Clarkson on Jozi

Jeremy Clarkson has been to Johannesburg.
And he didn’t get mugged, hijacked, shot, stabbed or killed in any way whatsoever.

I could reproduce the whole article here, but I won’t – click his name if you want that.
Meanwhile, here’s just a little taster.

Jo’burg has a fearsome global reputation for being utterly terrifying, a lawless Wild West frontier town paralysed by corruption and disease. But I’ve spent quite a bit of time there over the past three years and I can reveal that it’s all nonsense.

“Pah,” said the armed guard who’d been charged with escorting me each day from my hotel to the Coca-Cola dome where I was performing a stage version of Top Gear.

Quite why he was armed I have absolutely no idea, because all we passed was garden centres and shops selling tropical fish tanks. Now I’m sorry, but if it’s true that the streets are a war zone, and you run the risk of being shot every time you set foot outside your front door, then, yes, I can see you might risk a trip to the shops for some food. But a fish tank? An ornamental pot for your garden? It doesn’t ring true.

Look Jo’burg up on Wikipedia and it tells you it’s now one of the most violent cities in the world . . . but it adds in brackets “citation needed”. That’s like saying Gordon Brown is a two-eyed British genius (citation needed).

Check the comments – he’s got all the ex-pats into a frenzy. “You didn’t go to Hillbrow”, “You were reading the wrong newspapers”, “You had a guard” etc etc etc. Bless. They hate the fact that they might lose some sympathy points over in Blighty or Ozland when people read this. I’d guess that the most annoying thing for them is that he’s independent, has no agenda here, no need to take one side nor the other – oh – and well read.
Ooh – that’s quite a lot of annoying things. You can see why they’re all upset. 
So well done for speaking truthfully, Jezza.

Now – if you’d just let me walk around your lighthouse, we’d all be sorted.

Thanks to MrShallowEndDiver for the heads-up

Jumping the gun

The South African Police Service get a lot of criticism for their sometimes lacksidasical approach to the job, but in this case, they’re certainly ahead of the game:

Eleven critical after Alberton crash

Eleven people were critically injured when a taxi and a Toyota Corolla collided head-on in Alrode South, Alberton this morning, Ekurhuleni metro police said.
“Ten people from the taxi and the driver of the Corolla were rushed to the Natalspruit hospital,” said Inspector Jimmy Maboko.
The cause of the accident was unknown but it is suspected that one of the vehicles veered out of control and crashed onto an oncoming one at 6am.

A case of culpable homicide was being investigated, Maboko said.

Why? No-one was killed.

    Culpable Homicide is defined simply as “the unlawful negligent killing of a human being”.
     (S v. Naidoo and Others, Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa, Case 321/2001)

The Tale of Blanket Man

More from the free weekly amusement that is the Southern Suburbs Tatler. You may recall the story of the annoying church bells, which they ran a couple of weeks ago.
This time, they’re reporting on a recent Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association meeting in the suburb of Pinelands.
Now, I’ve no doubt that there are some serious issues being discussed here, but the way that reporter Lauren O’Connor wrote her article left me… bemused.

Several residents complained about two vagrants who frequent Pinelands. One is known as Blanket Man and the other as Beanie Man or Polo Classic.
Councillor Brian Watkyns said people were concerned because Blanket Man masturbates in front of children on their way to school.

Inspector Waters said police have arrested him for malicious damage to property.

Eh? How does that work, then? (Actually, don’t explain).

So, does Inspector W have any tips for getting rid of Blanket Man and his disgusting, depraved, dangerous and damaging “habit”?
Of course he does:

The reason why Blanket Man keeps coming is because people are giving him food.

Indeed. I believe that selenium and zinc are particularly important for that sort of thing.

Trevor Mallach – fake letter

It seems to me that the unacceptable practice of propagation of deliberate falsehoods to attain various objectives is becoming entrenched in our country.

Thabo Mbeki, January 2009

A letter – which initially appears similar to Alan Knott-Craig’s brilliant first and not so great second – has been doing the rounds here in SA. It purports to be penned by the hand of one Trevor Mallach, “a Shoprite Group executive” and comes with his request to “please pass on to just five friends with the request that they do the same”. Do I hear the faint sound of alarm bells?

The letter is a plea for South Africans to vote in the upcoming elections. Good idea. No problem with that: Want democracy? Use democracy.
In fact, I almost agree with the sentiment:

I swear on my grandma’s grave… if I hear someone (who didn’t vote or couldn’t vote because they were too lazy or hungover to register) complaining at a braai about the government, I will come in from the side with a flying head-butt which will leave you so brain-damaged you’ll join the ANC youth league and vote for Julius Malema in 2013.

But sadly, the rest of it is utter tosh: standard disingenuous “facts”, thinly-veiled comparisons of Jacob Zuma to Adolf Hitler and Robert Mugabe, promises that SA will become another Zimbabwe, that Zuma will commit murder during his tenure without fear of prosecution and will be President “forever”.

And then, when the election comes, vote for anyone except the ANC. You can vote for Vernon Koekemoer or Skippy Peanut Butter for all I care, just as long as no one gets a two-thirds majority!

Is that official Shoprite policy, then?

So, it’s fake – but how fake is “fake”? Well, Trevor Mallach does exist and he does work for Shoprite. I know this, because I spoke to him this morning. It’s not difficult to do this, but it’s no use googling his name – all you get is daft blogs worshipping “his” letter and using cut-and-paste because they have nothing more interesting to share. Instead, I went to the Shoprite website, rang the number on the page and asked to speak to him. Tough.

And that’s where the sad side of this sordid tale comes in. Because Trevor Mallach does exist and he didn’t write this letter. But it’s his reputation and his name which is getting dragged through the mud each time this rubbish is forwarded (and it’s being forwarded a lot!). As soon as I mentioned the letter, there was both resignation and anger in his voice – I’d describe it as a kind of angry, resigned tone. He asked me not to forward the email, asked me to delete it, said he was fed up of hearing about it and that it was all a lot of nonsense. Of course, it’s a futile effort, this thing is whizzing around South African cyberspace like a SAA crew on coke. Just wait til it hits the ex-pats – they’ll have a field day with its rampant misinformation and scaremongering.

Dude, it must be true, Trevor Mallach said it and he’s a Shoprite group executive!!!!!!!

So – if you get this letter – don’t forward it.
Rather forward this explanation and remind people that behind a fake letter is a real person.