Hello darkness, my old friend

If our capacity to believe anything hadn’t already been terminally blunted, we might find it hard to believe that load shedding is back again. Here’s a piece I wrote eight months ago. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

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I was on deadline when an Eskom attack dog was unleashed on Twitter, snarling that stage 4 load shedding was imminent and anyone who had a problem could meet him outside in the parking lot. Like cancer, there is no stage 5.

Hysterical, I ran naked around my shack in the milkwoods shouting at the cat to get ready. A few hours earlier we had been subjected to stage 2, resulting in lukewarm beer for me and tepid milk for her. We were less than impressed but at least we weren’t panicking. There was still stage 3 to go.

But that didn’t happen. Proceeding directly from stage 2 to stage 4 meant that something terrible was happening. We weren’t sure what it was because Eskom won’t tell us how it’s possible to go from months and months of wallowing in electricity to having almost none at all. In the space of a few hours.

They don’t explain because they either think we are too stupid to understand or they fear that we will unite across racial and political lines and march on Megatwatt Park and burn their building to the ground. So. Stupid it is then.

The cat licked her paw and set about washing her face. She must have seen some truly appalling things in her life to be able to remain calm in the face of a stage 4 clusterfuck.

Seven minutes later the lights went out. I hadn’t even found my pants yet. The cat raised its damp paw and pointed at its mouth. I pretended not to see. “Mroww,” she said. I am semi-fluent in cat as I’m sure she is in English but we keep it to ourselves out of a mutual fear of exploitation.

I can’t see you!” I shouted. “You’re a black cat in a power failure on a moonless night in a country poised to hurl itself into a stygian abyss. Give me a break.” She yawned and fell over. It was all I could do not to follow suit.

The ill-advised advisories began oozing out like ectoplasm. “Generating units are still tripping”. So am I, bro. But you don’t see me plunging the country into chaos.

Expect defective traffic lights.” Oh, please. It would have come as a tremendous shock to get a message that all traffic lights were working.

Since this morning we have unexpectedly lost six generating units and are consequently at war with Germany.” Oops. I’m getting my chilling announcements mixed up. I sympathise with Eskom. Things go astray. I’ve lost many things over the years, including my car keys, mind and virginity. What I don’t understand is how you unexpectedly lose six generating units, which are probably bigger than, say, a Bic lighter. Perhaps they meant it literally. Everyone went on lunch and when they came back, six units were missing. People will steal anything these days. But they probably mean that the units were lost in much the same way that soldiers are unexpectedly lost in battle. A management sniper firing deadly bursts of incompetence and neglect brought them down in the prime of their lives.

Eskom should at least have the decency to erect a memorial in their honour. They gave their lives so that we could, however briefly, have light. There could be a Tomb of the Unknown Unit dedicated to all the unsung units who have sacrificed their lives since the great plundering of 2008.

Weirdly, Eskom still blames us. There’s too much pressure on the system, they whine. It’s those people in Durban. The temperature drops below 28 degrees and it’s out with the electric blankets and turbo-charged heaters, draining the national grid and forcing the rest of us to suffer horribly. Selfish bastards.

Trapped knee-deep in a treacherous quagmire of political compromise and public expectations like a deer in the headlines – I mix better martinis than metaphors – our noble president announced the other day that Eskom would be unbundled. Generation, transmission, distribution. Many of us would also like to see the utility’s top management split into three parts. Head, torso, limbs.

Ramaphosa’s plan means that bribes will in future have to be split three ways. The old days of one family and a couple of cadres getting everything are over. This is a perfect blend of capitalism and socialism and works very well in a model kakistocracy such as ours.

However, a dark cloud looms over this exciting new dispensation. It comes in the form of a man who is no friend of the ruling class. Or of cosmetic dentistry, for that matter. Irvin Jim is his name and unionising is his game.

As the lord and master of the National Union of Mineworkers, his task is to reject anything that might cost a worker his job, even if it means saving the country from ruin.

I’m not a union basher by any means. I happened to be living in London when Margaret Thatcher unleashed the cavalry on striking coal miners. I urged my fellow squatters to rise up and join me in sourcing bigger, meaner horses and riding against the mounted police. Sadly, they were incapable of rising at all. Eventually someone took the hash pipe from me and shortly afterwards I was asked to leave.

But this is different. For a start, it’s not easy to find hash in my area and although there are horses nearby, they are programmed to attack anyone who isn’t blonde, female and doesn’t drive a Range Rover.

Irvin Jim believes that the president’s plan is nothing short of a conspiracy to privatise Eskom. This would lead to a reduction in the workforce, which, in terms of size, is bigger than the Dutch army.

Jim is not a big fan of alternate energy because you only need three people and a dog to run a wind farm. When it comes to solar energy, all it takes is someone to let the cleaner in once a week to give the panels a wash. Jim should live in a country where everyone has a job for life and benefits to spare. Jim needs to move to Cambodia, which has an unemployment rate of 0.3%. This impressive accomplishment has nothing to do with the fact that the Khmer Rouge killed a third of the population. There’s something about Jim that reminds me of Pol Pot. I don’t know if it’s the bogus smile or the sheer bloody-mindedness of flying in the face of all that is right for the common good.

I say let’s put Eskom in private hands. From where I sit I can see my neighbor having a braai. He doesn’t have any friends, but nor does Eskom. The fire has gone out and he is on his knees throwing up into the swimming pool. Let him run Eskom. He couldn’t possibly do a worse job.

I’m on deadline and it’s a race against time to finish this before the beers get undrinkable and the pirated battery in my laptop loadsheds itself. Don’t talk to me about pressure on the system.

Municipal mayhem

There are few six-syllable words in the English language that fill one with more dread and loathing than the word ‘municipality’. Not in every country, obviously. It might seem hard to believe, but there are parts of the world where people don’t fall to their knees weeping or laughing when they hear the word spoken aloud.

Growing up in Durban, a career with the municipality never crossed my mind. Frankly, a career in anything never really occurred to me until fairly late in life. Back then, white people were guaranteed a position at the municipality. It’s where you went if you didn’t know what you wanted to do but your parents were threatening to put you in a wheelchair if you didn’t get a job.

I had friends who worked for the council. I didn’t think any less of them. That would have been impossible. I never understood what any of them did because my eyes glazed over the moment they began explaining. I do remember asking, “Isn’t it boring?”

Things have changed a fair bit since then. If you have a friend who works for the Durban municipality today, you are far more likely to ask, “Isn’t it dangerous?”

The other day someone tried to poison the acting mayor. This was after the actual mayor, Zandile Gumede, was suspended by the ANC. Not, as you might imagine, by her ankles from the Connaught bridge. That sort of punishment will come when the rule of law has been completely obliterated. We’re still at the gnawing-away stage.

Gumede was subsequently fired. Party members are poised to punish her further by electing her chairperson of the ANC in the eThekwini region. The Asset Forfeiture Unit raided her properties today and took a bunch of shiny new cars away.

Anyway. If I were starting out again, I would definitely want to work for the Durban municipality. When I had the chance, Sybil Hotz was mayor. I don’t remember her at all. Then again, I had just returned from two years in the army where I learnt how to kill, drink and get high. It’s surprising I could find my way home. I googled Mayor Hotz to refresh my memory. It seems she’s best known for having opened the Umgeni Bird Park.

Across the country, municipalities are struggling. Not only to lower the bar set by mayors like Gumede, but to get people to pay them for services allegedly rendered. At the end of March, ordinary people like you and, well, you, owed our 257 municipalities at least R50 billion for rates, services and traffic fines.

I don’t understand. There are municipalities, mainly in Limpopo, that, if you, as a job-seeker, respond in the affirmative to the question, “Are you or have you ever been a gangster?” will hire you on the spot. Smart, industrious individuals with a clearly defined criminal bent are highly sought after in the civil service. So why, then, are so many municipalities battling to get people to pay up?

If there’s one thing gangsters know, it’s debt recovery. They need to be given free reign to express their creativity. Employees are wasted sitting behind their desks idly committing minor fraud and whatnot. Encourage them to get out into the fresh air. Thuma mina. With a baseball bat. You might even find Discovery Health will want to include it on their rewards programme.

Nearly fifty municipalities are collecting less than half the revenue owed to them. The Treasury can’t even ascertain the rate of collection of another 24 municipalities, presumably because nobody answers the phone and there’s a rabid dog at the gate.

When I was a kid, a girl from down the road borrowed fifty cents from me. In today’s terms, that’s, like, R50 000. When the end of the week came, I went over to her house to collect on the loan. She laughed and said she’d break my arm rather than pay me back. As a compromise she offered to show me what makes girls different to boys. Best fifty cents I’ve ever spent.

But, hey. Don’t beat yourself up if you are in arrears and plan on staying there indefinitely. A man from the council will be along to do that for you. Well, he would be if I was in charge. The government itself owes municipalities R10 billion. I don’t really understand how this can happen. Aren’t they all members of the same gang? It’s like a massive money-laundering pyramid scheme run by the most disorganised crime network in the world.

Point is, it’s essential that municipalities collect the debt they are owed. Stealing is only sustainable if supply keeps pace with demand. And, man, the demand out there for free money is second to none. Municipalities go bankrupt when plundering outstrips income and bailouts. It’s basic accounting, a subject I got nine percent for in matric and which goes a long way towards explaining my current situation.

It gets more complicated. Municipalities also owe creditors R150 billion. If you live in the Free State and your local council owes you money, don’t even bother ringing the bell. A neighbour will have been paid to say they’ve all gone to a funeral. You might glimpse the twitch of a curtain as you drive away. Assuming the curtains haven’t been stolen.

Several municipalities have run out of money entirely and are in overdraft. They are, in the desperate yet eternally polite parlance of the most ignored man in public office, Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu, in a state of distress and close to collapse. We have all been there, mostly on a Saturday night, but, unlike municipalities, we can’t blame the sponging class or cadre deployment for our appalling behaviour.

Standing upwind from the others, awkwardly shuffling their goody two-shoes and trying not to look overly righteous, are eighteen clean municipalities. Coming as a surprise to exactly nobody, most of them are in the Western Cape. The other 239 festering councils remain curled up in the foetal position whimpering, “Go away. It wasn’t me.”

Here’s a final fun fact. Two out of three municipalities filed financial statements and performance reports so unintelligible and flawed that they might as well have been scrawled in Aramaic on Wimpy serviettes.

Invited to protest? Don’t forget to RSVP.

Ted arrived at my house at 6am on Sunday with a garbage bag full of bleeding meat and seven cases of beer. “I’m here for the braai,” he said. I explained that there was no braai, grabbed two six packs and tried to close the door. He admitted he might have got the day wrong. I pointed out that the last braai I had at my place was in 2016.

“Okay fine,” he said. “I got the year wrong.” His meat was leaking all over my front step so I let him in. The neighbours have already reported my house as a health hazard and I didn’t want any more trouble.

Also, it made no sense to spurn what appeared to be half a zebra and enough alcohol to kill three wildebeest – the perfect antidote to any Sunday. I found the braai rusting gently beneath the milkwoods. In the absence of firelighters, Ted suggested we use one of my books.

“Why don’t you join Ace Magashule’s private army?” I said. “They’re looking for people like you.” Ted seemed offended and said he might just do that. I said they wouldn’t have him, no matter how good his book-burning skills were, because he was white. He seemed to think this was an even bigger insult and threatened to take his zebra and beers and go where he was wanted.

I opened a beer in his face and pointed out that the only people who wanted him were the Durban North police. He said in that case he would stay. I said I’d choose the book while he harvested fuel from the milkwoods.

Finding a title to burn wasn’t easy. Ace’s droogs are at least clear on what needs to be destroyed. I eventually settled on the DSM-IV. Most of my readers will be familiar with this title. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has been around since 1952. Crazy people have obviously been around for a lot longer. The DSM-V came out in 2013 and the American Psychiatric Association will publish a new edition just as soon as they can work out what the hell is wrong with Donald Trump and his supporters.

Ted was delighted. He said if we couldn’t start a fire with 818 pages, we didn’t deserve to be South Africans. He came up with the inspired idea of pairing our past paramours with various chapters and then burning them chronologically. This proved too complicated so we did it alphabetically. The abrasive attention-seekers, anxious anorgasmics and antisocial alcoholics got the kindling going nicely and the milkwood was well ablaze by the time we tossed in the tyrannical sadists, unprincipled narcissists and vacillating negativists.

I must warn that this method of lighting a fire is not for the faint-hearted. It comes with an almost inevitable tendency to begin diagnosing friends and family, before eventually turning on each other. Ted accused me of suffering from things I had never even heard of, and when I tried to get the pages from him for verification, he thrust them into the fire and claimed that my subsequent attempts to club him with the braai tongs simply confirmed his diagnosis.

With the zebra crackling merrily on the fire, talk turned to politics. Ted felt that, as white people, we needed to do more to blend in. He said that thanks to the efforts of Afriforum, the Suidlanders and Steve Hofmeyr, we were making ourselves about as welcome as mongooses at a cobra convention.

One of the reasons white people stand out is because they aren’t protesting. It’s an age-old African tradition to take to the streets. Not only is it the only way to get on CNN, but it keeps you warm and is tremendous fun. Okay, getting a rubber bullet in the face isn’t much of a laugh, but think of the camaraderie! The singing! The dancing! White people have to be one drink shy of a stomach pump before they are confident enough to sing and dance in public.

When it comes to protest songs, linking arms and singing Sugar Man comes a poor second to toyi-toying to Dubula iBhunu.

Ted said that finding the time to protest is half the problem. Thanks to unemployment, it’s easy to put together a flash mob of several thousand darkies at pretty much any time of day or night. But whiteys have jobs and children who constantly need ferrying to and from a multitude of activities aimed at helping them to one day become well-rounded expats.

“We’d be quite good at burning stuff,” said Ted. “We wouldn’t even need the book of madness. Tyres burn just as well.” Perhaps. But there are standards to maintain. For instance, white people wouldn’t want to burn just any old tyre. They would have to be imported Michelin all-weather radials or lightly used Pirellis at a push. Perhaps Tiger Wheel & Tyres would be prepared to sponsor us. The tyres would obviously have to be delivered to the scene of the protest.

“We would also be okay at throwing things,” I said. Ted agreed, saying white people were brilliant at throwing soirees. I opened a fresh beer in his face and explained that I was talking about things like rocks and petrol bombs.

This would open the way for interesting new business opportunities. Projectiles-R-Us could offer a range of bespoke items from mosaic-studded hemp bricks to recycled glass containers pre-filled with eco-friendly biofuel.

The revolution would become an aspirational one, with the more marginalised folk striving to afford the expensive hand-crafted weaponry being used by their white counterparts. Demonstrations would also become regulated, with protestors being given a number and asked to wait their turn. When their number is called, they step forward, throw their custom-made object at the enemy and return to the back of the queue for a well-deserved glass of chardonnay.

“Who are the enemy?” Ted asked. I gave him the lazy eye. “Don’t you mean who is the enemy?” And that’s all it took. He called me a filthy pedant so I stabbed him in the leg with a half-chewed rib. He retaliated by taking his trousers off and throwing them into the fire. White people really don’t know how to fight. He is going to have to up his game if he hopes to take to the streets. We all are.

The importance of beeing

A group of planet-hugging social justice vegan warriors has declared bees The Most Important Living Species On Earth. You say important, I say arrogant. I booked this table, not you. I don’t care that you are a honey bee. Show a little self-restraint. Now you want some of my beer? Please. Help yourself. I will use my superior skills to swat you away. Oh, look. You have deployed your magical powers to call for reinforcements. The Floyd Shivambu brigade has arrived. Full of aggression but no follow-through. You are nothing but … argh! Bastard! See now? For no good reason at all, you jabbed your pointy little bum into my neck and are currently on the floor dying from massive abdominal trauma.

Bit of a design flaw there, old mate. You’d think your kind might have learnt by now not to go about attacking things seven million times your size. On the other hand, I suppose you’re not to know which of us will go into anaphylactic shock. Fortunately, I’m not allergic. Having difficulty swallowing would seriously impede my ability to write.

Not only has the bee been accorded the rank of emperor of all creatures, but it has also been described as the ultimate pollinator. I think everyone needs to calm down. For a start, I am the ultimate pollinator. I need only make eye contact with a woman for her to fall pregnant.

Bees only care about one thing – nectar. It’s like bee cocaine. It is not uncommon for them to have trouble with the sweet stuff and for all we know there are rehab facilities within the bigger urban hives.

They suck up nectar like Ace Magashule sucks up other people’s money and store it in their stomachs until they get the chance to pass it on to another bee. I don’t know how they do this but I imagine it’s pretty disgusting. At some point it turns into honey. Or so they say.

Here’s the thing, though. In spite of having received the award for Most Valued Insect, these capricious little assholes aren’t consciously trying to help the planet. I doubt they even care much for the environment. All this pollinating is done by accident. If they knew that they were saving humankind from extinction, they’d probably stop. Bees are fickle like that.

As far as I can make out, after bringing the queen a cup of tea and honey on toast in the morning, the girls head out to collect nectar. They also like to get a bit of pollen on their legs because it makes them look sexy. Pollen is bee leggings. You don’t want to be that bee who doesn’t have pollen on her legs.

The queen also fancies a bit of pollen now and again. Pollen is apparently protein. When a bee returns to the palace, she stuffs the pollen into an awaiting cell. I was once stuffed into an awaiting cell and it wasn’t very pleasant.

Thing is, we don’t really care about the queen’s pollen habit. All we want is for the bees to keep transferring pollen from male flowers to female flowers. And, obviously, make sure that Woolies never runs out of honey. Bees are nothing but airborne sex workers spreading flower love wherever they go.

“Ooh yes, Miss Bee! Rub your polleny legs against my quivering stigma! Where’s it from this time?”

“Mr Marigold on the corner, Miss Primula. Had a big anther on him, too.”

Some time later, Miss Primula produces seeds or fruit with no unpleasant consequences for Mr Marigold, who continues to fertilise the local blossoms with help from the world’s smallest mobile sperm bank.

You might have noticed that I refer to the nectar-gatherers and pollen-wearers in the feminine. This is because all worker bees are girls. Boy bees are known as drones. They don’t have stingers and prefer to stay at home servicing the queen.

As I was saying before I rudely interrupted myself, the point is that all this pollination is done inadvertently. If I had to discover a cure for cancer while mixing the contents of my stomach with the neighbour’s rose bush on a Friday night, would I be heralded as The Most Important Living Human On Earth? Of course not. I’d be abducted by masked men hired by a company that makes chemotherapy drugs and disappear without trace.

What I’m trying to get at is that bees might not, in fact, deserve the apex award. Pollen is the real hero, here. But we can’t give pollen VIP status because there’d be complaints from the fragile tissue-clutchers who are unable to spend more than ten minutes outdoors without sneezing themselves into a coma.

Did you know that more than 25 million Americans are allergic to pollen? This pales into insignificance when you consider that three billion people are allergic to Americans.

Bees are dying out faster than the public protector’s chances of winning a case. Some blame pesticides and deforestation but I reckon there’s a good chance they are offing themselves. The females have had it with doing all the stinging and gathering and the lads can’t face another night of shagging a massively overweight queen.

The only reason we want to protect bees is because we’re lazy. Let them do the heavy lifting. We don’t even have to pay them. But if there were no bees, we’d find a work-around. Scientists recently 3D-printed a working heart and babies will soon be grown in artificial wombs. I’m sure we could find a way to encourage the shrubbery to have sex without the help of miniature flying assassins.

You know who really deserves the title? Chameleons, that’s who. They come in a range of colours, know how to move to a reggae beat and would never dream of hurting you.

 

Boris the Spider

There has been considerable speculation about why the head of the UK Supreme Court, Lady Brenda Hale, wore a large spider brooch when she read out the judgement declaring that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had acted illegally when he shut down parliament for five weeks.

The best explanation came from a friend of mine, Leanna, who said it was obviously a reference to an obscure 1966 song by The Who.

Coming soon to a scream near you

Anyone who knows me or has read my ‘work’ will also know that if I am to be found somewhere, it’s unlikely to be in the bush shooting animals in the face for sport.

So you can imagine my surprise when I got an email this week from something called Heart of the Huntress asking if I’d be interested in sponsoring their event. I was hoping it was a reality show about women who get together and hunt rapists. It wasn’t. Heart of the Huntress is a programme where women get together and hunt animals. The ultimate game show, where there are no rules and the game dies.

The fifth series of the 13-episode show starts in October, when “the girls will meet up with Otjere Wildlife Safaris in the Omitara district in Central Namibia for an unmatched African experience with 2 special guests.”

Here’s how the email starts: “Dear Potential Sponsor.” The personal touch is always a winner. It goes on to promise that, “Each girl will work very hard to represent our sponsors and expose the Heart of the Huntress in their country, including the United States, Europe, Australia and South Africa.”

I am asked to contact Hennie van der Walt from Game & Hunt or Margaret Botha, a professional hunter from eMalahleni, for any “assistants”. I have always wanted an assistant. Two might be nice. If I could get to choose them, I might consider lending my support to this delightful project.

I had been planning on having a chilled day. Nothing more taxing than lying slack-jawed and drooling on the couch. Then this happened. I felt my loins stir. My lions. It couldn’t be ignored. Further investigation was called for.

Putting on my surgical gloves, safety goggles and biohazard suit, I clicked on their Facebook page.

I discover that “Heart of the Huntress follows 3 women hunters as they hunt all over the globe, sharing their passion for the outdoors with the world.” I know a few people who also have a passion for the outdoors, but inexplicably don’t feel the need to kill anything when they’re out there.

“The Heart of the Huntress team comprises of three strong-willed, independent women from three different continents … unified by a passion.” That passion being gunning down animals for fun.

After shooting (ha ha) in South Africa this year, the grisly production is now moving to Namibia for series 5.

The five women who will “experience the warmth and hospitality of Africa” are Christie Pisani (Australia), Donna Partridge (Australia), Margaret Botha (South Africa), Rudie de Waal (Namibia) and a “special guest” from USA/Europe.

Here’s how the show works. In each episode, one of the women will hunt an antelope using a rifle or a bow. The film crew from Wild Media Productions will capture “the grit and determination, coupled by the emotions of their new experiences, and entrenching their passion for hunting”.

Once they have washed the blood off and downed a brace of gin and tonics, they will gather around the campsite at night and chat about the day’s carnage. “We will be able to see into the heart of the huntress, to see what makes them role models for women who share their passion, or are also interested to start hunting.”

They thank Canada’s Chantelle Bartsch for being their guest hunter in series 4. She showed “an eagerness to learn and immerse herself in the experience of hunting at Phillip Bronkhorst Safaris”. This seems to suggest she was something of a novice. That’s okay. Our animals are more than happy to help amateurs who need to work on their aim. Unless, of course, they meant she was eager to learn how to perform for the camera.

Chantelle had the “unique experience” of hunting the Heart of the Huntress Impala Slam. I don’t know if that involves wrestling moves. Shoot your impala in the leg and pin him down. If he beats his paw three times on the ground, he loses.

I learn that Aussie Donna’s impala hunt with Eli van der Walt was “her hardest hunt mentally”. I’m not sure if that’s because she had to maintain a conversation with Eli or because she had an epiphany that trophy hunting was a cowardly and barbaric thing to do.

Oh, wait. Here’s the answer. “After the other 3 girls had taken all of their colour variant impala, Donna was left with the last one: the Black Impala. This meant the opportunities were few, as she could not just shoot the first Impala she saw.” A situation fraught with mental tension, indeed. By sunset on the second day, Donna was feeling the pressure. Then, like a gift from Jesus, a black impala wandered into her sights and BAM! Game over.

On the 9th of September, Margaret (who shot her first bird at five years old) is “assigned” the saddle-back impala. But Christie, who lives in Goondiwindi in the dust-bowl of Central Queensland, almost fucked it up for everyone by taking the entire day to kill her common impala. But then, at the last moment, one came along. The bullet hit the buck in the middle of the chest, went through the heart and exited behind the back of the shoulder blade, dropping him where he stood. “It was perfect.”

Marginally less than perfect for the impala, perhaps. But, as we all know, if you shoot and miss one of these common thugs, he will come after you and do you a serious mischief.

Thanks to the mad skills of the taxidermist, “everything from the posture and head position was specially designed to put the animals best qualities right into the eye of the viewer, making for a truly exceptional piece of art”. Some might argue that the animal’s best qualities were exhibited while it was still alive, but who cares what them bunny-huggers think, right? Art is in the eye of the rifle-holder.

Later, Margaret found a wildebeest standing under a shady tree. Here’s the official version: “She loves a good close stalk but when she ran out of cover, this was close enough and she dropped him on the spot with a perfect heart shot.” The wildebeest was 100m away. Tricky, even with a tripod and high-powered scope. The taxidermist “recreated this lovely pairing with Margaret’s blue wildebeest and this magnificent Golden blue wildebeest together on a pedestal mount.” Mooi skoot, Margaret. Not everyone gets to live in a house full of dead wildebeest.

“One doesn’t realize how beautiful a Golden wildebeest really is until you kneel beside him.” If he’s dead, obviously. Try kneeling next to a golden wildebeest when he’s alive. Not so beautiful.

We are asked to cast our minds back to series 1, when Donna took down a blue wildebeest after a hard day’s drinking. I beg your pardon. Hunting. The animal managed to make a 25m run for it before something called “Peregrine 220 grain projectiles” took it down. As always, the taxidermist gets a complimentary blowjob. He “made this wonderful shoulder mount, capturing the beauty of an animal not normally associated with beauty and grace”. Point taken. The blue wildebeest is normally associated with organised crime. He deserves a bullet in the teeth.

Chantelle, from Campbell River in Canada, had a lifelong dream to hunt in Africa. Fair enough. Some women dream of visiting Africa without killing anything, but each to her own. When she turned 40, her dream came true.

“The sun beetles sang as the haze on the horizon was building with the afternoon heat, just as a gemsbok walked in-between some brush. She aimed for the shoulder as her PH instructed and took the shot. Chantelle felt a strong sense of pride and respect for this life that she took.” There can be no doubt that the gemsbok felt the same. I feel such respect for my asshole neighbour that I shall kill him later tonight.

“Chantelle cannot wait to add this beautiful artwork to her collection to treasure forever. Every detail down to the smallest of neck muscles and angle of the eyes has been captured, making it look ready to jump out from the wall.” I don’t know, Chantelle. That’s some scary shit right there. If I were you, I’d shoot it again and send it to a less psychotic taxidermist.

Then there’s a post about Christie hunting her zebra. “Surprisingly the zebras contrasting stripes help them to blend quite well into the bush. And even when they are seen, they always seem to be in a hurry, galloping off through the trees at the slightest movement.” It’s almost as if zebras know they are easy targets. Quite smart for dumb animals.

This one stood apart from the herd 100 metres away, watching her “in typical curious zebra fashion”. He was probably wondering why she dressed so badly. The .270 disabused him of his critical notions. “There is no running away nor blending in for this zebra now,” gloated the writer. Curiosity killed the zebra. You basically shot a horse, Christie. A horse in pyjamas.

Donna Partridge, who hails from the back of beyond in New South Wales, had a rare opportunity to kill something with a crossbow “which is illegal to use in her area of Australia”. What? There are loads of things that will kill you in Australia. I had no idea that you weren’t allowed to kill them back. Perhaps you can’t use crossbows on refugees.

Here’s how it went down. “When this beautiful waterbuck walked up to the blind at 27 metres, she could not stop shaking with excitement, but held steady for long enough to take a perfect shot which dropped the animal within 60 metres.” Well done, Donna. You could’ve save a bullet, though. He was close enough for you to amble over and strangle him with your bare hands.

Next month, the girls are off to Namibia for series 5 and they are looking for a Special Guest Huntress. The tantalising copy reads, “Have you ever hunted with other women or wondered how awesome it would be to do so ? Are you a strong independent woman who loves to hunt with like-minded people?”

Don’t all rush.

Spank the pope

And while we’re on the subject of today’s Constitutional Court ruling which once and for all outlaws the spanking of children by their parents, here’s something I wrote four years ago.

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Dear Comrade Pope,

You said the other day that it’s okay to spank children as long as it’s done with dignity. At first I thought, hmm, that isn’t a very Christian thing to say. I mean, what happened to all this turning the other cheek and forgiving those who trespass against us? Never mind the lying down with lambs and whatnot.

Then I went to a shopping mall and remembered why children needed to be spanked. Dignity be damned. Grab the little fuckers by the throat and thrash them with a bicycle chain right there outside Game.

But that’s just me. If I were sufficiently evolved, emotionally and theologically, to understand why spankings should be administered in a dignified fashion, I’d be pope and you’d be a columnist clinging on by his fingertips.

I have always considered spanking to be a fairly undignified practice. Sure, you can have the pink fur-lined handcuffs, imported latex rubber cat suits and whips fashioned from the entrails of newborn turtles, but does that really make it any more dignified?

Regardless of accessories and mood lighting, there is going to be blood and screaming and, quite possibly, blaspheming. I am speaking from personal experience. When someone hits me – and not necessarily in a sexual way – I cannot help myself from taking the Lord’s name in vain.

“Jesus Christ!” is most often what I shout. A lot of men shout the same thing when they summit the peak of carnal pleasure – or so I have heard – but you will be relieved to know that I am not one of them. I shout “Judas Iscariot!” Fortunately, I am usually alone when this happens.

Too often, parents lash out at their children because they have made a mess of their own lives and they need to take it out on someone who can’t lay assault charges because they’re too young to drive to the police station. This random violence is probably not what you had in mind, but not a few ill-bred and poorly read mothers and fathers – stupid people, in other words – will rationalise the abuse on the grounds that the pope said it was okay.

The beating of brats is a difficult matter. It isn’t just one of your holiday games. I don’t know what you had in mind, but I have a few ideas you might want to kick around with the cardinals. Many children claim not to know why they are being spanked. I have heard it all.

“It wasn’t me.”

“I didn’t do it.”

“Who are you?”

So, for starters, we need to get the feral little felons to admit to their crimes. Parents might want to consider building confessionals in their homes. They needn’t be anything fancy. Poorer families could use the dog box. If they can’t afford a dog they shouldn’t be allowed to have children.

Perhaps poor parents could take their children to be spanked in rich people’s houses – people who could afford the fancy confessionals and cathedral-like trappings that would afford a damn good spanking the dignity it deserves.

Hang on. Would it not, Your Magnificence, be easier if we brought the loathsome striplings to churches to be spanked? You already have all the dignifiers in place. Mass is pretty damn dignified, right? You could call this Critical Mass. It would have to be in a separate part of the church, obviously. Nobody wants to be distracted by the wailing of freshly whipped children while they are opening their hearts to allow God in.

One could perhaps have their paddies whacked, so to speak, in a sound-proofed annexe around the back. There could even be a bit of an aisle for them to walk down. That would draw the process out and give them time to reflect on their misbegotten ways. There’s a reason cows are made to line up at the abattoir. Beasts know what they have done wrong and by the time the bolt is fired into their brains, they have had time to make peace with their deeds and are grateful for a quick death. I am talking about cows, here, not children.

Have you thought about opening up the Vatican to weekly spankings? Italian children are, next to Indian children, the worst behaved in the world. It would be a huge money-spinner for the Church.

Obviously I will want my cut. Shall we say ten percent per dignified spanking? Or, as you people would have it in Latin, spanko dignificio.

If I don’t hear from you by Friday, I’m taking my idea to the Islamists.

Yours in Christ,

Father (of one) Ben Trovato

PS. I am in Cape St Francis at the moment. He was one of yours, wasn’t he? Walked around with badgers and wombats on his shoulders, if I recall. Spoke fluent pigeon. Good for him.

If you can’t join them, beat them

“The Constitutional Court on Wednesday upheld an earlier ruling by the High Court to do away with the common-law defence of reasonable chastisement when spanking a child.” In other words, parents no longer have a defence if they are accused of assault for smacking their children at home.

Today’s court ruling reminded me of something I wrote two years ago.

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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.
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 former police minister, Fikile “Fokofpolisiekardashian” Mbalula, once urged cops to slap suspects, run them down, return fire with fire, crush their balls, make them drink their own urine, and, if they still hadn’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.

Malema declares war on media

News that Julius Malema had banned certain media from attending EFF events reminded me of a letter I wrote to him a few months ago. I’m still waiting for a reply.

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Dear Comrade Julius Malema the First, Commander-in-Chief of the Economic Freedom Fighters, Hero of the Poor, Prince of Pedis and Creator of the Revolutionary Onesie.

I see you have been having a spot of bother with reporters of the female variety. Join the club. Both my ex-wives were journalists and it was only the realisation that I would never again have another beer that stopped me from killing myself. That’s right. Alcohol saved my life.

I understand from the running dogs of the counter-revolutionary quasi-colonialist reactionary mainstream media that your most recent nemesis is a certain Karima Brown. To be honest, I can’t remember the reason you decided to broadcast her cellphone number to the ravening underclass, but I have no doubt she deserved it. How very dare she.

It must be said, though, that your strategy needs work. As a married man, you should know better than to make an angry woman even angrier. All women are angry all the time. Some simply disguise it better than others. This is something we have learnt to live with and it is a rookie mistake to deliberately infuriate them even more.

The Brown woman is now properly furious and would like nothing better than to see you sent to the Hague to spend the rest of your natural life in a tiny cell having your bottom interfered with by Charles Taylor.

Failing that, she wants to see the EFF removed from the ballot paper altogether. This takes the fight to a whole new level. It’s an old Cuban tactic perfected by Batista. This is a mistake. You are not a man who plays second Fidel to anyone.

If you really wanted to upset Ms Brown, you wouldn’t have tweeted her phone number to your shadow army. You would have ignored her. Women hate being ignored even more than they hate getting death threats.

By the way, are you aware that your second-in-command, Oberstfuhrer Shivambu, has only 783 000 followers on Twitter? This is a perilous situation, my friend. Don’t for one minute think he doesn’t envy your tally of 2.5 million. I’d keep a close eye on him. Not too close, though. He admits in his Twitter profile to being a heterodox. Quite frankly, I don’t care what he does behind closed doors but you might want to make sure you are fully dressed when he visits. You are an attractive man, Julius, and the sight of you with your shirt off might easily drive the most restrained heterodox to do something he will regret.

Oh, wait. I’ve just visited the internet to research heterodox porn and it seems I am mistaken.

A heterodox is someone who doesn’t conform with accepted standards or beliefs. I suppose he means it in the political renegade sense, although given the definition, a man with a fetish for clean-shaven sheep could just as easily call himself a heterodox.

Funnily enough, the word dox means “to publish private or identifying information about an individual on the internet, typically with malicious intent”.

While I am unfamiliar with Ms Brown’s sexual orientation, there is a good chance that what you did was dox a hetero. Small wonder that you and Floyd are so tight.

Your generously upholstered Oberstfuhrer also says in his bio that he is “blessed”. You might want to check this out. If he has been blessed by Pastor Lukau, it’s quite possible that your man is a zombie. Between you and me, I’ve always had my suspicions. There is something supernatural about his lumbering gait and hollow eyes. Then again, that’s me after a bottle of gin.

His bio ends with the words, “Todo por la revolución!” Does this mean Spanish will become the lingua franca when you are president? I hope so. I love the whole tapas concept and the peasants would soon enough get their tongues around the neo-Falangist slogans.

I see on your bio you proudly state that you have no Facebook account. Good for you. No real revolutionary would want to be associated with that digital despot Mark Zuckerberg. Other great leaders who feel the same way include Donald Trump and … er, that’s it. I don’t want to be an impimpi, but I couldn’t help noticing Floyd has a Facebook page. Just saying.

Condolences on not getting your way in having Cape Town International Airport renamed after Winnie Mandela. Maybe it’s for the best. It’s a dreadful airport. There are better restaurants and bars in downtown Lagos and as far as parking goes, you have more chance finding a spot outside Taboo on a Saturday night. Perhaps you should lower your sights a little. Would you settle for Brandfort Airport? It could do with a facelift. Then again, so could I.

I hope you have sorted out your issues with our minister of public enterprises. Pravin Gordhan might not be the kind of person you’d want over for dinner, largely because he’d do a mental lifestyle audit and the Hawks would be breaking down your door before the dishes were done, but he does seem to be freakishly ethical and honest. You’re not the only one who finds this unsettling. In South African politics, a man with nothing to hide is an aberration. Did he learn zilch from Jacob Zuma?

Maybe you can sic your mate Tom Moyane on him. Uncle Tom is a valuable asset in your struggle to turn South Africa into another Venezuela. He is, after all, an engineer with an impressive record. For instance, not everyone could engineer the collapse of the SA Revenue Service. Sure, the Nugent Commission found him unfit to hold office but so what? I’m unfit to hold a baby. You might be unfit to hold, I don’t know, public meetings or something else.

Hey, why are you so quiet about that explosive report revealing how the State Security Agency was manipulated and abused by the likes of Zuma, Siyabonga “My Wife Is Innocent” Cwele, David “Happy Endings” Mahlobo and Arthur “Fuck You Jacques Pauw” Fraser?

I don’t want to tell you your business and I know your raison d’être is to disrupt, oppose and get fabulously wealthy, but I do think it might be a mistake to only show support to the flawed and the faulty.

Have you thought about throwing your weight behind people who are trying to turn SAS South Africa away from the rocks rather than the pirates who are driving it onto the reef in the hope that the captain and his crew will drown, allowing them to cobble something together from the wreckage and flounder off to the glorious land of black monopoly capital and free everything for all?

Then again, you could just keep doing whatever it is you’re doing. All the best parties involve shouting, drinking and fighting and there is no reason yours should be any different.

Anyway, boss. Keep attacking those meddling newshounds. You don’t need them on your side. They only have access to dozens of daily and weekly newspapers, social media, television and radio stations and online news sites read by millions. You have Twitter.

Good luck.

 

Application to al-Qaeda for the position of Leader

Today marks 18 years since the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York. In 2011, Osama bin Laden was tracked down to his hideout in Pakistan and killed. I applied for the post shortly afterwards.

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Dear sir,

I understand a vacancy has opened up in your organisation and I thought it a good idea to get my application in early. From what I can gather, there is going to be quite a stampede for Osama bin Laden’s old job. Condolences, by the way. I’m sure he was a lovely chap and thoroughly undeserving of a bullet in the eye. Still and all. It’s an occupational hazard, is it not?

While I must commend your group on the great strides it has made in the business of crushing the depraved imperialist dogs of the West, I should point out that I will be making some changes once the job is mine.

I have asked around and many of my friends say they would love to join al-Qaeda. However, they are put off by the whole militant macho thing you’ve got going. They quite like the guns, but not so much the drab uniforms. I have to agree. Camo is so last jihad. You will be pleased to know I have convinced them that the wearing of robes is non-negotiable, although as a concession we may need to pretty them up with a sprinkling of silver and gold filigree. I suggest we model the new uniforms on the one worn by the Archbishop of Canterbury when he married those two gormless infidels the other day. Obviously we can do away with the silly hat. And yet I cannot help worrying about the effect turban-hair could have on morale.

While I intend keeping the art of torture, disembowelment and beheading as part of our training regime, I would like to incorporate a cardiovascular element. Aerobics is a fun way to meet fellow terrorists. The sessions could be conducted to a Lady Gaga soundtrack. Or even better, one of her music videos. That way the recruits would be reminded of why they are at war with America.

Although I am not of that persuasion myself, I do think al-Qaeda could benefit tremendously by encouraging gays and lesbians to sign up. These people have a lot to offer an organisation that prides itself on condemning those who disagree with their lifestyle. They don’t always condemn them to death, of course, but these are sensitive people and should be treated as such. The gays, by the way, will require regular breaks for sex. Many of them wither and die without it. To put these new recruits at ease, the training camp could perhaps have an Ibiza theme.

As al-Qaeda’s new leader, I will allow our members to drink. Not during working hours, obviously. Even I know that alcohol and explosives don’t mix. However, they will be permitted to let their hair down after a hard day of chanting revolutionary slogans and learning how to disarm an opponent with nothing more than 500kgs of Semtex. And since Sharia law makes provision for people to be stoned, the smoking of hashish will also be encouraged.

Speaking of hair, I am afraid the beards will have to go. If I am to modernise the organisation, facial hair must be sacrificed on the altar of style. I want our cadres to look as if they have stepped out of the pages of GQ and not off a Harley Davidson at a ZZ Top concert.

Obviously I will have to set the example, here. The world’s most wanted man has to be wanted by everyone – women as well as men – and if this means having a team of professionals grooming me around the clock, then so be it. It may take some time before I am ready to face the troops because I am married to a woman who has allowed me to let myself go.

Speaking of which, I will need the help of seven strong men to get Brenda accustomed to the idea of wearing a burqa. Once we have her wrapped up like a roti, the games can begin.

But first, I will need a codename. Osama would still be with us today if he had signed his name as, say, Britney Spears, when that courier from FedEx came around to the villa to pick up the weekly package of anthrax.

Your new leader,

Al Kyk-Daar Mustafa-beer bin Trovato (you can call me Al)