Bheki Mashile's Letter from Umjindi

Aargh! Don't rain on my parade


I sometimes hate the rainy season in this here Mzansi – yes, even as a supposed emerging farmer – all because it makes a muddy mess of my farm access road. But I was full of joie de vivre before it was bloody rained on. And I do not mean the English, or British use of the word bloody, but rather the real thing, the red stuff that flows through our bodies. In actuality, it’s not red when in the body, it becomes so when it comes into contact with oxygen. See, I know my biology.

Anyway, my month of June started out like a charm with a pleasant, light spring rain – which of course I do not hate. First, I nailed a fantastic scoop when one of my sources let me in on the fact that a fraudster had been dismissed finally by our Mpumalanga Department of Public Works – none other than that “idiot fraudster” I have already written about  – how he built a multi-million-rand mansion on a salary of around R9,000 a month.

What made this story a scoop was that the decision to dismiss him was made on a Thursday following a disciplinary hearing and I was publishing the next day. So, by getting the info that night, it meant my mighty Umjindi Guardian would announce his dismissal even before he was officially informed. Now that is an editor’s dream: hit them before they know it, the slimy, arrogant, thieving, nation-destroying bastards.

That Friday morning, after delivering my latest edition to the printer, I had a lilt in my step and found myself singing: “I’m walking on sunshine and man it feels good…” However a challenge lay ahead. Just up the road from the printers, I had business to deal with at everyone’s favourite government institution (excepting Julius Malema). Yes, you got it, SARS.

I needed a tax clearance certificate for my beloved BMD Media, the holding company for my Guardian. Without it, there can be no government advertising for the Guardian. I was convinced these heartless government “agents” would Malema my black ass. I also feared the inevitable torture of having to stand in line for hours.

And what do you know? My sunshine kept me aloft, even at this hell-on-earth government institution. I waited for no more than an hour and, to my surprise, my tax clearance was approved without question – or any late-administration fines. I walked out humming Nkosi Sikalel’. I think it’s the first time I ever sang Mzansi’s national anthem. Yes I was on cloud nine, winning, and I’d seized the day.

Needless to say the edition was a hit and I was looking forward to some handsome government advertising. Man I was chilling like Bob Dylan.

But of course, this is still Mzansi and three weeks later I would experience a bloody Mzansi nightmare. I got to my office at roughly 9:30pm, nice and tipsy. Had my two cups of green tea to help me detox overnight and went to what I thought would be a lovely well-deserved sleep.

It was not to be. Around midnight I heard a rumbling in the office and when I went to investigate, with my sleepy eyes and my feeling-good, nicely-tipsy body, I confronted two of Mzansi’s law-abiding citizens helping themselves – not only to my computers, but also, all my groceries, including everything from the fridge. The office is my second home.

Normally in a situation like that one would be wise to back off and plead for your life. No way! I was not having it. I had had enough of being robbed. Call it beer muscles or stupidity but I took them on, I screamed “No way – you are not taking my stuff! Get the f*** out…” A tussle ensued. I fought while yelling for our complex’s security guard, who is usually asleep on the other side in one of the panel beater’s cars.

Well, I succeeded and they ran like the wild dogs they are. I promptly used a knife to secure the door they had forced after breaking the lock, which by the way is on the inside. How did they do that?

Eventually I went back to sleep. When I woke up in the morning I had a gash on my left arm that was as wide as the river Nile, an obvious defensive wound. Blood was everywhere. My goods were left behind wrapped in cloth. Looking at their cloth packages, these guys were cleaning me out. 

Should I have taken such a dangerous and risky chance or just stayed under the covers and played sleep? No way, beer muscles or not, I am glad I fought to protect my property because the barbarians of Mzansi have proven that they are extremely violent and could have stabbed me, just probably for the pleasure of it while I played sleep. How many stories have you heard about such senseless murders during break-ins?

I am also very glad I lived to tell about it.

Have I lost my faith in Mzansi?

Hell no, not as long as we have an efficient SARS that can nail the Malemas and be surprised by a government department firing an idiot of a fraudster. Agh, there is a lot of hope for Mzansi.

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