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Eric de Castro
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I’m not a ghost!

27 November 2014, 07:44

How do you determine if someone is really dead? Have you ever been present when someone unexpectedly aimed a kick at the bucket – and managed to whack it dead centre? Here’s what you should know about dying.

Usually the bucket-kicker will take a last breath, sigh, shudder, and then: “Clunk!” kick the bucket, and pass on. Some successful bucket-kickers have movement of their limbs and trunks for up to ten minutes. But that is just due to residual fumes in their tanks. Running on empty, if you will.

Still, how do you determine if the person is really dead?

Well, in the case of a government employee, wave a paycheck in front of his/her vacantly-staring eyes. But be careful. Even in death some these slackers have been known to make a grab at it.

In the case of an ANC-official, just whisper: “We’re looking for tenders,” in his/her ear. They will respond with a broad smile, and offer you a huge bribe.

The easiest way of determining if a normal person is dead, is to check for movement of air. If there is no breathing, that’s it: “Hasta la vista, baby.”

If someone has a stethoscope handy, it can be used. But only for effect. You know the drills: The stethoscope is placed on the person’s chest. The stethoscope-operator listens for about five seconds, and shakes his head. The bystanders look at one another, and shake their collective heads. And then, out of nowhere, violins start playing Händel’s – Funeral March in the background.

At this point in time, there is no urgency in calling the ambulance, doctor, cops, or coroner. Family, friends, neighbours, and rubber-necking bystanders, may want to sit and watch for a few minutes – spending some time crying, wailing, gnashing their teeth, praying, reminiscing, meditating, back-slapping, and laughing because they have outlived the bucket-kicker.

Some will already be making plans for what they are going to do with the inheritance money.

Many people really need to hear someone else saying that the person is dead. “Pronouncing” a person dead is an important part of the dying ritual.

Someone, usually a member of the deceased’s family, or a close friend, should ask aloud: “Is he/she dead?”

A doctor, paramedic, or nurse, should then declare in a grave tone of voice: “He/she is dead.” (As a doornail, or a lamppost, or a pothole.) Add whatever sounds appropriate at the time.

That makes it official – everyone can relax again, and carry on with what they were doing before the inconsiderate bucket-kicker decided to turn belly up in public.

This brings me to what I actually wanted to say:

Do you realise that there are MILLIONS of ghosts in this country, and that they are costing us gazillions?

Ghost pensioners, ghost teachers, ghost schoolchildren. Ghosts who receive social grants, and ghosts who receive government salaries. Ghosts who get paid disability allowances and people who get child support grants to look after ghost children.

We even have ghost crèches, ghost schools, and ghost old age homes.

Being a Government Employee Pension Fund (GEPF) pensioner, I was required (once a year) to make a copy of my ID, traipse off to the local cop shop, have the copy of my ID certified, complete a lengthy document with my updated personal details, and post this lot to the GEPF Head Office.

The GEPF would then respond by snail mail, informing me that my membership has been renewed for another year.

Although it was a bit of a schlep, I complied; thinking that I was helping to reduce the number of fraudulent ghost pensioners in the country.

So, imagine my surprise when, three years ago, I received a notification from the GEPF, telling me that it was no longer necessary for me to do the certified ID copy and document with updated personal details, thing.

For the past three years I have submitted nothing to the GEPF. Nothing at all.

But every year, without fail, at around this time, I receive the following SMS:

“Dear *Eric de la Vega de Castro, GEPF have successfully verified your Life Status. Your pension has been activated for the next 12 months.”

Just that.

Now I have a question.

My question is this: How do the GEPF know that I haven’t kicked the bucket at some time during the past three years? No one has touched the cold, business end of a stethoscope to my hairy chest, in decades.

Am I still alive, or have I passed away – and no one has bothered to tell me of this momentous occasion?

Only the GEPF knows.

*Eric – obviously not my real name

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