Open letter to Robert McBride

2008-04-02 00:00

Dear Robert,

Do you mind if I call you Robert? Obergruppenführer McBride sounds so formal. Besides, I feel like I already know you since we both have ties to Durban. I used to drink in the bars along the beachfront and you used to blow them up. Had I not been in a state of penury on the evening of June 14, 1986, I may well have been without my legs today.

On the other hand, a physical disability these days goes a long way towards getting one into some or other company’s crippled quota, even if one happens to be the colour that dare not speak its name. Brenda has offered to lop off a limb or two but, to be honest, I don’t really want a job that badly.

Glancing over your criminal record, I was surprised to learn that Umkhonto we Sizwe

managed to recruit anyone at

all in Durban. What with the

stifling humidity and powerful marijuana, it was only after I grew up and moved to the west coast that I realised apartheid even existed.

What was worse for you? Being on death row or being married to a lawyer? I always had my doubts about that Paula. Since you’re divorced, you probably discovered that women who fall in love with convicted killers aren’t altogether right in the head.

After your unfortunate car accident in December 2006, your second wife, Nina, told the media that you were “very lucky to be alive”.

Wives often behave irrationally when their husbands return from year-end functions, but at least she stopped short of actually killing you. If it had been my Brenda, you would have got more than just snapped ribs and a head wound.

About that accident. Don’t let it get to you. Anything can happen when you suffer from a medical condition such as ours. Just the other evening I went out with a friend and we ended up in a parking lot sharing a bottle of his diabetes medication. By the time the sun came up my blood sugar levels were so high that I had to drive home with one eye shut and my head out of the window.

Everyone rolls their car at least once in their lives and, quite frankly, I’m surprised you haven’t told the court about how you had to swerve violently to miss the child who ran out into the road after his soccer ball. That damn child is everywhere. One time he even caused me to veer into a crash barrier and rip open the side of my mother’s car. And that was at 3 am. I blame the parents.

Thank God some of your more trusted officers arrived at the scene of your mishap and threatened to shoot those interfering whiteys if they called the South African Police. I’ve been at braais where I have come close to gunning down family members who have tried the same thing. When the party gets going, the last thing you need is the real cops barging in and spoiling all the fun.

A word of advice. Don’t lose control of your court case.

Witnesses are saying that you are a man to be feared. Keep it that way. If you hear testimony that is not to your liking, walk swiftly to the stand and dose the witness with a prolonged burst of pepper spray. If the magistrate was trained in exile, this will count in your favour.

You have also been accused of running your department like the Mafia. This is not a negative thing. The Mafia is one of the most successful organisations in history and after the trial I expect you will be declared life president of the Black Management Forum. On the down side, this would probably mean having to trade your 9 mm pistol for a laptop.

By all accounts you run a tight ship up there in the hinterland. Only three officers out of several hundred at your year-end function were drunk enough to have imagined that you polished off several bottles of whisky in the space of an hour or so. They are a disgrace to the force and should be summarily fired at.

Compared to your guys, ours are a bunch of big girls. Just the other day, a dog had a spontaneous bowel movement right there on the main road in Sea Point and a vigilant member of the metro police encouraged its owner to clean it up by ramming her head into a wall. What good is that? Everyone knows the use of minimum force does nothing to engender respect for the law.

If this crime had been committed in Johannesburg, your lads would have broken both the owner’s arms, planted heroin in her pockets and extorted money from her for years to come. That’s how the law should be enforced. There’s too much pussy-footing around in Cape Town.

By the way, are you aware of the striking coincidence that you, the chief of the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Police, share a first name with the man who founded the British Metropolitan Police? Robert Peel’s men were known as “Peelers”. Have you ever thought about changing your name to Robert Piel? Your men could be called “Pieletjies”.

Anyway, enjoy your administrative leave, whatever that is, and I hope to see you back in the driving seat soon. With Jacob Zuma as president, Tony Yengeni as minister of finance and you in charge of safety and security, this country will never be the same again.

Yours truly,

Ben Trovato.

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