A buffet called Africa

China, eh? Funny old business. I had one of them Chinese in the back of my car once. Well, he was in the boot, actually. Come to think of it, that wasn’t a Chinese at all – it was a spare tyre. Probably made in China, though. It’s a slippery slope. Starts with tyres and next thing you know you’re marching in lockstep and quoting from Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book.

As a precaution I am learning Mandarin. I have learnt how to say, “Please don’t eat me.” This is all the Mandarin anyone needs. They are very big eaters, the Chinese. Well, they’re small eaters, but with big appetites. When Chinese babies are teething, they are given rocks to chew on. This is why there are almost no rocks left in China today. We export a lot of our rocks to Beijing. The Drakensberg will be gone in a few years. Good riddance, I say. It blocks the view and does nothing to help feed the poor.

Did you hear about the Chinese fishing fleet sailing under the radar off our coast? Apparently they snuck in under cover of darkness in the hope of pillaging our sardines. Well done to them, I say. Sardines are the work of the devil. They are slippery customers who will betray you the moment your back is turned. The only honourable member of their family is the anchovy, a humble little fish who is happiest when neatly arranged on a pizza.

Countries are meant to report to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, the agency that keeps track of global fisheries catches. For instance, Spain might report having caught five million tons in foreign waters in any given year, while the Chinese government is more likely to tell the FAO that its 3 400 vessels operating in the coastal waters of 94 countries caught three swordfish, two mackerel and a snoek. This is nothing more than creative accounting and, in my book, any form of creativity is to be applauded.

Greenpeace, that ragtag bunch of neo-liberal jumper-wearing do-gooders, says that sub-Saharan Africa is the only region on earth where per capita fish consumption is falling as a result of foreign fishing fleets nicking all the aquatic edibles. I don’t know about that. I was at John Dory’s a couple of nights ago and watched a Cro-Magnon family from the hinterland stuffing so much fish into their fat prehensile faces that the only thing in danger of falling was the toddler choking on a giant piece of hake.

A few weeks ago Argentina’s coast guard opened fire on a Chinese trawler fishing illegally in its waters. The trawler sank. Maybe we should bring out the Corvettes. I’m not talking about the patrol boats we bought in our squeaky-clean arms deal, obviously. Those are up on bricks at the moment. I’m talking about the Chevrolet Corvettes I saw driving around Simonstown last time I was there. They could park down by the waters edge, facing the Chinese, and frighten them off with a display of synchronised hooting and revving.

Meanwhile, China appears to have eaten everything in Zimbabwe and gone home. Our appalling neighbour’s annual international trade fair ended this week in Bulawayo. Hall 1 was always China’s turf. You wanted to flog a rhino horn or buy a second-hand Shenyang J-31 fighter jet, you went to Hall 1. Not this year. This year the Russians had occupied Hall 1. I won’t say anything more about this lest Vlad the Impaler calls in an airstrike on my house.

On a more positive note, Zanu-PF commandeered Hall 5 where officials tried to encourage people to join the party. Because no trade fair is really complete until men in dark glasses start rabbit-punching visitors in the kidneys.

Anyway, let’s not be churlish. There aren’t many international trade fairs that can boast of being officially opened by the likes of Togo’s President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé. There were no Togolese exhibitors at the fair. Perhaps he took the country’s only plane. Either that or the Chinese have eaten Togo.

Deputy President Squirrel Ramaphosa said last year he wanted to see more South African companies expand into China. Distell has already established a presence. This is good news because alcohol lowers inhibitions and if there’s one thing this world needs, it’s more Chinese people.

The Queen of England was caught on camera this week saying she thought the Chinese were “very rude”. That’s rich. Do you know what’s rude? Hogging the throne while your son is desperate to have a go. And having your daughter-in-law whacked. That’s way ruder than the Chinese. On the other hand, stealing Tibet and harvesting the organs of political prisoners is also quite rude.

Right. Enough about the Chinese. Moving on to Oupa Bodibe, a man who sounds more like someone’s avuncular grandfather than a raving jingoistic loyalist. To be fair, he is only the spokespuppet for Gauteng’s education department, so the idea of having South Africa’s coat of arms on every school uniform by 2017 is probably not his. Why stop there? Why not make the uniforms from South African flags? While we’re at it, let’s make sure the kids’ gardens feature nothing but the national flower and they eat nothing but the national fish. Boiled galjoen for breakfast. Yum. They should also have nothing but the national anthem on their iPods and they must replace their pets with the national animal. Council bylaws might have to be amended to accommodate the influx of springboks – a small price to pay if we hope to raise a nation of ANC-voting superpatriots.

Speaking of which, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said last week that the defence force was “making progress” in recruiting young white people. There were 103 white recruits in the 2016 intake. This might not sound like progress, but we’re talking about 103 of the best and brightest the white tribe of Africa can offer. Absolute cream of the crop. Don’t for one minute think the army is the only place that would have them. We should all sleep easier at night knowing that they are out there.

And not here.

ChefBen Trovato takes a leaf out of China’s little red recipe book and eats anything that moves.

Backwards to the future

Dear Comrade President Zuma,

Congratulations on your narrow escape at the reed dance in Nongoma the other day. I was alarmed to read that hundreds of bare-breasted virgins had become possessed by demons and rushed the stage where you and King Zwelithini were sitting. What a frightening thing to happen.

I have been to the reed dance and, quite frankly, the girls scared me even when they weren’t full of demons. One of them took a run at me, leaping into the air with a terrible shriek and gesticulating wildly with her ample buttocks. It wasn’t clear if this was a mating dance or a death threat and I felt uneasy after that.

Virgins are unpredictable at the best of times. Put three in a room and it’s mayhem. From what I’ve read, even the carpenter Joseph had a hard time controlling his wife, Mary. Then again, their kid was a bit of a handful. Getting forty thousand of them to strip virtually naked and dance for you is just asking for trouble.

I know it sounds unlikely, but perhaps Satan wasn’t responsible for this one. The king was late with his speech and the maidens had already gone back to the buses and tents to get out of the rain and cold. When he ordered the girls to return, is it not possible that they were half-mad with hypothermia and were simply looking for shelter? Alternatively, this might well have been the first wave of Zulu suffragettes whose minds have been poisoned by the inflammatory teachings of Oprah Winfrey.

Once feminism takes hold, you can kiss the reed dance goodbye. And it will be the last thing you kiss for a long, long time. Trust me. I know.

Prince Thulani Zulu of the royal household said the devil spirit is common among young girls. I suspect it’s also fairly common among older girls. Well, I’m thinking more of married women, here. One in particular, really. There would be much weeping and falling over and pretty much everything short of ectoplasm would come out of her potty mouth. So I know how you must have felt. We both had a close call.

People who were there said you were quickly escorted to safety, leaving the king to fend for himself. Fair enough. He carries what looks like a ceremonial battle-axe and dresses like a cross between a leopard and a lion. I certainly wouldn’t mess with him, and I’m no virgin.

Other people who were there denied that you were escorted to safety, saying you were simply popping off to the loo. Of course you were. Who wouldn’t want to go to the toilet after facing down a battalion of topless teenagers brimming with hormones and hobgoblins?

Sometimes I think demons are inside me, too, but then I drown them with beer and feel much better afterwards. At the next reed dance, you should give the girls beer. Maybe organise a few bands. Chuck a couple of cows on the fire. It could be wild.

In the meantime, please encourage the king to keep blaming evil spirits and demons for all the bad stuff that happens. It’s the only way we can weed out and burn the witches who send lightning to strike their neighbour’s hut by sneezing twice in a thunderstorm. You should also encourage more ANC MPs to publicly denounce evolution as a racist conspiracy.

This sort of thing helps us retain our less developed country status and keeps those foreign grants and low-interest loans rolling in. The country scores, the king gets another wife and you get to ogle thousands of breasts. Everyone’s a winner. Everyone except the witches. And science.

Reed Dance

 

Give thanks for what?

I fail to see what everyone is getting so cheerful about. Yes, the year is almost over. But there will be another after that, bringing with it more power cuts, higher interest rates, spiralling corruption and fewer jobs.
For those of you with jobs, you’ll find yourself working longer hours for less money. And there will be a lot more wildcat strikes. Funny old business, this downing of tools.
If my research is accurate, Australian workers started it way back in 1856. They used their underground communications network to organise a work stoppage on May 1st. Were they demanding that their bosses stop treating them like a bunch of expatriate convicts? Did they want medical aid and pension benefits? No. They went on strike to push for an eight-hour working day.
That’s right. The Australian proletariat is directly responsible for us having to work from eight to five with one pathetic hour for lunch. What were they thinking? If they had started out high with a five-hour day, they could have settled for six and the world would be a better place today. As if it wasn’t enough that they gave us Port Jacksons, Kylie Minogue and a cavalier attitude towards women.
New information has just come to light. The Australians might not, after all, be to blame. But you won’t catch me apologising. Not now, not ever.
It seems to be the Pommies, rather than the commies or the Aussies, who caused all the trouble. More accurately, one Pommy in particular. His name was Robert Owen, a heavy-handed, dogmatic authoritarian who was alternately revered and cursed as the father of English socialism – an ideal that today can be found torn and bleeding and gasping its last in a gutter off Brick Lane in the east end of London.
It was in 1810 that Comrade Owen unilaterally instituted a 10-hour day at his sweatshop in New Lanark, and proceeded to demand the same for workers throughout England. The government, much like the unemployed of the time, thought he was mad. It took seven years and a very high staff turnover for Cde Owen to realise his mistake. It was on a Saturday night, after a hit of particularly good opium, that the cranky old socialist came up with the slogan: “Eight hours labour, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.”
The idea looked good on paper, but, as we have all discovered at one time or another, eight hours of recreation quickly turns into twelve. Factor in hot monkey sex followed by gnarly rush hour traffic and you are left with maybe three hours of rest. Which means that maybe one out of the eight hours of labour will be productive.
The British government, careful as always not to be seen to be caving in to pressure from a socialist, implemented Owen’s original demand 37 years after he made it. With a rider, of course. Only women and children would benefit from the new 10-hour day. Men would continue working until they dropped. And they still are. Well, maybe not since the dole made it possible to acquire a heroin habit, a Mohawk, a full body tattoo and still earn the same as an entry-level astronaut.
That was then, before Britain became an American colony. Before America realised the danger of setting aside one day of the year for the bourgeoisie to rally around. They already had Thanksgiving Day, a day devoted to the Pilgrims who all took a long shower after breaking in Pocahontas down at the river, thereby ensuring a solid defence if any Puritan had to be accused of spreading dread diseases throughout the New World.
The children of the Mayflower generation should be made to crawl on their hands and knees across shards of glass every Thanksgiving Day, instead of ramming turkey and bourbon flavoured yams down their ungrateful white throats.
Since the Bolsheviks and other grubby Eastern Europeans had hijacked May 1st, the Americans decided that they would mark Labour Day in September. Successive right-wing administrations have succeeded in turning the day into a drunken orgy in which everyone celebrates the last day of summer and nobody mentions the working class.
Even the Catholic Church co-opted May Day, announcing in 1955 that May 1st would henceforth be known as the day of Saint Joseph the Worker. This did little to stop virile pagans from committing random acts of degeneracy in the name of the great unwashed. Besides, anarchists and other smelly radicals of their ilk know Joseph more as a man who made his wife pregnant and then claimed afterwards that he hadn’t laid a finger on her. An immaculate deception, indeed.

Speed up or die

Happy International Day of the Older Person.

It’s not today. It was sometime earlier in the week. I forget when, exactly. Wednesday, I think. Not being able to remember stuff is one of the side effects of getting older. It’s also a side effect of appearing before the Marikana or Seriti commissions. And I expect there will be several cases of early-onset amnesia when the Nkandla imbroglio begins unraveling in court.

It wouldn’t be the United Nations if they didn’t couch it in such a diplomatic way. There’s nothing technically wrong with calling it the International Day of the Old Person. After all, the only people it might offend are the old. They would gather outside UN headquarters in New York, rattling their Zimmer frames and wheezing indignantly, “Who are you calling old, whippersnapper?”

By setting aside a day for the Older Person, everyone apart from newborn babies feels included. To a three-year-old, someone who’s just turned five is an older person. That’s the job of the UN – to keep everyone happy. Especially China and Russia.

We don’t always treat old people with the respect they deserve. What am I talking about? Old people don’t deserve respect simply because they’re old. If Hitler hadn’t shot himself, and watched what he ate, he would have been 125 today. If you saw him struggling to carry his basket in the Spar, would you say, “Here, Mr Hitler. Let me give you a hand with that” or would you push him over and say, “That’s for murdering six million Jews, you crazy old fuck.”

In other words, you don’t automatically respect someone because they are old. You might, begrudgingly, respect them for having survived the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune, the murder and the mayhem, the drunk drivers, the psychotic spouses and the random ravages of deadly disease.

I am very impatient with the old. If your time on earth is almost at an end, why, in god’s name, wouldn’t you drive faster? I could go on, but that would be cruel. Actually, the reason I don’t go on is because, thanks to the UN’s mealy mouthed choice of phrase, it has occurred to me that I may well fall into their definition of Older Person.

I went to their home page and discovered the theme for this year’s commemoration was, “Leaving No One Behind: Promoting a Society for All.” The first part sounds like a slogan the US Marines might use. I think I’ve even heard it in movies like Black Hawk Down.

“Nobody gets left behind!”

“But sergeant, the skinnies done chopped the capn’s ass to bits a’ready!”

I do know that “Nobody Gets Left Behind” is a song by American heavy metal band Five Finger Death Punch. Ban-ki Moon looks like he might be a fan.

The second part of the theme, “Promoting a Society for All”, is just the kind of pompous, soporific piffle for which the UN is best known. If ever there was a theme by committee, this is it. It was clearly a two-member committee. A retired US army general on one side of the table and a Fijian lesbian folksinger on the other.

I don’t even know how the UN can look at itself in the mirror in the morning. You cannot, with a straight face, say you’re leaving no one behind when the richest 300 people on earth have more wealth than they poorest three billion put together. When there are 870 million people suffering from chronic undernourishment. When one in five people can’t read or write – most of them women.

You can’t go around saying Nobody Gets Left Behind when the world is made up almost entirely of people being left behind. It’s like saying Everybody Gets a Lollypop even after the lollypop factory has been turned into a toxic dump for nuclear waste. Or something.

I tried to find out what these three-piece peace-making leeches considered an Older Person. I wanted to know if I should throw myself a party or off a cliff. Nowhere on their website did it say how old you had to be.

Most days I wake up around 11am or so and feel like someone in their early thirties. By midnight most of my face has fallen off and I have 13/10 vision. The right eye is 10. It sounds like a perfect score, but it isn’t really. Sometimes I will tell this to the person standing next to me and he will snort and brag that he has 20/20 vision. The numbers come down a bit after my tequila glass has been surgically removed from his eye socket.

The website tells me that by 2030 there will be 1.4 billion people over 60. It’s the kind of statistic that leaves one feeling a little slack-jawed and droolish. That might be a consequence of aging, but it’s more likely a consequence of being faced with a set of numbers that mean absolutely nothing to anyone other than the mildly myopic Korean researcher in Room 101 who ferreted it out in the first place.

If you’re not shocked by this week’s news that the world has lost more than half its wildlife in the last 40 years, then you’re unlikely to feel anything more than mild unease at the news that there will be more old people than children in the world in 2047.

I find children and old people equally annoying.

The mention of 60 must be the UN’s subtle way of letting us know the age upon which one becomes an Older Person. This is splendid news. I have a long way to go. Long being a subjective and relative term.

One of the consequences of aging is that one’s sense of outrage dissipates faster than it used to. I clearly remember staying outraged at something or other for an entire day and well into the night, until eventually alcohol would grab me by the throat and hiss, “That’s enough outrage. Just relax or I’ll kill you.” That might not always have been the alcohol talking.

These days I can barely stay outraged long enough to write my column. Nothing anyone says or does makes the slightest bit of difference to the rapacious freebooters plundering the treasury like there’s no tomorrow. Which there won’t be, at this rate. We should be setting Dog the bounty hunter on Zuma’s ass.

Anyway. Old people. According to the website, these were some of the exciting things that happened this IDOP.

Norway put on a special do at Meloy frivilligsentral. At 12.30 there was something called Fysisk Aktivitet. Knowing the Scandinavians, it probably involved rolling around naked in the snow and beating each other with saplings. At 14.30 it was Middag, which is confusing. 17.00 was kaffe and at 17.30 all hell broke loose with Dans. An hour later it was Arrangementet avsluttes. I imagine this was when the sluts were brought in from Sweden.

Singapore celebrated IDOP for the first time this year after relaxing city laws that required citizens to have their body clocks stopped on their 59th birthday. Their theme was “effective communication”. This is a good one because old people never listen to what you’re saying. And even if they do, they deliberately misunderstand and try to set you on fire.

The International Labour Organisation in Geneva got into the spirit of the occasion by releasing a new policy paper. This is pretty wild for Switzerland.

In Bangkok the Global AgeWatch Index 2014 was launched. Being Bangkok, you might have thought they would at least have treated the codgers to a free lap dance and a squirt of amyl nitrate.

Index 2014 lets you look up your country to see how well your old bastards are being treated. South Africa shuffled home 80th out of 96 countries. Then again, we were second highest in the region. Then again, again, that’s not saying much.

And Britain held a seminar called The Age of No Retirement. It was probably one of David Cameron’s deeply caring schemes. Vote Conservative. The party that works you until you drop dead.

Inexplicably, I didn’t hear about any of the events that our benevolent government must surely have staged countrywide for our senior citizens last week.

Perhaps they didn’t get the memo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The final countdown to total onslaught

I was out the other evening seeking solace in the arms of Bacchus and happened to ask a passing waiter to bring me a fresh beer. He told me he wasn’t a waiter. He said he was a civil engineer in town on business and that I could fetch my own damn beer. Then he said something in Zulu and that’s when I knew it was starting. The uprising. The anarchy. The annihilation of the last white tribe of Africa.

I ran home and phoned United Nations headquarters but they said I couldn’t speak to the secretary general. Have these people learnt nothing from Rwanda? I turned to the interweb to see if anyone out there had an emergency plan of action. A lot of people did – mainly involving shaven Asian babes – but then I found the Suidlanders. From what I can make out, their raison d’être is to save white South Africans from extermination when the black tribes unite and rise as one.

The thing is, their website is entirely in Afrikaans. When I was a child, my mother would wash my mouth out with drain cleaner if I so much as uttered an Afrikaans word. Now look what’s happened, mother. Here is a vital infoportal giving us instructions on what to do when the hellfires of retribution engulf this country and I can’t understand a word of it.

Maybe it’s deliberate. Maybe the Suidlanders don’t want their places of safety overrun with snooty chinless wonders whinnying and braying at cocktail hour and organising games of polo with the war horses.

So, for those who wish to avoid being scalped and roasted over an open fire, but are unsure of what to do when the apocalypse is upon us, here are some handy pointers. This is aimed largely at English-speakers but black boers are welcome provided they sit quietly at the back and don’t keep asking people for cigarettes.

Unfortunately, the catchy name “Suidlanders” is taken and I don’t know what to call ourselves. Send me your suggestions. The best one wins a box of matches.

We also need some kind of divine justification for our actions. The Suidlanders are backed by everyone from Isaiah to Ezekiel, and when the Habbakuk hits the fan, I want to know we have solid backing from someone with real power.

Hugh Hefner once said: “The major civilising force in the world is not religion; it is sex.” Until we come up with something better, I think this provides a worthy endorsement of our cause.

The Suidlander’s motto is taken from the fourth stanza of the national anthem. I didn’t even know our anthem had stanzas. In fact, the entire affair is the musical equivalent of an Israeli rocket attack on a children’s hospital and should be hauled off to face charges of violating the integrity of anthems everywhere.

Right. Let’s get down to business. First rule: Be prepared. You cannot afford to get caught with your pants down. Look what happened to Eugene Terreblanche. You need to be ready to withdraw to a place of safety. Please do not come to my house. It is a place of many things, but safety is not one of them.

It is no secret that black people operate on a complicated system of coded signals. These messages are sent via email or registered post, but more often than not by shouting from one side of the valley to the other.

Bearing in mind that 45 million people need to be alerted, you will have roughly four years to implement your evacuation plan. This may seem like a long time, but once you have gathered the children, found the car keys and convinced your wife that camouflage doesn’t make her bum look fat, your neighbourhood could be in flames.

Do not jump the gun. Many whites emigrate only to read in the Sydney Herald that it was not the final onslaught after all, but merely a group of striking garbage collectors. Nor should you take fright at the increasing number of people gathered at traffic lights. They are not mobilising. They are merely unemployed. Act as you normally do. Wind up your window and ignore them.

When the moment arrives, you need to move quickly to your nearest rallying point where trained personnel will be waiting to escort you to safe locations. Do not panic if there are no trained personnel. They will arrive when the bars close.

I cannot identify the rallying points because the darkies would simply go straight there and tear us to pieces. Or, worse, make us drink skokiaan and insist on discussing local soccer.

I recommend that you purchase a shovel, a welding torch, a toilet brush, a vacuum cleaner and a bag of marijuana. That’s the only down side of the safe locations – there won’t be any darkies around to help out. It’s a small price to pay.

You will also need to stockpile food. If you forget to pick up the groceries, you should know how to forage for food. We are fortunate to live in a country full of edible and smokable flora. Know your nuts and brush up on your mushrooms. If you eat the Amanita phalloides, you will require a liver transplant. If you are truly one of us, you are likely in need of a new liver anyway. Stick with the Agaricus campestri, or, even better, anything from the psilocybin family.

The crucial thing is not to leave your evacuation too late. If you wake up on a Sunday morning to find 50 000 darkies at your front gate, do not assume they are looking for gardening work and go back to sleep.

On judgement day, it is important that you get moving early. There is little point in beating the mob only to get caught in traffic. Taxi drivers will be the cavalry in this war and they will be doing whatever they can to kill you. In that respect, nothing will have changed.

Hey! Look at that. I pressed a button and translated the Suidlanders’ website into English. “The National Board of Suidlanders want all fans to moon to guard against any illegal action as it not only yourself and your family influence but also a large community of supporters across the country already in the Suidlander structures are included.”

I am not convinced that mooning is an appropriate response to genocide, but if all else fails, I suppose it’s worth a shot.

 

Maritzburg Mayhem

Pietermaritzburg, that burnished pearl of the midlands, introduced parking meters in the city last year. The idea was to free up bays occupied by motorists who ended up in the local mental asylum after forgetting where they had parked.

It’s not working. I am still suffering from post-traumatic stress after driving into the middle of Maritzburg at 5pm on a Friday. The city’s brilliant parking project is about as successful as a two-legged mouse in the hurdles at the Mouse Olympics, scheduled for Zurich next April.

Parking wasn’t an issue because the maelstrom of traffic made it impossible to get anywhere near the parking bays. From what I could make out, the lane alongside the parking bays was also being used for parking. Most of the time I had trouble ascertaining whether traffic was at a standstill or if everyone had simply stopped their cars and gone off shopping, drinking or murdering.

The entire population of a million people was on the streets. Well, apart from the twelve white residents up on the hillside who hadn’t been able to emigrate because they couldn’t find a way through the impenetrable snarl of cars, buses and taxis. One family had missed more than 1 600 flights since 1994.

I felt their eyes on me. Perhaps watching through a pair of World War II binoculars.

What the hell is he doing? Sheila! Come and look at this! There is a white man driving in the city!”

Sheila’s hand would fly to her mouth. “The poor devil! It’s Friday!” she would cry. “He doesn’t stand a chance. Go and help him, Gerald!”

Gerald would lower the binoculars and glower at her. If he were wearing a monocle, it would scrunch deeper into his eye socket. “I fought the Zulus in 1873. I’m not doing it again.”

A sob would burst from Sheila’s heaving yet dispassionate chest. “But, Gerald, he is a white man! He is one of us!”

Gerald would harrumph. “Probably a Boer. I fought those bastards, too, you know.”

I wanted to get to the far side but the city wouldn’t let me out. Every intersection was gridlocked. I began passing the same buildings I had seen half an hour earlier. I started to feel like that explorer who, coming upon his own tracks after walking for a month, went mad and started eating himself. I couldn’t do that. People would come up to me at the robots and ask for a piece.

Desperate for a beer, or any kind of sedative, really, I looked for a restaurant or a bar. A pavement café. A hotel. Anything. There was nothing. Just endless stretches of furniture shops, pharmacies and used car dealerships. Parts of the city were like the seventh circle of Dante’s Inferno.

But that was then and this is now. Businesses and government departments were hoping for free parking. They may as well have been hoping for the city to be restored to its former glory, not that it ever really had much to start with. A city hall made of red bricks. I mean, really. What were they thinking?

When it comes to gouging the citizenry for every cent they have, the council is at the top of its game. And they know, better than most, that you can’t give anything away for free in Africa unless you’re backed by a platoon of United Nations troops trained in crowd control.

Kwenza Khumalo, who works in the municipality’s safety and security department, said the entire parking meter project would collapse if exemptions were made. And the council would lose the staggering sum of R50 000 a month. This is what the meters generate for the city. I know car guards who earn that in a morning. Okay, so they’re not just watching cars. But still.

Khumalo said complaints over paying for parking would “die a natural death”. This is the philosophy that underpins our civil service. Ignore them and they will go away. It’s a remarkably effective strategy, especially in a country where the average attention span is three minutes.

And if the complaints don’t die a natural death, it could always be arranged that the complainants themselves die an unnatural death. This is, after all, a region in which hit men are cheap as chips and thick on the ground.

Pietermaritzburg is not a capital city – it’s a capital offence.