I am under no illusion that we live in a perfect country or that we are perfect people because if we are honest with
ourselves we are not. We have this blame culture within us where we cannot take responsibility for ourselves as a people without first placing all the blame on someone else. Once upon a time we blamed apartheid, it’s gone now but when things go wrong we bring it out and we blame it. Then came the ANC government, free health care, free houses, free money (social grants), roads, schools, hospitals, clinics etc built but guess what, we blame them for everything because as long as something negative happens it’s the governments fault. You know there are people that blame the government for rape no matter how many more police they have added and awareness campaigns plus holidays in fact. Now we have turned our attention to foreigners, those that live on the margins of our society as the new burden. What happens when they live? Who do we blame, Pedis’s maybe, or Venda’s, wait I am wrong maybe Tsonga’s? I mean after all, they are darker than Zulu’s and Xhosa’s, they don’t have as many people but have an entire province to themselves even bigger than KZN? Mmmm that’s what Xenophobia does; it makes you turn on one another. This police man had made me so angry and even in my situation I wanted to give him a piece of my mind.
“Sir, that was uncalled for!”
Simba protested and went on to say,
“I demand to see my friend. I have a lawyer on his way and I know my rights. I have just taped what you said to me about foreigners and imagine how it will sound if it goes to the media especially now with all the Xenophobia happening. Just imagine, a police man, in uniform at that saying such things? How long do you think you will keep your job?”
And believe it or not, he said this in fluent Tswana. I am certain the cop was as shocked as I was but here is the thing, because he did not speak Zulu it made him foreign? How? My mum used to have this thing where if I spoke to a guy in English over the phone her first question would be,
This can mean two different things but in her context she was making sure whoever I was talking to was not a Nigerian because God forbid, the ancestors won’t approve. It would be humiliation on her part if I was running with a foreign man. We take it for granted but like this police man, some of us have parents who hold such beliefs too. Do we reprimand them? The answer is no!
“Why didn’t you just speak Tswana then?”
The cop asked in Zulu but Simba responded in English,
“Because I can use whatever language I want in South Africa. That is the reason why you are employed, to protect those rights. Sir, I am asking you politely may I please see my friend!”
He asked the cop again. I held my breath because if he said no I knew that I would be screwed. I wanted someone I knew to talk to.
“First delete the recording otherwise I won’t let you go back there!”
The policeman said.
“First I see that she is fine, then we make some arrangements for her, then I delete!”
The man had stood his ground and I was praying that he had not pushed him too far. Cops are there to protect your rights but mention your rights to them and they get angry. It’s a weird situation I tell you.
“Ok then, I will take you to her! I am very certain it’s the girl from the suburbs, Lungile Mbatha because you speak with the same arrogance!”
That’s how they see people who speak in English, as arrogant! It’s this kind of ignorance that has killed this country. I am just stating facts!
“Yes it is!”
He said. There was bit of excitement in his voice even though he tried to hold his resolve.
“Ok come this way.”
They went through and I saw them walk towards me. I stood up immediately.
“There she is, be quick!”
He said and he left him to walk towards me alone. This was odd. I thought we would be given a room or something. I hugged him and he asked,
“Are you ok? What’s going on?”
He asked me two questions at once.
“I am ok. Now my former company is saying I stole something. When I left the office all they allowed me to take was my bag so how could I?”
I asked him crying. Seeing someone you know can make you lose it.
He came and sat next to me.
“I know white companies play dirty; I know a lot of people who having resigned have had such problems.”
He said to me. I am not sure if that was reassurance as to that I was not alone or what.
“We need to get you out of here first. Where is that lawyer friend of you mentioned or should I call mine?”
He asked me. My attention was distracted because walking towards us was the none other than Mbuso. That was fast. I had not even heard him when he came the way I had heard Simba.
I said as soon as he walked in. I stood up again and Simba stood up too.
“You called your mechanic?”
Simba said perplexed. I don’t remember telling Simba he was a mechanic or his name for that matter. Wait, I had, when we were drunk, he had asked me who else was interested in me. I vaguely remember saying,
“Some guy from my complex but he is a mechanic, what can we possibly discuss!”
And we had laughed at that nasty comment. I am so ashamed right now but I had said it. I am very educated and to a certain extent I was right, what conversations would I have with my husband considering the huge gap between our intellect and our salaries.
“So how does he afford to stay in your complex? I mean on a mechanics salary he can’t be earning much!”
Simba had asked me. Crap, I had never thought of that. I will give you an example; you cannot expect to find two teachers living in Bryanston. It just does not make financial sense. They would definitely need a lifestyle audit after that. Could Mbuso be up to criminal activities I mean how else could he afford such? I could barely afford my place myself. I had thought all that in the bar drinking. These were questions that made me want to ask him more about himself but I was on a date with Simba at the time so I had to bury those thoughts. That’s how I had come to forget about it.
“Yes I called him. Mbuso hi!”
I said giving him a hug. That mechanic comment was uncalled for but again in Simba’s defence, I had told him I was kind of seeing him so I would be annoyed too.
“Are you ok?”
He asked me very concerned.
“Yes I am but I am scared. I did not do this!”
I explained to him. Simba cleared his throat wanting to be acknowledged.
“Mbuso this is Simba my friend, Simba this is Mbuso my…”
Before I even finished Mbuso interjected and said,
He was being sarcastic and did not even bother to mask his annoyance at that.
“Sorry man I meant nothing harmful by it. I was out of line!”
Simba said offering him his hand but Mbuso was not so courteous. He ignored and looked at me.
“Tell me how the police have treated you! I need the details!”
I was very surprised at the specificness he had asked for.
“They are so mean. Two guys came to arrest me and one was so mean I cried. He did not care and was making threats of how bad it was going to be for me!”
I told him. He stood up and made an air punch.
“Yes!!! That’s good!”
He said and looked up.
“How is that good? That is so scary!”
I asked him very confused.
“Trust me its good.”
He told me. Even Simba was confused for I looked at him and I am sure we both thought maybe the mechanic was losing it.
“Please explain we are lost!”
I said we because Simba had to be part of the conversation.
“Don’t worry he does not hate you! It’s what they do, one works hard to scare you and then the nice one will ask for a bribe so you can go home. It’s what they do!”
He said cheerfully. I always say education is every day, you learn something new every day. If you are not learning something new or teaching anything new then you might as well go and die because you are not contributing to humanity at all.
“You will not be sleeping here today I can promise you that much!”
Mbuso said. It’s amazing that the things you know usually are only amazing or great in your own field. I will give an example of a doctor, she is brilliant and amazing and knows everything in the hospital but take her to play netball and she is probably as useless as a child. That’s how it is. Simba was not dumb, he knew other things.
“How much do you think they will need?”
Simba asked him. Mbuso stiffened every time Simba spoke and I pray to God that he was not xenophobic too. I really hoped it was because of manly rivalry in front of a woman.
“I don’t know chief! I am going to find out. I might be only be a mechanic but I have friends in such places too!”
He reminded Simba of his quip. Eish le yena Simba why did he say that?
“Eish man I was out of line for that and I am sorry!”
Simba said again.
“We need to work together on this to get her out of this. How do we go about it?”
Simba asked him. I am not going to lie, much as he had disappointed me with his line, Simba had stood up in a way I admire. Pride for me is the worst of all sins. He had swallowed his pride to be willing to work with someone who he considered his inferior and knew something he did not know. Many people I tell you now do not talk to people they consider their inferiors. Look at all this xenophobic violence right now? It’s because people are not willing to understand their neighbour as they consider them inferior to them in the first place. Now I know why the greatest commandment in the bible is and will always be,
“Love your neighbour as you love yourself! By this shall all men know that you are my disciples?”
Some of these things you don’t take them seriously but they actually are that serious.
“There comes the nice cop!”
I told them and they both turned around. He was walking right towards us.
“Good afternoon gentlemen, I need to borrow her, we have to do the charges!”
He said sweetly. I could hear Mbuso’s warning in my head now but was he right about it.
“Ah officer, what charges now, is there a place we can talk?”
Mbuso asked me.
The officer acted so shocked.
“Are you for real right now?”
He asked him looking angry.
Mbuso, Simba and I froze…
Had we miscalculated?
He touched his handcuffs,
Was he arresting Mbuso for trying to bribe him!
What was going to happen to Ntheteng?
Michael Nkululeko Maphoto (fb)
Thank you for reading my letter.
I think I am losing my mind. I have been dating my girlfriend for four years now. Two months into us dating she got pregnant and gave birth 9 months later. I decided that I did not want my child to grow up without a father and I paid damages immediately after but when it came to Lobola she refused saying that it was soon we must do marriage later. I accepted because she was 19 at the time and I was 29. Fast forward to January 2017 I told her I don’t want to live like this anymore we should start Lobola negotiations. She was staying at home with her parents so she would bring our son over every weekend. She agreed we have set a date for Lobola for April. One of my uncles then pointed out that there was more to the story as to why she did not want me to marry her in the beginning. He is a doctor so he said I should get a DNA test on our son. I don’t know why I listened but I did. Turns out the son is not mine. I lost it, I almost killed her and I was arrested. I loved her and my son with everything that I had and now both are not even mine. What’s worse is that she confessed that she has been seeing the father of her child during these four years and the only reason she kept me around was because I could take care of the baby and he could not because they are the same age. In the four years I took her to school, yes it’s just a college but I paid every cent of those fees with my sweat. I took care of every bill she had and my sons now today I don’t even have rights on the child. How is that so? You know what’s even worse, I still love her and even now I want her back. Am I crazy? Am I losing it? I beat up a woman, something I despise in other men so much and now I am that man. I hate myself. I can’t eat I can’t sleep and I just want this pain to end. What should I do bra Mike? Please help me before I kill myself. I am so lost. Please tell me what to do.
I have given you my number. Please don’t share it.