restricted access Chapter 2
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2 2 They came for him that Sunday. He had just returned from a night’s vigil on the mountain. He knew they would, sooner or later. They’d shown signs of late that they were interested in him. Nothing out of the ordinary, really. Whenever your time was up, they singled you out the way a lion isolated a bull from the heard and let the others go and then worked steadily on the hapless victim until it gave itself up as meal for the carnivore. As a journalist you lived with your other leg permanently in confinement. You were picked up for saying too much, for saying too little; at times for not saying anything at all. Their dragnet carried no identifiable code. It was heaved and thrown by the whims of the force members, and it fell on you with the loose happiness of a mad lorry down a busy street. Their cells had the conditions of Pollsmoor. When Mandela proved too stubborn, too dogged in his education of ANC freedom fighters, he and some of those he educated were moved from Robben Island to Pollsmoor in commensurate determination by his white gaolers. The cells in Pollsmoor were not single boxes that could hold three or four mates and in high seasons eight or nine; but kinds of little halls the size of an average basketball pitch, that could contain whole throngs. The police cells in Tole were halls the size of a small wrestling field, their sanitary facilities, where they existed, just a tin bucket tucked away in one suffocating corner. Inmates made sure they did not fill the buckets up too soon: the tin things were emptied only once a week. They protected that chance the way a child would guard a jealous piece of meat until he could guard it no more. One week was the shortest detention time; so if the bucket filled up too fast, which happened rather often, the load remained in its corner for as many days as were left before the emptying time was up. When this happened, the floor took over as bucket and inmates pushed further and further away from their own remains into space that dwindled with the onslaught of odour and baked/watery deposits, yellow for the most part, but also pale green and even hot red. It was not unusual to see blood dribbling away from faeces as if from the neck of a freshly slain lamb. 3 Once he spent two weeks with them for uncovering an illicit liquor house. It turned out that the business belonged to a concubine of the Mayor. This time they came for him on Sunday… Church day… God’s day. Why Sunday? Why would the Police pick anyone up on a day like that? Wasn’t that just the day when men made their peace with God? Sunday was a day set aside by God for His people, a day for them to empty themselves to Him hearts and bowels and all in confession and supplication, so that He could replenish their zeal for good and root out evil in their lives. Or did they think the Holy Bible and its moral goldmine was a joke contrived by some lunatics for asylum creeps? He mused: These policemen are of the category of human beings who need God most, then he watched them in their professional seriousness, especially the tall one and his Chaka bearing. He could not help thinking: Their pockets are full of acts that should throw them on their knees before God. When you rape and murder, loot and plunder, should you not await Sunday with impatience, even with the anxiety of a guilty man?” They chose Sunday. Which was just as well. He’d prepared for them. His mind was ready to be assaulted, his body ready for torture. It had happened many times before, and each time it’d happened his preparedness had mitigated the suffering. Police cells were torture chambers from which you emerged diminished, no matter how strong you were in mind and body, so you never allowed yourself to be dragged into them by surprise. You went ahead of the arrest, ran ahead of the brutality before the gun-butts and boots smashed into your skin; you gave up your blood before it was drawn, sacrificed your mind before it was defiled. Whatever they thought they were doing as they came for him, he knew on his part that they...


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