Jacob Zuma’s release on medical parole reminded me of a letter I wrote to our former police chief Jackie Selebi 10 years ago. Say what you like about him, he, unlike Schabir Shaik, at least had the decency to eventually die after being given medical parole.
What rotten luck to have to go to jail for simply accepting money from that fat common lout from the Cosa Nostra. What was it – R165-thousand? The average traffic officer in the Eastern Cape pockets that on a busy weekend. You should have taken a leaf out of Schabir Shaik’s big black book of bribery. Go big or go home. He did both. You did neither.
I wrote to you in July 2010 shortly after your conviction and I am delighted that you took my advice. In case you have forgotten, this is what I said: “The first step towards preparing yourself for prison is to change the way you eat. The Shaik Diet is simple and easy to stick to. You need to eat a kilogram of butter with every meal of a dozen ostrich eggs, two dozen steak and kidney pies and a kilo of cheddar stuffed inside a loaf of white bread. Wash it down with a gallon of Klippies and Coke. If this is a regular meal to you, then double the ingredients. You have to push your cholesterol levels and blood pressure through the roof so that the first slamming of your cell door sends you into toxic shock and onto a stretcher. From the sick bay, call your secretary or someone you trust and ask her to check your jacket pockets. You must have a doctor in there somewhere. Then it’s five nights in a private hospital and, badabing badaboom, you’re back in your own bed with just 40 years left to live.”
I see you added a few touches of your own. Well done. I like a man with initiative. I was particularly impressed by your inviting a couple of close friends around to watch the news to see if your appeal succeeded. As far as high-stakes entertainment goes, not even the final episode of Survivor beats that one. The falling to the lounge floor with eyes rolling crazily in your head might have been a bit over the top for some, but I disagree. This was one occasion that called for theatrics on a grand scale.
I think you could have been a tad more creative with the symptoms. When the dirty rotten counter-revolutionary quislings of the Fourth Estate reported that you were hospitalised after appearing disoriented and incoherent, I couldn’t help thinking that most of the people I know exhibit precisely these symptoms every Saturday night. On the other hand, most of them also belong in prison.
Word on the street is that you’re going the kidney route in the hope that you’ll be shunted off to a comfy private hospital for the requisite dialysis treatment. Be careful of this one, my friend. There are a lot of people in this country who would gladly donate a kidney if it meant you serving your full sentence.
On the upside, if you ever do find yourself in a cell, you can at least sleep soundly at night knowing that you won’t be woken in the middle of the night by a drug-crazed burglar holding a gun to your head. Prison is the safest place to be these days. Unless, of course, you get cornered in the courtyard by four thousand men who are there because of the police.
Then again, you did once lead the biggest and most powerful gang in the country. That alone should earn you some respect.
I hope you regain the use of your legs. Useful things to have in prison, are legs, if only to brace yourself in the showers.
I know you always said your hands are clean, but do remember to wash them regularly. Prisons aren’t the most sanitary of places and one can easily pick up something nasty if one neglects one’s personal hygiene.
Good luck old buddy.