ARRANGING MY ARREST
HUNGER STRIKE DAY #65
COMPLAINT AGAINST YOUR FAILURE
I’m responding to a warrant for my arrest and requesting IPID take me into custody on 23 July 2019, the 70th day of my hunger strike. We’ll arrange a time and place for me to be fetched in Durban, Kwazulu-Natal.
I will be a political prisoner; imprisoned for my actions against political corruption, my arrest politically motivated by the Democratic Alliance (DA) as result of me exposing them.
The crime and maladministration may mostly implicate the DA but has been protected by the ANC-led National Government and various parties.
My hunger strike is against this crime and the Media bias supporting it. I’ve only had fruit juice (mostly carrot) and tea/coffee with soya milk, losing approximately 13kg. I had weight to lose so I’m stable with minor issues. But my weakened condition and assured deterioration in custody is my attempt to force speedy investigation.
This is my final attempt to gain justice for myself, Knysna and the Western Cape. Considering the past 9 years of deliberate Government failure and the persecution of me, I’m uncomfortably aware that my death is more likely than dutiful response. Nevertheless, it’s all I have left in this fight. If there isn’t help, then South Africa’s future is only a lie created by the lips of politicians. Our country must be worth living in.
Although the current situation is the result of the failure of the above addressed departments, I’ve chosen IPID as temporary lead because my immediate concern is being in the hands of bad cops, being transferred to the Western Cape where the DA and not the Public are served, and the possibly cumulative affect of being thrown into that broken prison system. I’d rather risk my life on my terms.
IPID must retain custody in order to assess my evidence which also questions police conduct. It heavily outweighs Democratic Alliance (DA) politicians and cronies wanting me jailed for publishing ‘Same Shit, Different Government’, my book about their corruption. To be jailed for ‘defamation’ after their propaganda campaign falsely labelled me as a sociopath and paedophile is more than ironic. To be jailed, after I’ve reported their crimes of intimidation, fraud, graft and theft to you, is against the Public interest and in draconian service to corruption.
I’ve open processes with Government and Chapter Nine Institutions: SAPS, Hawks, IPID, Public Protector, South African Human Rights Commission, COGTA, Justice, Parliament and the Presidency. Single assessment is required. IPID can only handle an aspect but they can verify my credibility to Minister Police Bheki Cele who in turn can communicate with the Presidency for cohesive way forward.
My most import hunger strike demand is that President Ramaphosa meet me. Owing to his position and the number of agencies involved, he must be the one to accept responsibility and walk his anti-corruption talk.
But the first step must be Minister Cele’s confirming that IPID will arrest me. If he refuses to do, I must expect that the corruption has won, the DA are more powerful than the Public realise, and that this is the end of me.
I will not repeat the mountain of evidence already in your possession but provide a summary, beginning with your failed ‘processes’.
YOUR FAILURE TO ACT
I submitted to NCOP on 13 April 2015. It was allocated to their Committee Petitions & Executive Undertakings who labelled it as the ‘Love Knysna Petition’. There’s been 3 hearings. It hasn’t concluded after 4 years during which there has dysfunctionally been 4 chairpersons. 8 of 9 provinces voted for investigation which is incomplete. My complaint to then NCOP Chair, now National Assembly Chair, Thandi Modise was ignored. Dr Mimmy Gondwe, the Committee’s researcher into my complaint, recently got a job with the DA. Considering the evidence she was in possession of, it’s a questionable and disturbing move. Committee Secretary Nkanyiso Mkhize has been extremely unhelpful.
The Office of the Public Protector is in possession of 13 of my complaints. George Branch Manager Gideon, Western Cape Manager Sune Griessels, and their ex-colleague Bruce Wessels, deserve investigation. So does Ruthven Janse van Rensburg, the previous Western Cape Manager who got a job in Premier Helen Zille’s office. National senior staff Stoffel Fourie, Vussy Mahlangu and Oupa Segalwe have acted suspiciously too. It’s possible that they, being bosses, are the biggest crooks of all. My 68-page complaint to Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, sent 1 November 2018, has been ignored. Is she aware or are her staff sabotaging her to protect the DA? Mkhwebane was ordered to respond to NCOP regards the Love Knysna Petition. Landman has deliberately misinterpreted that into meaning that the decision by NCOP was for Landman to only investigate and, because he’s decided that no action will be taken, the NCOP process is over. He has also lied that I never responded to his reports and thus they will be closed. Mkwebane has ignored NCOP’s order that: “That the National Office of the Public Protector further investigate the reluctance on the part of its Provincial Office to investigate the complaints raised in the petition.” My complaint clearly shows that the report by the Public Protector is a whitewash e.g. Landman accepted the Knysna Municipality’s response at face failure, failed to interview those involved, and ignored evidence such as forensic reports, legal opinions and the Auditor General. This after his boss, Stoffel Fourie, was put in charge, and then refused to meaningfully communicate with me.
Around the same month, the Public Protector whitewashed its report, the hawks did the same. Colonel Piet Bergh, chief analyst for the Western Cape, and colleagues, were responsible. They did so by simply not excluding most of the evidence. Small matters were referred to other departments who failed to investigate. On several occasions, over previous years, the Hawks in the George Cluster had refused to investigate without valid reasoning. Bergh failed to address that aspect of my affidavit, as well as the hectic intimidation I was experiencing. As with the Public Protector’s report, the DA were removed. Minister Bheki Cele and General Godfrey Lebeya failed to act on my complaint against Bergh although their staff confirmed receipt via phone and email read receipts.
My complaint to the Policing Complaints Commission against the Knysna SAPS was acknowledged but my follow-ups ignored. The local police had previously threatened me. A Captain even posted on a DA-run Facebook page that I must pack my bags and leave town. DA candidate Julie Seton lied that I’d broken a court order against her, her affidavit obviously nonsense yet the officer never bothered to assess it, instead fingerprinting me in the jail section at the station. Seton blatantly broke the protection order I had against her, yet she was left alone. So was Mark Allan, her client and accomplice in the propaganda campaign against me.
I was repeatedly taken to court, the ringleaders ex-Knysna DA Deputy Mayor Esme Edge and her life partner, ex-DA candidate Advocate Julie Seton. All acting against me are linked to the DA and them. All linked to corruption and/or maladministration. Whilst no one will investigate them, they flooded me with court cases. That’s called SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation). Unfortunately, South Africa doesn’t have anti-SLAPP laws. Essentially, they would use the PHA (Protection from Harassment Act) to gain protection orders that act as gag orders. The PHA isn’t supposed to be used by politicians and municipal staff to silence the Public. The court denied me the defence of truth in the Public interest even though the act stipulates it. The judgements excluded mention of the DA even though that was glaring in evidence. The Knysna Magistrates’ Court actively worked against me e.g. denying me witnesses and evidence, so much so that in one case I was found guilty in minutes, denied my defence. Chief Magistrate Isak van der Merwe wouldn’t act so I laid complaint to the Magistrates’ Commission who also did nothing, instead referring me uselessly back to Van der Merwe.
My submissions and complaints to the Democratic Alliance (DA) are exhaustive so I will only mention here that Helen Zille, Alan Winde and Anton Bredell, all implicated in crime, threatened to sue me and hold me criminally liable. When I responded to Zille by listing some of the corruption I’d reported to her, suggesting a meeting instead of threats, Zille refused. Then DA Federal Executive member Alan McLoughlin stated in an email to me that: “Bredell did admit that you probably have a few points”.
My complaints to the Knysna Municipality and Council since 2010 are also exhaustive, resulting in retaliation against me instead of help. As example, the local DA enlisted SALGA to try silence me. SALGA illegally appeared unannounced in Council to state that they’d support Local Government suing me, a citizen. I explained to SALGA Manage Xolile George that action would also be illegal. I supplied him evidence of the corruption he was supporting. He responded by twice sending me legal letters, SALGA threatening to sue me directly. SALGA’s Board never responded to my complaint and COGTA Deputy Minister Andries Nel refused to act without reason why.
My complaints to the Western Cape Legislature, Provincial Government and City of Cape Town on various topics have been acknowledged but also not acted upon e.g. MEC Bredell committing perjury in the Legislature in order to protect himself and the tender corruption he’s involved in. Note that Bredell is also the Chairperson of the DA for the Western Cape. Legislature Chairperson Sharna Fernandez, recipient of the complaint and a DA member, chose not to act against her boss. Both were then placed high on the 2019 election list.
Melisizwe Bleki, Director of the Presidency Hotline, promised to act and met an advocate. A meeting was also arranged by the President’s advisor whose name I forget at this time. Both never resulted in action with no reason given why. Bleki refused to help thereafter. I’ve also contacted the Presidency an enormous number of times, mostly dealing with the unhelpful Robert Ngobeni-Hlongwane. I finally sent a letter in 2018 stating that if assistance remained evasive, I’d write a book. I understood that I’d be punished for it, but believing the Public being warned was more important than me. I said that if the book never achieved a positive result, I’d go on a hunger strike. This wasn’t the route I wanted to take. By stating my intentions, I had hoped that President Ramaphosa and his staff would give me reason not to. All they had to do was dutifully stand against corruption instead of protecting the DA. All they had to do was what they are paid to do. But they didn’t.
I’d been forced to leave Knysna in 2017, owing to threats and the Great Knysna Fire. For over a year and half, I lived in Durban. I rarely saw anyone besides my father. I focused on evidence and contacting Government. At the end of 2018, I began my book, ‘Same Shit, Different Government: Book 1 – The Corruption & The Intimidation’. I again appealed to the Presidency and, when that failed, borrowed money to complete the book in Swakopmund, Namibia.
The goal of being in Namibia was to ensure my father was safe as I’d been living with him before I left. I also wanted to write without worrying my enemies would be at my door. I hoped that my book would spark positive reaction from Government. However, the 9-year track record of abysmal Government and the DA stalking me was more relevant than my intangible hope.
I decided to go to Ireland with the request that they open a channel to President Ramaphosa. But I never had enough money so got stuck in Windhoek. Consequently, I requested the same of the Namibian Government, insisting that I never desired to be a refugee and that all I wanted was time for them to open a channel to my President. They basically told me that South Africa was their friend and thus they wouldn’t help.
I sent a letter to South African High Commissioner William Archie Whitehead. He never responded to the email but it was obvious on the phone that he wasn’t going to help when he stated that he was “only a postman”. I did meet with his staff, Lorna Daniels and a colleague of hers. The Namibian Commissioner for refugees was kind enough to speak to Daniels too. I gave her evidence which she said would receive a response within 2 weeks from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO). She also said that she’d meet me again, that weekend. She didn’t, lied about it, then admitted she was supposed to meet me but was moving home, and then cancelled meeting me altogether. DIRCO never responded. I was being blocked again.
I borrowed money, choosing not to try another country but rather spend one month in Swakopmund, dedicated to getting response from my country. That failed.
On 18 April 2019, Colonel Piet Bergh from the Hawks (DPCI) in Cape Town, sent me an email, asking me to meet the police in Durban regarding a fraud case I’d submitted there. That was suspicious in that it was out of his jurisdiction and the case had already been handed to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). He’s also the man I hold most responsible for the whitewashed analysis of my detailed complaint. He was aware of that via my emails to his bosses and my posts online. I believed that it was a set-up, and that I was likely to be arrested. What happened next confirmed my suspicion.
On my birthday, 20 April 2019, the Sheriff, SAPS and a private investigator (5 in total) ‘visited’ my father in Durban. Through family overseas, I heard that my father had felt intimidated. It was clear that the officers were unclear. Maybe they meant to be. My father was unsure if they were serving me, arresting me, or both. But they wanted me and my laptop. Furthermore, my father was under the impression that the lead, Miles Mowat, was a detective. But when I googled him, he was listed as a private detective. Mowat stated that I’d upset the politicians, that people in the UK were tracing my laptop, and that a “hit” could be put on me. My father interpreted the latter as threat not advice.
I’d contravened an interdict issued to ex-Knysna DA Deputy Mayor Esme Edge. It was a High Court case for which I’d been left stranded by my lawyers with no evidence submitted. Judge Babalwa Mantane issued generalised judgement, effectively not protecting just the political applicant but the DA. Although she never had a copy of the book or my website, she ordered that the book couldn’t be published and that my website must be closed. She also ordered my arrest, for me to appear before her and explain why I shouldn’t go to jail for 60 days. My experience with the courts, and the protection the DA is given, assured me I’d be going to jail for telling the truth. But for much longer as I’d contravened four more DA-connected orders. Those sentences would be further aggravated as I’d never comply with destroying evidence and information in the Public interest.
I sent out over 1000 free digital copies of the book. Media, as per usual, wouldn’t report on DA corruption but soon gave a lot of attention to a book about Ace Magashule. I added a free link to the book for the Public who have since downloaded it 1200 times. The South African Government remained silent.
The Presidency had previously allocated my complaint to then Minister COGTA Zweli Mkhize, on 18 November 2018. That was ironic in that Deputy Minister Andries Nel had previously refused to help. The Presidency failed to explain why only COGTA, with limited mandate, had been contacted. And COGTA remained useless by sending me 4 letters over several months, stating that my complaint would be addressed urgently. They never have, and the Presidency is content with that.
I’ve no motivation to write articles as my hunger strike continues. There’s already so much evidence for you to download. I’m spending my last days of ‘freedom’ emailing people, planning my arrest, listening to rock music and watching foreign movies. A dietician may be able to explain why I still have a belly but the rest of me has shrunk. I previously showed you the changes in my face (and will post an update on day 70). But for me, the most noticeable affect has been to my wrists which have become thin, bony and heroin looking. For perspective, I demonstrate to salt lovers with this photo 🙂
When last did you listen to Pink Floyd’s ‘The Final Cut’, the greatest anti-war album? Or are you like the majority of the Public that doesn’t know it exists, deafened by your repeat singing of the song, ‘Another Brick in the Wall’?
‘The Wall’ sold 30 million copies., more than your favourite Eminem or Whitney Houston album. “I’ll tell you what’s behind the wall…” sings Roger Waters on ‘The Final Cut’ which only sold one-tenth of that. It was the final release by the band with Waters who embarked on a remarkable solo career.
‘THE FINAL CUT’ IS ESSENTIAL ANT-WAR PROTEST
Download for free
I’m on hunger strike. The corrupt politicians I’ve exposed are intent on jailing me, maybe killing me. I don’t know what will happen to me after I hand myself into the police later this month. Consequently, I’ve been having a lot of ME TIME with movies and music, listening to 6 of my favourite albums per day. It’s been difficult to choose what and who to give my attention to cause I love a lot. I used to be a DJ, band manager, blogger and compilation creator. I remain a music enthusiast with interests ranging from The Doors and Tears for Fears to Mastodon and Marilyn Manson.
From Floyd, I chose ‘The Final Cut’. Melody Maker deemed it “a milestone in the history of awfulness”, and NME criticised with, “Like the poor damned Tommies that haunt his mind, Roger Waters’ writing has been blown to hell.”
Waters responded with: “It’s absolutely ridiculous to judge a record solely on sales. If you’re going to use sales as the sole criterion, it makes ‘Grease’ a better record than ‘Graceland’. Anyway, I was in a greengrocer’s shop, and this woman of about forty in a fur coat came up to me. She said she thought it was the most moving record she had ever heard. Her father had also been killed in World War II, she explained. And I got back into my car with my three pounds of potatoes and drove home and thought, ‘Good enough’.”
Damn right! The band were falling apart yet delivered their most poignant moment (which is unearthly praise considering previous releases such as ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ and ‘Wish You Were Here’).
WIKIPEDIA BACKGROUND TO ‘THE FINAL CUT’
‘The Final Cut’ was originally planned as a soundtrack album for the 1982 film ‘Pink Floyd – The Wall’. Under its working title, ‘Spare Bricks’, it would have featured new music or songs rerecorded for the film.
As a result of the Falklands War, Waters changed direction and wrote new material. He saw British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s response to Argentina’s invasion of the islands as jingoistic and unnecessary, and dedicated the new album – provisionally titled ‘Requiem for a Post-War Dream’ – to his father, Eric Fletcher Waters. A second lieutenant of the 8th Royal Fusiliers, Eric Waters died during the Second World War at Aprilia in Italy, on 18 February 1944.
Roger Waters said: “The Final Cut was about how, with the introduction of the Welfare State, we felt we were moving forward into something resembling a liberal country where we would all look after one another … but I’d seen all that chiselled away, and I’d seen a return to an almost Dickensian society under Margaret Thatcher. I felt then, as now, that the British government should have pursued diplomatic avenues, rather than steaming in the moment that task force arrived in the South Atlantic.”
Guitarist David Gilmour, who’d later become the band’s leader and lead singer, was unimpressed by Waters’ politicising, and the new creative direction prompted arguments.
In a June 1987 interview, Waters recalled: “The Final Cut was absolutely misery to make, although I listened to it of late and I rather like a lot of it. But I don’t like my singing on it. You can hear the mad tension running through it all. If you’re trying to express something and being prevented from doing it because you’re so uptight … It was a horrible time. We were all fighting like cats and dogs. We were finally realising – or accepting, if you like – that there was no band. It was really being thrust upon us that we were not a band and had not been in accord for a long time.”
The album is lyrically poetic and viciously critical of those who use war and the lives of citizens for political end. It’s also a single story, a mood that should develop without interruption. Consequently, I advise you to listen to it before watching the 4 videos Waters made. He was still reeling in the failure of ‘The Wall’ movie, a project of his and director Alan Parker had made. Maybe if he’d known then that it would become the most iconic music movie and eventually make $10-million profit, he wouldn’t have been as poignant on ‘The Final Cut’. Three cheers for depression.
Pink Floyd The Final Cut HD - YouTube
Pink Floyd - The Gunner's Dream - YouTube
Pink Floyd - Not Now John (Official Music Video) - YouTube
Pink Floyd - Two Suns In The Sunset - YouTube
THE FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL
In 1989, the Berlin Wall between West and East Germany was opened. The Cold War was over. I was 18 years old. It was a BIG DEAL.
If you’re too young to feel that important moment, remember what it was like when Apartheid unofficially ended the next year. Russia may have continued funding the ANC to ensure the IFP were defeated so that the ANC took charge of South Africa, but the world was in a period of change we were caught up in.
And if you’re too young for those memories, try imagine if Israel and Palestine were united now into a semblance of peace.
The breaking down of the actual wall, a double line with no-man’s land in between, began in 1990, the same year. Roger Waters staged a historical concert in that previous no-man’s land. It became the biggest selling event in history, with 350,000 tickets sold. But on the day, another 100,000-150,000 people were let in for free.
The half a million people required a big stage to look at. Set up as a mock wall, it was 170m wide and 25m high. It was partly built during the concert, and symbolically torn down at the end. ‘The Wall’ album was sung by Waters without Pink Floyd, but with a host of unlikely stars such Bryan Adams, Van Morrison, Sinéad O’Connor, Cyndi Lauper and the Scorpions.
Unfortunately no song from ‘The Final Cut’ was used but it’s a necessary companion for continuity… or a standalone for sensible people against war by governments for political and corporate profit.
Fuck modern music for having become a slave to consumerism that cannot show on a map where the country is that they’re bombing.
Fuck ‘Maggie’ and all those like her.
Cyndi LAUPER "the wall" (Live in Berlin) PINK FLOYD - YouTube
THE SCORPIONS, intro to brick in the wall - YouTube
Roger Waters & Sinead O'Connor Mother - YouTube
Roger Waters, Van Morrison, The Band - Comfortably Numb - YouTube
The wall live Waiting for the worms & The trial @sportpaleis Anvers - YouTube
I shaved off my sexy accessory. Done some breaking, tearing and inner searching. Only found stubborn resignation.
The soundtrack to this ‘movie sequel’ has been rock ‘n roll; from Jeff Buckley and John Moreland to Hatebreed and Judas Priest. Eventually the drums and guitars will become mimes so that all that will be left is me, as uncute as can be.
My fruit juice and soya milk will soon run out, water and black tea carrying me to my next destination.
My plan to get arrested will likely happen soon. I’ve chosen a date. That may be my final chance to force Cyril Ramaphosa to act like a leader for all.
Fuck those who hurt our country… and fuck them again when they use propaganda to pretend they’re holy. The entire Democratic Alliance leadership belongs in jail. Belief and hope is meaningless without action. I fight them with every breath, and without regret.
Last week, I sank into depression. One moment I was there and then I was gone… into a smudgy flow that carried me like a coffin towards fire disasters.
My mind burned in the Great Knysna Fire – so much loss; how Government failed us whilst lying how good they were; how they threatened me; and that, without justice, life-saving lessons may never be learned, and thus destruction repeated.
On that first day, I awoke octogenarian friends who’d been unaware of their neighbour’s house aflame a few metres from their wooden, bedroom window. The massively, uncomfortable fact is that if the fire had reached our town at night, with no one warning us, our tragedy may have ‘achieved’ one of the worst death tolls in the world. It’s ironic that we have to thank the 80-120km/h wind that brought 2000 degree centigrade and choking smoke into our June 7 2017 afternoon.
Brooding, sad and angry that no one seems to cares about justice beyond insurance claims and litigation, I found myself watching many documentaries about fire disasters in the USA and Australia. I did that for one and half days, only leaving bed to pour or piss fruit juice and tea.
I found comfort in survivors who’d understand. Although I never cried during our challenge, I had tears in my eyes for strangers and our own dead.
But today I’ve chosen 4 videos for you. I share in the hope that some of you will watch them back to back for most emotion. I want you to understand too!
We begin with the Paradise Fire in California, more well known as The Camp Fire, after the area where cheap electrical power lines sparked the disaster. Our fires were similar in that they lasted approximately two weeks, and repeated Government failure left many citizens without warning. Even after the fire, my DA ward councillor took weeks to visit our area which was one of the worst affected – 20 of 24 homes in my complex erased from existence. Coincidentally, over the river and opposite my area called Kanonkop, was the suburb of Paradise.
Knysna lost 1000 buildings and 8 people, the taxpayer suffering R3.4-billion in damage. Paradise, a town half our size, lost 18,804 buildings and 85-87 people. Their damage was a whopping R240-billion.
Thereafter, we move onto body camera footage of the Santa Rosa Fire, the full length documentary, ‘Black Friday’.
Lastly, there’s my beloved Knysna and the biggest wildfire in South Africa’s history. I show you before and after photos I took of the place I once called home, wooden houses in a forest turned to ash.
Escaping Paradise | California Wildfires: The New Normal - YouTube
Police body cams capture horrific moments inside 2017 Santa Rosa inferno: Nightline Part 1 - YouTube
Victoria ABC TV 2009 - Black Saturday Documentary [HD Quality] - YouTube
After The Burn: The Garden Route Love - YouTube
Great Knysna Fire disaster destroyed my happy home - before and after photos - YouTube
“People are going to die, and people are going to fight over water,’ states one resident.
This is a video about Cape Town’s water crisis, featuring well known figures such as Patricia de Lille, Xanthea Limberg and Helen Zille.
Does the water issue best display the differences between the rich and the poor? Or is the more relevant fact that incompetent government, both DA an ANC, has failed us?
CAPE TOWN IS THIRSTY
“Cape Town is running out of water but the catastrophe was foreseeable – politicians ignored periods of drought and rapidly growing population for too long.
South Africa is facing its drought of the century. Cape Town’s water supply is under threat because the metropolis is quenching its thirst with surface water alone. But climate change is making the weather more unpredictable and the reservoirs emptier. Those responsible are feverishly seeking a remedy. Can the worst still be averted?
Fear of social unrest, epidemics and the region’s economic collapse is spreading. Only through the discipline of the population, who limited their water consumption to 50 liters of water per day per head for months, staved off “Day Zero” – the day when the taps are turned off and people can only draw water from public faucets.
The lack of water throws the country’s social divisions into stark relief: rich South Africans can buy water, while poorer citizens cannot afford it.
The filmmakers accompany a special police unit looking for people wasting water in the townships and meet farmers whose very existence is at stake.
It is a race against time and a fight against political sleaze. Cape Town’s predicament is a lesson to the whole world – by 2050 one in four cities in the world will be affected by water shortages.” – DW Documentary
‘Where He Will Leave His Shoes?’ is a South African short story observing conscious and unconscious racism and sensuality via the master/servant relationship. It won writer Karen Jayes the 2009 PEN/Studzinski Award and admiration from writers such as JM Coetzee. That inspired her first novel, the Sunday Times Literary Prize winning ‘The Mercy of Water’. So grab some hot coffee and get back into bed so that you fully appreciate this masterpiece.
‘My husband likes the sheets tucked in, so that when he gets into bed, it’s like slipping into an envelope, tight. Like this …’
This is what she tells me, her white chicken arms flapping as she folds the sheet over at the top and pulls it straight, strokes it over and over with her hands – first here, then there, but there is always another crease to smooth. Inside her cotton T-shirt, with an anchor sewn in gold thread, her long, thin breasts swing like empty cow’s tits. I see the nipples brush the cotton like knuckles.
They make me sad, those wasted breasts. I want to tell her: ‘It is a pity this man who leaves you here in this big house for so long, has not given you children to fill it.’ But I cannot say such a thing; I am the houseboy.
I am her houseboy.
She says it to her friends when they come for lunch after golf, smelling like baby powder and fresh air and sweat. In her voice there is pride and she is protective of her decision to take me – which means that she is proud, I am sad to say, of me. It is like she is discussing a very good stove. As in: ‘I decided to get a houseboy, a Malawian – they are the best.’
Except I am not Malawian; I am from further north than that.
It is a popular way of talking here, to divide us by country, according to how easy we are, how useful. Nigerians will steal. Congolese are uppity. Malawians are friendly and passive, and, so, very popular. It is no surprise that everybody has become a Malawian. But it takes more smiling than I am used to.
I make her egg-mayonnaise sandwiches on the days she plays golf. She likes the crusts cut off and the bread cut small so she can put each piece in her mouth at once. She must not bite it, she says, or the egg fills the spaces between her teeth. So I cut them tiny, all the same size. It is best if I slice down quickly on either side of my thumb.
Putting the egg on the bread so it doesn’t spill over the sides is difficult. It is like painting the airplanes my brother and I would build when we were boys, the plastic ones with American flags on their sides. My father would buy them when he went to the city to stock up his shop, when he could still pay.
I must not think of the airplanes when I make the sandwiches; if I do, I will cut my hand. The tears will fill my eyes. These sandwiches I cannot string from the ceiling. Nor do I admire them much. What is to admire when all this hard work will only end up in her stomach? And then after that in the toilets that I must then clean.
‘You see Adam, you must first fold the sheet at the corners like this, so you make a triangle, then pull the point around and tuck it under …’
We have moved together to the end of the bed. She is holding this edge of the sheet in the palm of her hand and with the other she is pulling the corner around the end of the mattress. Her nails are short, the ends of her fingers like the round beaks of the forest birds, red and swollen. Her cheeks are stained pink, her neck, too; the blood in her skin has worked its way up from her chest like a handprint. She is hot from all the folding, the leaning around the bed. I am feeling guilty for this. She turns to look at me and I nod vigorously. I want her to stop.
But she doesn’t stop. She is stubborn. She keeps on at me, in front of this bed, that should be touched by her and her husband alone.
It doesn’t matter. I must do this job. I must not look at her hands, or her cheeks, or wonder what her heartbeat feels like, the one I see pushing from her neck, soft like the moth. I smile at her, and nod again and try to look like I am concentrating on the sheets.
Then she bends down to lift up the corner of the mattress. She is pressing the corner piece under, and I see her backside opening up to me. I imagine the wet pink spread under her cream trousers.
I step back and look away, at the cupboards with the mirrors reflecting us. See myself in my shorts and T-shirt, handed to me through a gate from a boy when I rang his bell. There is the name of a university on it, and three words under a badge that I cannot understand. I asked him what they meant, but he didn’t know, either. I thought it was strange wearing a shirt with words on it that you didn’t know. But look at me now, wearing it, at my legs sticking out from the shorts, which hang too wide. It is good like this; they look like boy’s legs.
I step aside, further away from her towards the window with the white curtains, three sets of them all different thicknesses. I like to rub them between my fingers when I clean the windows, let them fall over each other like layers of a very beautiful dress. When I do that, I can hear them. They whisper.
I can see the garden beyond them, and I imagine myself out there doing man’s work. She already has someone out there, a Zimbabwean, a good man, but very deaf and very old. Perhaps he will die soon and I will be able to move outside to work in the garden. I like the feel of soil under my hands. It must be from my grandfather, this; he had his own small farm. Then the government bought the land and we had to rent it from them. It became too expensive. The rains stopped and the fruit did not come. But I still remember the mangoes, the juice down my chin.
I like the way she listens to the Zimbabwean, the way his voice is when he tells her what he thinks is best for her plants; there is some pride in it. There is none of the gratitude that has crept into mine. Even my father, who worked so that I would become a teacher, would approve of the gardening work. I don’t tell him what I do now, my mother, neither – she never taught me to clean anything; she never thought I would ever need to know. My sisters did that. Imagine, their only son doing women’s work … It is too painful.
But I must not worry. The money is so scarce now they don’t ask me where it comes from, only when there will be more. So I must press on. I must make this bed.
‘Could you help me lift this mattress, please, Adam? It is very heavy …’
Yes, she is kind to me in her voice. I spring forward and kneel down on the floor next to her. I can see something in her eyes; it is heavy and suddenly unsure. I am feeling like she can see my thoughts. I press my fingers next to hers into the little gap under the mattress. I can hear her now. She is making soft, shallow grunts.
The mattress is very heavy; it squeezes my fingers. It is a special kind, thicker than I have seen, with springs and shiny covering, and little bumps – I can feel them now, cool like mounds of sand. She is smoothing over the top of the sheet, brushing the top of it with her hands so a little breeze from her strokes my face. There is a smell of strong perfume. It sits in my nose too long; after it, something sour, and slightly milky. It is the tea she has just drunk from me, settled on her tongue.
She pays me, at least. Every month, enough for food and a bit of rent, though it is less than half of what she would pay a South African. But there are other people who have had it much worse. People like Gloria, my neighbour from the Congo, who looked after three children, one who was very sick, crippled … she was not paid for six months. Then, when she asked her madam to help her get her papers, the woman fired her. No warning. I could not believe this when Gloria told me. What must you think of your children to treat the person that loves them each day, like this? It is very strange.
I paid a man in a pink baseball cap and a striped suit almost everything I had to come here, more than R15 000. I believed him that I would make the money back quickly, that the streets in South Africa run with gold. I was naïve then; I trusted people’s words. But nothing here is trustworthy. It is like a child finding out how a magic trick works. Your faith shatters bit by bit, like the mirror, and when you try to put it back together, there is always that mark, that dark line in the glass.
I left my family and travelled across three countries, in the back of trucks where the excrement gathers at the corners and the babies wail all night; where the drivers stop and you can hear them taking to the women outside. When you hear their low cries afterwards, the hollowness of it reaches in and takes something from you. You begin to think: where is this journey really taking me? But by then you cannot turn back. You are too far gone.
But it is powerful, this hope in me that stays. I feel it when I lie down to sleep in the shack I share with my friend Alain, the one we made of corrugated iron and plastic that is the size of my bathroom at home. This hope, it is like a second heart. It pulls me along. But it can play tricks on me; it tells me that the world is better than the people in it. I should be more like Alain, who says never to expect anything – that way you can’t be disappointed. But that is not human, is it, to give up hope? And besides, there have been moments in this city where hope has saved my life.
She is walking around behind me now, to the other side of the bed. We are almost ready to throw the big quilt over, but she is standing back to admire her work. I see in her eyes, the way they roam over the bed and through the room: she is very proud, this woman, of her things.
‘Right, Adam, could you fold this corner, please? I want to check that you can do it right.’
I think she likes to have a man to take her orders. There is something in her that enjoys telling me what to do, more than it would just a houseboy. This is the angry part of her, the part of her that treats me like a man, the man that is paying for her husband. When he is here, on Saturdays, he ignores her or he complains too much. She tries too hard to do everything right, but I have seen that look in a man’s eyes: he is bored. There are others. So he plays with her heart like a cat does with an insect.
I bend down and pull the corner of the sheet out towards me. Carefully, I let the sheet fall into a triangle. It is just the way she showed me. Behind me, to the side of me, I can see her watching my hands, her hands on her hips.
I don’t know when South Africa created servants out of us. We come cheap and it makes the rich people very happy. They can go back to having ten people working around the house and pay them nothing. It is just like their grandparents did – except we come with certain benefits: we are not angry about apartheid; we work harder; we are more educated; some of us can speak French to their children to prepare them for their European careers. But there are lazy ones among us. Some of us are angry, very angry. And hurt, beyond healing. The Rwandan who parks cars at the supermarket down the road watched his baby being crushed with a mielie crusher.
But most of them do not care to hear these stories. They have grown tired of our crying. The people here only care that we be nice and helpful, that we are safe; we know our place. This is how we make them richer, without conscience. It is most important that we offer them this – more so than where we have come from, what we know or have seen, or any other thing, even that we are human like them. They are just like this woman, here behind me, breathing her golden air.
But we cannot complain. Where else can we go from here? After this, it is the end of the earth.
I stand up to smooth the sheet over the corner. I pull it like she does.
‘Very good, Adam,’ she says.
I should be turning around and smiling at her, but I only stand and look at the bed. Right now, in those three words from her mouth, I am buried.
‘Would you fetch the quilt from the chair, please? It is too heavy for me to carry by myself.’
I am wondering how she got it there in the first place. Maybe it flew there. Nothing is impossible in this house.
Is it impossible, the one thing that begs me to think it, over this bed, on her skin?
I walk to the chair and pick up the quilt. It crunches in my arms. It is heavy, she is right. It smells of washing soap and of that warm, musky smell of a woman, of the wild fig tree. I do not smell him; when he sleeps he is not really here.
I am trying not to stumble. She is waiting for me on the other side of the bed. When I put the quilt down, I see she is watching me. She is curious. She is looking at my hands. Then she smiles, a big, open smile, and I see, for a moment, a little girl laughing at a joke that is naughty.
I look down. The blood is boiling in my head. Something has changed. I am very hot and confused. She has seen right into the middle of me, and it is like I am naked in front of her. She leans over the bed. Her breasts swing again. She grabs a corner of the quilt.
I am thinking: what would it be like to enter her? Would it feel soft within this hard shell? What would it be like to bring her to a final, wonderful release? She will taste like they say a white woman tastes: creamier perhaps, but sour like pollen.
Right here, standing over the mattress, I want to try. So much I must bend over and pick up some of the quilt to hide myself.
Then suddenly we lift it up. It makes a parachute over our heads. I smile at her under the ceiling. It is suddenly light between us, like we are children playing a game. The quilt is covered in squares, of a scratchy, silky fabric with many different colours. It is old; she has kept it because it is important to her. There are not a lot of old things in this house; everything is replaced when it looks a little worn. But this thing, it is meaningful to her, and I can see by the stitches pulling between the squares, it has been made by careful hands. Right now, it reminds me of my mother. I would like to give a quilt like this to her.
It falls with a heavy sigh on to the bed, like an animal when it is going to sleep.
She has trapped me with that look a moment ago. So I follow her; I, too, pull the cover up over the pillows. I smooth the top of it, and pat the corner. But I am searching for her eyes. It is like we are dancing, but she is pulling me across the floor. She steps back and walks to the cupboard. I see her watch me in the mirror. What is that look she gives me? I cannot say. I am not bad with women, but with this one, I am very bad.
‘There are some old shoes here, Adam, that you can take if you want … You can use them where you like.’
She has made me a beggar with this, reminded me that I am allowed to pick up her scraps, and her scraps are his shoes. It is like she has taken away a piece of my body. She is a thief, this woman. I want to shout this at her. But I am standing here in my shorts, sweating on my forehead for reasons that have nothing to do with making a bed. What should I say? Or should I say nothing, only take her firmly at the neck and throw her on to her covers? I would like to soil those sheets of hers she washes every day with her underwear that I must hang out, the little yellow stains like orange juice drying in the sun.
I am a game for her. She is like the jackal, a sly and cunning bully. She is still standing in front of the open cupboard, with the eyes I cannot read.
I look at the shoes. There are two pairs I can see from here that I must take, with gratitude. Too much gratitude, so much I don’t know where I will find it.
I would like the running shoes for when I go jogging in the mornings, in the red dust heat – they are good shoes, and still new. I nod and push my broad smile even broader; this makes her think I am very happy. She is pleased, and I see the little pink blotches climb up her face. She is warm now; her charity has achieved its desired reward.
I step forward and point to the running shoes. She tells me I may have them and I thank her, many times, profusely. Some of it is true. Some of it is cursing under my breath.
It is not that I am not humble. It is that I cannot stand being a beggar – so much it burns my throat. Isn’t a beggar even lower than a houseboy? Now, it is hard to say.
The other shoes I like are the slippers. They look soft and royal. I have always thought that slippers are the mark of a made man, a man who has enough money to buy special shoes to walk to his bed in at night. Even though he will probably have rugs and has no need to cover his soles – except perhaps to hide from them, and mask their propensity for coolness. Slippers are aloof. They are intimate. They are statements.
I choose them. She smiles approvingly and tells me they will keep me warm at night. It is like this is suddenly very important to her: that I keep warm at night. I feel the heat rise in me again. I step forward. She moves back and tells me to put them somewhere safe, where I won’t forget them. She is talking again like I am a child who cannot look after things like she can, the woman who replaces and renews and throws so much away.
It is like she has hit me. But I ignore it. I only nod and thank her, again and again. I am playing it well now, her game.
Then the phone rings, and she puts her eyes down, away from mine. She leaves the room.
When she is gone, I kneel down in front of the shoes, and run my hands over them. She has sorted aside four pairs for me: the two I have chosen, and two sandals. I do not like sandals; they let the stones in under my feet, sharp like tiny blades. I can see his foot marks in them, too, hollow like empty lakes.
The slippers are hardly worn. I lift them up to my face and sniff them. I can still smell the fabric, like a new carpet, and that plastic smell of a very clean, expensive shop. I put my hand inside them and curl my fist. At the bottom, where my fingers brush the tips, I find my hope.
I pick them up and put them, like she told me, in the place where I want to wear them, in the safest place I can find: under the frayed end of the shiny quilt, in a bar of sunlight that has just crept under our bed.
The Irrationality of Believing: Shannon Hope at TEDxCapeTown - YouTube
I’ve never known Shannon Hope in a meaningful way although I’m sure we have some scars in the same places. In the Durban music scene, most of us were just trying to survive the fact that dreams never built reality.
But I was in awe of Ketamine, the band she fronted that got recorded by Smashing Pumpkin’s producer, Bjorn Thorsrud. I was there when he watched them perform in a crummy bar in Umhlanga. The resulting E.P. included ‘In the Shape of a Heart’, a contender for South Africa’s greatest alternate rock song (player at the bottom of this page – the finale will blow any rocker’s mind).
But the band faded like almost all bands faded. The only one I know that still exists is Deity’s Muse (whom I recently reviewed).
But at the age of 29, Shannon Hope discovered new strength to be a musician that would receive accolades yet battle to pay her rent. She changed her style and went travelling with a keyboard. That 2010, I was fortunate to host her in Knysna.
Three years later, she delivered her message about the irrationality of believing to TEDx in Cape Town. I’m referring to the Youtube video at the top of this page.
“I quit my day job, recorded an album, got in my car and started touring. Not because I was brave or inspired but because I’d realised I’d become a non-person.
I had got stuck in routine, commitment, responsibility and obligation. Not following my dream was easier, safer.
But I suddenly realised that if I didn’t do it now, I probably never would. The fear of that, of never being who you are, is more terrifying than any consequence of trying, or failing, or succeeding.
Fear is the construct of the imagination. It’s the rational process that we facilitate to explain our way out of things that are uncomfortable or challenging. It’s like our mind’s way of preparing us for battle. Just as you rationalise your way into fear, you rationalise our way out of it.
What i realised, looking back, is how I was able to jump in the first place. I used my fear as leverage. My fear of failure is outweighed by my fear of disappointing other people.
So I told everyone that i was recording an album and that i was going to do music full time. I made my dream intention public knowledge.
This abstract construct only exists when you decide it does. Just as a performer uses their stage fright or vulnerability as fuel for a performance, you can turn your fear into a driving force, instead of looking for excuses to drive non-action…
Not everyone can follow their dream but you should try.
This is everything that I want to be. I don’t care how hard it is. I can’t pretend that it doesn’t affect me, but I carry on because I have to. Because my brain says it’s who I am. Because I have no choice but to believe that I can. Because it is who I am.
I don’t know if Shannon won the main fight. I know she made a sophomore album and toured the UK. But 6 years has passed and she’s faded again. South Africa isn’t kind to to those who don’t pursue the masses. There’s so little culture for it. It’s incredibly frustrating to be talented yet poor.
But it’s the world I’ve lived in for 30 years so I have empathy and admiration for those like Shannon even though I’m helpless to change it… but not utterly, for I too believe in trying. It may be dimmed but surely the only thing keeping me going is hope.
Ketamine - In The Shape Of A Heart - SoundCloud (312 secs long, 199 plays)Play in SoundCloud
The Auditor General has added its nail to the coffin of South Africa. As much as every failed local government should be thrown on hot coals, I’m most interested in the Western Cape.
CLEAN AUDITS NOT SO CLEAN
Yes, the Western Cape got more clean audits than others but the main fact should be that there was an alarming decline.
Whereas 24 out of 30 municipalities received clean audits for 2016/2017, only 12 received that status for 2017/2018 (the results are released one year later i.e. now).
The DA-led Western Cape’s clean audits declined by 50% yet biased outlets such as Primedia issue red herring headlines such as ‘Western Cape has the most clean municipalities in South Africa’.
Keep in mind that there’s no such thing as a ‘clean audit’. It’s just an easy term for us Public to identify with. The standards are so low in South Africa that there’d be none if we were relocated to Sweden. Crime I’ve reported to the Auditor General was simply ignored.
SOUTH AFRICAN AUDIT STANDARDS
1. I fell in a pit toilet – bad audit
2. No toilet paper, had to use my hands – clean audit
6 out of every 10 municipalities in the Western Cape cannot live up to that Number 2 standard.