Tag: South Africa

If you can’t join them, beat them

Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini says the problem with education today is that teachers are no longer allowed to beat the children. Speaking at a gathering of principals and school governing bodies recently, the patron of education in KwaZulu-Natal emphasised that children needed to be corrected. The best way to do this is not to put a red line through an incorrect answer, but to leave a red line on the idiot’s bum. That’s a mark he won’t forget in a hurry.

My school in Durban North was a hotbed of thrashings. I don’t know how the staff found the time to get any teaching done. Around every corner there was a line of boys waiting to be ordered to bend over and take it like a man. I grew up thinking this sort of thing must happen to men all the time. But it doesn’t. I have never once heard an interaction of that nature between two adult males. Well, there was this one time in a nightclub … never mind.

Another favourite method of discipline was throwing things. You’d be staring out of the window wondering who would win in a fight between a kangaroo and an ostrich and for no good reason at all, a blackboard duster would be launched at your head from close range. I got hit so many times that when I finished school I was diagnosed with minimal brain damage and had no alternative but to pursue a career in journalism.

The use of corporal punishment in schools has historically been justified by the English common-law doctrine in loco parentis, which means parents are morons and as a result teachers have the right to punish children in their care.

King Zwelithini said children were motivated to do their best simply by seeing a stick. Obviously this won’t work if they don’t make the connection between pain and the stick. It’s no good just showing them a stick and hoping it will act as a deterrent. All that will happen is they’ll go, “Oh look, a stick” and continue with their experiments in human sacrifice and adolescent impregnations.

Everyone must therefore have a taste of the stick for them to understand what it represents. Children are no different to hamsters or rats when it comes to learned behaviour. And the king is right when he says the stick needs to be seen. What better place to put it than on the education department’s logo? Right now the logo features a lion with a spear and a wildebeest with a knobkierie fighting over what looks like a giant Easter egg. My money’s on the lion. I can’t read the motto on this internet image. It’s too small and my eyes are too weak. Or maybe just lazy. They deserve to be beaten. But whatever it is, it needs to be changed to something in Latin, a language born from blood. Ledo illis non cognoscere, vel ad fugiendum has a nice ring to it. It means, Hit them until they learn or run away.

Thing is, the use of the rod is, I don’t know, so very apartheid era. The king needs to move with the times. Sticks are all very well, but they are dull and commonplace and wielding one requires no skill at all. Besides, bludgeoning is heavy work and teachers in humid KZN wouldn’t want to get their Pep shirts all sticky with sweat and maybe even blood. So instead of beating kids with sticks, I suggest we use stun guns or Tasers in urban schools and cattle prods in rural areas.

Teachers could also use pepper spray to help children understand the importance of looking at the blackboard instead of their cellphones. And reusable sound grenades delivering a 130 decibel sonic blast will get any kids’ attention, no matter how ADD they are. Using these modern methods will send a message to the world that we are technologically advanced and not to be trifled with.

King Zwelithini doesn’t say whether corporal punishment should be administered across the board. Or across the gluteus maximus, for that matter. Some teachers might prefer to whack an outstretched palm while others might express a preference for the soles of the feet. What I’m saying is, should girls be treated the same as boys? I don’t think it’s a good idea. Girls have an insatiable desire for revenge. Smack her and years later she will hunt you down and kill you and then kill your entire family and your family’s friends and all their pets. If you don’t believe me, you obviously haven’t watched the documentary Kill Bill.

Quite frankly, I don’t think the king takes it far enough. Why stop with wayward kids when we have so many ill-disciplined civil servants? When I first heard there was something called a Chief Whip, I assumed his job was to flagellate the buttocks of backsliding members of parliament. I, for one, would pay good money to watch Jackson Mthembu flaying Malusi Gigaba across one of the front benches.

There’d also be a lot less malfeasance, negligence and general time-wasting if each department was overseen by a Director of Punitive Measures who dispensed floggings to the incompetent and the crooked on Friday afternoons.

Our police minister, Fikile “Fokofpolisiekardashian” Mbalula, has already got the ball rolling by urging cops to slap suspects, run them down, return fire with fire, crush their balls, make them drink their own urine, and, if they still haven’t learnt their lesson, follow him on Twitter. Presumably we are entitled to do the same to corrupt cops.

In this country, it’s not the children whose behaviour needs modifying.

Kidcontrol

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Even the good times are bad

There was a knock on my front door on Wednesday morning.  I opened it to find a matching pair of men in cheap suits standing on my Go Away mat with simulated smiles stuck on their stupid faces.

“Have you heard the good news?” said the tall one. “God loves …”

“Beer?” I said. “Yeah, I know.” And shut the door.

I’ve just about had all the good news a man can take right now. It’s bad news I’m after and there simply isn’t enough of it to go around these days. We’re all too damn cheerful at the moment. Drinking only makes things worse. So much for alcohol being a depressant. A couple of beers and suddenly life seems too short to waste on protesting against the Zuptas. I mean, this isn’t bloody Yemen, right? And it’s a lot easier getting another drink than another party into power.

There’s even good news in the fight against crime. Police minister Fikile Mbalula has notched up one million followers on Twitter. First out of the gates to congratulate him was himself, closely followed by the official SA Police twitter account, which may or may not be run by the minister.

If I was thinking about pursuing a life of crime – and I do, several times a day – I would be completely put off after learning of the size of Mbalua’s twitter following. It’s a major deterrent. Charles Manson had only, like, twelve followers and I wouldn’t mess with him. Maybe I’m thinking of Jesus. But just imagine how popular and powerful a man with a million followers must be. Our police minister is like a Kardashian. No wonder criminals are cowering in fear.

More good news is that 36 Dutch tourists cut their holiday short and went home after not being able to buy weed in any of our coffee shops. Good riddance, I say. Look what happened the last time the Dutch overstayed their welcome. They developed a taste for brandy and a thing for the kitchen staff and it wasn’t long before they were tampering with the phonetics, segregating the beaches and sending Nelson Mandela to Robben Island.

What else? Oh yes. The presidency – the nerve centre of corruption – showed its appreciation for irony this week when it tweeted that the number of people convicted for corruption had, in the last three years, soared from 52 to 110. Nice one, guys. It’s important to retain a sense of humour.

There’s even good news from America, where black sportsmen are finally showing their gratitude for the abolition of slavery by dropping to one knee whenever the anthem is played. If our darkies were that grateful for an end to apartheid we wouldn’t have a racism problem in this country.

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner died this week, which is good news for a coterie of young women who can now spend their evenings in the company of men not old enough to be their great-grandfather. Also, they can finally go back to their natural hair colour. The editor of the now defunct South African version of Playboy once asked me to write a piece for the magazine. He seemed surprised when I asked about his rate. He seemed to think the honour of being published in Playboy would be payment enough. Exploiting women is one thing. But writers? That’s where I draw the line.

Over in the Faroe Islands, the Danes are doing their best to rid the world of pods of aggressive, entitled dolphins. Well done. The world needs fewer dolphins, especially those arrogant white-sided ones. Give them an inch and next thing you know it’s us who are jumping through hoops and clapping our withered hands for scraps of fish.

In Thailand, the former prime minister was sentenced to five years in prison over a rice subsidy scheme. Oh, what we’d give to have a president implicated in dodgy rice deals. Here, a mid-level grain-related crime will get you the Order of the Baobab.

Happy news out of Nepal is that there is one less spoiled brat on the streets after a three-year-old girl was taken from her home to live among strangers in a castle where she will be allowed out only thirteen times a year. A small price to pay for being accorded godlike status as the new Kumari of Kathmandu. Selection criteria for aspiring Kumaris includes specific physical attributes such as an unblemished body, a chest like a lion and thighs like a deer. Even if a girl fulfils all the physical requirements, she must prove her bravery by not crying at the sight of a sacrificed buffalo. I imagine the buffalo would be the least of her worries.

My personal run of good luck continued this week when I discovered that, according to the latest income figures, I fall squarely into the emerging middle class bracket. I used to be higher up the ladder but someone greased the rungs, causing me to have a bit of a slip. Ten percent of the population falls in the top two most affluent income groups. When I say falls, I obviously mean wallows. To be a member of the 10% club, you have to earn a minimum of R65 000 per month. Affluent starts at R141 000. There is no maximum. Well, apart from maximum security prison, of course, which is where most of the people in this bracket deserve to be.

Someone asked me the other day if I’ve done any retirement planning. Of course I have. The plan involves being a burden on my friends and family. It’s popular among the emerging middle class, particularly those who never actually emerge.

I thought I’d stumbled across some really good news when I found a website promising a cure for hangovers. They lied, naturally. But something positive came of it because they also told me, perhaps to make up for their lies, about the warning signs of a stroke. If you think someone is having a stroke, ask them to raise both their arms. And get them to smile. If they can’t do it, call an ambulance. If they can, well, they’re already in the position. You might as well take their wallet.

Meanwhile, my search for silver linings in the darkest of clouds will continue apace.

Blowhard vs Dotard

Dear Kim Jong-un, Supreme Leader of the Glorious Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Invincible Ninja Assassin and Grandmaster Flash of the Nuclear Holocaust,

Well done on telling that power-crazed manchild with ridiculous hair where to get off. Don’t let it bother you that some people are using the exact same line in messages to Donald Trump. He is a pale imitation of the real thing. You are a riddle wrapped in a dumpling inside a meatball.

I watched Trump addressing the United Nations last week and realised that by calling you Rocket Man, Trump was obviously threatening to deploy Elton John to Pyongyang. The detonation of a gay bomb of this magnitude would destroy North Korea’s youth, three of whom aren’t currently serving in the army. The last thing you want is your 1st Infantry Division sashaying into battle while humming the theme song from Yentl and thrusting their hips provocatively in the direction of Japan. As it is, that goosestep is perilously close to a showgirl’s high-kick.

You’re a man who knows the importance of taking a stand and sticking to his guns. While you were threatening to bomb America, do you know what our president was doing? He took time off from robbing the nation to sign some kind of lame treaty prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons. It’s easy when you have a uranium stockpile that can fit into a matchbox. We might as well sign a treaty prohibiting the use of exploding sheep. It’s utterly meaningless.

I hope you’re not going to let Trump get away with his empty threat to “totally destroy” North Korea. In this game of oneupmanship you have to move fast. I suggest you threaten to blow up the entire northern hemisphere. And maybe the moon. It’s the only language he understands.

Trump’s hawkish handmaiden at the UN, Nikki Haley, said your weapons tests were “exhausting conventional diplomacy”. You know what would be really exhausting? Coming home every night to Nikki bloody Haley and her glittery eyed defence of a man with the intellect and physique of a pile of builder’s rubble.

Do you have a wife to come home to after a long day of stroking hard missiles and gasping as they burst from their fecund burrows? Please don’t think I am judging you. If you come home to a bed full of boys covered in puppy fat and baby oil, that is your business.

Did you catch whatshisface from Iran speaking at the UN? He was rabbiting on about moderation and democracy or some such rubbish. Sounded like appeasement to me. The man has plenty of enriched bomb fodder. He should act accordingly. Put Tehran on your to-bomb list at once.

I hope you have enough intercontinental ballistic missiles, old boy. It would be frightfully embarrassing to run out after blowing up Guam and Alaska before even getting around to rogue nations like New Zealand.

Our President Zuma also spoke at the UN. If the nuke idea doesn’t come together, you could always use him as your secret weapon. Unleash him on the USA. He’d bore them to death in no time at all. I didn’t watch his speech out of a need for self-preservation. Besides, someone else would’ve written it all for him. The only original words that ever come out of his mouth are, “It wasn’t me”, “Take it on appeal” and “Where’s my cut?”

By the way, well done on executing that uncle of yours. I never did like the look of him. What put you off? Did you catch him smiling? Not applauding one of your spectacular public appearances? Perhaps you were simply pruning the family. Weeding out the annoying ones. I know I’ve thought of it. You also had your half-brother whacked at Kuala Lumpur airport a few months ago while he was trying to sneak off to Disneyland in Tokyo. I hear you used a liquid nerve agent. Nice work. Classy. It’s obvious he had to be stopped. Allow this sort of gallivanting and the next thing you know your semi-sibling is getting the imperial haircut and you’re hanging by your heels having your throat slit.

You’re a creative man, Kim. I like that about you. For starters, you had your defence minister shot to death with anti-aircraft guns. It must’ve been a majestic sight. That’ll teach him to fall asleep in a meeting. You also obliterated one of your army officers with a mortar round and used a flamethrower on your deputy public security minister. This is out-of-the-box thinking and I look forward to hearing about your next revolutionary idea for executing friends and family. You know what would be really awesome? If you strapped someone to the nose of your next missile. Then again, you give one person a free overseas flight with the promise of a quick, painless death and others would quickly queue up for the chance.

If Trump finally does go batshit crazy, you and your 25 million people could always sneak across the demilitarised zone one moonless night and mingle. No offence, but you all do look alike, don’t you? North. South. It makes no difference. You’re Koreans. You’re almost family. A lot of you are family. The Americans would never be able to track everyone down. You might have to change your hairstyle. And shed a bit of weight.

Look, you’re never going to be the next Dennis Rodman, but you are Rocket Man. You drink and smoke heavily and show a genuine passion for casual homicide. Hell, learn how to braai and you could almost pass for South African.

When things quieten down, as they will after an intercontinental nuclear shindig, you should pop in for a visit. Our people could learn from your work ethic. It’s not for nothing that you are chairman of the Workers’ Party. We have more shirkers and lurkers than workers but we sure as hell know how to party. You might have to bring your own teenage virgins. We’re fresh out at the moment, thanks largely to our school teachers.

Good luck, Lil’ Kim. I get the feeling you’re going to need it.

Rocket Man

Cheap lies & dumb points

So here we are, clinging to shattered shards of hope trying desperately not to get swept away in the poisonous torrents of traducement that spew from the repulsive mouths of our lords of the lies and other vile merchants of mendacity. Our streets are full of toothless hags inventing tales of woe and the courts are packed with prevaricators of every shade. Churches reverberate to the sound of equivocating men fencing their own brand of truth while places of learning are overrun with pseudologists more suited to busking in subways. Parliament is overrun with wool-pulling fabulists and the papers are packed with shaggy dog stories.

Don’t believe what you see, read or hear. Don’t take anything at face value. Question everything and everyone, including the people with whom you live and work.

I saw a headline the other day that read, “Cops hunt for man who shot seven homeless people.” I didn’t read it because it’s full of trigger words, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if this turned out to be the latest scheme by our unhinged social development minister to solve the homeless problem. Nothing is as it seems any more.

We are down the rabbit hole and things can only get curiouser from now until the ANC elects a new president in the party’s traditional orgiastic feeding frenzy of greed and expediency. It’s becoming way too crowded around the trough and old snouts will have to make way for the new. It’s not going to be a pretty sight. Keep the curtains drawn and the children indoors.

Parliament may try to ram home a fistful of ill-considered laws before they turn off the lights and go off to do constituency work. I did some of that earlier in the week and was tongued awake the next day by my neighbour’s Labrador. To be fair, I was in his basket. Exhausting stuff, constituency work.

Speaking of which, one of the more malevolent pieces of legislation tabled recently is the elegantly named Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Amendment Bill. Rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it. Amendments are meant to be good, right? We look to the glorious United States of America to set the standard here. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, speech and the press. The Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures. The Eighth Amendment deals with excessive bail, fines and punishments that are forbidden. And so on. This gives the impression that amendments are good things. A tweaking of the laws so that the people might be better served and less oppressed.

Not here, buddy. When you hear the word ‘amendment’ in South Africa, you sell your house and get to the airport as quickly as possible. Leave your family. There’s no time.

And when the word ‘amendment’ appears in the same sentence as ‘road traffic offences’, you should know it’s not going to be a sensible amendment that encourages people to drive stoned because they are unable to go faster than 50km/h. Or an amendment that allows men to drink and drive if they are taller than 1.9m because we, I mean, they, can obviously hold their alcohol a lot better than a 1.5m teenage girl.

Instead of making good laws better, we’re making bad laws worse. This is in line with government thinking on pretty much everything, really. There is good news for some, though. Once implemented, the demerit system will enable traffic police to demand far bigger bribes since the stakes are so much higher. I’m happy for them. There’s no reason bribes shouldn’t at least keep pace with inflation.

In KwaZulu-Natal, traffic officers have already been trained “so that they can adapt to the new law”. Fair enough, although I would’ve thought it more important to train us, the general motoring public, who seem utterly unable to adapt to laws of any kind.

From what I can make out, the amendment is designed to reduce carnage on the roads in the most brutal way possible. On top of being fined, you will have points added to your licence. This sounds like a good thing. But if you go around boasting that you have 97 points on your licence, you’re doing it wrong. The higher your score, the more your chances of losing. It’s like golf, except you’re playing against Tiger Woods off his face on amphetamines.

Will the demerit system reduce the number of accidents on our roads? Of course not. I’m willing to wager that most crashes are caused by people not paying attention. The proliferation of cellphones, social media and infidelity has taken away our ability to concentrate for more than three minutes at a time. Accidents happen when our minds are elsewhere.

So the demerit system is not going to make drivers any less attention deficit. All it will do is take a vicious financial toll on motorists who activate speed traps, don’t use seatbelts and park in loading zones, all of which I do regularly without anyone getting hurt.

This is what Justice Project SA chairman Howard Dembovsky had to say about the amendment. “Something is terribly wrong here. This not only violates the constitution but the principles of the justice system.”

Here’s how it works. Do something naughty and you will receive an infringement notice ordering you to pay a fine. Ignore it and a month later you’ll get a “courtesy letter” – for which you will be charged – reminding you to pay up. Ignore that and 32 days later you’ll get an enforcement order notifying you of the number of demerit points against you and again ordering you to pay the fine plus the cost of the enforcement order. Until you pay, you won’t be able to renew your car’s licence disc. Ignore the enforcement order and a warrant of execution will be issued and the Sheriff will come to your house and take your stuff. This is a way of getting rid of the junk in your garage. He is also allowed to confiscate your licence, immobilise your car and report you to a credit bureau, after which you may wish to emigrate.

Let me tell you about the demerit system. You start off with zero points. Skip a stop sign, fail to renew the car’s licence or use your cellphone while driving and it’s a R500 fine plus one demerit point. Exceeding R100km/h in a 60km/h zone – which everyone does – will get you six demerit points and a fine. Drive with more than 0.05g of alcohol in your blood – which everyone does – will also see six points added to your licence. Plus a fine. You will then be stripped naked, given a light stoning by clerks from the finance department and, once the Alsatians have finished with you, banished from your village.

When you reach 12 points, the game is over and your driving licence is suspended for three months. One point is taken off if you behave yourself for three straight months. But get three suspensions and your licence is cancelled and destroyed. If you ever want to drive legally again, you will have to undergo a “rehabilitation” programme. That’s right. You’re going to rehab. And don’t expect any yummy methadone, either.

It doesn’t end there. Get out of rehab and it’s off to the tribunal. Do you know who else appears before tribunals? War criminals, that’s who. But you’re not a war criminal. War criminals aren’t expected to have their hearing repeatedly postponed because the photocopier is broken or their file is missing. War criminals aren’t expected to walk for three days to reach the tribunal because their licence has been suspended. You’re going to be wishing you were a war criminal by the time this is over.

If the tribunal decides that you have learnt from your mistakes – contrition is best shown by wearing sackcloth and lashing yourself with a cat ‘o nine tails – you will be able to apply for a learner’s licence. If you pass, you may take a driver’s test. I’m not making this up. They really think this is going to work.

Pregnant women apply for their unborn babies to write the K53 test in the hope that they’ll get an appointment by the time they turn 18. You get 12 points and lose your licence, you’ll be in a retirement home by the time you reach the front of the backlog .

The bill must now be adopted by the National Council of Provinces and signed into law by President Zuma. This is excellent news. Once Zuma starts applying his mind, all bets are off.

RoadblockBen

 

Blowing your own horns

Dear John Hume,

Congratulations on being the world’s largest rhino breeder. How big are you? Are you the size of a rhino? It doesn’t matter. For all I know, rhino breeders are tiny and you are simply the largest of these small people.

john-hume-rhinos

Most people keep dogs and cats, but not you, John. You’re a rhino person. It makes sense. Rhinos don’t sit on your keyboard while you’re trying to work. They don’t hog the couch or take up half the bed. You don’t wake up in the morning to a blast of rhino breath and have to get up and take him for a walk.

Of course, nobody would want to collect rhinos purely for their ornamental value. So it must have been terribly frustrating for you when trade in rhino horn was banned in South Africa in 2009. It would have driven me insane, seeing my rhinos standing about all day doing absolutely nothing to earn their keep.

What good are their horns if they’re not even being used to stab German tourists? At the best of times, rhinos don’t even know what to do with their horns. They just stand there staring at them all day. That’s why so many rhinos are crosseyed. A lot of them are also just plain cross. I suppose it’s because they’re not living at your place, the Playboy Mansion for rhinos, even if it is in Klerksdorp. Rhinos can’t tell that the place is a dump. Even if they did, I doubt they’d care. They’re just happy not to get shot in the face by a gentleman from Mozambique.

So it must’ve been a tremendous relief when the court forced the environmental affairs department to give you a permit to hold your three-day online auction this week. It’s a good thing we have an independent judiciary that knows the true value of one of our big five.

I tried to register for the auction but the R100 000 deposit was a bit steep. Pity. I was so looking forward to bagging a couple of the 264 horns for my own personal use. To be honest, I would have preferred a whole rhino so that I could cut his horn off at my leisure. If you buy a gram of coke, the dealer doesn’t expect you to schnarf it the moment money changes hands. You can take it home and shove it up your nose when the mood takes you. It should be the same with rhinos. Not that I’d schnarf rhino horn. I’m not from Hanoi, you know.

I understand you have 1500 rhinos in your garden. I bet you’ve never been burgled. It’s just occurred to me that rhinos could solve both our poverty and crime problems. Not literally. They’re not awfully bright. Although stick a couple of them in cheap suits and put them around the table at a cabinet meeting and I bet nobody would even notice their lack of input.

What I’m suggesting is that everyone gets a rhino farm. Or at least their own state-subsidised rhino. They make wonderful pets and even better guard dogs. Guard rhinos. I know I wouldn’t rob a house if there was a rhino curled up at the front door. And if you fall on hard times, you can chop his horn off and sell it. That’s R2-million right there. Keep the family in KFC for years.

Your job sounds like a lot of fun. Every couple of years, you grab your tranquiliser gun and run about shooting your fleet of ungulates in the bum. I’m sure they get a big kick out of the chase, too. It’s something to break the tedium, anyway. They fall over, have a little nap and wake up a kilogram or two lighter. We could all be so lucky.

When the horns grow back, you do it all over again. No wonder you have six tons of the stuff lying about the place. Must drive your wife crazy. There’s not much you can do with them either. Doorstoppers. Wind chimes. Something to hang your coat on. That’s about it. Then again, your stash is worth at least R500-million. That’s the kind of language any wife would understand.

The ban on international trade is still in place and your permit stipulates that any horns sold have to stay in South Africa. Of course they will. Our environmental affairs minister says systems are in place to prevent horns from reaching the black market. In fact, so secure are our borders that the only way to smuggle a horn out would be to take it to the Saxonwold shebeen, have it cling wrapped in R200 notes and couriered to the Waterkloof air force base.

I noticed that your auction website was translated into Mandarin and Vietnamese. This is nothing more than a happy coincidence. You are a man who embraces many cultures and not, as the vegetarians would have it, a man sending out a dog-whistle to the epicentre of the illicit trade in rhino horn.

An average of three rhinos are poached in this country every day. But, as you so rightly point out, flooding the ‘domestic’ market with hundreds of your horns will reduce demand and poachers will be out of a job in no time at all. It’s the same with marijuana. Legalise it and nobody would want it any more. Dagga farmers would have to start growing mielies and stoners would take up golf.

I read that a group called the National Frog Agency hacked your website, claiming that “your lack of common compassion for animals is outrageous”. Ignore them. What is more outrageous is that they can’t tell the difference between a frog and a rhino. This is what happens when you spend your afternoons licking hallucinogenic toads.

You were reported as saying that the proceeds of the auction – which could easily be R200-million – would be spent on protecting your herd. It’s an odd way to describe your family, but then I haven’t met them. Try to keep a bit of money aside for yourself. Buy something nice. Not another rhino. Something you don’t have to keep darting and sawing its nose off.

Listen, John. I have an idea for a movie. It’s called Saving Private Rhino. State Security Minister, David Mahlobo, would be perfect for the villain. I think we can get him. Throw in a free Thai massage and he’s ours. I would want to avoid getting into the whole black rhino, white rhino thing. This isn’t a movie about race. It’s about exploitation and getting as rich as possible off the backs of these dumb brutes. I’m talking about the actors, not the rhinos.

Let’s do lunch.

PS. Say hi to your good mate Dawie Groenewald, a trophy hunter and, like you, a true friend of the rhino. Obviously those 26 dehorned rhino found in a mass grave on his property died peacefully in their sleep. The poor guy is already facing so many charges here and now the Americans want to extradite him. You conservationists really do have a tough time.

Ben-rhino

Tuesday’s Great Confidence Trick

Dear Honourable and Dishonourable ANC Members of Parliament,

So, a big day for you on Tuesday. You get to tell the nation that you have confidence in Jacob Zuma as our president. At the same time, you’re also allowed to express your real feelings. That’s the beauty of democracy.

So I hope you’re all feeling strong and healthy and ready to do your bit for the motherland. It would be a terrible shame if some of you – 51 should do it – fell violently ill on Monday and called in sick on the day of the vote, thereby allowing the opposition to unseat the greatest leader the world has ever seen.

Nobody in their right mind would vote against a president who is one hundred percent committed to destroying the country, presumably so that it may be rebuilt stronger than ever. But let us not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s get the destroying part done first. Our leader is under enough pressure as it is without his representatives in the legislature joining the counterrevolutionary proletariat in their irrational demands. There is a natural order to these things. Visions aren’t accomplished in a day.

Many of you have worked long and hard to help President Zuma succeed with Project Destroy. This is to your eternal credit and you will be richly rewarded, on top of the rewards you have already received. This is a project that never runs out of rewards. It’s like having timeshare in the Treasury.

This is your turn to eat. Unless, of course, you’re one of those MPs who weigh more than 150kg. In which case it’s your turn to buy a new car. Hell, buy two. Three. Spoil yourself. You’ve earned it. You have shown remarkable loyalty to a leader who works so selflessly and tirelessly to take money away from taxpayers to save them from themselves. Taxpayers drink and smoke and take drugs. They have casual sex and park on yellow lines. They gamble on the horses and in the casinos. They cannot be trusted with money. This is why our noble president must do what he does. Take their money and put in safekeeping. Not here, obviously. Large sums of money are best kept outside South Africa. Fortunately, the United Arab Emirates has made special provisions in this regard.

A vote of no confidence in the president would be a vote of no confidence in his humanitarian project. What kind self-respecting nationalist would do such a thing? American President Donald Trump has a similar plan, but he lacks our benevolent commander-in-chief’s intellect and ambition. Trump only wants to repeal Obamacare. Zuma wants to repeal the entire economy. I like a man who dreams big.

A massive 33% of voters approve of Trump’s performance in office. With the exception of one or two renegades who have clearly gone insane, every one of you slumped on an ANC bench approves of our noble president’s dream of uplifting the poor, even if it is only an impoverished family of humble Indian immigrants squatting in a shebeen in Saxonwold. Small steps.

Members of parliament who don’t have a blesser for a leader will vote against the president on Tuesday. This unpatriotic behaviour must be condemned. And when I say condemned, I mean they must be taken outside and shot. It’s the only language liberals and democrats understand.

At the time of writing this, Speaker Baleka Mbete was still trying to decide whether she should allow a secret ballot. I think voting should be open. Secrets are for governments with something to hide. Ours is a firm believer in transparency, even going so far as to loot and pillage in broad daylight right under our noses. We, the people, appreciate that kind of openness.

It’s only been 45 days since the Constitutional Court ruled that Mbete had the power to make the ballot a secret one. These things are not to be rushed. I once took a year to decide whether I should give my second marriage a third shot. The answer, of course, doesn’t lie in the decision ipso facto. It lies in the consequences.

Speaking of lies, ANC secretary-general Greedy Mantashe has made it clear that none of you is allowed to vote according to your conscience. And rightly so. Your membership fee entitles you to a T-shirt, a cap and unlimited access to the party’s free website. Also, if you know the right people, wealth beyond your wildest imaginings. It does not entitle you to a conscience. You are lawmakers and the business of making laws would be severely compromised if you had to start differentiating between right and wrong. That nonsense is the exclusive preserve of bong-puffing philosophers, kiddie fiddler priests and judges of the high court who spend more time on Tinder than on writing up judgements.

Mantashe emphasised that the ANC is not a party of free agents. It is a party of captured agents. And also travel agents, because you guys are always somewhere else. The DA is a party of bloody agents. The EFF is a party of secret agents. The Freedom Front Plus is a party of estate agents (willing buyer, willing seller or death). And so on.

By the way, have you heard about this new coalition called FutureSA? Members include – Sipho Pityana, Sydney Mufamadi, Kumi Naidoo, Terence Nombembe, Zac Yakoob and Bruce Fordyce – now apparently running against the comrades. Heavy hitters, but not as heavy as you. They get to bring Cape Town to a standstill on Tuesday, but if you vote as I expect you will, the entire country will eventually grind to a standstill. That’s what I call real power. And, as they say in Cuba, with real power comes real money.

Our angelic president has survived at least six votes of no confidence. This makes him a winner in anyone’s book. Don’t spoil his unblemished record. He will still lead us to the promised land. Maybe keep some money aside for a visa. Dubai charges R1 370 for 30 days. And, remember, no singing, dancing, drinking, swearing, gayness or public displays of affection. It’s not that kind of promised land.

 

Cut me loose, mongoose

The parking reserved for doctors was jammed with sparkly Mercs, BMWs and Audis. There was also a Toyota Corolla. Probably belonged to one of them Cuban doctors who come over here and take all our jobs. And our women. Bloody Cubans.

I had to park a fair distance from the entrance. Hospitals are designed that way deliberately. The longer your walk, the more exercise you get. And they don’t even charge you for it. The medical profession is full of good and kind people with nothing but your best interests at heart.

Speaking of which, mine was pounding savagely by the time I reached the sliding doors. Not from the 50m walk, as you might expect, but out of frustration from waiting for my 78-year-old father to catch up.

When we got out of the car, he kept dropping his walking stick. “What’s happening,” I said. “You got dropsy?” He gave me the lazy eye. “Actually, yes,” he said. Turns out that dropsy is the old-time name for oedema, an accumulation of fluid in the tissue. In his case, the legs. I like to think I laughed out of nervous tension and not because there’s something wrong with me.

The bottoms of his jeans are constantly damp. He drinks a glass of water and it comes out of his calves. That’s pretty hilarious when you think about it. But it gets better. His legs only leak because mongooses keep scratching him. For the last couple of years, a Durban North posse has been coming around for two meals a day. They get fish, peanuts, bananas and home-baked bread. They eat better than I do.

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They don’t sit on the veranda table waiting politely to be fed, like the monkeys do, but stampede into the house – up to thirty at a time – looking for my father. In the kitchen, they gather around his feet squeaking and squabbling like a furry invasion force armed with tiny teeth and insatiable appetites. If he goes to sit down, they swarm all over him. Anyone’s legs would leak if they were set upon by rampaging hordes of carnivorous mammals using their claws as crampons.

I have never wanted to be a doctor. Sick people get on my nerves. I want to slap them and tell them it’s all in their head. This only really works for mental patients, though. Obviously I’m excluding myself, here. When I’m sick, I expect teams of attractive brow-moppers and solicitous murmurers working in shifts to attend to me. This is unlikely to happen and I have consequently given my body strict instructions to not fall seriously ill until I have found someone who is prepared to love me in sickness and in health without insisting on invoking the vows that inevitably sabotage the chances of it ever happening.

“Hurry up, you old bastard,” I said, as my father shuffled towards the entrance. He smiled through his beard. It might have been gas. “Old bastard” was a term of endearment used by my mother who died nearly five years ago. They were married for 55 years. I doubt she meant it as a term of endearment.

The day before, he had an appointment with the anaesthetist – or what might have been the anaesthetist’s assistant. Her report, emailed to my father later that day and copied to the relevant doctors, described him as “a pleasant gentleman, emaciated and unkempt”.

My mother would’ve disagreed with the pleasant part and I disagreed with the emaciated bit, but I was baffled by the unkempt remark. I thought he looked pretty smart, even if he did smell faintly of monkey poo. Was there perhaps something in the medical handbooks that dealt with matters of a sartorial nature?

Of course he looked dishevelled. An hour earlier, he’d been covered in mongooses. Sure, he cuts his own hair and hasn’t brushed it in 25 years, but Einstein’s hair was also a hot mess.

The old bastard has been a structural engineer for nearly half a century. He has built bridges, buildings and hospitals across KwaZulu-Natal. He can quote Shakespeare, understands the ancient Greeks and knows his way around thermals when strapped into a glider. Unkempt, my ass.

So through the sliding doors we went. He mumbled something about crossing the threshold from free will to destiny but I was having none of that nonsense and told him to pick up the pace. We had to get to the cafeteria before it filled up with people coming to visit the doomed. He’s a vegetarian and the menu was limited. I told him to start eating meat because time was against us. Well, not so much me. Although we never can be sure. But if I was going to have a heart attack, I couldn’t have chosen a better spot to have it in.

My sister was with us. She’s done a lot to keep him company and look after him, but then she knocked over her cappuccino and instantly we were back to nine years old, shouting at each other and interrupting my father who was telling us how he had calculated the cost of the operation against his projected time left to live and had wrestled with the decision to … we didn’t understand what he was talking about. Neither of us inherited his maths brain, my feet were soaked in coffee and my sister had somehow found a way to blame me for the spillage.

Then he was called to give blood, and by blood I mean money. For the next half an hour, he filled out forms and handed over his credit card. The cost of the hospital stay alone was horrendous. But not as horrendous as his decision, a few months earlier, to cancel his medical aid because they had increased the premium by what he deemed an unacceptable amount. My father doesn’t like to feel ripped off. It’s one of the reasons he interacts only with monkeys and mongooses.

Off to the surgical ward, then. Five beds to a room. It was like a backpackers for sick people. Truth is, only sick people would charge those prices in the first place. How about we treat the greed disease first? Oh, look. I’ve just stumbled upon the cure for the world. And moving on.

A woman arrived, wheeling something that looked like hand luggage. She assembled it and began probing his heart beat with some kind of wand. It was like an ultrasound. Nobody should have to see and hear their father’s heart beating on a screen. Or even see their father with his shirt off. It was all deeply unnatural and I had to turn away. I used those precious few moments to check if anyone in the hospital was on Tinder. They weren’t.

I wonder what the surgeons are thinking tonight. There will be two of them. One is removing a kidney, one will be doing something unspeakable with the intestines. I have no idea if they’ll be doing it simultaneously or taking turns to stab and slice. At the cafeteria, I thought of offering one of my kidneys. When the bill arrived, I took care of it. Dad was so grateful that I decided not to mention the kidney.

I’d be very worried if I were a surgeon with someone’s life in my hands tomorrow. I doubt I’d be able to sleep. I would toss and turn and eventually pass out just before dawn and then a hadeda would wake me up and I’d get to the hospital still a bit drunk and embarrass myself by accidentally lopping off a perfectly healthy lung. It happens.

The old curmudgeon fed and watered me for eighteen years and bailed me out more than once, in every sense. I hope he wakes up.

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