Chapter Thirteen – Déjà vu at the Square
Lieutenant Pieter Erasmus glanced up at the large apartment block in front of him. He had been inside the building several times before but had never noticed just how big it was. Were his eyes playing tricks on him?
Then his eyes caught sight of something that could possibly help his cause. He noticed an apartment on the fifth floor that did not have curtains. This could possibly mean that the apartment is vacant, he thought. That apartment was two levels higher than from where he nearly carried out his first onslaught but would be an even better position from a shooting perspective.
The elevator in the building had a large ‘Out of Order’ sign on it, so Pieter headed for the staircase to his left and gulped when he noticed that the stairs had a glass window on the side of it. That would not help too much as it could well give his identity away.
Going up the stairs to the third floor was not too bad, but as he looked to progress further, his fear of heights kicked in. Pieter grabbed for the rail next to the stairs and hung on for dear life. Eventually, he was down on his knees with the duffle bags next to him. As he tried to gulp in as much air as possible, Pieter began to feel feint.
No man, Erasmus, this was not a part of the plan, he thought.
On his hands and knees, he crawled on, one step at a time. He knew that going down the stairs was not a challenge but going up was something else. As he moved on his hands and knees, it felt like his mind was about to explode and his stomach was turning.
The Lieutenant saw his life flashing by. His primary and high school colleagues from years back who had laughed at him would soon remember his name. That was if he made it to the fifth floor.
Was this a way of God telling him not to carry out his evil act?
“My God, I have to do this,” he exclaimed, with his bottom lip quivering.
With his shirt soaked from sweat and his legs feeling a sense of numbness, Pieter kept on with his crawling mission.
First, he made it to the fourth-floor level. How he wanted to climb out on the fourth floor to catch some breath, but there was no time to be wasted.
He continued crawling. The fifth floor looked so far away.
“Nee, Erasmus, moenie op kyk nie (no, Erasmus, don’t look up),” he said to himself.
The duffle bags over his shoulders were getting heavier by the second and his hands felt as if they were scratched to the bone.
Pieter, you do not have to do this, you know.
The voice in his mind sounded familiar. It sounded just like…
No, it surely could not be. How would Lindiwe Buthelezi Jnr’s voice end up inside his head?
“Lindiwe, you have done this to me, and your people must now pay the ultimate price!” said Pieter in an aggressive tone with his eyes raging.
“Lindiwe, if it is really you then show yourself!” demanded the cop.
Pieter, take my word for it. The acts that you are about to perform will not do you nor your country any good.
“Go to hell, Lindiwe, you had a choice, but you decided to rather run away at the explosion at the Vosloo Grill,” said Pieter, as he crawled closer and closer to the landing area of the fifth floor.
Pieter, when you reach the fifth floor, I cannot help you anymore. What will be will be.
Erasmus questioned what he had just heard. Did Lindiwe just say ‘help me’?
“Go to hell, let me achieve my destiny and live with the consequences,” said the cop as he sat upright on the fifth-floor landing area at the foot of the stairs.
Once back on his feet, Pieter rolled up his sleeves and repositioned the duffle bags over his shoulders. He felt a bit better. t
Two black men walked past him and greeted. Pieter nodded in return. Once at the door of the apartment that he had noticed from ground level, he found the rooms to be vacant indeed.
Prior to entering the apartment, he checked the emergency door at the end of the corridor. It was unlocked but the staircase on the other side of it, was loaded with old cardboard boxes and other rubbish. He noted that if he had to escape that way, he would need to do a bit of classy track and field hurdles running to make it over the obstacles.
Pieter headed back down the corridor and pulled the apartment’s front door closed behind him. He turned the key in the lock so that he would not be disturbed. By leaving the key in the lock, he was ready to turn it when in need of a fast get away.
Like a medical doctor prior to a large life-threatening operation on a client, Pieter put his duffle bags down and began to lay his weapons and ammunition out on a towel that he had brought along.
Then he made his way over to the outer door and on to the balcony. He noticed an old lounge suite on the veranda.
Perfect, he thought. He could hide behind that so that nobody would be able to identify him after the shooting had taken place.
He had a clear view over the square which seemed to be getting busier by the minute. He noticed a funeral hearse at the traffic light below.
“There will be many of those needed after I am done here today,” he grinned.
He went back into the apartment and picked up his pistol, tucking it nearly into his holster. Then he took the shotgun and checked it thoroughly.
Pieter Erasmus was ready for action and prepared to face the consequences, although his first prize was to make a completely safe getaway.
His mind turned to the story on how Chris Hani’s assassin, Janusz Walus had been caught.
A white Afrikaans neighbour of Hani in Dawn Park, Johannesburg, had seen the action and taken down the car registration of the vehicle that Walus had fled in.
Once that information had been phoned to the cops, it was a matter of minutes before Walus’ vehicle was surrounded by police cars and the Polish hitman’s game was up.
Pieter Erasmus did not see himself like Walus, as a man of the past. He saw himself as a man of the future. Hey, maybe he could even he could be like the great bank robbing cop, Andre Stander, and carry out his evil act. Then just like Stander, he would escape and unknowingly, the cops would possibly send him back to investigate the crime scene later in the day.
Pieter, I am warning you. Think about what you are about to do!
“You don’t have to warn me about anything,” fumed the Lieutenant.
“You have made your decision now I have to make mine.”
Pieter expected a response to his comment from within the spirit, but none was forthcoming.
Perhaps the voice in the spirit had taken his point or was it a case of the voice had given up on him. So, what if he was a lost cause, thought Pieter. Nothing much mattered anymore. He had a job to do and wanted to carry it out to the best of his ability.
Pieter, you will regret this, and your future generations will regret this too. Think about what you are about to do. Its is not worth it!
The voice was back to advise him.
“Lindiwe, you were supposed to be the bearer of the future generations for my family but instead you decided to run away, so don’t try and pin the blame on me now,” quipped Pieter.
“Let me be and go on with what I have to do.”
Again, Pieter thought of all the Apartheid era spies and assassins that he had researched on the internet.
Pieter began to imagine how they must have felt before carrying out a hit. They were fearless men who believed that they were on a mission to do the right thing for their Afrikaner people and their country.
All of them must have thought in their hearts that the ANC government could never make a success of running a country like South Africa. Following the Mandela honeymoon period of the new democracy, many would have felt vindicated.
Corruption and crime were running at an all-time high and tourism was being effected negatively, as many foreign visitors were petrified to visit South Africa in case of being mugged or murdered.
Something needed to be done about this right now, figured Pieter.
Pieter, I can only tell you about South Africa’s road to 2010, thereafter you are on your own, but.”
“Los my uit (leave me alone),” hissed Pieter under his breath as he began to load the shot gun.
“You had your chance and you never took it. The time for me to give a different form of freedom to my people. The ANC had a superb opportunity to prove to the world that a black government could run a competent South African government, but look at the carnage? No, I must follow through with this. You will thank me later.”
Thank you? For what, Pieter? For murdering some of my people?
Pieter did not respond.
Pieter, think of your parents. How will they react if you are locked away in a prison cell because of your actions?
The Lieutenant had not thought of things that way before. He had only thought of how proud his mother and father would have been of him for shooting down some blacks.
The Lieutenant was fully aware that the death penalty had been abolished in South Africa in the early 1990s.
Both notorious bomber Robert McBride and Barend ‘Wit Wolf’ Strydom had been sentenced to death, as had Janusz Walus. However, all three had their death penalty statuses converted to life in prison. However, in the heat of negotiations, The ANC agreed to give Strydom his freedom, in return for the release from incarceration of McBride.
Walus, however, was the odd man out. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission did not believe that he was remorseful for assassinating Chris Hani, and he got a 25-year- sentence behind bars. Even after his sentence had been completed, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and Hani’s wife, Limpho, still tabled papers to keep him locked up, fearing that he may try and assassinate another high-ranking person. Insiders stated that the real reason for not allowing Walus his freedom was that he had not revealed the names of potential Liberation Struggle persons who had collaborated with him to make the Hani hit happen.
Walus had done his time but was still locked up behind bars having not enjoyed even a second of South Africa’s new democracy. Some Polish parties hailed him as a hero. That went down even worse in SACP circles.
The feeling was that Mandela apart, Hani may have been the answer to South Africa’s leadership problems. However, some members of the Conservative Party saw him as far too militant and the biggest threat to the whites, so the trigger was pulled.
Pieter, they will lock you away for your crimes and won’t let you out. Learn from the lesson of Waluz.
The voice had a point. However, Pieter was still adamant that he would not get caught. Mind you, Waluz must have thought that too, he analysed.
Pieter knew all too well of the slogan: you live by the sword; you die by the sword. He did not have a problem with dying if he achieved his goal. If he perished while assassinating blacks, his parents would declare him to be a saint.
Yes, ‘Pieter ‘the Saint’ Erasmus. How would God feel about that, he wondered.
“Dear God, if you don’t want me to go ahead with the assassination here today, please give me a sign,” said the Lieutenant, with his eyes clamped closed.
Pieter waited and waited. No sign was forthcoming from the heavens above. Oh, well, that is it then, he thought. The show must go on. It was clearly endorsed by the man upstairs.
Pieter turned on an old television set in the corner of the apartment. He needed some noise to counter the firing of the shotgun.
Before turning up the volume of the television, he listened at both walls of the apartment.
He could have been wrong, but it sounded to him like both neighbouring apartments were empty and at worst, the occupants were asleep.
Party time was approaching. The lives of some families would change forever. So, too would the New South Africa. Pieter grinned. Many of his conservative-minded colleagues would have loved to do what he was about to action, but few had the courage to follow through.
Pieter Erasmus was a man of his word and he began to load a few rounds of ammunition on to his belt clip. His pants started to sag with the weight of the bullets. He was seconds away from doing something that would make him feel great. Would it really make him feel great? Well, perhaps he would only know the true answer to that after the deed was done.
Barend ‘Wit Wolf’ Strydom was apprehended during his shooting spree at the same square all those years ago. Pieter would not be walking across the square like Strydom did. The Lieutenant was way more strategic.
“It’s time,” said Pieter, as he picked up the shotgun and began to walk over to his hiding place behind the old furniture on the balcony.
The shotgun felt heavier in his hand than before. Perhaps he was carrying the weight of life.
As he knelt behind the furniture, he a drop of rain hit him on the right cheek. Was this the sign from above telling him not to shoot?
Pieter needed more convincing than that to call off his great moment. A storm could be heading towards Pretoria, but his shotgun would create the thunder.
There was no turning back, or was there?