It’s time for Booze to go home

Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper

Friday. It’s about 05:30. I should be thinking about state capture, the Zuptas, the inevitability of the militarisation of our campuses turning deadly. Instead, I’m thinking about Booze. Not the booze one throws down one’s neck, but Booze, a human being.

Booze’s real name is Clinton Loyd Houston. Booze is a few years younger than me. I first met up with Booze when I lived in Albert Park in the 1990s. Albert Park was Durban’s Hillbrow by the harbour. Booze was from Newlands East, but hung out there because of the buttons. That’s Mandrax to you.

Booze was an insatiable buttonhead with a taste for violent armed robbery. Booze was in and out of Westville Prison. Booze was a dangerous cat. Booze and I hit it up. Maybe because I was no threat. Maybe because I was as much a fiend as he was. Maybe we just liked each other as humans. It is what it is.

Booze ate and showered in my flat every now and then. Walked my ex-wife from the bus stop when she came back from evening shift at The Wheel Shopping Centre when I was away. Gave my lightie sweets.

Booze lost it in 1995. Killed Kevin Bloxham and two other young men when he went on a robbery spree. Booze got big years. Booze got 30 years from Judge Alexander and 40 years from Judge Nicholson. Consecutive, not concurrent, so Booze can’t apply for parole until at least 2020, if he’s lucky.

I last saw Booze in 2014. Booze was appearing before Judge Jeffrey in the Durban High Court. Booze wasn’t an accused. Booze was a model prisoner and had brought his own application, no lawyer, to force the state to give him a Legal Aid advocate. Not bad for a former buttonhead.

It turns out Booze had challenged his sentence at the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal on the grounds that the parole system was wrong as he had already served more than a life sentence, but wasn’t eligible to apply for parole.

They turned him down, but agreed he had a point and ordered Legal Aid to give him counsel to apply for a review of the parole system.

Booze did terrible things, but he’s done his time. Booze has been behind bars since 1995. That’s 21 years, almost as long as we’ve been a democracy.

I’ve never been a sentenced prisoner, but I’ve been locked up a good few times before making bail. You’re a piece of meat, not a human.

It’s about time Booze went home.

Follow me on Twitter @PaddyHarper1

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