“Reinforcements?” Oudoom peers through the window to watch the three black BMW’s raising a plume of dust on the road from Grootdrink.
“Well, I did inform my superiors,” a dubious Sergeant Dreyer shakes his head, “but they weren’t very helpful.”
“That,” Gertruida says because she knows everything, “is a rescue party for our two uninvited guests. I’ll bet we’re going to be astonished in the next few minutes.”
She doesn’t say it, but her mind flits back to her time when she was deeply involved with National Intelligence. The approaching vehicles may mean one of two things: either they represent some clandestine government department…or the men in those BMW’s belong to the smuggling gang. Either way, they have to protect Bianca. Those men will want more than just the two prisoners…
“Bianca! You have to hide! Now! Whatever these men men are, I think they may want to talk to you as well. And I have a feeling…”
Boggel is the first to react. He steers Bianca to the shack at the back where he stores the supplies.
“Shhh…not a word, Bianca. We’ll handle this.”
If the Rolbossers had any knowledge of recent movies, they might have laughed when the new arrivals in town alighted from their vehicles after stopping in Voortrekker Weg, These men could have stepped from the set of Men in Black. The suits, the dark glasses, the burly frames…even the expressionless faces with the straight-line lips – and the black ties, of course.
The one (the leader?) pushes open the door to Boggel’s Place with a gloved hand.
“Who’s in charge here?” The voice reminds Vetfaan of the thorny bushes on his farm.
“And who are you?” Gerttruida gets up, smiles sweetly and introduces herself.
“I am from the Federated Anti-crime Research Taskforce and these are my colleagues from the Consolidated Regional Anti-poaching Protocol. We understand you have two criminals here.”
“Oh, my! I’ve never heard of you?” Gertruida seems genuinely interested. “You must be very…discreet? Never heard or seen in public?”
“People in our line of work have to be invisible, Madam.” If the man had any idea that Gertruida was poking fund at the acronyms, he showed no sign of it. “I have here a warrant for the arrest of two men. I believe you have them in custody?”
“And how, may I ask, do you know this?”
“Some policeman reported it as such, Madam. Now please hand them over.”
“But I don’t know who you are, Mister. You could be from African Rhino Smuggling Enterprises, for all I know. Have you any proof of identity? Any official documentation?”
“Listen, woman, I have no time for this. I get my orders from the presidency. You can phone the spokesman – here is the number.”
“You mean, Mac…” Gertruida doesn’t get to finish the name. The man interrupts her with a loud cough.
“Please, Madam. No names. There are ears everywhere!” He glances around as if looking for bugging devices. “But yes, that’s the man.”
“But…” Gertruida can be extremely sweet when she wants to, “he’s a habitual liar, you know that. When that man wishes you a good day, you know you can expect a cyclone.”
There is the faintest twitch – upward – of the man’s mouth corners. It may be his best effort at smiling.
“The men…?” His eyebrows raise above the rim of the dark glasses.
The Rolbossers have no real choice in the matter. The warrant seems real enough, and the leader of the men gave Sergeant Dreyer an official receipt for the two prisoners. Dreyer was extremely upset when his phone call to headquarters ended in a sharp rebuke – Sergeant, you either comply and follow orders, or you will be dishonourably discharged. Is that clear?
The Man in Black ignores Dreyer’s pained look. “Keep the receipt on file. If anybody makes enquiries, I want to know about it immediately. That’s the number there.” He points at the document.
The man hesitates, watching how the two prisoners are led to the waiting vehicles.
“I believe a woman arrived here two days ago. Where is she?”
“Oh, that harlot? That hussy?” Gertruida’s disapproval is written all over her face. “I’ll tell you: she tried to seduce one of the elders of our church! Can you believe that? A man of morals, an upstanding…member…of our community. We don’t welcome such people in our town. You’ll only find good, honest people here – I can guarantee you that.” When you’re in trouble, Gertruida always says, you stick to the truth.
“Well, I’ll remind you it is an offence to harbour a criminal. If she should ever return, I want to be informed immediately.”
And then, without even saying thank you or goodbye, the men get in the vehicles and roar off.
“Will somebody please tell me what just happened?” Mevrou’s hand trembles as she lifts the shot glass to her lips. The last two days have made her reconsider: old Noah certainly did the world a favour by fermenting those grapes! And he is in the Bible, isn’t he?
“The government just rescued their two agents, that’s what.” Gertruida glances over at Bianca for support and gets a nod. “Those men were hired hands, just like this team that visited us were. All governments employ such people: they do the dirty jobs and get paid to be invisible. Sure – the President will know about them, and his spokesperson will be informed – but they’ll never, never acknowledge such allegations in public. Like the Arms Scandal and Guptagate, they’ll just keep on lying, hoping the issue will fade away.”
“But who is behind all this, Gertruida? If the president is lying, he must have a very good reason to do so?”
“Ag, Mevrou,” Gertruida sighs, slumps forwards om her arms. “it’s the way of the world. Think about it: who wants Africa? It’s riddled with poverty, disease, wars…and minerals. Gold, iron, coal, diamonds, platinum, uranium…you name it, and it’s all here. Now, who’s building roads, bridges and railroads? The Chinese, that’s who. To be the world’s strongest economy, China needs to produce the luxuries the West wants.
“Work it out: the West represents the consumers, the East produces the goodies. And in the middle, Africa is being stripped of her riches to supply in these demands. It’s no secret that China will be the new America. Sadly, the US of A has pushed the self-destruct button when they became too complacent, too wealthy and too strong. Their strength became their weakness and this weakness is eroding their society from within.
“So…what’s the weak point? The economy. He who controls the purse, controls the world. China isn’t involved in Africa to help the poor, struggling countries on the continent. They’re here to plunder.”
Mevrou still looks confused.
“You want to know why the president will lie? Money, that’s why. Nkandla is the little bit of the iceberg you can see. Below the surface, there’s a whole lot more. And so he becomes a puppet, a willing co-worker to enrich himself.
“Think about it: when last did you hear the president say something about poaching? Or smuggling? Anything at all about farm murders? No, he’ll talk about land reform to keep the masses happy. He’ll talk about Black economic empowerment, because that’s what his comrades want to hear. It keeps him in power, just like Mugabe did in Zimbabwe. This country, Mevrou, isn’t being tun on moral values. It’s being run by money. That’s why 83% of the population agree: the police are corrupt. I’m sorry, Sergeant Dreyer, but that’s the view out there. You and a number of your colleagues may be on the straight and narrow, but a whole lot of policemen aren’t.”
“I agree…” Bianca, quietly sipping her beer, has listened to Gertruida’s lecture. “I’ve seen it in Uganda, It is terribly sad.” She pauses, as she looks down at her hands. “And now I’m a marked woman. They won’t rest until they find me…and the lists.”
This time, Fanny surprises everybody by getting off her chair to announce her plan.
“Let me suggest something…”
In this whole world there’s nobody as lonely as she
There’s nowhere to go and there’s nowhere that she’d rather be….