On little Julie, Charlize, and Prof Latke and the Citizen

Jeremy Gordin wonders if Zuma hasn't so wrecked the NPA that it'll struggle to secure Malema's conviction

On Little Julie, the Silence of the Lambies, Charlize, and Professor Latke ...

1. On Little Julie

A number of media issues - mainly media ones, I think - to deal with today.

First: c'mon guys, acknowledgment where acknowledgment is due. Let me hear it from you, please - Dot, Plutarch, the Bullfinch, John "the Chikurubi choo choo" Austin, Lyndall Beddy-byes, Hermann Gilliomee, the whole lot of you.

Did I not write on this very site, on 11 September, in the year of our Lord 2012, that if President Jacob Zuma doesn't want to get the order of the big baobab-up-the-bum at Mangaung, then he had to ensure that Little Julie Malema gets charged?

And, lo and behold, what happened this week?

Little Julie appeared in court (on Yom Kippur, davka), charged with money laundering. I like the mental image of the pudgy dude, with the pannekoek beret, kneeling, in a cramped Polokwane laundromat, feeding rand notes into the machinke, as my granny would have called it.

I also like the thought that a few days ago Little Julie probably had no idea what money laundering was. I hardly know myself.

Er, I did get the specific charges wrong. I thought the National Prosecuting Authority was going to zap Little Julie on public violence and intimidation flowing from his first-rate performances hard by Rustenburg.

But it went for this money laundering gig instead. The big issue now, though, is whether the NPA will be able to conduct a competent case. Some people say that the president of the beloved republic and his advisers have consciously run down the NPA - in Zuma's own interests.

I guess one has to agree that from Bulelani Thandabantu Ngcuka and Vusumzi Patrick Pikoli to Mokotedi Mpshe, Menzi Simelane, and Nomgcobo Jiba, who is (max-eee-moom [maximum], as they say in Hebrew) 12-and-a-half-years-old, there has been something of a falling off.

In the good old days, in the days of Billy Downer SC (where is he these days, I wonder?), the NPA would have hired some fellows with a little bit of expertise - Wim Trengove SC, Kevin Trisk SC - to prosecute an important commercial case, such as that of the former president of the Yoof League being charged with money laundering. But now? Now, who knows if the NPA will manage to prosecute Little Julie successfully?

If they don't, well, I guess we'll have a case of Zuma being hoist with his own petard. This is probably worse, I would hazard, than getting pricked by your own spear.

2. The Silence of the Lambies

Second, guess who else has apparently been paying attention to what I write? Yes ...

For days I have been dreaming about three men: Meyer Lansky, Richard Steyn (is he still at Standard Bank?), someone called The Goose, and about a book called The Silence of the Lambies.

Not difficult to tell that I have been troubled about the Springboks and Heyneke Meyer, Morné Steyn, young Johan Goosen and Patrick Lambie.

Well, the coach has dropped Steyn and put in Goosen.

The irony? Davka at Loftus, the bokke would have won anyway - and Steyn would have been on song in front of his home crowd. Go figure.

3. Burly Men

Third, brothers and sisters, did you see that our Charlize Theron has a new man in her life?

His name is Eric Stonestreet and, if you're a professional couch potato such as me, you will know that he plays Cameron "Cam" Tucker in Modern Family - which is, notwithstanding its popularity among the great unwashed of North America, a mighty fine (and clever and funny) show.

Stonestreet's character is a plump and funny Midwest gay fellow; and Stonestreet is so brilliantly camp, he is so convincing, that to hear that he is connected with Theron is like hearing that I've been dating Eusebius McKaiser. It's unexpected. You'd have thought that McKaiser would have gone for someone more attractive than me. For the point is that Stonestreet is, as mentioned, really somewhat zaftig. (Have a look at the pics on the net.)

Now I have a theory about all this. Okay. I'm not going to embarrass you and myself by re-telling, for the 909th time, my favourite dinner party story about Charlize and me. If you have been following my writing for the last 20 years, as I know you have, you will know it.

Suffice it to say that I was once editor of Playboy SA and, for various reasons not germane here, Ms Theron whipped off, in my delighted and gob-smacked presence, her T-shirt, under which she was not wearing anything - and I was, in the words of the poet (Ezra Pound), mildly abashed.

But what has been worrying all these years (18 to be exact) is why Charlize has never come back to claim me as hers. She found success and an Oscar and a Golden Globe and, with it, presumably buckets of money. She could have had me; why then did she never return?

It would have been mighty fine to have (as my mother would have said) walked out with her. But ever since that remarkable encounter, she has ignored me completely - and hung out in Hollywood with all the banal, skinny Hollywood jackanapes(es) with whom one would expect her to be connected.

However I think now that this new "relationship" with Stonestreet is an inchoate signal to herself (and perhaps also to me, if I am paying attention) that she has re-calibrated herself and is slowly coming to her senses - and realized that the only man for a real woman is a burly man, a fleshy man, a stout man, a corpulent fellow. And that she might along soon.

Well, that's what I believe anyway.

4. Professor Latke

Finally, to a less serious matter.

There's been a huge fuss and palaver this last week or so about the Citizen newspaper blotting out two bodies from an agency-supplied picture of the Kabul blast in which a number of South Africans were blown up by a suicide bomber. It started as a misunderstanding about an instruction, then turned rapidly into a major snafu - and the Editor, Martin Williams, had to, and did, apologise for it.

But the twitterati and the twots and the twits and the Politically Correct and the unemployed and Uncle Tom Cobley went seriously ape, with everyone righteous, and even those who are less than righteous, disappearing up their own rectitudes and everyone else's faster than the speed of light.

As might be expected, the Professor of Journalism at Wits, Anton Harber, was asked for his learned opinion by, among others, a bunch called iMediaEthics, also known as (As far as I know, he didn't make the same remarks - see below - to a Seffrican audience.) 

[According to its website: "Art Science Research Laboratory is a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit organization that publishes iMediaEthics, along with several others sites, ... is co-founded and directed by Rhonda Roland Shearer, an artist, art historian and adjunct journalism lecturer at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Iowa, and her late husband, Harvard professor and scientist, Stephen Jay Gould."]

iMediaEthics reported that The Mail & Guardian reported that Wits University journalism professor Anton Harber argued that "The Citizen's motivation may be good, but they have pursued it unethically. If the body was not acceptable to their audience-and one has to ask why others have been judged more acceptable-they should have used another picture, or cropped it, or moved it inside the paper and carried it with a warning, or at the very least have told readers that they had manipulated the picture."

So far, so good. No one can argue with that. 

iMediaEthics continued: "We wrote to Harber asking if he thought the Citizen's explanation and apology was [were?] satisfactory.  Harber said by email that ‘I think they have clearly said it was wrong and are taking steps to prevent it happening again. I believe that adequately deals with this case'."

There you are: wise, judicious and fair words; tamping down any righteous stupidity; an intelligent judgment borne from years of having been at the coal face, etc.

But then Professor Latke could not help himself. He had to stick in a little Parthian barb; the su-superior jab; he had to play to an American audience which does so love a little racist frisson down at the tip of Africa; after all, he might get invited to address the University of Iowa journalism school or something.

So he continued (and I quote): "The outstanding issue though is why they altered these and not their recent Marikana pics, which included bodies. There remains a suspicion that they treat black corpses different to white ones, and they should articulate a clear policy that applies to all depictions of dead bodies." [My emphasis.]

Let me give you that one again: "There remains a suspicion ..."

There remains a suspicion in whose minds? The cleaners at Wits? The folk in Iowa?

Let me give that you again: "There remains a suspicion that they treat black corpses different to white ones ..."

Really? So, if I understand this correctly, the Citizen's editor, its news editor, its night editor, its picture editor, all of them experienced journalists, and its chief sub-editor (a black female by the way) - they all have, 18 years into the new Seffrica, some sort of racist blinkers:  they relate to and treat black corpses different to white ones. (Or so the professore suspects?) Yes?

Seems a bit nasty to me, especially with regard to the three young people: the news editor, picture editor and chief sub. What a way to be labelled - and by the Wits professor of journalism.

Funny thing is though - if funny is the word I want - they are employed by the same group that finances Harber's professorship at Wits University. Well, you have to admire the cheek. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

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