I was sitting in a bar the other day admiring how young and virile I looked in the photo on my driver’s licence when I noticed that it had expired. In November. What’s the point of having one of these things if nobody ever asks to see it? I feel a bit like that about my willy these days.
I decided to get it renewed, but only because I had read that Durban metro police would be enforcing a clause in the Criminal Procedures Act that says a fine is the same as a conviction. In other words, the moment you pay a fine – whether it be for parking on a yellow line or driving 295km/h in a 60 zone – you automatically incur a criminal record.
This is the Criminal Procedure Act of 1977. Want to know what other great laws were passed in 1977? The Prohibition of the Exhibition of Films on Sundays Act, for one.
A survey by the Automobile Association found that three out of four drivers break one or other traffic law every day. Oh, please. Most South Africans break at least five of the Ten Commandments every day. The traffic department and god – sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between the two – shouldn’t have made it so easy to break the rules.
Expecting us to come to a complete standstill at a stop street is as unreasonable as expecting us not to covet our neighbour’s maidservant. Good help is damnably hard to find these days.
And keeping within the speed limit is as impossible as keeping the sabbath day holy. Bottle stores in Durban are open on Sundays. You won’t find that in Cape Town. That’s why people who live there are going to heaven. We Durban people, on the other hand, are all going to hell. And we’re gonna be ripped to the tits when we check in. Yeehaa! I can hardly wait.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to take this nonsense lying down. Actually, that’s exactly how I’m going to take it. Every time I get a fine, I am going to throw it in the bin, open a beer and lie down.
Since you only incur a criminal record once you pay the fine, the solution is blindly obvious. Don’t pay. Ever. Of course, this also means never answering your doorbell. Once you’ve signed a summons, you’re screwed. Although not necessarily. If there is one thing this country has in abundance, it’s loopholes. And wiggle room. Lots and lots of wiggle room. President Zuma is the überwigglemeister. Watch and learn.
I did a bit of research and found that the only licensing bureaus were at Rossburgh, Pinetown and Verulam. I went onto Google Earth because it’s easier to get directions via a complex communication system involving satellites than it is over the phone.
“Could you give me directions to your company?”
“Awwwhhh. The lady, she is not here. You call tomorrow.”
“I just need directions. Where are you?”
“Me? I’m standing here in the office.”
“Can you tell me how to get to your office?”
“You can take the stairs.”
“I’ll be coming by car.”
“Eish! Uyahlanya wena. You can’t drive up stairs.”
Google Earth told me that Rossburgh was in Ohio, so I checked out Verulam. It’s nearest to where I live at the moment. I came across a couple of websites critiquing their services. Most of the complaints seemed to be from white people. They made it sound as if they had stumbled into a scene from Dante’s Inferno. My kind of place.
It’s a good thing I was driving a Land Rover because I had to park in some kind of marshy bog. I was then set upon by a mob of Zulu man-boys who offered to take my picture. It made a nice change from offering to take my wallet and phone. They gave me a broken school chair to sit on and someone took my picture with his cellphone while his buddy held a torn sheet behind me.
“Allahu Akbar!” I shouted. “Death to the American infidel!” They were meant to laugh and pretend to cut my head off with an imaginary panga, but I suppose they don’t get to watch much al-Jazeera.
The licensing department itself was designed by the same people responsible for the refugee camps in western Sahara. I can’t be in a queue of more than three or four people without my heart filling with murderous intent. Here, there were 30 people slumped on cheap plastic chairs. The people in the middle row looked as if they no longer cared whether they lived or died. I sat down on the last available chair. Ten minutes later, everyone stood up and shuffled one chair down. I cracked and ran for the car.
Marianhill was a lot further but you could see more of an effort had been made in that the licensing department was housed in actual buildings made from bricks with windows and all.
The plastic chairs were occupied by people who seemed to have not yet given up on life. There was air conditioning. There was also a bit of chatter. Someone even laughed.
Then two of the five people doing the testing went on lunch and the mood soured. A ripple of dark mutterings moved up and down the queue. People had jobs to get back to. Meetings to attend. I said nothing. Everyone there could see I had nowhere else to be. I should have shaved. And worn pants.
On my way back from Marianhill, the upcoming election almost killed me. I was trying to read the party posters that hang like condemned men from the lampposts but kept drifting into oncoming traffic.
A DA poster has some smug bloke with his arms folded. The slogan reads, “I want to fight corruption.” Who are you? Superman? I wouldn’t vote for anyone who leapt out of bed first thing in the morning and shouted, “I want to fight corruption!” I imagine it’s the sort of thing Hitler did as a young man. “I want to invade Poland!” Or a teenaged Jacob Zuma shouting at the goats, “I want to be president!” That kind of aggressive ambition hardly ever ends well.
Same with the DA guy proclaiming, “I want to help grow small businesses.” No, you don’t, dude. You’re, like, 19 years old. You want to help grow weed. You’re looking forward to the weekend. You don’t want to get local enterprises off the ground. You want to get laid. Be honest.
The Minority Front has pictures of a dead guy on their posters. Some of them feature the dead guy’s wife. “Keep the Tiger’s legacy alive.” I might vote for them if they were trying to save the Bengal tiger instead of trading on the memory of a dodgy character by the name of Amichand Rajbansi.
They also offer “One vision, One future”. Sounds tedious. I want this country to be run by someone who has so many visions that they have to be darted with a tranquiliser gun at the end of every day.
The ANC’s election posters look like police ‘wanted’ posters. That’s the price you pay for having Jacob Zuma’s face on them. “Together we move South Africa forward.” It’s a jarring message coming from someone who shows every sign of moving ahead so fast that the rest of us are eating his dust. Bulldust.
And to have his grinning mug on the same poster that says, “Defend Madiba’s legacy” is taking irony to frightening new heights.
The ANC also goes big on the bragging. “11 million households electrified!” screams one poster. Never mind that. What this country needs is 11 million people electrified. That’ll empty out the prisons. We could turn them into housing for the poor. One man, one cell.
“16 million people get grants!” screams another. You know what would have made a more effective poster? One that said, “Nine people get grants!” That would have demonstrated that the country isn’t full of broken people depending on government handouts for their survival.
“3 million people have free housing!” Free? Really? I was under the impression taxpayers might have had something to do with paying for them.
Mamphela Ramphele is still urging us to register to vote. Her election posters will probably go up three weeks after the results are announced.
Cope insists that South Africa deserves a better government. They aren’t necessarily offering to provide it. They’re just saying.
I even saw an IFP poster in Afrikaans. Kom nou, Gatsha. Those people might have voted for you in 1994, but not now. Anyway, most of them are in Perth or London.
On the UDM’s poster, Bantu Holomisa is dressed like a forensic accountant. He says, “CORRUPTION destroys the gains of our FREEDOM.” The only problem using upper and lower case, General, is that when you’re driving past at 180km/h on the wrong side of the road, as I was, the only words that stand out are CORRUPTION and FREEDOM. Bit of a mixed message there, although many in the government would disagree.
The DA is big on their, “Together for jobs” posters. I’m not a huge fan of jobs. I think they are an evil perpetrated on the sheeple and the entire system needs a good overhaul. You want me to do what? And in return you’ll let me stay at home for 21 days a year? Are you out of your fucking mind?
The “Together for jobs” slogan comes with a picture that is presumably meant to represent South Africans. Indian guy, black guy, black woman, white woman, coloured woman. They are all smiling. Why are they smiling? Because there is no white man there telling them what to do. Anyway, he’s not on the poster because he already has a job.