‘Comrades, we’ve got a serious problem. Se-ri-US!’
Nathi Mthethwa rubbed his hand over his freshly shaven scalp, his glasses glinting in the cold overhead lighting. He prided himself on his appearance: not for him the designer stubble or unkempt look favoured by so many of his comrades. He was the Minister of Police, and he would look every inch the military man, even in a civvy suit.
‘It’s not so serious really,’ he said. ‘China didn’t pull the trigger.’
Gwede Mantashe turned on him. ‘What do you mean he didn’t pull the trigger? There are eye-witnesses!’
Nathi smiled his infuriatingly self-satisfied smile. ‘Yes, but those eye-witnesses were in the pay of the DA, and we can prove it.’
Gwede narrowed his eyes and stroked his little Lenin beard. ‘How are we going to do that? This is a staunch ANC ward.’
Nathi smiled again, like a man thoroughly enjoying himself. ‘We get other witnesses, who say they saw the DA members paying these witnesses, and more witnesses to say that they saw China at the shebeen.’
Gwede nodded in satisfaction. Nathi was proving to be very able. ‘China is crying to me about the R20 000 bail money he had to pay. What are you going to do about that?’
‘He’ll get his money back when he’s found not guilty, and the judge will find him not guilty when he sees how the witnesses lied.’ He spoke with such supreme confidence that Gwede knew the judge was a faithful cadre.
‘Okay, next item of business: Osacar Pistorius. What are we going to do about that?’
‘Ehhh, I’ve put my best policemen on that job, to make sure he’s convicted of premeditated murder.’
‘Riyah, I wasn’t talking to you. You’ve already made enough trouble.’
‘Hau, what do you mean, trouble?’ She was clearly shocked.
‘I want Nathi to handle this; he’s the best person, because he’s your boss, and he knows how to say the right things to confuse the people.’
‘I know how to confuse people!’ she expostulated.
Gwede smile maliciously at her. ‘Yes, but you confuse people when you’re trying to clear things up. Nathi confuses people on purpose.’
She shook her head and muttered under her breath. ‘Hey, wena,’ said Gwede. ‘If your people did the right thing at Marikana and with that taxi driver, we wouldn’t have so many problems!’
He turned to Nathi. ‘So, what are your plans?’
‘First of all, I hired some very expensive consultants to explain why we had to remove the door from the Pistorius toilet.’
‘And what do they say?’ asked Gwede, all unction.
‘We had to remove the door to prevent tampering with a crime scene.
Gwede clapped his hands. ‘Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant!’ He turned to Riyah. ‘You see? That is how you do it!’ He looked at her a while longer, then said, ‘I know Jacob appointed you, but don’t forget who appointed Jacob. You sent in a detective with seven outstanding murder charges against him.’
She got up then, shaking with anger. ‘I did what I was supposed to do, neh? Set a thief to catch a thief: set a murderer to catch a murderer!’
Nathi sat back and smiled in satisfaction at the way this was turning out. ‘That is not the way it works, Riyah, but I can fix it, don’t worry.’
‘How are you going to fix it?’ asked Gwede.
‘Simple. I’m going to say exactly what Riyah just said. This man is an experienced murderer, and he knows exactly what to look for. He didn’t wear overshoes before going into the crime scene, because he wiped his feet on the mat outside the door.’
Gwede looked impressed. ‘But what about the fact that the defence is complaining that we won’t allow them access to the evidence?’
Nathi sat back and smiled again, twirling his gold Mont Blanc pen. ‘How can we let them examine the evidence before we, the police and the prosecution, have had a chance to thoroughly investigate?’
‘So you think you can get a conviction?’
Nathi shook his head. ‘No. We will show that the courts in South Africa are still independent and the judge will let him go.’
Gwede looked puzzled. ‘But why? After all this trouble, you just let him go?!’
Nathi stood up and stretched, then said, very smugly. ‘How many gold medals do you think he can win for South Africa at the next Olympics if he’s in jail?’
Gwede turned to Riyah. ‘Listen to this man and learn from him, and one day you will be a good police commissioner!’
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