Hose-pipe hooligan strikes

2010-05-31 00:00

MY cellphone rings. “Are you Susan Erasmus?” Right. This is not a good start. My instincts tell me that I am about to listen to a futile sales attempt for life insurance, or another cellphone contract.

How wrong I was.

”We’ve got your hose pipe. We found the person who stole it. Would you like to lay charges?”

It’s the police, presumably from Lansdowne Police Station. Blow me down. And people say they’re not efficient?

It’s crunch time at work. I’d been here for eight hours and had no idea that my hose pipe and I had parted company some time during the day.

We had. With the help of a hooded 15-year-old, who no doubt swiftly negotiated my

1,8-metre fence to lay hands on the invaluable green treasure

lying in my front garden. Bonus: it had a R10 sprinkler attached to it. The hose pipe, no longer in the bloom of youth, might fetch all of R5 from some unsuspecting passerby who doesn’t know it leaks. Badly.

What would I like to do? I am asked by the police officer. I don’t want to know how they found out where it came from. Traffic and a train roar past in the background.

So would I like to lay a charge?

No charges.

While I am extremely impressed with the Lansdowne

police, who, while on patrol, spotted a suspicious adolescent schlepping said hose pipe down the road, I do not want to lay a charge.

A small part of me tells me that I am encouraging lawless behaviour. Today a hose pipe, tomorrow a pool cleaner. Who knows what the perpetrator might graduate to by the time he or she is 18? Garden furniture or a murder? But I don’t think the probable punishment meted out for the hose-pipe theft is going to stop this descent into a life of crime. But the motives for my decision are not entirely unselfish.

I do not want to make an

enemy out of an unpredictable teenaged wanderer lurking in my neighbourhood. Neither do I want to spend a day or two sitting around in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court defending the honour and rightful ownership of my hosepipe.

I can just see it.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I present the court with exhibit A.”

Okay, maybe I have been watching too much television.

Moral dilemma.

That’s the thing about this country: there’s a moral dilemma lurking around each corner. If I lay a charge, I could be turning myself into a target. If I don’t, it could be interpreted that I condone hose-pipe thefts, which I don’t.

Back to the Lansdowne Police Station. If this is the kind of service it can provide, with the police station in the state it’s in, I can only hope that they will be given some of the missing R3,2 billion set aside (and presumably missing in action) for the sprucing up of these institutions. Imagine what they’ll

manage to achieve if they have marble and plush carpets and downlights?

I am again in possession of my hose pipe and I have now followed the route of the rest of suburban South Africa. Soon I will be gazing at the world through wall spikes by the light of motion-sensing search lights. Maybe I should decorate the garden hose with barbed wire, just to match.

Now all I need is mustard gas and a trench, and it will feel just like the Battle of the Somme.

— Health 24.com

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