Chapter 3: Find These Dogs


The last spade of fertile brown soil was thrown on Junior’s tomb by Junior’s sweating friends at the gravesite. The funeral service was over. They had cried. The whole family had cried. Dr Bhoyi had regained his composure after losing it when the coffin was lowered. After the final prayer, Dr Bhoyi asked all the mourners to pass by his home to “wash their hands” as tradition dictates. Soon, after close family had left, Dr Bhoyi was left by himself at the grave. He mounted the wooden cross he had been carrying at the summit of the tomb. It was all too surreal for him. He hadn’t had time to fully process it. The life of a brother whom he had loved with all of his heart had ended in the blink of an eye. A week after his death, there was still no explanation why his brother was murdered in such a cruel manner. Questions mounted with no answers. “Ulale kahle mfo kababa”, and wiped a tear. He did the catholic sign of the cross. Went back to his car and drove home.

On the evening of that heavy Saturday saw a few family members remaining after many friends and neighbours had left the Mongezi home. Odd enough, despite laying him to rest just that day, it felt like Junior would appear in the house doing odd chores with his cousins like any member of his family.

Dr Bhoyi was feeling drained. He sat at the lounge with his old friend Zweli who was as busy as he was, and had been helping him prepare for the funeral.

“I called Constable Sishi again yesterday afternoon”, Zweli began, “but that guy seems fucking dom to me. Even when he speaks, it’s as if he is clueless about police work or about this case”

“Anyway”, he continued, “at the moment the case is with Detective Mthimkhulu. He is a veteran at detective the station. So, my hopes are up. Sozozithola lezinja. The red Mazda 6 that was seen at the crime scene is suspected to have been stolen as well.  Apparently there is a certain Mr. Jammie Moodley from Woodcliff West who laid a charge of his red Mazda 6 as stolen from his property two days before the incident ya Junior. It matches exactly the one they saw at the scene. Only problem is nobody seem to have taken down the number plate.”

Dr Bhoyi listened quietly.

“At the moment, they have some leads. But they won’t divulge any further information to us until they have solid evidence.”

“So mfwethu”, he continued, “you must know that you are not alone in this matter. We share the pain along with you. Umfana wama-Danone, was also my young brother.”

“Thank you Zweli my brother”, responded Dr Bhoyi.

“To be honest with you, my family has needlessly drowned in a pool of tears. I am fucking angry. My mind is swinging like a pendulum from one emotion to another. At one moment I have this inner rage that I want to take out on any thug la elokshin. ODuvo, oSbonkiri, oVosho – all these fucking dogs! They’ve been stealing here at Vukuzenzele for a long time bro. And, we all know them. If I take just one out, I would have saved the community a big headache. At the same breadth, I’m worth a lot to my family right now. If mom lost me to prison, I think her old heart could not be able to take it. If I saw mom from a prison cell, I wouldn’t be able to cope. I’m effectively caught between a rock and a hard place.”

“Yazi ini”, he continued, “Perhaps we should also look for a P.I. I just want someone to do an earnest investigation. Someone to give us answers about who were those three guys in that red Mazda. Yazi Zweli bro, I think I’m beginning to lose my mind now. I have tail followed every red Mazda I have seen this week. I have even followed harmless white grannies.”

“Don’t worry bro”, Zweli interjected, “I understand completely. It will take a little while to get used to the new situation we find ourselves in. But we can’t make rush decisions. Let’s reconvene in a few days’ time to come up with a solid plan. Zonke Mtolo is our strong witness that we can rely on. If we talk to her a little bit more, we’ll probably find out other information or potential witnesses.”

“Tell me ..uRalph Mhlongo, is he still a cop at the police station? Perhaps he can help us”, asked Dr Bhoyi in a desperate attempt for some answers.

The soft but animated talks between the two went on until the dead of the night. Zweli was the absolute last one of the friends to go, leaving mama Mongezi, Dr Bhoyi, cousins Fikelephi and Khosi at the Mongezi home.

Weeks went by without any positive news from SAPS. Dr Bhoyi had gone back to work at his surgery after a three weeks sabbatical. He found that immersing himself in work insulated him from the thoughts and pain of Juniors passing away. Even though he was a warm and friendly doctor, some of his regular patients could tell that he was not himself. His girlfriend and secretary, Sbahle, who was familiar with what had happened, couldn’t cheer him up even with a few midday blowjobs. He was just never in the mood after the incident.

While busy with a patient on an arbitrary Wednesday, Sbahle came through in haste,


“Yes Sbahle”

“There is an urgent phone call on my line. It’s Detective Mthimkhulu from SAPS. He urgently wants to speak to you”

Dr Bhoyi dropped everything.

“Hello. This is Dr Bhoyi”

“Hello Dr Bhoyi. This is Detective Mthimkhulu from Vukuzenzele SAPS. We have in our custody the main suspect in the case involving a deceased Mr Junior Mongezi. He will appear at Shellington magistrate court on Friday.”

“Great. God is Great. Thank you. Thank you so much. I‘ll be there.”









Chapter 2: What Have I Done?


“Hello. Hello. Speak up please. Who is this?”

The line was terrible. It seemed to stutter and break, Vukuzenzele has a known network problem. Cell C was the only network without a problem in their street.

“Junior. Is that you?”, asked Dr Bhoyi after quickly looking at the screen of his cell phone.

No response. Long Beep. Call dropped.

Seconds later the phone rang again.

Dr Bhoyi answered, “Junior?”

“u-Dr. Bhoyi loyo u-bhut ka Junior?”, asked a young woman voice on the other end.


“Can you please come quickly to Dinizulu and Hlela street kuMaSingle. There has been an accident and the driver is hurt.”

“Where is Junior? Please let me speak to Junior.”

“Bhuti, I think he is one of those hurt, please come quickly.”

For a moment Dr Bhoyi thought of nothing – his mind froze. He did not know whether this was a mistake or a cruel prank. He was just with Junior a few hours ago.


“uZonke Mtolo”

“Khona bani lapho? Did you call the ambulance..”


“Okay okay okay. Ngiyeza. Please stay there. Where are you again? Uthe kuphi? At the traffic lights after circle?”

His stomach sank. He felt cold and started shaking.

“Yes, at the robots next to yellow MTN container.”

“I’m coming.”

Dr Bhoyi rushed inside the house to fetch the car keys.

“Please call Zweli “, he instructed cousin Fikelephi ,“and tell him to meet me at traffic lights at eMaSingle right now. I can’t explain now I have to rush”. Fikelephi was confused by a sudden rush. Fikelephi tried to find out what happened but Dr Bhoyi was in haste.

Dr Bhoyi had crashed several of his cars before due to bad eyesight. He had struggled to obtain even a regular drivers licence. In fact, parallel parking defeated him several times long after he qualified to be a medical doctor. He was the last out his collage group to buy a car simply because he didn’t have drivers licence. He rushed to the house, tried to grab but dropped the key several times in panic.  He gave up on the dropped key and grabbed his mother’s BMW key from the cabinet, jumped in, and pressed on the always ready 325i engine. There is no K53 rule he didn’t break to rush to the scene. He was asking himself many questions, one part hoped the whole commotion was an exaggeration – but the woman sounded serious. He worried about what he would see on arrival. He couldn’t shake off the questions why didn’t Junior make a call?  How bad is he hurt? Is he unconscious? Is he dead?  “No. Shit. He can’t be dead. Don’t think like that”, he tried to remain positive.

The thoughts flooded him while driving.

In a short while Dr. Bhoyi descended towards the traffic lights as described on the call earlier. He could feel the dozens of pairs of eyes looking at him as he slowly drove to the scene.  At first, he could only see the sunroof of his polo as spectators blocked a clear view. He thought Junior had hit a street pole or a pedestrian. He shoved a path through spectators trying to gain access to the scene saying ‘I’m a doctor. Please make room. I’m a doctor’. They obliged and gave him way.

He was greeted by Junior’s upper body hanging from the opened driver door. Although his seatbelt was still fastened, it only kept his legs bound to the seat. His head lay as a boulder on the surface of the tarred road as if he ran out of steam while trying to crawl out of the vehicle. He was unconscious.  His blue shirt was covered in blood from the shoulders to the collar. His eye glasses were crushed against the road. There were two bullet holes on the driver’s door.

He swiftly grabbed his stubbornly heavy body from the back and wrapped him on his chest and pulled him out of the car. He sat with him between his legs on the warm tar road. Blood gushed like a fountain from Juniors chest. He felt his heart beat but could not get him to respond when he spoke to him. He only responded with agonizing deep slow groan.

He looked up to a woman standing nearby, ‘Did anyone call and ambulance? Please call an ambulance. Did anyone call an ambulance?’ His arms were wrapped around Junior’s shoulders while he pressed the chest wound, blocking any more blood to come out. ‘Sengikhona Junior. Everything is going to be okay my boy. Everything is going to be okay mfanakababa.’

‘Did someone call the police?’ ‘What happened here?’, he asked repeatedly.

It wasn’t long after that question that the police appeared on the scene. Constable Sishi and other police began to ask the crowd to give air to the injured. He started talking to some witnesses who had seen the incident unfolding. The blue lights seemed to bring more curiosity as the number of onlookers increased.

Dr Bhoyi rode on the ambulance to Solomon Mahlangu hospital. Life support wires were hanging on Junior’s arms and his chest wound was insulated.  He was first to request to be at the theatre with the doctor in charge. His mother, Fikelephi and Zweli with other friends were already in the waiting room with many questions and nobody to answer.

Junior Mongezi, lost his life on Saturday at 8:05 PM at Solomon Mahlangu hospital.

Chapter 1: Sleep Tight Junior


A curtailed hesitant applause followed after mama Sibanda finished her moving speech on behalf of neighbours. She returned the cordless microphone to the program director. On her way down from the pulpit she went to hug her close friend, mama Mongezi who was seated on the front benches. She had stretched her ordinarily soft voice to accommodate everyone after she couldn’t operate the microphone and eventually gave up on using it. The church pianist played a popular tune over the applause and the entire chapel joined in on a hymn. Those who were not familiar with the words turned to the hymn lyrics printed at the back of the program.

After a short while, Njabulo, the program director, joined in with a commanding strong delightful tenor, waving and raising his fist in the air, a gesture, suggesting that he wanted to proceed with the program. The hymn was faded by the obedient congregants.

“Thank you mama for the comforting words. Thank you mama for the wise words. Thank you mama Sibanda for reminding us that although we feel a sense of loss now, we will all meet again in heaven. Thank you for being one of the elders we look up to for guidance here in our little community. Vukuzenzele township would be nothing without you. We thank the lord for keeping izimbokodo like you and mama Mongezi. Amen bazalwane.”

“AMEN”, responded the entire congregation in harmony.

The chapel was recently painted snow white inside, with money received from the second collection every Sunday for the past two and a half years. The big fans that normally hang on the ceiling board must have been disconnected from the main switches during painting, and nobody thought of reconnecting them for this service. The mixture of dry autumn heat, body odour and almost wet paint made everybody feel slightly suffocated inside. A two hundred sitter chapel was filled above its capacity with many standing and many more outside. Despite feeling uncomfortable, the congregants were determined. All wanted to pay their last respects to Junior Mongezi, the last born of the widow – mama Mongezi.

Dr. Bhoyi Mongezi, Junior’s older brother, sought to have a fitting and appropriate funeral for his one and only brother. He had not had proper sleep the entire week. This was partly due to amount of work he had to do at their home, but also due to the unbearable mental images of the day Junior died. Being an experienced doctor had not prepared him enough for it. He had to look for the absolute best of everything: marquees, stretch tents, branded suit, a fat bull to be slaughtered, a cemetery with pitch-like manicured grass and five star catering. He knew that what his brother would have desired and he sought to fulfil it. Not very long ago, Dr. Bhoyi joked with Junior calling him isikhothane because of the manner in which he obsessed over expensive brands. Although, Dr. Bhoyi was simply an older brother to Junior, he often treated him as his own son. He was twelve years his senior. Their father passed on when Junior was too young to remember him well. Dr. Bhoyi, after finishing medical degree, vowed to take care of his brother and his widowed mom to fulfil his father’s duties. He sought to ensure that Junior had a bright future.

“I’m going to ask all those who are listed in the program to be ready when I call them”, said Njabulo, who could easily operate the microphone despite the fact that everybody else seemed to struggle with it.

“We will now proceed with item number four on the program. We now request Ms. A. K. Njoko to come and speak on behalf of University friends.”

Few heads were raised, curious on who would stand up.

A beautiful quivering soprano voice started a hymn “Thuma mina webaba thuma mina….”, as she stood up. The congregation joined in on her hymn in support. She proceeded to walk to the stage.

“I prayed and asked God to give me strength for this moment. Amen”, she said, forcing a brave face trying to be composed.

“AMEN.”, responded the congregation.

“My name is Amukelani Njoko. I’m from Nelspruit and I was at varsity with Junior.” She stopped, controlled her breathing, and went on, “Never in a million years have I ever imagined that I would be speaking at his funeral. Some deaths are acceptable, but this is not acceptable in my heart. When our friend Hlengiwe told me about the passing away of Njabulo on Sunday, I laughed at her face in disbelief. I thought it was a cruel April fool’s joke – but the joke is on me today. We were all supposed to be at graduation ceremony the past Wednesday. All of us were there except for our Mr. Ultramel”, she grinned holding back misty eyes, “and there was a big lonely void that couldn’t be filled.”

“We were a group of six. We always attended classes and studied together. We helped each other out. Junior was brilliant at Accounting. When the graduation ceremony was over we all went our different ways, our families could not understand why we had permanent grief written on our faces on our special day. None of us celebrated. It was all because of Junior was a key part of our struggle and success, he deserved to be there too.” her voice quivered,

“I have not been able to sleep. On the day when Junior passed on we were on the call earlier that morning. He told me to ensure that I get a genuine Brazillian weave because he would like to take a selfie with me. He wouldn’t want me to ruin his timeline on Instagram with my poor hair do. He always teased me about my hair but at the heart of it all, we really liked each other. In his life, Junior turned to be a brother I never had, and I will miss him.”

She looked down as if she was speaking directly to the flower arrangements on top of a shining casket. “I hope you see my hair do today from wherever you are. You know that you will always be in our hearts. Despite being playful you have always been a hard worker. You also had a good heart regardless of your expensive taste. I guess God noticed that you were too good for this earth. He is the Alpha, he is the Omega. His will must be done. Lala kahle Junior Ultramel Mongezi.”

Dr. Bhoyi was a somnambulist for the most part of the day. He had a gazed look. He used every chance he had to shut his eyes. He was seated next to his mother at the front benches of the chapel with his arms crossed. He wore an expensive looking deep grey suit matching his mother’s outfit. They both had a red rose pinned to their chests. Although they had bottled mineral water in front of them, no one of them had taken a sip which seemed a waste to some sweaty congregants inside the chapel who kept fanning themselves with the program.

Njabulo, with his great public speaking skills, tried to keep the program on time.

“Thank you Ms Njoko. We feel your pain and we share your pain. Thank you for being short and brief”, said Njabulo, subtly warning other speakers to follow.

“Moving on to item number five, may I now please ask u Dr. Bhoyi to come over and speak on behalf of the family.”

This was a moment everyone was waiting for. All the mourners, even those outside of the chapel wanted to hear Dr. Bhoyi’s account of events. There were still a lot of questions on peoples mind about how Junior passed on. Many were still in shock and disbelief. At that moment, Dr. Bhoyi was lost in a brief slumber and didn’t hear his name being called. It must have been a deep sleep because he had a hanging colourless drool hanging on his bottom lip, which he wiped off soon after he was nudged into consciousness by his mother.

“If God is with you, who can stand against you”, Dr. Bhoyi began. He could use the microphone well which was to everyone’s delight. His voice echoed well and was audible even from outside the chapel.

“Let me first and foremost thank the program director”, looking at Njabulo, “Thank you Njabulo, my brother, to assist us at a very short notice”

“I would also like to thank each and every one of you who managed to come here today to pay your last respects. The whole family appreciates your presence.”

He cleared his throat and took a long sip of bottled mineral water as if he was drinking special liquids that would give him power to wake up properly and speak well.

“Last week Friday, Junior, ma and I were in the middle of planning for his B.Com. graduation party. As many of you know him, Junior had a long list of desires, some were really over the top and we couldn’t afford them. We tried our level best to get him the things he wanted including new clothes and a popular DJ for his party. Ironically, today is supposed to be his party and in a sense, it is.”, rumbling noise in a chapel, “We were relieved that he got his degree on record time. Ma and I were concerned because he has too many friends and seem to like parties and music. So, we really wanted to celebrate his life achievement. Our cousins mzala uKhosi and mzala uFikelephi had already arrived to assist with arrangements.”

“I closed the surgery early on Saturday to buy some of the items Junior wanted for his party. I also wanted to get him rugby game tickets to watch Wales vs. Springboks at the stadium. I used the blue Polo to run around and eventually drove home using it. I left the X5 parked at my house. ”

Few eyes locked in the congregation as if Dr. Bhoyi was showing off his many cars with that statement.

“While inspecting the backyard at home, looking for a spot where the stretch tent will be set up, Junior asked me to give him the Polo keys and said wanted to visit some of his friend in zone 6. I didn’t have a problem with it as I trust him and he is an excellent driver.”

“At 7:46 PM I received a call I will never forget in my life. At first I could not hear anything. The background noise was too much. All I could hear was a woman scream. I took the phone off my ear and tried to see if I recognized the number. It was Junior’s cell number but I didn’t recognize the voice.”

Yivume Wethu – Isahluko 1


UMsombuluko ekuseni ekwindla. Libafazi. Likhiza amathe ezimpukane. Kusemagcekeni akwa-Lever Bothers maphakathi neTheku. Kunobuyaluyalu obujwayelekile babantu enkampanini. Kodwa kunendoda eyodwa ebukeka ixakekile. Ubaba uZwide kaLanga, uNxumalo.

Ungunaza yedwa. Ulinde umlingani wakhe ubaba uSokhulu enkantini yasetohweni. Sebaqeda ishumi leminyaka bengama meshenti ezinsipho zokuwasha bethingisela izitolo ezisafufusa. Baqashwa nyakenye beqashwa ibhunu elalinesihe kakhulu u-Van Tonder. Base beba ngabangani ngokuzwana kwamagazi.

UZwide uphuza itiye elimnyama abuye aphulule intshebe esiqala ukuba mpungana. Ulokhu ethi jeqe emyango eqalaza umlingani wakhe phakathi kwezinye izisebenzi ezizophunga itiye lesidlo sasekuseni enkantini yenkampani.

“Mfwethu, kodwa wafika sesiyophela nje isikhathi setiye, ubusabambekile yini?”, uZwide ebuza uSokhulu emva kokuthi ahlale phansi. Babengabangani abakhulu, bengakunaki nokubingelana ngoba babexoxa njalo.

“No mfwethu. Bekusafanele ngifekse ama-oda ezitolo ezinhlanu kuphela. Yini? Udliwa yini? Wangiphuthuma nje ekuseni kangaka? Lidliwe futhi ibhakabhaka ngempelasonto, ufuna ukudingida leyo na?”, kubuza uSokhulu ngokuncokola.

“Lutho bafo, ngishiswa isfuba, ngifuna ukukubonisa nansi i-SMS eqhamuka kuMaGatsheni wami.”

“Ngikhumbuze ..konje yimuphi loyo? Yilo wase Lamonti?”, ebuza ebe ethatha ucingo efunda.


“Mm mm mm ..”, uSokhulu ebamba umlomo, “Ave unenhlanhla ndoda yamadoda. Konje ubani umaGatsheni? Yilo wase Lamonti?”, esebuzisisa.

“Cha mfwethu, uyadideka, uGugu lowase Lamonti. Lo, yilo osiza khona laph’ ekhaya. Awusamkhumbuli yini ngenkathi nifikile? Lo welokwe eliphuzi elifishane?”

“Hawu! Ndoda! Uqinisile!?”, ethwala izandla ekhanda uSokhulu, “le ngane enamathanga amhlophe kanje!? Demed!”

“Yon’ impela bafo!”, eqhephuka yinsini esebhodlokile esifubeni.

“Uyabusa ndoda yamadoda. Ngingavele ngiyimithise same time leyangane mina.”

“Kunjalo mfwethu. Selidume layithatha”, esho eveze elomhlathi uZwide.

“Kodwa mfwethu u-wrong. Hhayi kabi”, esanikina ikhanda, “No man. Uzokubamba uMaBhengu. Ubeka umshado wakho engcupheni enkulu kakhulu.”

“Awungiyeke ngaloyo .. nami ngiyadinga ukujabula”

“Ngiyakhumbula kodwa ungihlebela ngokuthi inokugigitheka kakhulu uma uyidlalisa leyangane. Bengingazi ukuthi lizogcina likhalile icilongo. Awusho bafo, nimise kanjani ngoba kunezingane zakho laphaya ekhaya ezigcwele indlu? Futhi iyangithusa lento. Nizomisa kanjani?”

“Bafo, iqiniso ukuthi angizigqaji ngokwenzekile, bese kuphele amandla okuzibamba”

“Sithini i-story vele lapho?”

“NgePhasika la 2010, sanquma noMaBhengu ukuthi kuyasehlula ukwenza imisebenzi yethu yasetohweni sibuye senze imisebenzi yasekhaya. Wase ke eyangicela ukuthi mangimuvumele sithole umuntu ozosisiza….”

Small Fights


I believe that a fight must have a solid objective. If an argument disintegrates to physical blows, it must be worthwhile for each of the fighters involved. The objective must be so precious, so valuable, that it is worth risking a bloodied nose and red bruises that may be incurred. Unfortunately, I think some fights are not worth the prize. They achieve very little for the winner. They may even achieve jail time for the winner. The question is, how are you winning in that case?

A few weeks ago I was at Makro, in Springfield, looking to buy a tree cutter. Makro has busy parking bays for its customers where cars come in and go after shopping. I had just parked my car and was preparing to get out when a fist fight broke out right in front of me. An Indian and a Zulu guy were throwing boxing ring uppercuts in quick succession to each other. Next to them, a white Golf on low profiles and a Polo that were almost nose touching with doors wide open. I was shocked. So, I just sat back and watched hoping they wouldn’t bump on my car. My immature mind went “Pero! Pero! Pero!”

After a flying kick, pushing and shoving, a few jungle growls and screams like a Grade-R little girl, two car guards went in-between them and broke up the fight. I opened my door and went over to listen what the fight was about. Still clinching his fists, I heard the Zulu guy shouting, “Nxaa I don’t care! Call amaphoyisa if you want. You saw me indicating. I saw the parking first. Ididi i-indicator!? Ididi i-indicator!? Ngizok’shaya mina!”, threatening to continue beating the Indian guy. The whole fight was about the parking spot. One did not notice another indicating and went in to the spot. What a waste! All those Floyd Mayweather moves for a simple parking spot? I swear I saw about three or four open spots before I even entered the shop.

Granted. A parking spot is important. Secondly, no one should allow amaqili e-parking to get away with it. But, must it boil down to ICU stitches? Is it worth depleting your medical aid savings account? I don’t think so. There are many other examples of fights that achieve very little. That is the gist of my problem.

As a black people in SA, we seem to be constantly engaged in fights that yield small rewards. How do I judge this? By looking at what is achieved after a big fight is won. A week ago, taxi drivers across KZN embarked on a shutdown strike for the purpose of fighting, among other things, exorbitant interest rate charged by SA Taxi Finance, a monopoly in financing this black industry. They may get some movement in those interest rates. Seems like that’s a win right? Wait until you see if their lives will change after those interest rates are dropped. I bet not. This fight, a big fight in terms of impact, will yield a small victory in respect to the problems the taxi industry face. Dare I say, it will be an insignificant victory.

In SA, we are living in a perpetual striking season. We take to the streets and come in direct collision with public order police. People’s lives are often lost during protest. Our protests are often just for water, or roads, or RDP houses. Hardly seems worth someone to die. If the objective of a service delivery protest were achieved today, I do not believe the lives of those who protest would change significantly. In 2012, Marikana protesters lost their lives in dozens for seeking a mere R12,500 as a minimum wage. If they got what they were looking for, their lives wouldn’t change that much. Briefly perhaps. But not that much. Who can forget death of Andries Tatane, just for service delivery!

The townships across SA fought tooth and nail to usher in the new dispensation of democracy. It’s arguable that townships which suffered most violence and political battles are seeing an improvement in their lives. Yes, perhaps police nyalas are no longer roaming the streets. But, by and large, everything remains the same. Yesterday on TV, they showed a school where 1976 Soweto June 16 uprising began. The school is essentially the same 40 years later.

I’m comparing all these fights and protests with, say, how the English or Europeans fought for land in the “former colonies”. They went in there, beat everyone up and took the land and its wealth. That, to me, is significant. From their perspective, it was probably worth the risk. The rewards were billions they still enjoy today.

Imagine if the Taxis were in a protest for real wealth generating course. Say, for example, they wanted to own service stations. Or, say, they sought to create their very own insurance industry, or their own bank. The significance of that achievement would be impactful not just immediately but for families of taxi owners.

Imagine if the Marikana protestors were fighting for employee shares in companies they work for. Ordinary shares like the shares in JSE. Not discounted ESOP. That would be significant. Not immediately, but in their future wealth.

I wish we could collectively pursue a real meaningful fight. Like a fight against banks and other financial institutions. Governments, Businesses, Families, Individuals are poor largely because of commercial banks. You think governments are screwing us. Wait until you see how a bank keeps you poor. When you don’t have money, banks will refuse to give you any money. Wait until you have money. A bank sales lady with a sexy voice will call you and tell you that you qualify for R150 000 credit. Jesu! A devil with a tail and a pointy horn! May they burn in eternal hell.

My imagined strategy for banks would be to shut them down one by one. How? Collectively close our personal and business accounts. When we eventually have one bank left, we change it to a state bank which has a mandate of providing facilities rather than making exorbitant profits on the backs the poor.  That’s a worthwhile fight, right? What the fuck are you charging me for, if there is no money for the debit order in my current account? Am I not broke enough already? Banks must fall. May be my strategy needs reworking.





5 Cane Lashes


It doesn’t help to be one-sided when debating about any practice. I listened to an activist for children’s right on radio the other day. She stated how outdated corporal punishment was at schools. “It needs to be abolished completely!”, she declared passionately. She said it teaches children to be violent. It breeds the culture of violence in the society.

I agree with her to a certain extent, but I wish that all sides can be reviewed fairly. Yes, some teachers were unforgivable assholes and delivered what felt like eternal damnation to our hands. But, getting few lashes can be a good thing for shaping your discipline and character.

It was mid-July winter of 1991. It was the fall of apartheid. Mandela was out of jail and politicians were debating the structure of the new South Africa. I was in a youthful oblivion about the importance of that era. In our school, our class windows were either broken or deliberately vandalized during riots. They were never fixed or replaced. Our class door had broken handles and hinges. It swung like a frozen flag on every light breeze and made a disturbing cracking noise. Much of our school infrastructure was old and rundown.

However, change was looming. There was a construction of our new school premises. We were expected to move there the following year.  I was 13 years old, naughty and stupid. I had acne problems and an incurable obsession over pretty girls.

That slimana day, when the bell rang, lunch was over. A class of fifty rushed back into the classroom. It was time for Mr Nxele to teach us IsiZulu literature. We never had sufficient text books in our class so we had to share. This meant that those who don’t have text books have to move from their desks and sit with those who have. I moved to sit with my classmate and friend Alfred Zondi, who was also naughty and stupid and enjoyed to laugh to just about anything. When we were together we laughed at everything. You could swear we were high on glue or benzene.

The class went normally until Alfred mistakenly dropped a pen. After he picked it up, he giggled, nudged me and whispered that I should have a look under the desk behind us. “Pearl is wearing white panties, and, they are showing!”, he whispered this with a full smile. Pearl had the fairest thighs. All girls in our high school fell between two categories. Those who wore conservative long, below the knee school uniforms. And those who were liberal wore the short uniforms. Pearl wore the shortest – and we loved it.

I couldn’t wait to see what Alfred had seen. I delayed a bit to avoid suspicion then I dropped the pen as well. Deliberately. While down there I couldn’t see anything. Her thighs were together and I couldn’t see what Alfred had seen. I picked up the pen and waited to try again. After a short while I dropped the pen again because I was determined to see what Alfred had seen. I still couldn’t see anything. But this time, when I rose up, Pearls hand was in the air waving for Mr Nxele’s attention.

“Please teacher, laba bayasipopola”, reporting us that we were peeping, to Mr Nxele. The whole class went dead silent in shock as if to ask why-are-you-so-stupid!?



Not to Mr Nxele.

Mr Nxele was legendary of delivering the stingiest of cane lashes. He was known even beyond the school grounds that he enjoyed to beat up students. He was the type that would buy cane sticks for himself and other teachers – using his own money. I knew a few people of a generation ahead of us that gave up high school because of Mr Nxele’s cane beatings.

“WHAT!? WHAT DID THEY DO?”, asked Mr Nxele in outrage.

“Stand up you two. Right now”.

Alfred and I stood up, faced down. The whole class looked at us as though we were on deathrow.

“Bafana bami,” referring to me and Alfred, “Don’t you know that what you are doing undermines the essence of a woman? You have violated her rights of privacy. Do you know that you have insulted all women in this school. (Pause. I want to make a point here, why do teachers and parents escalate a small manageable problem to a massive problem? I violated ALL women in the school ? Jesus!). He proceeded “I will deal with you. You will NEVER do this again”.


“Go and wait for me outside”, he instructed us.

My stomach was already in diarrhea mode and was making jungle noises. I remember standing outside the class thinking I did not even see anything beyond her knees, but now I am going to die. Dead. Dead. Dead.

I began to cry in regret.  I regretted everything about that day. I even regretted knowing Alfred. No. I hated Alfred. Bastard. My naturally delicate palms would turn green, yellow and blue at being struck just once. I knew he wanted to make an example of us. Jesus Christ. I was so scared.

After he had finished the class, Mr Nxele asked us to follow him to the staff room where he would deliver our punishment in private. Away from potential witnesses. Alfred was braver than I was and took his five strong lashes on his left hand without blinking once. What a hero!

When it was my turn I already had nasal mucus mixed with saliva and tears on my face. I cried audibly as if I had lost a parent. I was a mess and I was pleading for mercy. He had an ice cold heart and didn’t feel mercy for me. Not one bit.

The first lash was memorable. It became a life changing moment. I can’t forget it. It makes me an activist for abolishing corporal punishment even today. It was stupidly painful. I wanted to die just to stop the pain. My hand was numb afterwards. My mind could not interpret the pain.

When he finished with me, he asked us to follow him to all the classes he would be going to. That was strange. We were already punished and didn’t know what he intended to do next.

At the first class he went to, another teacher was in the middle of a lesson, but he interrupted the class. He made us stand in front of the class and confess that we were had been caught peeping under a girls uniform. He told us to refer to ourselves as ‘Abapopoli, the peeping toms’. The class broke into loud laughter.

The second class. The third class. Same thing. I got worried that he was approaching a class with my sister who was two grades above me. If this ever gets to my sister, then it would get to my father. Then, RIP to me. I am really dead. Coffin. Memorial service. Dead. My father would kill me for sure.

Mr Nxele was determined to embarrass us extensively – he went to my sister’s class. Damn. I was dead.

At home after school, I pleaded with my sister to not tell my father. I told her how I regretted and how I was already embarrassed by my new nickname ‘umPopoli’ (yes, it sounds Italian, but it’s offensive in IsiZulu). I offered to handle all her chores for weeks just so that this never lands on my father’s ears. I found myself explaining the concept of double jeopardy – nobody should suffer twice. My dad was a loving father but, he would ‘bliksem’ the devil out of me if he heard about this incident.

It never got to my father. That is why I am still alive and writing this story. I learned my lesson. I respect women bodies. I will never be a peeping tom again. For a while I could not even look at a woman in a bikini (Lies!). I turned my eyes away (More Lies!). My friend Alfred eventually turned gay after that event. I don’t know if there is a link between him being gay and Pearls thighs. Memorable corporal punishment contributed in my respect for woman.

Leave My Brands Alone


My needs from our monthly grocery are very basic. My wife uses her ordained madam-of-the-house powers to choose most of our household brands we use around the house. At first, it took some adjustments from me to get used to some of her brand choices, but, hey, I try to be a loving husband, so I adjust with love.

The grocery shops we go to are her choice. The food, veggies and meats we eat are her choice. From the dish cleaning liquids down to the pest controller spray, all, her choice. I only seek to choose my toilet paper, my soap, my roll on, my toothpaste, my perfume – all things that get to be in direct contact with my body. I chose her as well. Angithi?

You must understand, you don’t just wake up one day and prefer one brand over another. No. It’s often a result of a lot of years of trial and error. Take a toilet paper brand for example. You begin to appreciate the importance of a quality brand only after you attempt to use cheap one. I don’t want to get into details here, but, if a toilet paper fails at holding itself together, it can’t do its job hygienically. That day, I aggressively scrubbed my hands thinking I should have used my old copy of Isolezwe. Therefore, I stick to the safe Twinsaver double-ply for dignity.

The problem is her brand choices often change because she hunts for month-end specials around South Africa (No. Durban). In her mind she is not hunting for a specific brand per se. No. She is hunting for a specific item regardless of the brand. Have you ever had to eat no name breakfast cereal? To say it tastes like anything at all would be a lie. The tongue just gets confused. It tastes like placing your tongue on a cardboard! She will gladly go up to seven shops just to find a best priced cabbage. A God-damn CABBAGE!? I’m defeated.

I gave up doing grocery with her long time ago. I stopped after I caught (..what felt like..) stage-four pneumonia from standing at the below zero meat and dairy isle for over thirty minutes. I was waiting for her to choose between gouda or cheddar cheese. I’m still recovering from that even to this day. (*coughs*). If she happens not to find my requested brands on a special, she is happy to randomly chooses any other.

See, for example, I prefer Sensodyne original toothpaste because my teeth are super sensitive. But, her choices left me with four different types of toothpaste in just three months. Do you know a toothpaste that has an aftertaste of an ocean? I’m not joking. When I breathe in it feels like I’m drowning in the ocean. Not the nice blue part of the ocean too. No. The brown part where some Zion Christians get baptized at night. I have had to use a soap that doesn’t have foam.  No matter how many times I rubbed it under water it would just not produce foam. After bath, it feels like I am actually wearing an itchy wool jersey on my skin that was locked in the closet for five years.

The other day, I had seizures and went comatose after she sprayed an insect repellent that ejected the oxygen out of my lungs. Today, I still can’t read the name of the roll-on she bought for me. I just refuse to use it. She doesn’t love me. No. This can’t be love. Am I exaggerating? Yes. But I want to emphasize an important point.

Brands are whoonga-like addictive. Once captured by a brand its difficult to accept anything beyond it. Tastic and Aunt Caroline are both grains of rice imported from India.  Between the harvest, the packaging and the shipment, something changes in  taste.  For this reason, a Tastic rice loyalist will seek only Tastic brand in a grocery shop. I can say the same about Nike and Adidas. They are essentially the same piece of wear yet their respective brand loyalist would label me blasphemous.

I wonder to what extent has my brand loyalty impacted my choices? Why do we seek to be loyal to a brand when an alternative brand is essentially the same? Why do I even like Kaizer Chiefs football team? Will I knee jerk mark ‘X’ next to ANC in a ballot paper purely on brand loyalty?  Whats wrong with Samsung phone compared to iPhone? Why choose five roses over glen tea? Why prefer Durban poison over Swazi? Why? There are so many questions..