“You see, my father mapped out the entire Cango IV, noting the intricate channels that connected the various chambers. In the deepest one – they called it Botha’s Hall – they prepared the space for the hundreds – thousands – of secret documents. These were sealed in plastic containers within stainless steel boxes before being stacked inside the cave. These boxes were small enough to be pushed, pulled and carried through the narrow passages to get to their final resting place.” Rusty indicates the box size to be about two shoe-boxes big.
By now, of course, the entire Rolbos has gathered in the bar to listen to her story. Gertruida has told Rusty about their adventure with Sergeant-major Grove, and this seems to have reassured her.
Then Rusty continues with her narrative, explaining that her house had been burgled a week ago.
“Aunty G, they burgled my flat while I was at the Harley Club last week and broke open a filing cabinet. I kept a lot of Dad’s papers there – letters, photo’s and other documents he prized. Amongst them was mention of the Swartberg Project – about CCCP – and only these were stolen. Nothing else…”
Gertruida interrupts her. “And the map?”
“No, not the map. Dad was always adamant that the map should be kept separate, and that’s what I did. I kept it in the drawer beneath my socks…” She smiles coyly, “no burglar wants to steal old socks…
“Anyway, it is clear that they – whoever they might be – knew exactly what they were looking for. Nothing else was taken – not even the loose change that was on top of the cabinet. I think they hoped to find everything about the Cango-story amongst those documents – and there certainly is enough to be worried about. Although they didn’t get the map, there is enough to point them towards the new entrance to the North of the ‘known’ caves.”
About five years ago, when Dawid van Vuuren realised he was slowly losing his battle against cancer, he took Rusty to Cango IV. It was to be their last trip as father and daughter, and the details of that time is still crystal clear in her mind.
“You won’t find that entrance if you didn’t know it was there. It looks like a thousand other depressions, holes and crags in the limestone ridge. Look, I took a photograph.” She fishes a picture from her hand bag to hold it up. “Even with this, you won’t be able to find it. You have to know where to look, and that’s why Dad made me go there.
“We had such a good time…”
“But I still don’t know why you are worried about a previous government’s documents, Rusty?” Servaas stares at her cleavage while he speaks. “Suerly it doesn’t matter any more?”
“Listen, Oom Servaas, if you can’t look me in the eye when you speak to me, you can take your old-man fantasies and go have a cold shower.” Her eyes flare in anger. “I’m not just a bloody object to stare at, understand?”
Gertruida hides a satisfied smile. It’s high time somebody gives Servaas a bit of lip – he’s not used to being criticised. Seemingly not interested in his response, Rusty nevertheless answers the question.
“Those files contain not only record of the Natioalists covert plans, but also enough information to embarrass many countries. My Dad said they contain evidence of the CIA’s support for the ANC, Buthelezi and the AWB. In other words, America helped everybody: the Nationalists, the Right Wing and the terrorists – or freedom fighters, if you prefer to call them that. England did much the same: they harboured the ANC’s government-in-exile while they supplied help to the Nationalists. France, Italy, Australia…you name a country and you’ll find that the world didn’t know half the truth of various government’s involvement in both sides of the struggle. Most of them postured themselves to benefit from whatever the outcome of the war was.
“But there’s more, my Dad said. He mentioned funds in Switzerland, hidden stashes of weapons, and diamonds.
“My involvement? I promised him to protect that information. He made me swear a solemn oath. He said that information is so sensitive that it’ll start a civil war in the country….but he also said the documents had to be preserved.”
Dawid van Vuuren reckoned that there will be a time in the future, when the truth about the struggle must be made known. In his opinion at the time, the country will need at least five decades post-Apartheid before society normalised. “Look, it took fifty years for the Afrikaners to stop rebelling against the English. I suppose it’ll be the same for the New South Africa. A generation has to die, and the past mustn’t be so tangibly real any more. Only then will people see their countrymen as companions on the same journey; as equals building a new future. That’s the time when citizens will be able to see the 80’s and the 90’s in their true perspectives. Before that, this information will only polarise an already-emotional society – with dire and disastrous consequences.”
Rusty sits down on the high bar stool, flattening the short skirt over her shapely thighs. Servaas groans with pleasure.
“Boggel,” Rusty’s voice has an angry edge to it, “please tell this stupid old man to stop perving? Make him sit down on your side of the counter.”
“Is this everything you took from the cabinet?” Colonel Tshabalala stares at the two men across the polished surface of his over-sized desk. “Everything?”
“Yes sir.” Patrick Ngobeni shifts uneasily in his chair. “There wasn’t a map.”
“…So you searched the rest of the house?”
“Er…no sir. We thought this was what you wanted.”
The colonel sits back, making a steeple with his fingers in front of his lips.
“And the woman has disappeared?”
“Would you describe your little mission as a success then, Comrade?” The last word is hissed with venom.
“I don’t know, sir.”
“Let me tell you what will happen. You will find that woman. You will find that map. And you will find that cave. Those are your orders. Is. That. Clear?”
A suitably chastised and down-cast Servaas sits next to Boggel, facing the rest. At least, he thinks, I have the full-frontal view now.
“So what do you want to know, Rusty? How can we help?”
“Aunty G…I don’t know. Destroying the map isn’t the answer. If they – and again: whoever they may be – if they know about the cave, they can send in squadrons of troops, hordes of people, to search the area. In those documents it states the entrance is to the north, and about fifteen kilometres from Cango I. It’ll be a question of time before they find it.
“That’s why I came here – Dad said you’re the only one I can trust. Only now…I’ve ended up telling a whole town – including that randy old lecherous man. I-I suppose you’re all involved now.”
“Well,” Gertruida frowns down at her glass, “we’ll have to figure out something. The documents must disappear. Or the caves must disappear. Or the men looking for them, must be dissuaded. Or something…
“Did you tell anybody you’re coming here?”
“No, not at all, I’m not stupid.” Rusty bites her lip to control her temper.
“Did you use your credit card to fill up at a petrol station?”
“Yes, at Grootdrink.”
“And is your Volkswagen equipped with an anti-theft tracking device?”
“Of course! They steal cars all the time.”
“Then, my dear Rusty, we can expect visitors sometime soon.”