Chapter Twenty-Five – The Grilling of a Lieutenant
Drip… Drip… Drip…
The sound was annoying. Perhaps if Pieter Erasmus could have seen the dripping water, then it would have been a bit easier to handle emotionally.
Pieter worked out that he was being held captive in a dungeon-like room. There was only enough light in the room for him to make out the body sizes of the person there. He could hardly see the face of the man opposite him.
“You better start talking, if you know what is good for you,” said the man, with a strong Afrikaans accent.
“Ek weet nie wat julle van my af soek nie (I don’t know what you want from me,” responded Pieter.”
The man kicked back on his chair and jumped to his feet.
“Moenie met daai stront begin nie, jy weet goed wat jy nie moes weet nie (don’t come with that nonsense, you know things that you shouldn’t know),” said the oppressor sternly.
Pieter ran his hands over his face. So this is what it is all about, Erasmus. This is some sort of underground government movement that has much to hide.
Having interrogated many criminals over the years, Pieter knew what to say and when to keep quiet, although it did feel a bit strange now, in being seated on the wrong side of the table.
His attention was drawn by footsteps heading in the direction of the room where he was being held. It sounded like at least two or three people were about to join his little party.
Suddenly the door of the room flung open and a uniformed man with medals on his jacket, marched over to him.
“Het jy enige vordering gemaak (did you make any progress)?”said the General to the man opposite Pieter.
The Lieutenant, who had been trying to work information out of Pieter, shook his head.
General Jan du Toit leaned on his hands which were pressed on the table in front of Pieter, whose own hands were handcuffed.
“So, jy hou daarvan om rondteloop met iemand se straatmate (so you like walking around with someone’s streetgirl)?” said Jan in rhetorical fasion, with reference to Lindiwe.
Pieter wanted to lean forward and spin his handcuffed wrists towards the chin of the General, but found that he could not move from the chair as his ankles were also tied to the legs of the furniture.
Who was this General to call Lindiwe a ‘straatmate’?
The General kept his eyes focused on Pieter but spoke to the Lieutenant, who was standing to his left.
“Luitenant, jy is van die projek af, pak jou goed en vat die vervoer Pretoria toe (Lieutenant, you are off the project, pack your stuff and take the transport to Pretoria),”quipped the General.
The young Lieutenant looked taken aback.
“Maar, Generaal, ek... (but General, I…).”
“Jy het my gehoor (you heard me),” said the General.
“Jy is nie meer op ‘Looking Glass’ nodig nie (you are no longer needed on ‘Looking Glass’).”
Pieter pretended that he did not know what ‘Looking Glass’ meant, and began to stare at the cement ground below.
He was putting the pieces of the puzzle together in his mind at great speed. So, this dodgy government movement had to do with the ‘Looking Glass’. It was clear to Pieter that both he and Lindiwe had got to close to discovering that they should not have found at the site of the old laboratory, hence they were captured.
“Moet ek hier sit met my hande vasgemaak as of ek n dief is (do I have to sit here with my hands handcuffed as if I am a thief)?” asked Pieter.
The General giggled sarcastically.
“Maar jy hang rond met misdadigers so dit maak vir jou een van hulle (well you hang around with criminals so that makes you one of them),” remarked the General.
Clearly the General was not an open-minded person who would realise that the minority rule government would not last forever in South Africa.
The middle-aged man was one of those who had followed his leader’s orders to the maximum, thus creating the belief that the National Party would rule South Africa until Kingdom Come.
“So, Erasmus, vertel vir ons wat weet jy van Buthelezi (so, Erasmus, tell us what you know about Buthelezi),”ordered the General.
Pieter stared at the General.
“Buthelezi, ja, hy is die leier van die Inkatha Vryheidsparty daar in Natal (Buthelezi, yes, he is the leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party in Natal),” replied Pieter.
The General slammed his right fist on the table.
“Moenie probeer slim wees met my nie, jou verraier (don’t try and be clever with me, you traitor)!” shouted the General.
“Jy weet net so wel so ek dat ek praat van Albertina Buthelezi (you know as well as I do that I am talking about Albertina Buthelezi)!” went on the General.
“Albertina?” asked Pieter, as he pleaded ignorance.
“Erasmus, ons het vir jou gevolg heelpad Kaap toe end dan weer Natal toe en na jou klein wittebrood in Lesotho, so moenie vir my vertel dat jy weet nie wie Albertina Buthelezi is nie (Erasmus, we followed you all the way to the Cape and then to Natal, before your little honeymoon in Lesotho, so don’t tell me you don’t know who Albertina Buthelezi is),” said the General, who was sweating on his brow.
Pieter had to do some quick thinking.
“Oh, Albertina is familie van Lindiwe (oh, Albertina, is family of Lindiwe),” he said.
The General slammed both his fists on the table but Pieter still did no flinch in his seated position.
“Erasmus, jy het een minuut om my die waarheid to vertel of anders met ek n plan maak met jou straatmate (Erasmus, you have one minute to tell me the truth or else I have to make a plan with your streetgirl),” threatened the General.
Pieter tried to use all his strength to stand up from his chair to confront the General, but his ankles were well and truely tied.
“Generaal, as jy n vinger op haar sit (General, if you lay a finger on her)…”
“Wat gaan jy dan maak, Erasmus, miskien moet ons die storie verander. Wat as ek nou n hele hand op jou sit in pleks van haar (what will you do, Erasmus, maybe we must change the story. What if I put a whole hand on you instead of her)?”
Pieter tried to wiggle his hands to freedom in the handcuffs but he had no chance.
“Generaal, ek weet niks van Albertina Buthelezi af nie (General, I don’t know anything about Albertina Buthelezi),” remarked Pieter.
The General caught the eye of one of his two henchmen and nodded. The powerfully-built Afrikaner stepped forward and kicked at one of the back legs of the chair that Pieter was seated on so that it fell over.
Pieter lay on the floor gazing up at the General and his two sidekicks who seemed to get a great sense of enjoyment of carrying out the orders on behalf of their leader.
“Dertig sekondes, Erasmus (thirty seconds, Erasmus),” said the General, as he stared at his wristwatch.
Pieter realised that he was about to be pounded by the General’s men.
“Albertina is Lindiwe se ouma en (Albertina is Lindiwe’s grandmother and) …”
The General interrupted.
“Jy mors my tyd, Erasmus (you are wasting my time, Erasmus),” said the General.
He turned to one of his men.
“Vat die straatmate na die tuiniere toe en hulle kan ver haar vir n paar ure verkrag (take the streetgirl to the gardeners and they can rape her for a few hours),” ordered the leader.
“Nee, wag (no, wait)!” shouted Pieter.
“Los vir die meisie. Albertina het by n lab gewerk naby waar jy ons gevang het (Leave the girl. Albertina worked at a laboratory near where you captured us).”
“En (and)?” asked the General as he glared down at Pieter, who lay motionless on the floor.
“Eendag was daar blykbaar n groot ontploffing by die lab en Albertina het bewisteloos geraak (one day apparently there was a big explosion at the laboratory and this left Albertina unconcious,” said Pieter.
“Dit is al wat ek weet (that is all that I know).”
“Erasmus, jy is een taai donner (Erasmus, you are one tough bastard),” remarked the General, with a wink to his henchmen, who lifted Pieter up in his chair before throwing him facefirst on the table.
“Na die ontploffing, het Albertina het vir n heel paar dae verdwyn en jy gaan vir ons vertel waarheen sy was end wat sy gesien het (after the explosion, Albertina disappeared for quite a few days, and you are going to tell us where she went and what she saw),” ordered the General.
Pieter remained silent so the General whispered some orders to one of the henchmen who left the room. He returned five minute later with three other military men, who carried in a large plastic bath filled with water.
“Is jy dors (are you thirsty)?” asked the General, and in a flash two of the sidekicks grabbed Pieter and dunked his head into the water, holding his face under for a good thirty seconds.
Pieter was hauled to the surface and began to cough the water out of his lungs.
“Ons kan dit die hele dag doen as jy wil (we can do this the whole day if you like),” grinned the General.
The treatment handed out to Pieter was mild compared to the way traitors are tortured in Zimbabwe. It is noted that at the Chikurubi prison outside of Harare, those who opposed the now late President Robert Mugabe, went through much pain.
A doctor was always on standby with some dirty rags. The so-called traitor’s pants and underwear would be removed and a security official would hammer a rusty nail into the foreskin of the man’s private parts. Needless to say, this brought with it excruciating pain for the prisoner.
Pieter shook his head and the water dropped from his hair on to the cement floor.
“Manne, kom ons gaan weer (men, let’s go again),” said the General to the sidekicks.
Pieter put up as much of a fight as he could, but the two Afrikaners that were holding his head in the water were simply too powerful.
This time, the men held Pieter’s head underwater for forty five seconds.
Pieter was eventually brought to the surface. He face seemed blue through the shortage of oxygen to his body. What Pieter did not know, was that the General was under orders from the government to get as much information out of the Lieutenant without killing him.
There was no way that the oppressor could get information out of a dead man.
“Kry die straatmate, kom ons sien of sy kan swem (fetch the streetgirl, let’s see if she can swim),” said the General to one of his henchmen.
“Wat wil julle weet (what do you want to know)?” asked Pieter, in between coughing water out of his lungs.
“Wat het Albertina Buthelezi gesien wat vir haar n pae dag laat wegbly het (what did Albertina Buthlezi see that kept her away for a few days)?” barked the General.
“Ek het vir jou vertel dat sy bewusteloos na die ontploffing was (I told you that she was unconscious after the explosion),”answered Pieter.
“Ja, maar seker nie vir sewe dae nie (yes, but probably not for seven days)?” snapped back the General.
“Sy het vir jou iets vertel dat jy besluit het om Natal toe te ry om verder uitvind. What het sy vir jou vertel? (She told you something that made you drive to Natal. What did she tell you)?”
Pieter shook his head with water still falling from his hair.
“Ons het nie geweet waarvoor ons soek nie, ons wou net die plek sien waar Albertina gewerk het (we didn’t know what we were looking for, we just wanted to see the place where Albertina used to work),” said the Lieutenant.
“Nie goed genoeg nie, Erasmus (not good enough, Erasmus),” said the General, before nodding to one of his colleagues.
“Bring die meisie (bring the girl).”
Of course, the General had no real plan to dunk Lindiwe headfirst into the water in the plastic bath. He just wanted to scare her enough that she would speak out to save the neck of her boyfriend.
“Generaal, een van die dae gaan die wit man terugstaan en Nelson Mandela gaan die eerste swart President van Suid-Afrika wees (General, one of these days the white man will stand back and Nelson Mandela will be the first black President of South Africa),” said Pieter.
The General laughed sarcastically.
“Oor my dooie liggaam (over my dead body),” he said.
Pieter shrugged his shoulders.
“As jy dit so wil he (if that is the way that you want it),” he quipped.
“Die swartes sal nie en kan nie ooit beheer oor Suid-Afrika oorneem nie (the blacks can’t and won’t ever rule in South Africa),” said the General with confidence.
Pieter could hardly blame the General for thinking that way as most white South Africans felt that if the blacks were to take over South Africa, they could well have tried to do so some time ago.
The Lieutenant only had one thing on his mind. He needed to protect Lindiwe Buthelezi at all cost. It was something that the old South Africa mindset would never understand, but then again, they didn’t need too. Pieter kept listening for more footsteps coming down the passage. How he hoped that he would not hear the henchmen marching Lindiwe to the room where he was!
Discuss This Chapter on Twitter
Download Black and White, edition-1, published at 20 May 2020. Download Other Editions