Chapter 31 – Twin Troubles
“Vat so (take this),” said Constable Jonker, as he threw a plastic bag filled with clothing to Lieutenant Pieter Erasmus.
“Van nou af is jy nie meer Pieter Erasmus nie maar sy identiese tweeling boetie, Kerneels Erasmus (from now on you are not Pieter Erasmus but his identical twin brother, Kerneels Erasmus).”
This plan was being put in place to try and keep the black uprising which had brough Pieter to the police station under control.
Pieter liked Jonker’s thinking. In a way the big policeman was almost too intelligent too be a cop, or at least too intelligent to be a Constable.
Pieter changed into the Constable’s grey t-shirt and black pants. The clothing was hopelessly too big for the Lieutenant, but right now beggars couldn’t be choosers. He tightened the belt of his pants as much as he could to avoid the trousers from falling down. He hoped that nobody he knew would spot him because firstly, he wasn’t used to being transported in a prison van, and secondly, he looked quite a sight with these large clothes.
“As iemand vra, ek het vir Pieter Erasmus Rustenburg toe gevat vir sy hof datum (if anyone asks, I took Pieter Erasmus to Rustenburg for his court date),” said Jonker, as he led Pieter to the back door of the office and out to the prison van.
“My loopbaan is op die spel hier boeta, die wat jy doen maak seker jy doen hom reg (my career is on the line here, brother, what you do make sure that you do it right.”
Jonker had found out that Lindiwe Buthelezi Snr had been airlifted to the Brits District hospital, which was about 50 kilometres from Marikana.
Jonker was driving at some speed and there were times when Pieter thought that the van that transported prisoners between the court and the holding cells, would overturn. However, the Almighty was clearly favouring him as the vehicle remained upright and made it to the hospital in Brits in less than an hour.
Jonker made sure that nobody was watching before he released Pieter from the back of the van.
“Onthou, jy is Kerneels Erasmus (remember, you are Kerneels Erasmus),” said Jonker with a grin.
Pieter entered the main door of the hospital with Jonker on his heels.
It was only on the trip to the hospital that Pieter had started to feel some sort of remorse for what he had done to Lindiwe. He felt little for the blacks who had been massacred in Marikana, just like they felt little about killing a policeman.
However, when all was said and done, he was after-all the father of Lindiwe Snr’s child. There had been a special bond between Pieter and Lindiwe Snr at one stage in their lives.
Jonker used his police identification to find out where Lindiwe was being treated.
“She is in surgery at the moment and the doctors will update you as soon as they are done with her,” said the black nurse at the reception desk.
“She was in a bad state when she arrived, but we have a good team of doctors here. We pray it all works out for the best.”
The nurse guided the two men into a waiting room and pointed towards the filter coffee pot which held some freshly brewed refreshment in it.
“Help yourselves,” she said, before leaving the room.
For the next forty minutes, Pieter sat motionless in a chair near the window. Only now was he beginning to understand the action that he had done and the outcome of it. Lindiwe may have been born black, but if she died here due to a bullet fired from his pistol, he would never be able to forgive himself.
Not for a moment did Pieter think how other black family members of the deceased at the Marikana Massacre felt in losing their loved ones. To Pieter, those blacks who were mowed down by police and security gunfire, were savages who were carrying out the devil’s mission to steal, kill and destroy. How could someone who called himself a human being, justify their low wages by attempting to burn down the offices of their employer?
No, man, thought Pieter. That is just hooliganism, nothing more and nothing less.
As Pieter sat in the chair, he watched the sun starting to move across the blue skies over the North West Province. Eventually, the bright light had moved right across. The time of day was starting to tick by, and Pieter was getting agitated.
The nurse had said that the doctor would brief them as soon as he was done with Lindiwe, but it was almost two hours now since they had arrived at the hospital. What could be taking so long.
The waiting room door was open, and he looked up just in time to watch two crying women leaving the hospital. Clearly, the person that they knew who had been in the surgery ward, had not escaped death. Surely, the same will not happen to Lindiwe, thought Pieter. This was surely not how her life would end?
He had lost her once already when he understood that she had died in giving birth to Lindiwe Buthelezi Jnr, and now having just found her, he simply could not lose her again.
Yes, they had both been involved in a showdown of racial hatred at the fuel station, and he had punched her, but how now he wished he had not.
Gender Based Violence was alive and well in various areas of South Africa and a white cop laying a punch on a black woman would certainly not go down too well in most sectors of society.
South Africa was going through a stage of women standing up against men. Some wanted out of relationships and a minority group of men could not handle being rejected. They went with the ‘if I can’t have you then no other men will’ philosophy. Women were being kidnapped, raped, and murdered at an alarming rate.
What led to this? A shortage of family values in society and in families seemed to be the answer. Many family members were looking wide of religion for answers and found themselves going on wrong paths in life. Also, broken families were another reason. Men with numerous wives, side-chicks, and other distractions, led to stress, violence, and the ultimate evil acts against women.
Now Pieter Erasmus was a part of this.
He had never seen any of his family members behave in this fashion and he was not a part of a circle of friends who carried on in that way either.
Pieter had a pretty good working relationship with the female cops at the police headquarters. He did not fancy any of them from a love perspective, but he found them to be pretty disciplined in their daily cop tasks, in fact, in most cases, more so than his male counterparts.
Another racist thought flashed through Pieter’s mind. He remembered his father telling him that black people are not sons and daughters of God. In-fact old man Erasmus’ understanding was that black people were created by Satan rather than by God. Therefore, black people did not go to heaven when they passed on. So, that meant that life on earth was a form of heaven to the blacks.
Not for a moment did Pieter think about the millions of black people who were living in shacks in squatter camps without water and electricity. In some cases, the municipalities were nice enough to put in toilets, with one cubicle used by about 20 to 30 families in an area in the township.
Old Man Erasmus was of the view that the blacks should have stayed in the rural areas instead of coming to the cities to look for work. That, in his mind, was what created the housing shortage.
Of course, jobs were scarce in the rural areas, hence the influx of black people to the cities, but Mr Erasmus would never be able to understand this.
Pieter began to wonder what would happen to his life. Surely a Commission of Enquiry would be called over the Marikana massacre and the Minister T.K. Muronga and Police Commissioner Lawrence Mathibe would surely put all the blame at his proverbial doorstep.
What would happen with his R4 million security deal to safeguard the Loxton Mine? That would surely be water and the bridge too but at least he had the R400 000 deposit money in his bank account, plus the R200 000 from the late Lucas Sithole.
Then there was the more serious case of his shooting of his former lover and soulmate, Lindiwe Buthelezi Snr. He had never intended this to happen, but most people would find his version of events hard to swallow.
At that moment, head surgeon, Doctor Henk Roux walked through the door, with his customary stethoscope flung over his should as seen in the movies.
Pieter sprung to his feet and was joined by Constable Jonker in greeting the doctor.
“Meneere, sy het baie bloed verloor, maar ons het die koeel uitgehaal en die wond toegemaak (sirs, she lost a lot of blood, but we took out the bullet and managed to close the wound),” said the doctor.
Pieter’s face tensed up.
“Wat is haar kaanse van oorlewing (what are her chances of survival)?” asked Pieter.
The doctor sighed.
“Kyk, met medisyne weet n mens nooit nie, maar ek dink ons sal n bietjie meer weet van hoe sy reageer so oor 24 uur van nou af (look, its never easy to say when medicine is involved, but I think we will have a better idea of how she is reacting to the medicine, in about 24 hours from now,” summarised Doctor Roux.
“Miskien moet julle huistoe gaan en n bietjie rus kry. Niks sal gebeur tussen nou en so 24 uure nie (Maybe you should go home and get some rest. Nothing will happen in the next 24 hours).”
The doctor turned and left the waiting room. If there was one thing that Pieter hated, it was not being in control of a situation. He was a man who paid attention to detail but now Lindiwe’s life hung in the balance, and he had no way of swaying the outcome.
“Konstabel, ek moet terug kom by die Loxton myn (Constable, I must get back to the Loxton Mine),” said Pieter to Jonker.
“Is jy mal, die swartes sal jou daar doodmaak (are you mad, the blacks will kill you there),” replied Jonker.
“Wel, dan ons moet terggaan na die polisiestasie toe en jy kan n polisievoortuig gebruik aangesien jy eintlik n polisieman is (well, then we need to get back to the police station and you can use a police vehicle seeing that you actually are a policeman),” suggested Jonker.
“Maar onthou, jy is Kerneels Erasmus vir die mense en Pieter Erasmus vir die baase (but remember, you are Kerneels Erasmus to the people and Pieter Erasmus to the bosses).”
Jonker gave Pieter his mobile phone back.
“Smaak my jy gaan dit gebruik (looks like you will need to use this),” he said, as he handed the communications device to the Lieutenant.
Three hours passed by before Pieter Erasmus drove through the Loxton Mine main gate. The crowd outside had subsided, but the media were ever present. He noticed a lot of flowers had been placed near the gate, where miners, policemen and security guards had lost their lives.
All the time, Pieter could not get his mind off Lindiwe. As much as he wanted to see black people lose their lives, he never for a moment thought that one of them would be Lindiwe. He had honestly believed that she had died while giving birth to Lindiwe Jnr and had left this earth many years ago.
Now she was back, but not the same Lindiwe Snr of old. As much as Pieter had grown his hatred towards the blacks, Lindiwe had developed the same hatred towards the whites. It was as if both their eyes had been opened to grasp the realities of the real South Africa.
So, Nelson Mandela’s Rainbow Nation dream was really a dream after all. Some dreams turn into reality, but clearly not this one.
At the main meeting room, Pieter was met by security man, Chris Chuene, who was over the moon to see him.
“Pieter, thank God you are back, I was worried about you,” said the black security man.
“The wives, sisters and daughters of the miners killed have got permission to march on the mine tomorrow morning. I know I am paid to defend the mine, but if things get hectic, I am not sure that I have the stomach to shoot down some women.”
“We all have to do what we have to do,” remarked the Lieutenant.
“Let us put the plan together. How many women are we expecting to strike?”
“About two hundred, but you know how it goes?” replied Chris, as he stared at the Loxton Mine precinct map infront of Pieter.
“Two hundred could easily become four hundred.”
“Well, this time, we need to secure the rear of the property as well, so we don’t have any surprises like last time,” ordered the Lieutenant.
“Definitely,” quipped Chris.
“I won’t be surprised if some of the men join in on the march as the hatred out there is quite severe,” added Pieter.
This time it was the turn of Chris to nod.
“Surely most of the work will be down to the cops this time as they will use rubber bullets, teargas and possibly water cannons?” asked Chris.
“You can never be too prepared,” replied Pieter.
Then Titus Magubane, the spokesperson for the Minister, arrived with some startling news.
“The strikers have applied to the court for permission for five hundred protestors to march on the mine tomorrow,” said the tubby-shaped man.
“What’s more, I heard that the court granted the permit for the protest to take place,” he added.
Pieter glanced at Chris as if to say, “You see what I mean?”
Chris shook his head.
“When will this all end, Pieter?” he exclaimed.
Pieter gritted his teeth together. This new revelation gave him another platform of potential black blood spillage.
In all this excitement he now had something that excited him more than Lindiwe’s life which was hanging by a thread in a hospital.
Pieter took out his colour markers and began to plan his colour-coded security plan. He noted that the Police Commissioner and the Minister were not in the room and inquired to Titus as to their whereabouts.
“They have been called to Pretoria for an urgent meeting,” replied Titus, who seemingly had his mobile phone glued to his ear as members of the media called in search of updates and other information.
One did not need to be a genius to work out as to why the Minister and the Police Commissioner had been called to the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
They were more than happy to go and to give their side of the story. Unbeknown to them, their principals had called them back to rebuke them. Yes, the leading authority in the country, wanted Lieutenant Pieter Erasmus to head up the defence of the Loxton Mine. The question was why?