Chapter Thirty-Two – For Love of Thy Country
Lieutenant Pieter Erasmus pulled into a fuel station just outside of Pretoria. He felt that his mind was boiling over. He needs a Coca Cola to quench his thirst. As he walked into the small cafe at the petrol station, he began to wonder how things would be in a New South Africa. How he wished he could phone Lindiwe Buthelezi right now. Hey, Erasmus, maybe in the New South Africa, they will even have cordless phones that one can carry in a shirt pocket? Who knows?
All he wanted right now was to hear Lindiwe’s voice and to know that she was safe. He consumed the Coca Cola, which did the trick in making him feel human again on a typically hot day in the Transvaal.
Pieter’s mind was starting to get the better of him, as he returned to the vehicle. He couldn’t help but to look in the rear view mirror every few seconds to see if he was being followed. Just how far could he trust Professor J.G Strijdom and the security service men? On the other hand, what choice did he really have?
The Lieutenant steered the vehicle into Mamelodi township. When black people saw him, they turned and ran away. Afterall, whether he liked it or not, he was seen by the masses as an ambassador for white minority dominance.
Pieter’s mind was racing in a different direction. Could the ones running away from him be spies who are reporting back to their principals. Surely not! Black people reporting into the white powerholders!
He had heard that many black people were on the white payroll. There were even some black men who served in security firms, and were promised greater things in time to come. The promises were received but never delivered on. It made Pieter think of PW’s Cabinet Minister, Piet Koornhof, who earned the nickname of ‘Piet Promises’. Houses were promised to the people. Today still, the people are still waiting.
Pieter was having a Demascus moment just like Paul did in the Biblical days. Paul was a staunch caller for the ending of Christianity and the stoning to death of Stephen, who promoted the Bible.
Yet, after receiving a revelation from above on the road to Damascus, Paul went on to become one of the most famous Apostles of all time.
Pieter felt like he was Apostle Paul. His eyes had been opened, not in Damascus but in Pretoria, Mamelodi, Mbabane and other places too. It was like God was showing him something which were not been shown to everyone. That ‘something’ was called ‘the future’.
He brought the vehicle to a halt outside the home of Albertina Buthelezi and made his way to the front door.
The old woman greeted the Lieutenant with a smile.
“I had to come see you,” said Pieter.
“You and the rest of the South African security services,” grinned Albertina.
“So they were here?” he asked in rhetorical fashion.
The old woman nodded.
“About six of them arrived, but it was so obvious to me that they has tried to get information out of Lindiwe and you without any luck,” said Albertina.
“All they seemed to know was that the Springboks will win the 1995 Rugby World Cup in Johannesburg.”
“Well, I had to tell them something,” he said.
Both the policeman and the elderly black woman laughed. This was another watershed moment in South African history, with black and white laughing together in apartheid South Africa.
“Where is Lindiwe?” asked Pieter, as he got his thoughts back to reality.
“You missed her by about an hour,” replied Albertina, as she tucked a tissue under the cuff of the right sleeve of her grey blouse.
“She has gone back to Pretoria and then will be off to Cape Town, and is fully aware that you will follow.”
Pieter puffed out his cheeks.
“Did you know that the ‘Looking Glass’ is still in existence, and is being used by PW Botha’s team?” he asked.
“Nothing surprises me when it comes to your people,” said Albertina.
“They will sell out their own mothers if it means they will make an extra Rand on to their salaries. They don’t care about black lives, and if one or two whites have to perish to meet their agenda, then so be it too.”
Pieter stood firm.
Would the South African security men take him out if he got to close to Robben Island? Was this the last stand of white power? Was Lieutenant Pieter Erasmus going to be the sacrificial lamb?
It was as if a spirit inside of Pieter was at work. He felt an urge to head towards Rita’s Koffeekroeg in Pretoria Central Business District, where he had found Lindiwe Buthelezi and Louise Burrell once before.
As he parked a few hundred metres away from the coffee shop, Pieter looked at the passers-by who all seemed in a hurry to make their way down the pavement to wherever they needed to go. He hoped that he would spot Lindiwe, but then again, he also knew that every day wasn’t Christmas.
As he wiped the sweat from his brow, the Lieutenant stepped from his vehicle and locked it, before heading to the coffee bar. As per usual, the place was frequented by older white women who, it seemed, quite simply had nothing better to do than sit and gossip over a cup of coffee, while knitting clothes for their grandchildren.
Pieter’s eyes ran riot over the coffee bar. He was using a touch of faith combined with an even bigger dosage of luck.
“Pieter!” screamed a woman to his left.
Tears began to flow down the face of Lindiwe Buthelezi, as she saw that the love of her life was alive and well. She ran over and embraced the Lieutenant.
Two women seated at a table near the window, gasped.
“Sien jy dit nou, Magdalena, die maid het vir daai wit man omhels. Die land het geen toekoms nie (See now, Magdalena, the maid hugged that white man. This country does not have a future).”
Neither Pieter nor Lindiwe cared much about how people were looking at them. Not even, when another grey-haired Afrikaner woman shouted at Pieter: “Is dit hoe jou ma vir jou grootgemaak het? Jy kan nie met die maid se dogter slaap nie (Is that how your mother raised you? You can’t sleep with the maid’s daughter)!”
Some of the customers in the coffee bar giggled at the remark. Others just looked away to avoid witnessing this scene of black and white embarrassment. A black girl hugging a white man… no man, this was simply not right!
Eventually, Pieter and Louise sat down at a table near the kitchen area of the restaurant. There were few people seated there, which gave the pair a sense of relief.
“I thought that I would never see you again,” sobbed Lindiwe.
“I thought that the security services men may have killed you.”
“They tried their best to drown the information out of me,” he said.
“What I did find out is that the ‘Looking Glass’ is still working somewhere south of the original destination. The government is using it to try and find out more about the future. As much as the government’s hates to admit it, they are aware that Nelson Mandela will be released from prison sometime in the future, and that he will go on to become the President of South Africa, but they want to know more. This is why they have been so keen to find out what Albertina Buthelezi saw when she was in the future.”
“You know what the government’s biggest fear is?” she questioned rhetorically.
“They do not want white and black to mix and produce mixed raced children. You know how former President Hendrik Verwoerd fought that races should be kept apart, with the touching of black and white not even allowed?”
“Most white people will not understand that black people are also humans just like them, unless they are prepared to interact with them, but of course, governmental laws do not allow for that,” explained Pieter.
Lindiwe adjusted the rubber band that kept her hair pinned in a ponytail behind her head.
“That will all change soon, Pieter,” she remarked.
“The New South Africa is imminent. It is just around the corner and it will happen whether the National Party likes it or not. I have this feeling that P.W. Botha will not be a part of the leadership by then. I could be wrong, but my gut feel tells me that.”
Pieter thought for a moment before responding.
“Do you think that Botha will perish in the process?” he asked.
Lindiwe shook her head.
“I don’t think so, I just have a feeling that the more open-minded members of cabinet may unseat him from power in some way or another,” she said.
It would turn out to be the latter, as Botha suffered a stroke in 1989, which saw him become an irrational, inconsistent leader and lose the support of his cabinet. This allowed F.W. de Klerk to firstly take poll position in the National Party from Botha, before becoming the country’s No 1.
“What about Mandela?” asked Pieter.
“I believe that Mandela is on Robben Island, I really do,” she said.
“We need to get to him before the wrong people do. I think we have enough time on the road from Pretoria to Cape Town to work out our plan of how to get access to Mandela.”
Pieter grinned and pushed back on his chair.
It was time to hit the road again. He felt tired after the long drive from Natal to Pretoria, but this was no time for the weak.
If something evil happened to Mandela before he got there with Lindiwe, it was all over bar the shouting for South Africa. There would not be a New South Africa, goodness knows if there would be a South Africa at all.
As he headed out of the door of the coffee shop, he saw the shadow of a man move. Was he being spied on by the security services or was his mind playing games with him yet again?
He moved out into the open at speed, but there was no sign of any individual keeping an eye on him.
Erasmus, you can’t lose your mind… not now!
Once in the vehicle, Pieter drove to a nearby fuel station to fill the tank of the car. The Lieutenant’s eyes were fixed on the fuel price per litre. 37 cents!
Phew, Erasmus, soon fuel will be worth as much as gold!
It would be another fifteen hours before Pieter and Lindiwe would arrive in Cape Town. They chatted freely along the way, although Lindiwe had a good nap in between. Pieter, of course, couldn’t nap as he was behind the steering wheel of the car. He did his best to travel at a maximum but safe speed of one hundred kilometres per hour down the highway.
From time to time he did two things. One was to keep an eye in the rear view mirror to make sure that they were not being followed. The second habit that he got into, was to glance at Lindiwe, who was sleeping in the passenger seat next to him.
Her face seemed so at peace with the world. If she wasn’t a symbol of how blacks would contribute towards a peaceful, democratic South Africa, then Pieter didn’t know what would be.
The sun had long since set. How Pieter wished that Lindiwe could also drive a vehicle. He had spent too many hours behind the steering wheel for his liking and his eyes were beginning to look across each other due to tiredness.
He needed to take an hour nap but then again that would be one hour lost in the race to get to Cape Town. Eventually, he had no choice and pulled into a fuel station on the northern side of Beaufort West in the Karoo, which is 462 kilometres away from Cape Town.
He tried to keep his eyes open for as long as he could, but eventually, sleep overwhelmed his body.
It felt like he had just shut his eyes, when a burning sensation hit his right forearm. The sun was up and piercing heat on to his body. Pieter checked the time. It was 9am. He had been asleep for a good nine hours. This was not a part of the plan. The last thing that he wanted was for the New South Africa to be ruined because he had fallen asleep at his post!
Pieter turned the ignition key to start the engine of the Toyota Carolla, and the jolt of life to the vehicle, caused Lindiwe to wake up.
“Where are we?” she asked.
“Beaufort West, about five hours away from Cape Town,” replied Pieter.
Lindiwe yawned and wanted to go back to sleep, but then remembered that they needed to formulate a plan to get on to Robben Island and to access Mandela. Both agreed that they needed a third point to this triangle. They needed to find a good samaritan who would see the full picture and take them to the promised land.
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