“This better be good, Boggel.” Vetfaan rubs the sleep from his eyes as he marches into Boggel’s Place. To his utter surprise, he finds Kleinpiet, Servaas and Sersant Dreyer already there, each with a steaming mug of Boggel’s special coffee. After last night’s excesses, even Boggel has that hung-over expression: drooping chin, eyes deeper in their sockets, and a pained expression that is so typical when the drums inside the brain are thumping away with gusto.
Boggel shrugs as he serves a round of special Creme Sodas.
“Drink your coffee and that Green Ambulance, Vetfaan, before you realise how smart you were last night.” The cooldrink contains a liberal tot of cane spirits. Boggel’s sure cure for hangovers is sweet, strong coffee laced with Amarula; followed by a Green Ambulance – the combination of fluid, caffeine, sugar and a touch of alcohol remains a winner.
“Right.” He surveys the bleary eyes, smiles, and tells them to concentrate. “Vetfaan was right. We must make the town disappear. That’ll solve the problem.”
“Okay.” Kleinpiet cups his face in his hands. “I’ll go borrow a bulldozer in Upington. Should be back in a week’s time, so I’ll be off right away. But first give me another Greenie, Boggel.”
“No need to be sarcastic, Kleinpiet. There’s a much easier way. Let me explain…”
They listen. They say he’s a genius. And then they scamper off to find boards and paint.
“Mister Boggel? You asked me to keep a lookout, remember? You said there’d be an old man passing through Grootdrink, and I must let you know? That’s why I’m phoning you now.”
“Yes. That’s all I know: an old man, heading for Rolbos.”
“Well Mister Boggel, such a man stopped here at the cafe just now. You know what? Three other men came in a Land Rover – a very dirty one, if I may say so. And those men, they weren’t so clean either. They seemed scruffy, Mister Boggel. Well, the old man got in the Landie with the other three. He took a small case and a laptop. Then they drove off on the Rolbos road.”
“Thanks, Platnees, that’s a great help. We’re almost ready.”
“There’s more, Mister Boggel. Just after the men left, another car came. One of those big, ugly things. Sounds like hammer…”
“Yes, Mister Boggel. They stopped at the cafe, too. Bough cool drinks. And then they also took the Rolbos road. They just left, maybe five minutes ago. I had to wait for them to leave before I could ask to use the phone.”
Boggel replaces the receiver with a worried frown. Gee, he had hoped to have more time to prepare. His only customer right now, is Precilla, and he tells her to go to the men immediately.
“We’ve got two sets of people on their way to us. Platnees says they’ve just left Grootdrink. Tell the men to hurry, will you? We’re running out of time. Hurry, Precilla.”
General Ngobeni stares out of the window of his office. Today is one of those crystal clear days in the Cape. His men have just informed him that The Boss and three accomplishes have just passed through Grootdrink – a stroke of unexpected good luck. He had guessed that Gertruida may have been the magnet that drew Paul Harrison and The Boss, and dispatched one of his best teams to find out what is happening in the little town with the funny name.
He feels rather proud that he connected the dots so well. Paul Harrison – worked for the ANC, manufactured false reports, turned international spy – tasked by the CIA to get his hands on The Boss’ files. Gertruida – double agent, erstwhile accomplice of Harrison. The Boss, apparently hunting Harrison – why? Did Harrison somehow managed to get the secret files? Yet, why else would The Boss sell Mister Taxi for an address in some godforsaken corner of the Northern Cape? No, there can only be one explanation: The Boss knows that Harrison will seek refuge with that Gertruida woman – and that puts the three of them together in one place.
Now, one of two things will happen: either The Boss and his team will eliminate Harrison and anybody else with knowledge of those secret files – or they will team with up Harrison, to blackmail everybody who has something to hide.
Both these situations pose a problem, however. Whether The Boss works alone or in a team, it is clear that those secret files will cause a lot of damage if they get released – to the public, or the CIA or anybody else, for that matter. Such information – especially when loaded with this type of political dynamite – may have serious international repercussions.
Oh, they can always afford to lose a few minor officials or even one or two of the less important politicians; that won’t cause too much damage. Just like the recent Gupta-incident, the newspapers will have a field day before moving on to a next scandal. The general admires the President for his resilience in this kind of scenario – keeping quiet and letting his spokesmen handle the heat has served him well.
But this time, the fire is too hot. If the world knew the details of the Arms Deal and how it tied in with some people who have contributed so generously to the President’s lavish lifestyle, no silence would be sufficient to hide the corruption that has wormed it’s way into the highest offices in the country.
No, there is only one way to handle this: get rid of the evidence…and silence all who may have any proof of The Boss’s files.
That little town – Rolbos – is so small, so isolated, that few people have ever heard about it. His team will make a proper decision, he is sure of it. There are so many possibilities! Afterwards, they can blame it on a gas cylinder that exploded. Or a freak tornado. Or simply the Afrikaner Freedom Front, thereby giving the government ample reason to eliminate that irksome organisation.
His face lights up when a thought strikes him: why not (after the dust have settled) arrange a land claim on both Rolbos as well as that farm near Beaufort West? Just think how good it’ll sound to the voters in next year’s election? The generous and kind ANC government once again proves their commitment to the previously disadvantaged communities. The best part of this plan is that he, himself, may just possibly become the proud owner of that farm.
Well, he’s done what he can. The President himself sanctioned this operation, so if anything goes wrong, nobody will be able to point a finger at General Ngobeni. This is the way all operations should function… Smiling happily he walks to the front desk, where Beauty Mahlangu is typing reports.
“Hey, Beauty… How about an early lunch? We’ve been working so hard lately – we deserve a break, don’t you think?”
“You’re in an exceptionally good mood today, General?” Beauty is used to the stern faced man who so rarely smiles. Look at him now…
“Oh yes, Beauty. I just love it when a plan comes together. Come, let’s go celebrate. I’ll book it as an official meeting, so we’ll go and relax in the private dining room in the Mount Nelson. They have an exceptional variety of champagnes. Come, come now – don’t keep you boss waiting.”
Precilla stops the pickup in front of Boggel’s Place and remains seated for a while. The men are almost finished; they’ll be here shortly. Please, she prays, please let it work out?
She looks up to find Gertruida next to the vehicle.
“Where’s Paul, Gertruida?”
“He went off to help the men. He asked me to look after this.” She holds up a laptop.
With nothing else to do but wait, they march into Boggel’s Place, where the little bent man fixes two strong Greenies before pouring his own – even stronger – drink. They don’t talk. The time for words is past. Only action can save them now.