Monday, April 11, 2011

No sense, no sensibility

Julius Malema in court for hate speech, intelligence cop Richard Mdluli trying for bail, another after shock (like how does that work, after a month??) hit Japan - the news today was pretty ordinary.
However, in the little backwater province of Mpumalanga there was a low-key news story that had me gobsmacked. Even though the stuff that comes out of that area is generally weird.
Apparently a taxi association that services the province hired a sangoma from Swaziland to sniff out a dubious unknown character who has been causing them to crash. Mpumalanga taxi crashes have been responsible for 16 deaths in the past 9 months - which they believe are the cause of bad muti after four different sangomas consulted for their insights all agreed that there was a taxi owner using muti to turn himself into a multi-millionaire. Instead of just offering a safe taxi service, he enhanced his own business by causing his opposition to crash.
According to the report, the evil muti caused the taxi drivers to feel sick and their feet to swell so much that they couldn't drive long distances.
So the Mpumalanga Taxi Association consulted with the local tribal council, which governs traditional affairs, for permission for the Swazi sangoma to perform a ritual that would enable him to sniff out the bad muti.
In the meantime some of the black magic and now the taxi drivers are all feeling well and their feet are "in good shape" .
The taxi drivers are now waiting on their permission for the Swazi sangoma to "expose the mastermind" behind all the evil so that they no longer have to live in fear.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Signature of a killer

Hitman Mikey Schultz, the guy who shot Brett Kebble dead, sends me his best wishes. In writing. Along with his sidekicks Faizel 'Kappie' Smith and Nigel McGurk. Check this out:
So how did such a cheesy event come to pass?
I happened to crack an invite to Radio Chick's book launch the other day. It was a big deal indeed - happening on the 19th floor of the Lister Medical Building at 6pm. It was a mere stone's throw away from Joubert Park and the Bree Street taxi rank. The exact spot that sane and law-abiding people would like to be very far away from come rush hour.
Weaving through chaos, encountering utter lawlessness on the roads, made the drive to the launch function of " Killing Kebble - An Underworld Expose" something of an underworldly experience in itself.
But on the 19th floor balcony the scene was different. Music played, the sun set over the city skyline, people chattered, drinks flowed and it was all very pleasant. The only slightly unnerving element was the presence of several extremely large men in white golf shirts - all bulging muscles, mean stares and important looking wiry gadgets on their ears. The place was riddled with bodyguards.
And then I realised why. The three guys who actually killed Kebble - Mikey, Nigel and Kappie - were all socialising at the launch of the book that so effectively describes how they murdered the mining magnate and completely got away with it.
So I asked them to please sign my book. And they did. Happily!
Strangely bizarre. But weirdly cool.
I haven't finished reading the book yet - but it's really good. I get a passing mention in it! And I'm so chuffed for Radio Chick! The first print run sold out in four days, so in less than a week she's into her second print run. Awesome!
I wonder if my copy will one day be valuable.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Journalist's dog finds headless corpse.

This morning a rival newspaper completely outdid the daily paper I work for with a cracker of a lead!
I have never seen anything like it. Seriously.
Last week I thought we were running with a bizarre story when my Durban colleagues gave us the story about the former Blue Bulls rugby player who went running around with an axe and killed three people, actually decapitating one of them.
It all quietened down after the guy was arrested and the courts sent him for mental observation.
But now this morning another paper came up with a brilliant new development in the story. The Citizen's investigative reporter, who is apparently based in Durban, decided to take his dog Earl for a walk in the area where the Blue Bulls guy was staying during the time he alegedly took to running around with an axe.
And get this - the dog found a fourth body lying in the bushes. Minus a head.
The headline: "Earl solves a murder mystery". I swear
Talk about pro-active journalism.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Safe like chickens on any Given day.

Back at work after a public holiday, smack bang into the first deadline for the afternoon paper and decisions, decisions...
What do we lead with? The latest on Libya? Japan? The hit on dodgy underworld boss Cyril Beeka?
So Libya it was.
And just when that edition is done and dusted, time to think of what to go with for the evening edition. And of course there was lots to choose from. A train derailed in Germiston. A guy walked into the Eldorado police station and shot a cop in his office. And some armed gang robbed an Engen garage in the south just as the cash-in-transit van arrived to fill up the ATM after the long weekend, sparking a shootout.
Decision time:
Meanwhile back in the strange province of Limpopo, a man named Given Baloyi who earns his living by keeping chickens safe for R90 a month caught a python trying to prey on his feathered friends. So he killed it. And is now making a ... erm ... killing selling it off in bits.
“So far the intestines have already been booked for R300. I will charge anyone R150 for the skin and R20 per centimetre for the meat,” he told the rural news wire service in the area.
Plus he upped his chicken security fee with a bit of danger pay and now charges R100 a month. All the vendors who use him were so happy they gave him a R7 bonus.
Happy days!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The snail, the magical penis and six donkeys.

So while racism accusations, Joburg's billing crisis, the petrol price and tollgates have pretty much been the focus of news reports of late, weirdness has still been happening all the time in Mpumalanga province.
At the Tonga Magistrate's court a group of 12 people - nine men and three women - were released on bail. They apparently killed their pastor.
So why does a mob kill a man of the cloth? It seems the late Albert Malwane, pastor of the Izwi Zion Christian Church was accused of using a magical penis to sleep with women. The details of this incredible situation are not clear - and trust me, I tried to find out. All I know is that he was also something of a Dr Doolittle, because he was said to have been able to talk to the animals. Anyway his actions so enraged his local community that a bunch of people dragged him out of his house to a hill where they burnt him to death. And then they went back and burnt his house down.
Then the angry mob went after Pastor Malwane's wife. She had apparently been terrorising the community by - get this, I'm not making it up - turning herself into a snail. No, she did not transform herself into a puff adder, a scorpion or a man-eating lion. A snail! It must have been one freaky scary snail because they wanted to kill her too. As people do to you in Mpumalanga when you do such stuff. Apparently.
So the whole crowd has been sent home on bail of R1000 each and will go on trial next month. I wonder what the minimum sentence is for burning your pastor to death in that province.
And then this morning a bus crashed. Into six donkeys. The pictures we were sent are disgusting - donkey bits all over the road and some large dents in the bus. I am sure they will make page one of the Daily Sun tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

It's a tokolosh thing!

Big news in today is that some members of the Pietermaritzburg community handed in a public petition to the local court claiming that an accused in a murder case uses tokoloshes to steal court documents, and they believe justice won't be done in his case as a result.
Yes, indeed this is true.
The accused is a wealthy traditional healer or witch doctor who apparently told a local guy to behead some other guy and then keep his head in the freezer if he wanted to become rich.
So the co-accused in this case allegedly went off and beheaded an 18-year-old and stored the head, with a snake wrapped around it, in his girlfriend's freezer.
It's not clear whether he became rich by doing this, but he did indeed get himself arrested along with the sangoma.
And now the local community is really uptight about it and set the girlfriend's house on fire and expressed their concern about tokoloshe's being used to steal the docket.
All true.
I swear.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Prayers for Christchurch

Some days I find it really hard to do my job and remained completely removed from the news events and stories I have to work with. Especially now that I am based on the news desk full time and don't get to run around on crime scenes and things like that.
But this morning when I arrived at work at 6am I was hit by what has been described as New Zealand's darkest day - the quake in Christchurch. It was four hours after it hit.
I recently reconnected with an old friend from primary school days who is now living in New Zealand. I remembered him telling me all about the shocks and after shocks of the quake that hit in September. So I quickly logged on to check his details again and felt sick when I saw his hometown was listed as Christchurch. I mailed him immediately and have heard nothing back.
Then the pictures started coming in.
And the stories. News updates. And then the personal accounts.
They were hard not to read. I went through one of a woman who described how she had said cuddled her little girl the night before and taken her to play school that morning. Then quake had hit at 1pm their time. She survived the wobbling of the building in which she worked. She listened to the news and almost passed out when she heard that the building in which her daughter's day care was based was among those that had fallen.
Hours later she still knew nothing.
I cannot imagine her agony...

May God be with them!