When Panama comes to Prieska

panama-papers.jpgEverybody knows Kroek Knoetze – although they’ll never use his gossip name whenever he’s introduced. He’s one of those guys blessed with both physical as well as legal muscles. A former Mister Monster (an unofficial barefisted competition with no holds barred, resulting in several contenders facing hefty medical bills.), it is also said (but never verified) that he also holds a PhD in law. He never chose to practice as an advocate, however. He simply set up a small office on the outskirts of Prieska, where he refused to see the occasional desperate housewife or disgruntled spouse. His main activity – according to local know-it-all, Hessie Houdtbeck – concerns shady deals involving land distribution to BEE companies.

“Has he been back?” Servaas glances at Vetfaan when he walks in. “I believe he saw you two days ago?”

Vetfaan smiles back. “No, and he won’t be. He’s in Switzerland now, according to what Gertruida tells me.”

“But he wanted to buy up your farm. Land redistribution, as I understand it.”

“Ja, that’s right.But I think he’s lost interest.”

Gertruida comes to the rescue. “Come on, Vetfaan, tell him the whole story. You know Servaas has been to Upington for the past few days – in fact, he left just before your meeting with Kroek. Be nice and tell him the story.”

The burly farmer sighs – he doesn’t like to brag; but when Gertruida tells you to speak up, you’d better do it. Otherwise she’ll inform Servaas about the events, and she has a way of dramatising things.

“Well, it went like this: he rocked up with a stack of papers, telling me to sign. I told him there was no claim on my farm. He disagreed, using a lot of Latin I didn’t understand, and kept on insisting that I sign the documents. I told him I lost my glasses and couldn’t read the fine print. He said I needn’t worry about it. I said I always worry about fine print. He offered to read it – more Latin.

“At that point I became fed up and asked him to leave. He wasn’t keen. Now he’s having a sort-of animal operation in Switzerland.”

“It’s called a rhinoplasty, Vetfaan. It’s for his nose.”

“Well, we know he’s not there for his nose alone, Gertruida. It’s about that chap they arrested at the airport when he tried to leave for London. The one that was going to tell the world about the family that hijacked our president – and his family – and the political party. That happened right after I convinced him to return to Prieska. And just before the Panama Papers got in the news. That’s why he’s there, not his nose. Anyway, it wasn’t broken that bad – just a bit out of shape, if you asked me.”

“Whoa! Did you break Kroek’s nose? And you haven’t got a bruise to show? Now that’s impressive!” Servaas raises his bushy eyebrows in appreciation. “Most impressive, I’d say.”

“You haven’t been listening, Servaas. Here’s the South African link with Mossack Fonseca. There was bound to be one, don’t you think? With Zuma’s family allegedly leaking millions out of the country, they had to have somebody locally to help them with the transactions. And if Kroek was involved, it explains his rapid exit…” Gertruida still loves international intrigue and is regularly updated by her former colleagues.

“You actually broke his nose? Shees, man, it should be on the TV! To beat Kroek in a fistfight….wow!” Servaas winks at Boggel. “That deserves a round on the house.”

***

Rolbos is like this. The world is filled with Kroeks and Fonsecas and people who explore every which way to corrupt the system – and they get away with it, just like our own leaders in parliament do.

But to break Mister Monster’s nose? Now that really is big news.

And deserves a round on the house.

***

“Big day in Parliament today,” Gertruida tries to get the conversation going amidst the free drinks. “They’re trying to get rid of Zuma.”

“What….?” Servaas peers myopically at her. “Oh.” He shakes his head, trying to focus, gives up and smiles. “Won’t happen. Not until Vetfaan talks to Kroek again…”

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