Chapter 24 – If I was a Black Man
The sweat was falling from the face of Lieutenant Pieter Erasmus as he sipped on a glass of Harriers whisky. He could afford the upmarket alcohol, but right now he was not in a mood of celebration.
He had some serious decisions to make. What was he going to do about the two tender pitches that he was now a part of? It would only be a matter of time before his dark secret became known to the world.
He was in a damned of you do and damned if you do not situation. Who was he going to alienate? Lucas Sithole or Ace Mabuza and Vincent Khoza. Both parties had been so nice to him by paying large deposit sums into his personal bank account. Now there was a paper trail, and the Lieutenant could easily be the fall guy.
Of course, he had not yet resigned from the South African Police Services either, so that was another matter that to be taken care of.
Following the death of Lindiwe Buthelezi Snr, the vanishing of Lindiwe Buthelezi Jnr, and the crime and corruption that he saw as a policeman daily, Pieter detested the blacks more and more. Yet here he was receiving large payments from them. It was the blacks who would secure his financial future, not the whites, and all the cops could think about was the spilling of black blood.
Pieter took in a large sip of whisky. He had never been a big whisky fan, but he had felt that after the last few days, he needed to drink something a little stronger than beer.
By taking the offers from both parties he had put himself in a precarious position. Alright, Erasmus, wat sou jy gemaak het as jy swart gebore was (alright, Erasmus, what would you have done if you were born black), he wondered.
The Lieutenant shook his head. He could hardly imagine himself as a black man. Yet here he was trapped as a white man in a black man’s world.
Why did the blacks trust him so much? Was he going to be the fall guy when the tender process went pear-shaped? Did the blacks feel that he was gullible enough to take the bait? Were the blacks making a fool of him at their own financial expense? Pieter’s face tensed and he went into an aggressive mood. He did not care how much the blacks paid to him, but he would not be their white golliwog!
The term ‘golliwog’ was used a lot in the Apartheid era in relation to black people who were used by whites to achieve their own agendas.
In 1982, Lawrence Rowe’s West Indian rebel cricket side broke the international sports boycott of South Africa in exchange for US100 000 per player, to put the South African cricket side to the test. Around the world, the West Indians were sell-outs and golliwogs. Some even had the players, of black skin colour, down as honorary whites in Apartheid South Africa. Basically, the South African cricket bosses only allowed them to see certain things. The human rights abuse of black people by the white Apartheid police were kept under wraps.
Cricket players were paid poorly back then so the money offered by the South African Cricket Union would cover a player’s mortgage bond and much, much more. For their sin, the West Indian players got life bans from international and island cricket back home. The ban was eventually lifted in 1992, but by then most of the players were closer to retirement age from the sport.
So, were they really the Apartheid regime’s golliwogs? Did these visiting blacks dance to the tune of the whites in South Africa?
Team captain Rowe will answer ‘no’. He will tell you that they were just a bunch of professionals looking to earn a living by playing cricket and were of the belief that a black visiting team playing in South Africa, would speed up in the interest in the game in the black communities.
Was Pieter in the same position at Rowe?
Was he the white golliwog? The blacks pulled the strings and Pieter would do a merry dance to safeguard his super, duper pay-day?
He could align himself with Rowe’s thinking. He was just a man on a mission to earn a living.
The difference was that back in the early 1980s when the West Indians toured South Africa, protests the tour were not allowed. Any blacks who protested were simply arrested or beaten with the familiar sjambok that left scars for life on the bodies of those who dared to stand up against the Apartheid government.
Things would be different in Pieter’s case, as he smiled more and more on his plan to have black on black violence when the security and police opened fire with live ammunition on the striking mineworkers.
He could see the situation playing out in his mind and could hear the gunshots. Ah, yes, life was going to be good. No, no, life was going to be great!
Pieter knew the Bible principle well that man could only love God or money, and not both. He likened the situation to the fact that he could only be loyal to Lucas Sithole or the Ace Mabuza/Vincent Khoza group.
His biggest fear was that he was selling his soul to the blacks. What would Lindiwe Buthelezi Snr or Lindiwe Buthelezi Jnr have advised him to do?
Or quite simply, what would they have done if they were in his position? It was difficult to say as neither were around. Did the two consortium groups see Pieter as a liberal? Man, oh man, how wrong they would be on that one. Or worse, did they see him as a black man trapped in a white skin? Pieter gritted his teeth. There was nothing black about him and there never would be, he fumed in his mind.
So, did Pieter have a plan to use the Apartheid era sjambok weapon on the mineworkers like the white cops had used on dissident voices during minority rule?
Of course, yes. The miners’ lives were cheap in the eyes of Pieter. He had a National Party mindset just like his parents used to have. The only reason his parents did not vote for the Conservative Party in the mid-1980s to 1990s, was that they were clever enough to know that Andries Treunicht’s party simply did not have the numbers to make a big different to cement white minority rule. Yes, the Erasmus family did feel that the National Party were too lenient towards the blacks and this was proved with the release of Nelson Mandela and the unbanning of the ANC. However, the general feeling in South Africa in the late 1980s, was that the Apartheid system would be around for another ten to twenty years.
Despite international sanctions, there were still enough undercover allies to keep the National Party smiling.
However, all of that came to nought when F.W. de Klerk took over from P.W. Botha as President in 1989, after the latter had found out that several of his cabinet ministers were talking to the exiled ANC in Lusaka, Zambia, without his consent.
“Ma en pa, vergewe my (mom and dad, forgive me),” muttered Pieter, as he thought of how disappointed his parents would be in knowing that their son was now the yes-man for black businessmen.
Of course, his parents might have seen things differently if they had known how much money their son was being paid for certain projects.
Would Mr Erasmus Snr trade his pride for money like Pieter was doing? Hardly likely. Many of the older Afrikaners were very strong in mindset.
To them, the black man was a criminal and a terrorist who was on a mission to take over South Africa and wipe out the white population. This theory would run through the minds of conservative white South Africans for years to come as farm murders became a regular feature on news bulletins.
Pieter remembered that he had a life policy in place. He paid R350 a month for R800 000 life cover. Now all of his earthly belongings would be left to his parents. Had Lindiwe Snr or Jnr been around, things would have been different but apart from his parents, there was nobody else for him to leave his money and goods too if he passed on.
With a good R2 million or R4 million to come his way soon, things would change for the better soon. What would he do after the Loxton Mine project? Would he settle down and find the right girl to start a family with or would he continue to play the lone ranger role and carry out similar security operation for Lucas Sithole or Ace Mabuza in other African countries, as both had eluded too?
Pieter did not know the answer. Right now, he was more concerned about the issue of how to handle the problem that faced him. Lucas Sithole or Ace Mabuza/Vincent Khoza? He had read on the internet about death threats going the way of certain persons who had turned state witnesses against Ace Mabuza during the corruption case.
Pieter shrugged his shoulders, supposing that it was par for the course in the industry that he was in.
The cop turned on his computer and connected to the internet. He was quite amazed at the world of the internet which had been around in South Africa since 1995. He had a host of information at his fingertips within seconds.
He began to Google for more about Ace Mabuza and it did not take him long to find some of the dirt.
So, Ace Mabuza had been a political activist from his teenage years. He had grown up in the Eastern Cape and had attended the University of Fort Hare. Unfortunately, he did not finish his Business Management degree there as he had been arrested for his political activism.
Pieter noted a side story which suggested that the real reason why Ace Mabuza may have been asked to leave was because he was involved in the drug trade there. However, the youngster’s father, Diamond Mabuza was a wealthy businessman and it seemed that the police docket about Ace Mabuza’s arrest had mysteriously disappeared.
Diamond Mabuza spent much time out of the country on international trading business and he took young Ace with from time to time. Of course, you cannot get into certain countries if one has a criminal record, so it seemed that Diamond had paid someone to lose his son’s criminal record file.
There were no angels out there. Pieter knew that.
The Lieutenant read on.
He was desperately looking for any bad news on Diamond Mabuza but could not see any. It seemed that his son, Ace, was the bad apple in the family barrel.
As he was about to close the page on the internet, Pieter’s eye caught on to the word ‘Diamond’. Hang on! What is this now? Diamond Mabuza used a different name. Yes, he was also known as Clement Morewa. Pieter read with intent. Why would squeaky-clean Diamond use a different first name and surname?
It did not take Pieter long to work out the answer as he Googled Loxton Mine. Of course, it had to be. There was a non-executive director listed as C. Morewa sitting on the firm’s board.
Wow! So, Diamond Mabuza or Clement Morewa or whatever his name was, was setting the platform for his son, Ace Mabuza, to walk away with the security tender. This was not only a conflict of interest. This was first class fraud!
Pieter then went to the internet page which listed the corruption cases that Ace Mabuza was involved in. Mdetsane Metals, Cape Steel and a new investment institution called Eastern Finance. You guessed it. A closer look at the directors of all the firms, saw a C. Morewa sitting on these boards too.
So daddy was batting for junior!
Where did this leave Pieter? Would do the right thing and blow the whistle? Would he sing like a canary to Loxton Mine to warn them of what was about to happen?
No. Pieter Erasmus was no longer loyal to his police badge. He was loyal to his bank account and his main goal of creating black on black violence.
This still did not answer his question on whether to back Lucas Sithole or the Mabuza conmen. If he went with the Mabuza group, he would almost be assured of victory. However, he might also be assured of a jail term too.
Even though he could not find much bad news on Lucas Sithole, that didn’t mean that there wasn’t any. Again, good honest men were hard to find at this level of business.
Time was ticking for Pieter Erasmus. He needed to decide soon before the decision got made for him. Would he cry crocodile tears if Vince Khoza called him to say that they had found out about his deal with Lucas Sithole and he was fired from the Ace Mabuza group? Hell, yes. That piece of business was twice the amount of the Lucas Sithole offer.
Of course, the reality existed that if he were not honest, he could potentially lose out on both pitches.
The industry had a strange way of seeing the hard workers falling on the sword or becoming the sacrificial lamb. This time Pieter was not only the hard worker. He was also the meat in the middle of the sandwich. Both slices of bread needed him and there was no way to escape. However, things could get hot if someone added too much pepper to the sandwich.
Pieter began to think of persons who would dearly like to see him fail. He could think of many of his police colleagues who would like to see him trip up, purely based on jealousy.
The Lieutenant felt like he was a pressure cooker like the one that his mother had cooked food in as he grew up. His blood pressure was close to boiling point and his nervous system was on the brink of breakdown.
Pieter felt like his heart was about to jump out of his chest. Was he on the verge of a heart attack? The sooner he made this business decision between the two tenders, the better.
Of course, that was easier said than done. His bank account looked so good with R600 000 in it. Now he would need to either pay back R400 000 or R200 000. Hey, maybe Ace Mabuza or Lucas Sithole would let him keep the cash, as mentioned in the respective conversations. However, that chat was based on the deal going sour, not on Pieter pulling out to throw in his lot with another group pitching for the same business.
It was decision time. Lindiwe Snr and Jnr, what would you do here, thought the cop?