear that he wouldn’t start a war.

Oh, wait. That’s not the only plan. Zille has also suggested that to relieve the pressure on the municipal water system, people could book into hotels for the duration of the drought. I’m not joking. She really said this. That’s fine for Jacob Zuma’s bagmen in the state-owned enterprises – they can go and stay at the Oberoi Hotel in Dubai for free, thanks to the generosity of the adorable Gupta family.

At least 60% of city residents aren’t sticking to the daily limit. That’s because most people don’t care about anyone they’re not related to or have no chance of sleeping with. They’re not going to suffer for the benefit of strangers. They care only about themselves. Cape Town has plenty of them. They are called The Rich. So when you overhear someone droning on about the state of the Salukis (the Range Rover is in such a mess!) because the doggy parlours have closed down, you need to go up to them and say, “Shut your borehole.” You may wish to deliver a light slapping. Apart from hard currency, it’s the only language they understand.

One thing is certain, though. While we the people are wearing edible broeks, pooing in the bushes, eating off open fires, drinking our own urine and rutting like wild animals, The Rich will carry on as if nothing is amiss. The lowering of standards does not come easily to them. They are different to us. They will fill their pools with Perrier and drink cocktails on their verdant lawns. They will also know that we are coming for them. Well, for their water, anyway. Nobody wants the French Revolution.

The chattering classes – those of the metropolitan middle – have it that the problem is not one of too little water but rather too many people. What they really mean is too many immigrants. And by immigrants they mean people from the Eastern Cape.

There are moves afoot to impose a series of incremental fines on households that use more than their fair share. Obviously if you don’t have a water meter you can’t be fined. And who doesn’t have water meters? The poor, that’s who. They get to sit around their communal taps and drink all day long, then wash their goats and hose down their shacks when they catch fire and there’s nothing we can do about it. Damn their selfish eyes.

It hasn’t escaped the attention of Zille’s followers. This from a white rugby player from Kraaifontein, “Why should we that pay for water save if the people that doesnt pay water dont save? And what is the DA doing? Nothing instead of fixing the crisis you guys fight under each other.” At least his privileged education is finally paying off.

The city has issued an online map showing all the plots in Cape Town – apart from the plot to destroy Patricia de Lille’s career, obviously. An incredibly complex system involving coloured dots indicates who is saving water and who needs to be ashamed of themselves. I’m colour blind so it makes no sense to me at all.

I’m not the only one. “What I don’t understand is why the city still tolerates households consuming more than 10k litres? Why is the water map not showing red dots? If I would see my neighbor with a red dot I would go over and have a talk to help them to use less water!” Have a talk, eh? I reckon once that chat was over there’d be red dots of arterial spray all over the house.

Another suggested that watershedding should start now. You’d think, right? Before Day Zero kicks in, there really ought to be a dry run. Haha. “Shut it down now except for essential services … bring in the bowsers now.”

For those who aren’t familiar, bowsers are St Bernard dogs crossed with pitbulls. They are trained to distribute water to the needy and attack the wasteful. Unlike many of us, they are able to interpret the water map. However, they do need help accessing the internet.

Alexandra suggested that people should stop complaining because it does nothing to provide water. “Do your part, be wise with water and prayer. Pray for our government, our leaders and the poor. When God brings the floods they will be mostly impacted.”

It was probably excessive praying for sunny weather that caused the drought in the first place. God has been known to overreact at times so please tone down the prayers for rain.

Meanwhile, another tweet from Zille, complimenting some or other shiny-eyed family of do-gooders on their increasingly ludicrous water-saving measures, said, “Some people are really catching the “gees” of saving water.” Ah, yes. The old “gees”. The spirit. The last time we had it was during the 2010 Soccer World Cup, except this time we’re all going to die at the hands of thirst-crazed gangs with names like the H2 Ous. That’s if the Black Death doesn’t get us first.

By April the taps will be turned off and people will be lining up at one of the 200 distribution points around Cape Town. This could mean at least 10 000 people arriving at each point every day. I’m not going to be able to do it. I can’t be in a queue of ten people without being consumed by homicidal fantasies. Fights over bottled water are already breaking out in supermarkets.

Armageddon outta here.

A day at the races

I see the J&B Met is being run in Cape Town today, except it’s not called that any more. It’s now the Sun Met. I don’t know what happened to the whisky people.  I attended the race twice. Once in 2007 and again in 2009. Here’s what happened the first time.


I awoke late on Saturday and drove out to Kenilworth Race Course for the J&B Met, eventually finding parking in a side street on the outskirts of Darling.

Arriving thirsty as seven stoned camels, I made for one of the makeshift bars on the lawn in front of the grandstand. Gallons of vodka, brandy and whisky. But no beer. That’s a good idea, I thought. Pump this white trash crowd full of high-octane spirits in the middle of one of the hottest days in living memory, then rig the main race and take all their money.

Earlier, while researching the history of the race, I got sidetracked by the history of J&B and researched the whisky instead. One line stood out: “J&B Rare has a youthful personality and is drunk as a refreshing drink during the day and throughout the night.”

Being a youthful drunk with a refreshing personality, I knew right then and there that I had met my soulmate.

I ordered a double and the callow youth behind the counter tried to charge me a small fortune. I looked him in the eye and flashed my media tag. “I’m a journalist,” I said. He nodded and offered to make it a treble. “Forget it,” I said, “I need my money for gambling. Where are the rich and famous?” He pointed towards some sort of tented village on the opposite side of the track. Within minutes I was out of the refugee camp and among my people. All around me, packs of half-naked women and silver-coated freaks of no discernible gender wafted in and out of air-conditioned marquees.

I marched up to the J&B tent and flashed my tag at the security goons. They stepped aside and waved me through. This was more like it. Free food and as much whisky as any sane man could ever hope to drink. And a quiet area to place your bets without being jostled and spat on by a heavily tattooed desperado trying to win enough to feed his chronic tik habit for another week.

It was like heaven. Well, that part of heaven reserved for black people, anyway. I was the only whitey in the area. Either J&B are way ahead in the affirmative action stakes or whiskey has become this year’s umqombothi.

The company claims that its Rare blend is the most approachable whisky in the world. And they are right. I approached it time and time again, from many different angles, and not once did it turn its back on me.

Sauntering over to the bookies, I studied the stats for the eighth race. There was something called a swinger pool but my body clock told me it was way too early in the day to strip down and start hitting on another man’s wife.

I couldn’t work out if I was looking at the horse’s age, weight or odds, so I put R100 on number 18 for no real reason at all. The bookie gave me the lazy eye and said there were only 13 horses in the race. “I knew that,” I said. “What about this 50kg three-year-old? Is that the horse or the jockey?” She ignored me so I asked if she thought Wonder Lawn had a chance, but she said he had been scratched for coughing. “That’s a bit unfair,” I said. “Maybe he was just a little hoarse.” She asked me to step away from the counter.

My media tag was like a magical passport to pleasure, a free pass for freeloading. I was welcomed into every corporate tent I went up to. Except Standard Bank. I was determined to recoup some of the trumped-up charges they have inflicted on me over the years but a thug wearing an earpiece turned me away in no uncertain terms.

Seeking refuge inside a less hostile tent, a woman spotted my media tag and rushed over. “Marc Lottering is here,” she said breathlessly. I wasn’t sure how to respond to this so I didn’t. “He said he doesn’t want to be bothered by the press so we would appreciate it if you stayed away from him.” Why a joker from the Cape Flats with a drunk driving conviction and a hair-do the size of Athlone stadium would come to the races and demand to be ignored was beyond me.

How to place a bet without making a complete fool of myself was also beyond me, but I wasn’t about to leave without a substantial win on the big race.

All of it on Badger’s Gift for a win,” I said, seconds before betting closed. She was the only filly in the race and hadn’t seen a track in three months. This was a good sign. She had to be hungry for a flat-out run.

Pressed up against the rail, I couldn’t see the start. Actually, I had no idea where the start was. For all I knew it was in Milnerton.

Then I heard the commentator mention my horse. The crowd erupted and I spilled whisky all down my shirt but I didn’t care because my horse was winning and soon I would be able to buy a thousand new shirts. Badger’s Gift crossed the line so far ahead of the others that I couldn’t even see them. I dashed back to the bookie to claim my winnings but she said it only counts if the horse has a jockey.

I was appalled. The stupid cow had thrown her silk-coated homunculus and made straight for the stables for a bit of hay and a little lie-down.

If lame horses get shot, why don’t you shoot lame jockeys?” I shouted, trying to reach into the till to get my money back. I was escorted to the door and asked not to come back.

Outside in the cruel heat, the beautiful people were starting to melt and stagger. Having spent the rent and developed a lifelong addiction to whisky and gambling, I sensed it was time to leave.


Of Mr Feelfokkol and other rats

I got an sms from Standard Bank yesterday. They were very excited to tell me that my Gold Card is my ticket into some kind of draw where I could be selected as a contestant to play the bank’s new television game show where I could win up to one million rand. T&Cs apply. They actually used the word ‘excited’.

I’m a little less excited, mostly because I have never owned a Gold Card. You’d think the bank would know that. After all, I’ve been with them for almost forty years, most of which I’ve spent in the enquiries queue.

I don’t own a gold chain, ring or watch. I have no gold coins, teeth or nuggets. There is nothing in my possession that is made of gold. Standard Bank must be aware of this because they have never even so much as offered me a Gold Card, even though they appear to be under the impression that I am one of their Most Valued Customers.

All I have is a Mastercard, something even the peasants possess these days. When not being prodded across the counter at Shoprite, they use it to chop lines of inferior cocaine and jimmy locks so they may steal from those who qualify for Gold Cards.

It’s quite tragic that I don’t have one because their offer sounds super awesome. I can’t imagine anything I’d rather be on than a game show conceived by the creative geniuses of Standard Bank. I imagine the challenges will involve remembering thing like your last three credit card purchases, your last six telephone numbers and your maternal grandmother’s maiden name.

They tell me that I “could win up to one million rand”. This is tremendously exciting. When a balding man in a cheap suit presents me with a giant R50 cheque while being showered with confetti made from the shredded bond agreements of repossessed properties, he will notice my disappointment and point out that the terms and conditions clearly stipulate that the prize is “up to” one million rand. Security will encourage me to smile for the cameras before escorting me off the premises. All I need now is the Gold Card. Which I don’t ever want.

It’s not just Standard Bank that has been luring me down the boulevard of broken dreams. I’ve been getting other unsolicited messages since the Gregorian calendar dragged us one year closer to the grave. The Nigerians have got off to a flying start and my inbox is saturated with offers of a handsome cut in return for helping get their dead father’s millions out of the country. And more girls than usual are threatening to explode with desire unless I get in touch with them immediately.

In other news, two once prominent law enforcers are coming to the end of their careers after sitting at home earning millions for the last seven years. One was drunk on wine, the other on power. I hope you enjoy all that free money, Judge Nkola Motata and ex-cop Richard Mdluli.

Speaking of free money, the department of social development has admitted paying the SABC R140 000 for a two-hour bum-licking interview with the appalling Minister Bathabile Dlamini. I find it more disturbing to think there might be people in this country who actually watched it.

This column is a bit disjointed because I’m in Cape Town and it’s 38 degrees. My eyes are like melted Frisbees and I can hear my brain bubbling like a venison stew inside its cranial potjie. I can see a Cape clawless otter lurking in the milkwoods waiting for me to keel over so it can slither across the dying lawn and chew my face off.

Also, the provincial government has declared April 22 – my birthday – to be the day the city runs out of water entirely. I can’t think of a better way to spend my birthday than welding metal spikes to the front of my filthy Subaru, grabbing my grandfather’s World War II flamethrower and heading out to do battle with the soft-bellied water hoarders of Constantia and Bishop’s Court. They all have swimming pools and boreholes. I will fight them to the death. Or maybe not. I don’t really need water. That’s why Jesus gave us beer.

This is going to be an utterly berserk year both here and abroad. People in Hawaii have already spent half an hour waiting for a North Korean missile to kill them all. One guy saw the alarm on TV, drank half a bottle of imported whisky and went surfing. Sounds about right. To be fair to Kim Jong-un, the warning – broadcast by accident – didn’t actually say where the inbound ballistic missile was coming from. There’s a good chance a lot of Hawaiians assumed that Donald Trump had got the coordinates wrong.

Even Scandinavia is getting anxious. The Swedish government is resuming conscription and will be sending leaflets to five million homes instructing residents how to prepare for war with Russia. I imagine it will be a contest between Absolut vodka and absolute annihilation. H&M has its headquarters in Stockholm. The EFF should send over one of its infantry battalion when the festivities get underway. Those mannequins might fight back, though.

Squirrel Ramaphosa’s election as ANC president has well and truly upset the applecart, a cart almost entirely filled with bad apples. Forget the apples. Let’s call it a rat cart. Some of the rats are scrambling for cover, others are emerging blinking into the sunlight. Police minister Fikile Mbalula is one of the blinkers. Until December 18 there was nothing more he wanted than for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to take over from her former husband as leader of the party. As one of her most vocal cheerleaders, he had nothing good to say about Ramaphosa. But then, oopsie. Rat cart overturned and all bets were off. Mbalula now comes across like a bad actor who has been handed a script he’s never seen before. All his old lines are out the window and the best he can do now is spout a mishmash of gibberish while frantically backpedalling and juggling in the hope that his new tricks will save his job.

Last week journalist Karyn Maughan interviewed Mbalula, who goes by the elegant name of Mr Fearfokkol on Twitter. Put on the spot, this was his answer, “With the election of the president of the ANC it comes with goodwill because he’s been tough, he’s been talking tough on corruption. He’s been talking tough on dealing with issues in a particular way. So this new particular paradigm and environment we find ourselves in, it is good for the country that for once we are not pussyfooting when it comes to the fight against corruption. We are decisive and there is action. But I can assure you these things don’t start now, they have been there and they will be there so don’t get shocked … prepare your shock absorbers, it’s going to be heavy, and those who are corrupt must know the state is going to stamp its authority.”

Ah, comrade. Why then have you been doing the pussyfoot until now? Come. Tell us. The truth will set you free. Thing is, Mr Fearfokkol, the truth will quite likely land your spineless jellyfish ass in court along with everyone else who has the most disgraceful family in South Africa and the entire state of Uttar Pradesh on speed dial.

Jesus Christ Super Shopper

With supermarkets busier than churches on a Sunday, the Church of England is marketing Jesus in the guise of a shopper to boost his appeal – Daily Mail

Excuse me, sir,” said the security guard at the entrance to Pick n Pray. “You can’t come in here without shoes.” Jesus smiled and reached out to touch the guard on the head. Jesus was on the floor before you could say “Hail Mary”. Once the misunderstanding had been cleared up, the guard helped Jesus to his feet.

Sorry about that. Thought you were going for my throat. Can’t be too careful these days. You’re still going to need shoes.”

Jesus walked over to a teenager in a wheelchair and spoke to him for a few minutes. After the kid had jumped around for a bit, babbling and weeping as the miraculously cured are inclined to do, he took off his sneakers and gave them to Jesus.

The security guard sensed something very meaningful had happened right in front of his eyes but he couldn’t work out what it was. Anyway, the important thing was that the freak in the dress was now wearing shoes.

Right away, Jesus was drawn to the fruit and veg section. He remembered his Father telling him stories about the Garden of Eden. It was just the way he always pictured it, only with a lot more people. And fewer serpents. Wandering about, stroking the broccoli and admiring the plums, he caught sight of a woman handing a man a bag of apples. Recalling the damage that a single apple was capable of causing, he lunged across the aisle and knocked the bag from the man’s hand.

What the fuck?” shouted the shopper. Jesus kicked the apples away and made the sign of the cross without even knowing what it meant. “This is forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil! Thou shalt not eat of it!” Mothers gathered their terrified children and made for the relative safety of the dairy aisle.

You’re talking kak,” said the woman. “They come from Ceres. Got ’em yesterday.”

What is this Ceres of which you speak, harlot?” said Jesus.

Watch your mouth, hey. Ceres is there by … ag, you know.”

The Mount of Olives?”

Nay my larney. Ceres just does fruit. Olives is mos a vegetable.”

Jesus gathered his robes and backed away. “You will be cursed with hard labour and pain in childbirth.”

The shop assistant pulled a face. “Asseblief. I work for Raymond Ackerman. Don’t talk to me about hard labour. And I got seven laaities. I feel no pain. I just sommer drop them right here between the pineapples and the paw-paws.” She threw her head back and laughed like the whore of Babylon.

Pale and shaken, Jesus followed the signs to the deli. The name reminded him of home. Deli. There was something Jewish about it.

Crossing the vast wilderness of dog pellets, he came upon mounds of slaughtered beasts and a terrible sadness rose up in him. “What tragedy has befallen this place? How am I to lie down with lambs when they have been rent asunder and covered in shrink-wrap?”

His eye fell upon a rack of pork ribs. With an anguished cry he lifted them high above his head. “Only the Devil has the power to turn women back into ribs!”

Just then the butcher came out from the back holding a bag of blood and gore. “Are you the dog bones?” he said. Jesus fell back. “I am the King of the Jews!” The butcher looked disappointed. “You’ll want the kosher section then. It’s over there. Just past the …”

But it was too late. Jesus was gone. Desperately searching for a way out, he found his path barred by what appeared to be a 937-year-old woman. She looked a little like Lot’s wife. Or a lot like Little’s wife. She pressed a fillet of hake into the Messiah’s trembling hands and said, “Forgot my bloody glasses. Can you tell me the price on that?” In an instant the floor was covered in fish. And not just hake, but the good stuff too. Patagonian toothfish and white musselcracker. Things turned nasty when a hammerhead shark materialised out of nowhere and thrashed its way down the toiletries aisle biting hollow-eyed housewives immobilised by Prozac.

Jesus ran like he hadn’t run since the Romans were after him. He sprinted through the bakery wreaking havoc as wholewheat loaves multiplied in his wake, then across the appliance section, along the household cleansers, down the tinned foods, through the pot plants – causing the hydrangeas to burst into flames – and, finally, out of the front door.

Not so fast, buddy,” said the security guard. “Where’s your receipt for that?”

What? What?” shouted Jesus, eyes rolling madly in his head.

That crown of thorns. You didn’t have it when you came in. Come with me.”


Dear Ancestors …


In times of great misfortune and uncertainty it is an African tradition to consult your ancestors and ask them to show you the way forward.

In the time of Zuma we have had misfortune in spades. These are also times of great uncertainty. This is a good thing. If you’re complacent in your job or comfortable in your marriage, you need to upset that applecart and get with the times. Forget certainty. It will stab you in the back as soon as sleep with you.

Change is in the air. Climate change. Regime change. Don’t be left behind. It’s a new year. Shed your old life and start anew. Sure, it might end in a homeless shelter. But it might not. Come on. Come and gamble with me. The odds are better than anything you’ll find in the Goodwood Casino.

First, though, I need to find my ancestors and shake their bones. I don’t even know if this works for whiteys. I assume it works for darkies. Last week Squirrel Ramaphosa, South Africa’s black Jesus, said the ruling party had been down and out, riddled with foreign tendencies and required ancestral intervention. Something or someone must have intervened because he was elected party president a couple of weeks ago. I’m virtually down and out and riddled with all sorts of things, so it’s definitely worth giving the ancestors a shot.

Thing is, Ramaphosa wasn’t consulting his own personal ancestors. He was reportedly shaking John Dube’s bones. And Walter Rubusana’s bones. Them be the bones of former ANC leaders. So the question I’m asking myself now, apart from why the waiter is ignoring me, is can one go about rattling bones willy-nilly when they aren’t in fact direct kin of the shaker and still expect sensible answers? Maybe it only works for people like Ramaphosa. After all, ANCestors, rights?

Can I go to the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris and shake Jim Morrison’s bones? Of course not. If I could afford to go to Paris why would I be sitting in this filthy bar writing rubbish for a pittance? Not to mention that the Lizard King would give me the most appalling advice in the unlikely event that we made a connection.

“Don’t take heroin. Don’t take a bath after taking heroin. Don’t date women called Pamela.” If he had told me this a few years ago, I would’ve listened to him on at least one of those counts. Too late. The damage is done.

It might make more sense to visit Alta Mesa Memorial Park in Palo Alto, California, and rattle Steve Jobs’s bones. There are a couple of things that need clearing up. Like why do his laptop charger cables have the lifespan of a one-legged chicken in KwaMashu. Steve doesn’t care about me. He doesn’t care about any of us. He was meant to be immortal. He was meant to update his operating system, for heaven’s sake, not die.

A lot of other bones worth shaking can’t be shook because they got cremated. I don’t know what the ancestor worshipping business says about people who get burned instead of buried. Does shaking the urn have the same effect? Is it the same as praying with your eyes open or shut? Or, for that matter, not praying at all? Can I make a martini and shake it instead of the bones and expect the same result? Of course not. Don’t be ridiculous.

So the challenge for me, apart from catching the waiter’s eye, is to find my ancestors. Maybe define them first. I think it excludes parents. You can’t go from mother to ancestor in the blink of an eye. Even grandparents might be pushing it a bit. If you’ve met them they aren’t proper ancestors. From where I’m sitting, and I use the word sitting loosely, ancestors are people who died before you could get the chance to thank them for their contribution towards making you the genetic miracle you are today. By thank I obviously mean strangle.

I’ve always been a bit subnormal when it comes to grasping family relationships. Anything beyond uncle and my eyes glaze over, my mouth falls open and my heart rate plummets. If someone tries to explain how my aunt’s brother’s cousin is related to me, I am clinically dead before they can finish.

When I think of my ancestors, I think Cro-Magnon. Not so much upper class as lower Paleolithic. I imagine them in skins but only because I can’t bear to imagine them naked. Perhaps I’m going too far back.

As a white South African I have no traditions other than those involving the denigration and exploitation of black people. Sadly, those days are over and now there are no traditions I can call my own. Braaing, perhaps. Even then, there are darkies who will claim they were cooking meat over open fires long before white people were invented. It’s outrageous.

Look. I’m quite happy to rattle the bones and communicate with my ancestors if it means getting an indication of what I should do with what little remains of my so-called life. Communicating with the living doesn’t seem to help much at all. Might as well try the dead.

The problem is, I can’t afford to get to the graves of my ancestors. It would mean going to Italy, England, Australia and the Netherlands for a start. Those are just the ones I know about. Europeans spread their seed like wildfire in the early days. I’m surprised I didn’t turn out Catholic.

I’m a bit ashamed to say that I just googled Where Do White People Come From. What a mistake. I was dragged from Genesis to revolutions, from Australoids to Caucasoids, from the Semites to the Hamites, from the Third Reich to the Fourth Extinction. I could go on but it’s too depressing. It turns out that white people are little more than a concept.

Anyway. That’s enough about white people. In a few hundred years everyone will be brown. Or dead. I can’t do a global tour of my ancestors’s graves but I do need some direction so I’m going down to the bottom of my garden. There are bones there. Chicken and mutton, mainly. They must know a thing or two with the benefit of hindsight. Watch your back. Don’t trust humans. Have an exit strategy. That sort of thing.