I was juggling with three quarts the other day when one got away from me and went through the lounge window. I could hear Brenda thumping up the stairs, shouting: “What the hell have you done now?” In a flash, I mussed up my hair, put my jacket on inside out, adopted a thousand-yard stare and stood there, gently swaying on my feet.
“You can’t punish me,” I said as she stormed into view. “I am suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.” She seemed to think the incident wasn’t serious enough to have caused this condition. What appalling insensitivity. I had just seen 750ml of beer smashed to death on the rocks outside. It was like losing a child.
When I saw pictures of Shrien Dewani being excused from his extradition hearing in London this week, I felt a kinship with this sensitive young man. Unshaven, unkempt hair, glassy eyed, dressed like a homeless person. You’d think his lawyers might have spruced him up a bit for the hearing. It’s almost as if they wanted him to look like a mad woman’s breakfast.
Dewani currently resides at Fromeside, a medium-security mental hospital in Bristol where, according to their website, “patients are encouraged to work towards greater independence and hopefully towards eventual discharge into the community”.
No wonder the poor fellow is upset. Nowhere in the brochure does it say that patients might eventually be discharged into a South African prison packed with uncouth ruffians who can’t tell the difference between Mozart and a leg of lamb.
Or course his doctors say he is not not well enough to face charges of putting a hit on his wife. The mere thought of having to leave a warm clinic in Bristol for a cold courtroom in Cape Town is enough to stress and depress the most cheerful of murderers.
Dr Paul Cantrell, the shrink treating Dewani, said extradition would affect his mental health to such an extent that he would become suicidal. Oh, please. He would be coming to a country where mental health is a luxury few people can afford. All of us common folk are suicidal. We’re simply too lazy to do anything about it.
Cantrell said Dewani was also suffering from psychomotor retardation, a condition in which one’s thoughts and actions are slowed down. Again, this is a typically South African attribute – albeit one found mainly in the civil service – and he will feel right at home.
Dewani isn’t being treated with anti-depressants presumably because there is a danger that the medication will make him feel well enough to be extradited. This wouldn’t be healthy for the financial security of his doctors and lawyers. Instead, he is being treated with “talk therapy”. Yep. There is nothing like a nice cup of tea and a chat when it comes to rehabilitating someone who chooses a contract killer rather than a divorce lawyer to end his marriage.
One in four people in Britain suffer from mental health problems. Here, I’d say the figure is closer to one in two. Take Sheryl Cwele, for example. The wife of the minister of state security was sentenced to 12 years in jail on drug running charges. Her employer, the Hibiscus Coast Municipality, suspended her without pay after she was convicted. Now she’s taking them to court. She firmly believes that while she is lounging around the pool having her nails done, she should continue to get paid every month. Only someone who has the Cali cartel on speed dial could be that brazen. Or that mad.
I was flipping through Robert Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist – Revised when it occurred to me that – based on their actions and utterances – at least three cabinet ministers, a government spokesman, a handful of CEOs, one or two religious zealots, a couple of youth leaders, my neighbour, two judges, a sprinkling of defence attorneys and more than a few cops in this country qualify as full-blown psychopaths.
Here are some of the items on Hare’s 20-point list: Superficial charm; grandiose sense of self-worth; pathological lying; lack of remorse; lack of empathy; failure to accept responsibility for own actions; parasitic lifestyle; lack of realistic long-term goals; promiscuous sexual behaviour.
Sound like anyone you know? Or maybe voted for?