I remember going and watching some comedy festival or other soon after I arrived in SA back in 2004. One of the British comics there was poking fun at the low cost of living here and the favourable exchange rate, tying it in to a sign he’d seen near Cape Town:
Please Do Not Feed The Baboons – Fine R500
The tale goes that the comedian felt sorry for the poor baboons not being fed and decided to throw them an impromptu tea party, which obviously proved extremely popular with the local primate population and was therefore well attended. When the authorities turned up, the Brit happily got out his wallet with the R500 “monopoly money” fine therein, only to be told that it was “R500… per baboon”.
Sure, it’s not funny when it’s explained – delivery is everything – but that “R500… per baboon” punchline has remained with my wife and I since that day and is used to describe those situations where the penalty or cost seems unusually harsh or high for any given situation.
And it would work very nicely here, with this warning that I spotted today on the side of an automatic pool cleaner (or “Kreepy Krauly“) box:
Yes, apparently: “In terms of the section 2 of the Import and Export Control Act of 1989 (Act 45 of 1983), it is illegal to export Automatic Pool Cleaners and parts thereof. Section 4 of the Act provides that anyone convicted of exporting Automatic Pool Cleaners and parts thereof may be sentenced to a 10 (ten) year term of imprisonment and a fine of R40 000 (forty thousand rand).”
Wow. Who knew?
Sure, drugs, stolen goods, money even – all have understandable restrictions on their import and export. But Automatic Pool Cleaners (and parts thereof)? Why?
I haven’t had a lot of sleep this week and it may be for that reason that I can’t come up with any good reason why this may be, save for maybe some businessman slipping a backhander to his mate in the Apartheid government in order to protect his local Automatic Pool Cleaner business from cheaper foreign imports. In addition, I really don’t have time to research this further today, so if anyone does have the genuine reason (or any suggestion) why this may be the case, please drop it into the comments below.
In the meantime, “Ten Years… per automatic pool cleaner”…?