Back from the dead

Andrew Donaldson on Zuma's health issues, MKMVA's suburban terrorism & English xenophobia


MY attention has been drawn to what seems a minor miracle. A Western Cape court has heard that a man accused of killing a police officer was declared dead after being shot seven times – only to later wake up in a Cape Town morgue.

Details of Jacques Cronje’s resurrection were contained in his bail application in the Blue Downs regional court last week. Along with well-known underworld figure Nafiz Modack and several others, he is charged with the murder of anti-gang unit detective Charles Kinnear in September last year. The men are also accused of attempting to kill lawyer William Booth and of the intimidation and extortion of one of his clients.

So far, and so-so. But then came word of Cronje’s return from the afterlife. An investigating officer was despatched to verify the story. The prosecutor, Adnaan Gelderbloem, told the court, “He found the accused to be alive and well and was never informed that the accused had risen from the dead.”

It further transpired that, following an argument outside a bottle store on Koeberg Road in December, Cronje had not been shot seven times – but only twice, and after first being stabbed in the head. It appears that Cronje had provoked the fight with a man who was staring at him by challenging him, “Wat kyk jy?” (The answer here being, of course, “I’m looking at you, and where to shoot you.”)

I mention all this only because I wonder if we are shortly to witness a similar Lazarus manoeuvre with Jacob Zuma. If what I read in SowetanLIVE is correct, it appears we must all prepare ourselves for a miracle recovery. 

Accused Number One’s medical parole is unlikely to be revoked, the newspaper said, even if his health improves – as this is not considered grounds to cancel parole; an inmate who has been released on medical parole can only be returned to prison if they violate their parole conditions. 

Hmm. A tricky philosophical poser, isn’t it? 

This nonsense comes care of the department of correctional services, whose boss, the oleaginous Arthur Fraser, had approved the parole. Fraser is very close with Msholozi and is himself allegedly involved in state capture at the State Security Agency. They’re like haemorrhoids, these people; they hang out in bunches.

To describe all this as fishy is perhaps an insult to marine life. But, make no mistake, it does stink of rotten snoek. 

The FW de Klerk Foundation has released as succinct a statement as any on the suspicious nature of the Thief-in-Chief’s sudden and we needn’t revisit the facts of the matter. But they do note the “strong similarities” with the Shabby Shaik case, reminding us that in 2005 Zuma’s former financial adviser was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for his involvement in arms deal corruption but then was medically paroled two years later on the grounds that he was dying.

Shabby, as popular legend has it, very shortly emerged not only as a mockery of medical parole but as a zombie and was frequently spotted on golf courses where he tried to bite passersby. 

The significant difference with the Shaik case, though, is that Msholozi’s medical details have not been aired in public. Granted, this is a private matter, but with Shaik, if memory serves, there were reports in the media of heart palpitations the likes of which would fell an ox and rising blood pressure of brain-bursting immensity. 

Who but the most vindictive and vengeful among us would not have allowed the man to just go home and vrek?

We have been given no details of Zuma’s mysterious illness. This, of course, feeds the rumour mill. 

Some say there’s obviously nothing wrong with him, but there is talk of cancer. The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that, according to a senior family member, the former president had “been really unwell since he was poisoned [by one of his wives, MaNtuli]” in 2014. The newspaper added that he had travelled to Russia to confirm the diagnosis of poisoning and undergo treatment.

One thing about those Russians, they do know their poisons. 

However, to talk of being poisoned is also a handy euphemism for all manner of problems. This is particularly so in the murky context of South African politics, which is riven with internecine fighting and often murder. Poisoning seems more natural, somehow, than the Big C.

The family, of course, are beside themselves with joy at their Blesser’s release. 

Not many other South Africans are, though, and daughter Duduzile Ivanka Zuma-Sambudla has lashed out at critics for not being “happy” that the old crook will no longer service his contempt of court sentence in prison. “Haters must heal. It’s [former] President Zuma Day, all day!” she tweeted. And then later, this crud: “Everyday Is A #PresidentZuma Day … Like It Or Not!”

All very touching, but can we just say that, no, we don’t like it? ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

Suburban terrorism

The burial at Johannesburg’s West Park Cemetery on Sunday of Kebby Maphatsoe was not without incident. Overcome with grief, Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association members let loose with gunfire at the lauded struggle chef’s graveside. In addition to disturbing the peace and shattering a nearby window, the “salute”, it’s claimed, badly injured a resident at a Westdene retirement home. 

TimesLIVE described the projectile that hit 76-year-old Margaret Holloway in the leg as a “stray bullet”. Not to split hairs, but this is nonsense. 

Live rounds don’t go “missing”. When firing in the air, as is the wont of these “soldiers”, the slugs invariably return to earth with roughly the same velocity as they did leaving the barrel; they’re bound to hit something or someone. Indiscriminate gunplay in densely populated areas is therefore a very serious matter. Even with automatic assault rifles.

How are SAPS responding to this? Not with much enthusiasm, it seems. 

According to DA MP James Lorimer, senior police officers attending Maphatsoe’s burial did nothing to stop the shooting. This is understandable. Who’d be foolish enough to stop these clowns from getting their jollies? Certainly not senior police officers who’re well aware that they may get hurt dealing with the armed and overly emotional. That’s how they became senior police officers. By staying well away from trouble when they were juniors. It’s a good habit and obviously difficult to break.

Still, a case of attempted murder has been opened. It’s claimed the shot that struck Holloway was from an AK-47. But SAPS spokesman Brigadier Vish Naidoo has said the type of weapon used and its calibre had yet to be determined. To proceed, then, forensic chaps would need to examine the round which hit Holloway. Alas, it’s still in her, and will be there for a while. This could hinder investigations somewhat. 

According to Lee Holloway, his mother was taken for treatment at Helen Joseph hospital. “She is still sitting in her wheelchair with the bullet in her leg,” he was quoted as saying on Tuesday morning. “They have not removed it and we are now told that they will not remove the bullet and she will be discharged.” 

The MKMVA are presumably not losing much sleep over this. Or anything else. They have so far resisted the ANC’s instructions to disband, and have vowed to continue their childish behaviour. This does not bode well for the elderly. Perhaps Carl Niehaus would be kind enough to let us know when next his rogue terrorists plan to attack a retirement home. This is only fair, as it would allow the old folk time to set their claymore mines. 

Educating Abdul

A fearful strain of swart gevaar known as the Kabul variant has been recorded in Little England following events in Afghanistan. Unlike South Africa, which has flatly refused to harbour any such refugees, the UK government is scrambling to resettle some 20 000 Afghans who worked as translators and in other roles for allied forces and who fear being punished as collaborators by a vengeful Taliban. 

This has, unsurprisingly, created all sorts of problems for local authorities, many of whom have little or no social housing stock to spare. Still, the conservative commentariat has been hard at work urging one and all to muck in and make the visitors feel at home – albeit with the caveat the refugees be taught “how best to fit in”, as a headline in The Times put it. 

Abdul, in other words, must realise his new homeland is one that values its culture and, no, it is not done to beat women, slaughter goats in the back yard or, above all, slack off during English lessons.

The influx has prompted the American novelist Lionel Shriver, writing in The Spectator, to raise the Verwoerdian nightmare of white Britons becoming a minority in the land of their birth within the next half-century:

“The lineages of white Britons in their homeland commonly go back hundreds of years. Yet for the country’s original inhabitants to confront becoming a minority in the UK (perhaps in the 2060s) with any hint of mournfulness, much less consternation, is now racist and beyond the pale. I submit: that proscription is socially and even biologically unnatural.

“We are a political and territorial species. Although Pollyannas push us to regard ourselves as members of one big happy human family, we compulsively clump into groups. These groups claim territory and, under normal circumstances, defend it. For westerners to passively accept and even abet incursions by foreigners so massive that the native-born are effectively surrendering their territory without a shot fired is biologically perverse.”

Shriver insists this has not all about race. One example she gives is that “Black South Africans resent Zimbabwean immigrants.” Wherever the proportion of “the other” crosses “a critical and perhaps even quantifiable statistical line, people who were born in a place stop getting excited about all the new ethnic restaurants and start getting pissed off”. Not race, then, but xenophobia perhaps?

Britons of colour are incensed. “This,” the Observer columnist Kenan Malick responded, “is the language of the British National party, of the AfD in Germany, of Marine Le Pen in France. To describe immigration as ‘incursions by foreigners’, to view black or brown people moving into your town as ‘surrendering one’s territory’, and to regard non-white immigration as ‘biologically perverse’ is not just to stray into racist territory, it is to jump head first into the swamp.”

Malick makes the valid point that many of those who fear “white decline” are also among the fiercest critics of identity politics. This, he suggests, is perversely ironic as right-wingers are not at all hostile to identity politics – when it’s their own identity politics, that is. “The critique of identitarianism is, for them, a useful weapon with which to attack the left, while promoting their own insidious notions of identity,” he says. 

Their counterparts on the left, meanwhile, are likewise drawn to their own version of identity politics, and in doing so, make it easier to rebrand racism as white identity politics.

“For both right and left, whiteness has come to acquire an almost magical quality. On the one side, whiteness is something to be protected, something too little of which transforms British communities, and mysteriously makes them less British. On the other, whiteness has become an embodiment of privilege or wickedness and racism seen not in social or structural terms but in the inherent qualities of being white.

“It’s an obsession that replaces political argument with magical thinking and gives new legitimacy to bigotry. Racism matters. Whiteness does not.”

I don’t know how Abdul feels about all this, but it is a debate that amuses many of those from southern Africa who have settled in the hostile Tory shires. Little has been done to get them to “fit in”. 

One Zimbabwean actuary who was in great demand in Johannesburg by “blackfronting” financial institutions tells me that no-one in the City is returning his calls. “It’s not about race,” he says. “It’s class. We didn’t go to the right schools and universities. It’s as simple as that.”

Or perhaps not. I recently came across a 2017 academic paper arguing that white South Africans are a more privileged group than many other, particularly “non-white”, migrants in Britain. This hints at something more insidious.

The study, The maintenance of white privilege: The case of white South African migrants in the UK by Kristoffer Halvorsrud of University College London, argues that we umhlungus cunningly exploit “markers” such as ancestral ties, language proficiency and shared cultural values to direct Whitehall’s anti-immigration rhetoric at other groups. 

This, essentially, enables “the stigmatisation even of other white migrants, such as Eastern Europeans who are predominantly white but perceived to be lower down in the ‘social hierarchy’ of the host society than white South Africans.”

Add to this the fact that we talk too loudly, openly mock the English when they attempt to “braai” and have a more advanced appreciation of irony than the natives, and it is obvious that, unlike Abdul, we will not be invited to play cricket on the village green anytime soon.

Oaths and the like

A recent study has found that, while the level of “bad language” in the UK has dropped by more than a quarter since the late 1990s, the f-word has replaced “bloody” as Britons’ favourite swearword. 

The term had seen a “substantial rise in usage” over the past 50 years, Aston University’s Dr Robbie Love, told the Guardian. “I think it is currently the swearword of choice as it is highly versatile – it can be slotted into speech in many different syntactic positions – and it is also semantically vague (in addition to its traditional usage to refer to sex), so it can be applied in many contexts.” 

Love suggested his findings have implications about the role of swearing in society. Despite the decline, it remains an important component in everyday conversation, and the dominance of traditionally “strong” language may prompt debate on “whether there should be less censorship of such words in contexts where swearing is highly policed”.

The problem, as I see it, is that the efficacy of a rich array of invective has been greatly reduced due to overfamiliarity. This raises an important issue: of what use is cursing if it’s unable to offend and provoke moral outrage?

Perhaps the Queen’s English could draw on other cultures to raise – or lower, depending on your point of view – the tone of contumely. I have made some efforts in this regard with scrawled comments about Boris Johnson on the lavatory walls at The Slaughtered Lamb (“Finest Ales & Pies”). However, the natives tell me that is not how “poet” is spelt. This aluta is going to be very continua, I feel.