The road less and less able to be travelled

Previously in Noseweek, Riversdale farm owner Stephen Pain described how he had been vilified by his neighbour, former DA MP Theuns ‘Leuens’ Botha, who for years accused him of a litany of crimes and even had him arrested. Botha also used his position and influence to have a weir and piping installed to deliver water to his property at taxpayers’ expense. Likewise he had an electric fence erected and used his bodyguards to do his bidding in the feud with his neighbour.

Stephen Pain writes:

If only the court had agreed to hear my version of the events that led to the protection order against me. My evidence would have cast a very different light on the events complained of: a light that would have shown up the accusations as utter nonsense. But even without my evidence I’d have thought that the affidavits handed in to court by former DA MEC Theuns “Leuens” Botha and his wife, Sarie Botha, would in themselves have raised serious doubts in the mind of the honourable magistrate. Anyway, you be the judge.

Their application for a “protection” order (to protect them from me) refers to “the serious events of this morning”, by which the ex-MEC meant my (alleged) efforts to murder his wife and two police bodyguards on 12 March 2015.

Serious events indeed. But first let’s go back to just 15 minutes before this dreadful incident. In her affidavit Sarie Botha says she drove out of her gate that morning but soon found herself stuck because I was deliberately blocking the road with my car. She says that I do this regularly in order to harass her. Well it’s certainly true that I regularly parked there by the side of the road. But the Bothas knew perfectly well that this was the nearest spot where I could get internet access (aided by a portable aerial) because nearby mountains block the reception at my home.

My parking there was never a problem in the past but the (public) road, which runs through Theuns Botha’s land, was becoming increasingly congested; he’d built new fences along most of its length, enlarging his paddocks at the road’s expense. The standard 6.6-metre road width was now down to barely 3m, never mind the official 20m road reserve. Consequently, Mrs Botha must now slow down a bit to ease past me; but on this particular day she decided to stop and make a fuss instead. I had been about to move for her, not that it was strictly necessary, but I did not got the chance.

Narrowed options: Over the years Theuns Botha has increasingly allowed his fences to encroach on the public road, according to Stephen Pain

In her statement Sarie Botha admits that she reached into my car and took out the keys. She then got back into her car, turned round, and drove home to her husband Theuns Botha, where they were now both safely behind a substantial electric security fence.

Other affidavits confirm that they were in contact with MEC Botha’s armed VIP bodyguards, who were only a few minutes away.  Incidentally, Sarie Botha was probably also armed, since she’d told me before that she often shoots the porcupines that damage her garden.

Elsewhere, by the way, the Bothas say that I’ve been threatening and harassing them for years; so much so that the electric fence they were now safely behind was built, at public expense, to protect them specifically from me. I kid you not. In fact, before I saw the court papers, I had assumed, like everybody else around here, that the fence was really built to stop the baboons from trashing their brand-new thatched roof.

Anyway, having received the stolen car key from his wife, Theuns Botha evidently allowed her to leave the security of their specially fortified home and drive back all alone to where I was “blocking the road”. They knew that I’d still be there, of course, because they’d just nicked my car keys. Nevertheless, Sarie Botha returned to the scene but this time decided there was enough room after all and so she drove past on her merry way.

Their story beggars belief. On one hand I’ve been a certifiable danger for years, worthy of psychiatric observation and so hazardous that they needed a government-built security fence to protect them from me.  Yet, on the other hand, Sarie Botha is quite prepared to confront me, all on her own, about my “blocking the road”. She even has the brass to actually reach into my car and steal the ignition keys whilst I’m sitting in the driver’s seat. Having got away with that, she returns with her booty to the safety of home and husband only to then come out, all alone again, for a second encounter with me, her deranged serial antagonist.

Does that make sense? And in a dangerous situation like that wouldn’t Theuns Botha restrain his spouse, at least until the bodyguards arrived? Or at the very least, accompany her himself if necessary? Though not a tall man, even the best tailoring reveals his solid build whereas Sarie retains the maidenly proportions of her youth.

Well apparently not, because Sarie Botha  came out again, but this time she edged past my Pajero and roared off towards Riversdale, leaving me stranded.

I couldn’t move my car, nor could I lock it, so before walking home I started to take out the valuables, which is when I came upon a set of spare keys in the glove box, so I was able to set off to lay a charge of theft at the SAPS station in town. After five kilometres-or-so, I arrived at a high vantage point and could see Sarie Botha’s Mercedes-Benz hurtling along about 400m ahead of me. The way she was driving made me fear an accident, so I pulled over and quickly shot some video footage with my VCR on full zoom. If she ended up in a ditch at least I could prove that I was nowhere near!

Here I must digress to explain that I’d become a compulsive cameraman by then. A few months earlier I’d received a bizarre email from Theuns Botha headed “Official Notice” in which he said that he could produce “30 affidavits” supporting a court action “to prevent your deliberate, harmful and threatening conduct (and) your numerous previous verbal and physical threats to my contractors, to me, my wife, my son, his wife and their children”. I’ve still no idea what this verbiage was all about but I resolved to record any new encounters with them by way of insurance. And boy, am I glad that I did!

Back then to my high vantage point on the way to the police station. Having stopped to record proof of my distance from Sarie Botha’s erratic driving, I took time to check the film I’d shot a few minutes earlier whilst she was robbing me of my keys. Yes, it was all there as clear as a bell. Much relieved, I set off again whilst relishing the SAPS’s reaction to such unequivocal evidence. My thoughts drifted to the Mercedes, which by now would have easily covered the remaining distance into town, but I’d not gone far when I saw it parked up ahead on the left. There was a plain white car next to it and between them they blocked about two-thirds of the road. Sarie Botha leant on her car with a smart-phone pointed at me whilst two men in civilian clothes flagged me down saying that they wanted to talk. I recognised one of them as Theuns Botha’s bodyguard and I told him that I was on my way to the police station in Riversdale and that he could talk with me there. The other one moved to block the remaining third of the road but, when I pointed my VCR at him, he got out of the way so I could drive on into town.

Fast-forward 20 minutes. I’d soon got to the police station, which was packed. Although Theuns and Sarie Botha and the bodyguards arrived after me, Sarie was attended to at once. I tried to go to the counter myself but was suddenly floored by Botha, his henchmen simultaneously restraining him and securing me. A sea of uniforms had appeared around us.

Battered and bruised, I said I’d had enough for one morning and that I was going home. I would come in later to lay my charge and they knew where to find me if I was needed sooner.

The next moment I was arrested on three counts of attempted murder, searched, stripped of my spectacles and shoelaces and locked up in a cell. Things were looking decidedly bleak. Here were three people willing to testify that I’d tried to kill them. And not just any old three people, but a trio of thoroughly solid citizens; the wife of a provincial government minister and two serving police officers both with spotless careers and high security clearance.

But – and here’s the rub – it’s now a full two years later and I’ve still to be punished for my dastardly crimes. I appeared a few times before the local magistrate, waived my right to legal representation, and begged for the soonest-possible trial. I offered my unconditional co-operation and support both to the SAPS investigating officer and to the NPA prosecutor. And, thanks to my trusty VCR, I could offer them support of the very highest calibre indeed: my own detective work, admittedly, but still worthy of a Sherlock Holmes or a Columbo.

Let me explain: a couple of weeks after my arrest I was going through the videos I’d shot back on that fateful day. I wanted to draw a detailed timeline of events using the date/time encoded on the film, or rather on the data card. Looking at the clip taken from my high vantage point I noticed for the first time that, as Sarie Botha shot round one of the bends, there were some people right there on the roadside. I knew there’d been a big work-party building a game fence in the area, so I decided to track them down. I found them just after Easter and went to have a word, hoping they’d at least remember Sarie Botha’s Mercedes flying past them. And, if I was very lucky, perhaps they also remembered my Pajero following some minutes later at a much more leisurely pace. A long shot, admittedly, but worth a try, given the hole I was in. Well, I was extremely lucky because they remembered all that and a whole lot more besides. There were about six guys around me saying that they all remembered it very well because they’d compared notes at the time.

“It was just like a movie,” they said. What? A Mercedes passing quickly and a Pajero passing slowly? “Some movie!” said I. But no, they’d not only seen Sarie Botha’s Merc shooting past them towards town but at the same time they’d also seen a white car speeding towards them in the other direction. They’d seen both vehicles stop and then they’d seen two men get out of the white car “to go and talk with the lady in the Mercedes”. The two men had then gone back to their own car and done a swift U-turn before driving behind Sarie Botha’s Merc towards town until they were all out of sight.

This was music to my ears. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Would they sign statements? Sure, yes, no problem. What a turn up! You see I’d managed to get from the prosecutor a copy of the docket with statements from the two coppers I’d allegedly attacked. But their version was now completely destroyed by the several new witnesses I’d just found.

The policemen, using strikingly similar language, both said that they’d had a call about my harassing Mrs Botha. They had been driving on the dirt road towards her home when they saw her Merc coming towards them. They swear that they then went to speak with Sarie Botha who was “hysterical and crying” but, before they could get any sense out of her, I had come flying at them in my Pajero and tried to mow them all down.

Now it doesn’t take an exceptional legal mind to spot the vital differences between the police version and that of my God-sent witnesses. Obviously the SAPS story about me suddenly coming upon them is complete fiction. They had plenty of time to talk with Sarie Botha and then drive together out of sight of the witnesses before setting up a roadblock further on.

And Sarie Botha being “hysterical and crying”? Surely as trained protection officers they would never have let her drive by herself in that condition? One of them would have taken the wheel. It’s as clear as day that they were lying through their teeth. And what did Sarie Botha herself say about the attempted murder?

Well, that’s a strange thing too because it seems that Sarie Botha was never asked to testify. Although she attached the police statements to her protection order application and although she was a victim of and witness to alleged attempted murder, Sarie Botha was never asked for a statement. Odd under the circumstances. It made me wonder if there was someone directing the whole charade. Someone who was willing to risk the bodyguards’ committing perjury but who wanted to keep Sarie Botha out of it.

Anyway, having solved the attempted murder case singlehandedly – and simultaneously unearthed perjury and attempts to defeat justice – I thought the SAPS would be rather pleased with me. A little vain, perhaps, but I was hoping for a framed Certificate of Merit or at the very least, maybe a ride in a police car, this time without the ’cuffs.

But they’ve been remarkably quiet about the whole thing. Likewise, the NPA has been less than fulsome in their praise. Admittedly they’ve dropped the charges against me but only “provisionally”, which means that I can still be hauled up before the magistrate again any time it suits them.

Personally I think a Certificate of Nolle Prosequi would be more appropriate. But this time I’ll do the framing.

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