Chapter 33 – Pieter’s Worst Nightmare
“What new fucking evidence?” roared Lieutenant Pieter Erasmus.
“The Farlam Commission is over.”
Vincent Khoza chose his words carefully on the other end of the call.
“Pieter, it looks like money has changed hands to reopen the commission and I mean lots of money,” said Ace Mabuza’s right hand man.
Pieter began to sweat. He could feel the spirits of Lindiwe Buthelezi Snr and Jnr laughing at him.
So you thought you could get away with murdering blacks, Pieter? Well karma is a nasty thing, don’t you think?
Pieter did not like to be scoffed at, especially by the blacks.
“Vincent, for fuck sake, I did my job, and I even went further to keep Mabuza’s name in the clear,” said Pieter, in a huff.
“Look, Pieter, you are preaching to the converted here, I know what you did to help us. However, there seems to be a move by a third force to make you into the fall guy.”
“Then why did they not do this when the Farlam Commission was on?” asked the cop.
Vincent could not answer the question.
“Who is behind all of this now?” questioned Pieter.
Again, Vincent was not able to answer the question, although he had a hunch on what was about to go down and Pieter would not like it one bit.
The laughter of Lindiwe Snr and Jnr were like daggers in Pieter’s back. He felt a burning sensation.
Pieter pushed open the curtain of the lounge window in his apartment and stared at the cloudy skies hovering over Pretoria.
As he focused on the white lining in front of the blue, he could almost make out two faces staring back at him. Was he losing his mind or were Lindiwe Snr and Jnr really having their best laugh at his expense?
Of course, Pieter had not seen Lindiwe Snr since that day at the hospital. He had decided to cut all ties with the Buthelezi mother and daughter, whether they were alive or not.
His parents were right. The blacks were bastards, all of them.
“Vince, if you hear anything about who is behind the opening of the Farlam Commission, please let me know,” said Pieter.
Vincent agreed and ended the call.
The cop ran his hands over his short hair. This was the last thing that he now needed. As far as he was concerned, his life was moving on. He had received two quote requests for security services and was still receiving his monthly police salary, but that was due to incompetence in the accounts department at police headquarters. He was not going to complain about that.
Pieter began to cast his thoughts towards who was so bitter that they were happy to throw millions of Rands in a bid to reopen the Farlam Commission.
His first thought was that it could possibly be a ploy by the South African Police Services. It was quite possible that he was not the only consultant working for the Loxton Mine. Goodness knows, if the President of the country was really involved too, how many others were on the take?
Pieter took out a writing pad and blue ballpoint pen. Seated in the lounge, he began to make a list of potential people who had been key role-players in the Loxton Mine affair.
First up was Lucas Sithole. Pieter had never seen the body of the man who had been shot dead on route to the meetings in Marikana, but he took the cops’ words for it. Was he wrong to do that? Sithole had been buried. Pieter shook his head. It was highly unlikely that the businessman was still alive, but he put a question mark next to Sithole’s name.
Next, he wrote down the name of Ace Mabuza and Vincent Khoza. The pair had been so good to him that they had even paid him another R400 000 to go with the R400 000 that he had received from them as a deposit. Vince had mentioned that Mabuza was impressed with Pieter’s loyalty during the Farlam Commission, so that made them safe in the eyes of the suspended cop. Pieter put a tick of confidence next to their names.
What about Police Commissioner Lawrence Mathibe? He was a definite threat. The top cop had wanted his own consortium to get the security tender to guard the Loxton Mine. Pieter drew a bracket around Mathibe’s name.
T.K Muronga, the Minister of Energy and Mineral Affairs, was a prime suspect in the mind of Pieter. Like most, Pieter agreed with the philosophy that there was no such thing as an honest politician.
Money makes a man’s mind go wild, especially in South Africa.
Wie nog? Dink, Erasmus, dink! (who else? Think, Erasmus, think!)
What about all the family members of the miners and security men who had been shot dead during Pieter’s protection of the Loxton Mine? Did some of them have rich relatives who were on a mission to see justice served by exposing Pieter as the mastermind behind the shedding of the blood of black men?
He never knew the answer to this question, but anything was possible. Pieter could remember the anger in the eyes of the blacks as he drove out of the mine. They were as racist as he was. Their loved ones had been killed by a group of their own skin colour who were under the command of an Afrikaner.
He could even remember hearing the famous ant-Apartheid war cry of ‘Kill the boer, kill the farmer’ being chanted that day.
Logic had been tossed out of the window. That day had been a black vs white situation and Pieter suddenly realised that had it not been for the armed security men and police support at the gate of the mine, he could well had not made it home alive.
The point was he did arrive home safely. Fuck those blacks, he thought. If they knew how to behave themselves then none of this would not have happened!
Like the Apartheid era leaders, Pieter did not believe that the blacks had the right to protest. Why could not they behave like their civilised white counterparts, he thought.
If God wanted black people in positions of authority, he would have made them of white skin colour, assumed Pieter.
The general feeling among the conservative-minded white cops who knocked back beers with Pieter when off-duty, was that the blacks were born followers, not leaders. Quite simply put, as one Afrikaner cop said, they could not organise a piss-up in a brewery.
Pieter remembered a scene that had taken place in the early 1980s when a dark-skinned man, said to be white, moved into their street in Pretoria. The man’s name was Jeff Salt and most of the Afrikaners in the area believed that the man was a coloured.
Nee man, die hotnot (hottentot) kan nie hier bly nie. Hierdie gebied is net vir wit mense (no man, the hottentot can’t live here. This area is only for white people), was the general outcry.
Pieter’s father believed that Jeff Salt could well be white but of a dark skin.
“As hy nie wit was nie, so sy naam Jeff Peper gewees het en nie Jeff Sout nie (If he wasn’t white, his name would be Jeff Pepper and not Jeff Salt),” said Mr Erasmus, as his Afrikaner neighbours roared with laughter.
The letters flowed from the pens of the conservatives to the government offices, calling for Jeff Salt to be checked out, and if found not to be white, to then be removed.
Of course, there were many mixed-race situations, with the coloured child, claiming to be white, going to a whites-only government school, where the standard of education was far superior to the black, Asian, or coloured schools. The truth only came out when a relative passed on, and the deceased was buried in a black or coloured area. South Africa was a strange place back in the 1980s. To many, despite the ANC coming to power in 1994, little had changed.
Pieter returned his thoughts to the Farlam Commission issue.
He was not afraid of confrontation but was not looking forward to another showdown with that mean Advocate Dali Mhlaba.
Pieter viewed Mhlaba as the type of black person who lived in a previously white suburb and who thought that due to his education and ability to command the English language, thought that he was superior to people of his own skin colour.
Jy hou jou wit, ne (you think you are white, hey), went through Pieter’s mind on many occasions when he was being put to the sword by Mhlaba in the witness stand during the Farlam Commission.
Pieter gnashed his teeth together out of frustration as he tried to work out who wanted to reopen the Farlam Commission and why.
If a civil case had been opened, that would be different, but to restart the Farlam Commission was something else.
He remembered what a dominee (preacher in the Afrikaans church) had once talked about. The higher you go, the greater the anointing but the more people will want to pull you back down to their level.
Pieter phoned his mentor, Colonel Jaap Cornelius to update him of the latest happenings. He could hear from Jaap’s voice that the cop knew little about what was going on; therefore he was sure that the move was not the doings of the South African Police Services.
It had to be from governmental level, thought Pieter. Everyone seemed to have their based covered except for him. Suddenly he realised that he had the most to lose.
Vincent Khoza phoned again.
“Pieter, the Farlam Commission hearing will happen in Pretoria from Monday next week,” said Vince.
“I believe that you will receive official correspondence in terms of an invitation to be present.”
Pieter was developing a gut feeling that good old Vince could possibly know more than he was letting on.
“Vince, you know who is behind all of this,” said Pieter sternly.
“Spill the beans.”
Vince gulped and paused for a while before speaking.
“Pieter, I honestly don’t know who is behind the reopening of the commission,” said Ace Mabuza’s sidekick.
“It would seem that some people are still not prepared to accept the outcome of the initial commission.”
“Why, Vince, why?” yelled Pieter.
“Look, Pieter, I don’t know why, you must believe me,” uttered Vince.
“I only know bits and pieces and pass on the information as I receive it from my boss.”
Boss? Suddenly Pieter’s eyes lit up.
What did Ace Mabuza stand to gain by having the commission reopened.
“Vince, is it Ace who is behind all of this?” asked the cop.
Vincent Khoza produced a nervous cough.
“Ace thinks very highly of you, Pieter, and he is very grateful to you for not mentioning our dealings at the Farlam Commission,” said Vince.
Pieter remained silent for a moment. Something was not adding up in his mind. Mabuza was under huge pressure on some other tender charges. Had he cut a deal with the authorities and sung like a canary about his deal with Pieter? If so, the authorities could well cool off on the other charges. Right now, the country was looking for a scapegoat and it seemed highly unlikely that it would be a black one!
Pieter was quickly learning that this was an ‘each man for himself game’, in other words, ‘I’m alright, Jack, how are you?’ Each person was playing to save their own stake. Teamwork was clearly not at the top of the agenda.
“Vince, we have worked well together, but I hope that you are telling me the truth here as my neck could be on the line,” remarked Pieter in a tense tone.
“I hope I am not going to find that Mabuza is about to sing a different song at the hearing and sell me down the river. I don’t like swimming on a good day.”
Vince held back a laugh.
“Pieter, I am damn sure that it is not Ace Mabuza who is going to sell you out, besides, we are not even sure if it is you who is going to be the fall-guy,” said Vince.
“Ace will protect you; you have my work on that.”
Pieter sniggered. That was all well and good, but how much was Vince’s word worth?
“Listen, if you are feeling unsafe, I can get Ace to send some of his bodyguards to safeguard your home,” offered Vince.
“Just give me the address and I will make it happen.”
Another alarm bell rang in Pieter’s mind. The last thing he wanted was for anyone to know where he lived. He could visualise the newspaper headlines in his mind. Cop gunned down mafia style in the heart of Pretoria.
Pieter wanted to end the call with Vince as soon as possible before more offers were made.
“I appreciate that, Vince, but I am all good for now,” said Pieter.
“I will keep your offer in mind if things start getting heated. You take care and let me know if you hear anything else.”
Pieter ended the call. All along, he had believed that Vince Khoza was a straight-down-the-line type of guy, but now his inner self was starting to wonder.
That night, Pieter sat down in the kitchen of his apartment to an evening meal of sardines on toast. He stared at his meal. How appropriate the food was because something very fishy was going on with the Farlam Commission.
Two hours later, he drifted off to sleep, but the peace was broken by the sound coming from his mobile phone device.
The person calling Pieter was phoning from a private number so the cop could not identify the call or phone back.
Pieter answered and the words that were said would stay with him forever.
“Bat for Mathibe and Muronga or your time on earth is soon over!” said the caller.
“We know where you live.”
The caller immediately hung up but the words stuck like knives in Pieter’s heart.
So, Police Commissioner Mathibe and Minister Muronga were in the mix in a bid to restore their fallen statuses. Ace Mabuza’s name had not been mentioned.
Pieter began to see himself as the white sheep in the black kraal. He realised that his services were no longer required and that he was disposable.
His next thought was as to how the caller and his cronies knew where he stayed.
Well, with Police Commissioner Mathibe involved, Pieter’s whereabouts could easily be traced through the police database.
In a state of panic, Pieter dialled the number of Colonel Jaap Cornelius.
“Jaap, hulle kom vir my (Jaap, they are coming for me),” said Pieter.
“Wie, Erasmus (who, Erasmus)?” asked the Colonel.
“Ek is nie heeltemal seker nie maar ek dink Mathibe en Muronga is n kluge en wil vir my onder die bus gooi (I am not entirely sure, but I think that Mathine and Muronga are in cahoots and want to throw me under the bus),” explained Pieter.
“Jy kan nie daar by jou plek bly nie, kom na my huis toe (you can’t stay at your place, come to my home),” offered Jaap.