You know when you tell someone else about such things it would sound as though you are lying. How do you tell anyone
and they will believe you that you were sitting in the back of a car because they found cocaine on you! Of all the drugs that they say exist in South Africa I am not naïve to say that I did not even know we have it in South Africa. Come on now, where would I even go to buy it. Some of these things are rich people things most of us only ever see them on TV. Where I come from our drug is weed and that’s it! We all know the dealers of weed and even in high school they were there! Cocaine on the other hand that’s another story. When I picture it I can see South Americans in my head and guns, lots of guns because that’s how dangerous it is! This was not a lemon juice moment because life was not giving me lemons but bricks. I did not even know what was going on right now but I was in the back of a car on my way to jail.
“What do we do?”
I asked Miriam as the police car drove us away. She was sitting next to me also very surprised by how our day had turned out. I don’t think when she came to visit this could have been in her wildest imagination.
“I don’t know it’s your car? Goodness Bongani is going to kill me! He is then going to kill you for him killing me!”
She said and we both laughed. I know it was not funny but when so many things happen at the same time the joke really is in the detail. Yesterday my life was peaceful until that prick decided to run to my house. Of all the women in Johannesburg he had to pick up the wife of a psychopath.
“Ladies you are laughing this is serious! This is a very high category drug and you can see that every time a bust is made at the airport on its very big news.”
The cop said annoyed at our laughter. I think they wanted us kicking and screaming but at this moment I really did not know what to think or do at this moment.
“What do you expect us to do?”
I asked him.
“We came to you running for our lives and worse running away from an old white woman and now we are the ones in the back of your car!”
I told the cop.
“Does that even make sense to you?”
I asked him and he looked at me very much in the same blank daze I was in. This was not adding up.
“But cocaine is cocaine and that old white woman you mention had nothing to do with it!”
He reminded me but he was unconvincing. Police are people too and he was no exception. I could see he was confused by what was happening just as much as we were!
“If we had cocaine in the car and we knew it, does it make sense to you that we would run to the cops? Come on now! How dumb do you think we are?”
I asked him and again Miriam chuckled which annoyed him.
“I can assure you I have seen dumber criminals. Your luck ran out I suppose but I still don’t see where that black car fits in because when we arrested you I did see it when you pointed it out!”
He told us. I was therefore not imagining things because it had happened.
“We are being set up and I know by whom!”
I said but immediately Miriam hit me with her knee. When I looked at her she shook her head warning me to shut up and I immediately did. She was right of course because speaking up could make things worse.
“I saw that you know!”
The officer said to us.
“What is it that she must not say?”
“Nothing. When do I get to call my lawyer?”
I asked immediately.
“Why are you lawyering up? Are you accepting guilt?”
He asked me. It’s true what they say that when you get a lawyer you are guilty of something but why take chances though when it can be avoided though?
“I am not answering that I just want to know when I can speak to my lawyer!”
I asked him. He did not respond to me but in no time we were at the police station.
“Allow these ladies a phone call and take them to interrogation room 3. I am going to go get Detective Matenza!”
He said to the charging officer.
“Must I allow both of them or just one of them!”
The charging officer asked.
“Just one! This one talks a lot so let her get the call!”
He said pointing out to me. I did not call Nthabiseng but instead I realized the only one who could help me now was Mbilahelo. It was his brother’s fault so he was going to fix this.
He said when he picked up the phone.
I immediately told him,
“A car chased us down the highway and next thing we were being stopped by the police who then found cocaine on us which you know is not ours!”
I told him. He asked me where I was and told me that he was coming over immediately and not to worry. That’s easier said than done. With the phone call done we were taken to the interrogation rooms. We were separated obviously. The cop who had arrested us came in with another man.
“I am Detective Matenza!”
He introduced himself and asked,
“Who might you be?”
He asked. What a dumb question. He had my driver’s license in his hands so why was he asking the obvious!
“I am not talking without a lawyer present!”
I told the cop and the detective immediately. I was not going to be cornered by their tricks. The detective laughed.
“You think this is America neh! Here it does not quite work that way.”
He said to me. In fact do we even have such rights in South Africa? I have often wondered that part.
“I am not speaking so you are wasting your time!”
I told them.
“If you really want to play that game with me I can have him take you to the cells whilst you wait.”
He told me with a smile on his face, of which I felt I can live with that until he said,
“But I can assure you there are real thugs in there that can make you cry just by looking at you!”
That was a very effective threat because I had seen what happens when people go to prison and it’s not nice. We have all watched Yizo Yizo right?”
“You are going to do that simply because I asked for a lawyer?”
I asked him trying to make him feel guilty. Before he could respond there was a knock on the door and next thing a short argument but I could not quite hear what they were saying. I was left alone for about 20 minutes and then someone walked in. I looked up thinking it was the detectives interrogating me but guess what, it was Mthobisi! I almost had a heart attack.
“You are the guy from the complex! Are you a cop?”
I asked him playing the dumb card.
“I am the guy from the complex yes and no I am not a cop!”
He said very calmly as he sat down. I won’t lie I was asking myself whether he was coming to kill me.
“I am confused! What are you doing here? How did you know I was here?”
I asked him.
“Cut the bullshit! I am looking for Azwindini! Where can I find him? If you tell me I will leave you alone but if you don’t well…the choice is yours really!”
I was looking at this moment right now. This guy had not only managed to get me arrested but also managed to walk into the interrogation of a police station. How on earth was that even possible?
“Lungi I don’t have all day! Tell me where he is?”
He asked again this time his voice getting more urgent!
“I, I don’t know. H came yesterday badly beaten up and I turned him away to go get medical treatment. Someone picked him up!”
I told him definitely afraid now. This man was going to kill me for sure. Miriam had advised me not to snitch him out when we were in the car yet now here I was snitching on Azwindini. I owe him no loyalty he brought these problems to my place.
“Who picked him up?”
He asked me. Before I could answer honestly the drama in my life does not stop the door opened and in walked in Mbilahelo with two other men I had not seen before!
“I want to know who allowed a civilian to interrogate a suspect!”
He asked angrily and shouting. Immediately Mthobisi stood up to leave!
“You sit down! I heard your question; I came to pick him up. I am Mbilahelo and I am from IPID!”
He said to Mthobisi and did not even try to hide who is. His colleagues who were with him backed him up.
“Call the station commander!”
For those who don’t know the IPID is a division of police not liked by other police because they investigate police corruption and put their colleagues in jail? They are therefore feared and often are hard to buy. This is why there was a sense of urgency when the station commander was called. Even Mthobisi had lost a bit of his mettle because whoever he had bribed to let him come at me was about to get in a whole hip of trouble.
An elderly looking officer said when he got to the room.
“I understand you called me, what’s happening here?”
He asked bravely. Mbilahelo’s colleague then spoke up.
“Why is a civilian and known criminal interrogating a suspect?”
The colleague asked the station commander who just went stupid. He opened his mouth to speak. Someone else walked in from behind them and handed over a document to them saying,
“This is the charge sheet and the evidence they brought in!”
The lady said giving it to Mbilahelo. I was so confused at this point as too many things were happening at once. She was also holding the bag of cocaine we had been arrested for. He inspected it and then asked the lady.
“Its open, was it open like this when you found it?”
He asked her. I remembered that when we had it the bag had not been open.
“No I opened in front of two of the officers here as by instruction to test it!’
She responded. Instead of asking her more questions he turned around to me and said,
“Maam! Is this your cocaine?”
He asked me sternly. Before I could answer the cop lady responded,
“Sir it’s not cocaine!”
She said out loud.
“What do you mean it’s not cocaine?”
Mbilahelo asked confused. Everyone in room looked very surprised at this with exception of Mthobisi who just crossed his arms and actually smiled.
She said and I swear you could hear a pin drop.
“Ok I am very confused right now? Are you telling me that I got arrested for having flour in bag and flour which I did not even buy to start with?”
I asked standing up immediately.
“Yes ma’am its flour!”
The lady cop said again.
“Are you telling me that you did not even test the product you accused them of having before you locked them up?”
Mbilahelo shouted at the top of his voice which made them jump up in fright startled at the intensity of it. You could see the two that had arrested us cower in the back and their station commander jut hold his head in embarrassment.
“Can I have my friend released please and you please leave me alone. I don’t know where the person you are looking for is!”
I said to Mthobisi as I walked out of the room. No one stopped me, How could they?
“I said I want to know who allowed this man back here or I will have each and every one of you arrested!”
I heard Mbilahelo shout in the background.
This was far from over!
Michael Nkululeko Maphoto (fb)
you are doing a wonderful job
Thanks for reading my letter
I have a problem, my brother he is 26 years old. He doesn’t want to work, if you ask him why he is not looking for a job, he will say he is sick. He want us to give him money to go to traditional healer, if we don’t give it to him he will say we don’t love him. Thing started to get worse this year. He transfers my mother money in his account and he leaves nothing for my mother. My mother realized what he was doing after he cancelled her cell phone banking. My mother didn’t ask him because she knew that he will shout at her for pointing fingers at him. He realized that he can’t transfer money anymore; he stole my mother card and withdrew all her money. She changed pins now I don’t know what is going to happen. Now he is having anger issues I think because of the pins being changed. I am afraid he will beat her or kill her because it is only my mother and my children staying there. There is no one going to defend her. I am scared that I will lose my mother because she is always stressed about him or because of him. If he was taking the card to buy things needed at home maybe it would work but he buys unnecessary things such as cornflakes and danone knowing that the money is little to start with.
What do I do?