Howard Feldman

Too Fast and Furious: a South African production

2017-04-26 09:27

The scene is pure comedy. It’s a delight on so many levels that to imagine it is to appreciate that those of us who live in South Africa indeed live in the nuttiest democracy of all time.

It's a place where the (ex) head of the country’s elite police unit can “borrow” a department car for a joyride through the streets of the capital city; a place where truly anything can happen.

Here is the story for those thinking of writing a screenplay or setting it to music.

In March 2017 (a blissful and happy period prior to the ousting of former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan), the courts found that the then minister of police had ignored not one, but two court judgments. The said courts found that Berning Ntlemeza (soon to be known as Too Fast and Too Furious) lacked integrity and honesty when he was appointed as head of the elite police unit. In essence, said the judiciary, he lacked the conscientiousness to hold public office.

He decided to prove this by promptly stealing a Hawks vehicle and cellphone and by gallivanting through the streets of the capital city.

The minister of police (formerly minister of sport and recreation) understandably was a little put out by the whole thing and threatened his arrest if he didn’t return all the items (a power he didn’t enjoy when dealing with Bafana Bafana).

Thankfully (although a little disappointingly) Ntlemeza did.

In my mind I rather imagined the final scene being similar to that of “Thelma and Louise” where Ntlemeza would drive the stolen car off the side of a mine dump (on the East Rand) whilst the sun sets in the polluted background and all whilst the music swells to a massive crescendo.

The cameras would capture the shocked look on the faces of movie extras seen to be enjoying the end of the summer at Wild Waters (assuming that it’s still open) as they look up and see the former Hawks boss take flight. Audiences would be left gasping.

To add a little irony, the film’s score would be composed by Steve Hofmeyr, who would use the show’s premier as an opportunity to repent his racist ways. This about turn would no doubt lead to a new collaboration with the SABC and his new “BFF” Hlaudi Motsoeneng and which would result in Hofmeyr taking over musical programming at the SABC.

But Berning Ntlemeza, former Hawks boss, has now apparently returned the car and the cellphone that he allegedly stole. To date there is no word on whether he has accepted that he is no longer employed by the organisation.

Not that this is a particular concern in the nutty democracy.

Take Hlaudi as a case in point. If he is able to take the public broadcaster on a joyride for years, why couldn’t Ntelemeza?

In a country where only those who are actually successful are removed from their positions one could hardly blame Ntlemeza for being slightly confused. Indeed, the courts might have ruled otherwise, but if that doesn’t bother the president of the country there is little reason why it should worry him.

Either way – what is clear is that the last few years in South Africa have produced more movie possibilities than is available in Bollywood. Now if we could just think of a nice Indian family with investment appetite, we could be onto something. 

- Howard Feldman is the author of Carry on Baggage and Tightrope and the afternoon drive show presenter on Chai FM.

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