The saga with Suits and Big Bill was not my first encounter with guns – not by a long shot. [Hehehe, couldn’t resist.]
Rewind to the mid-1980’s.
The scene: Apartheid was in full swing, the country was in State of Emergency, political unrest was rife, and curfews were imposed in the townships; with the South African Armed forces having a heavy presence in these locations, particularly Soweto and Alexandra, where the unrest was most volatile.
I was a young and innocent [believe it or not] teenager; without a cooking clue about the boiling pot of politics in South Africa, par for what we were taught in school; which was naturally tainted. My only interest at that age was smoking [Benson & Hedges Special Mild], drinking [Black Label] and partying with my friends. Oh and snogging with the boyfriend, a good smooch went amiss.
As I’ve previously written about this Bad Boy, he literally came from the wrong side of the tracks, and he wasn’t exactly the best influence on me. We would tell my folks we were going to the movies, but instead we’d be hitting much older teenagers parties, getting very drunk.
One weekend, Bad Boy decided that we should have a double date with his best friend and his girlfriend, with the plan being that we go to the drive-in. Which we duly did. We stayed for the first feature, however the second movie was a Terence Hill and Bud Spencer flick that none of us were keen on watching; and so we left Top Star in search of booze and a bong.
Not being a driver myself at the time, I didn’t know where we were going; and all roads looked unfamiliar – as they always did back then.
Soon the more affluent houses made way for low cost housing, which in turn led to shanties and finally we were in an area surrounded by very rundown apartment-style building, which I later discovered were the men’s hostels in Alexandra.
As ignorant and naive as I was at 16, I knew we were in a township; and I also knew that for four young white teenagers, this was a very dangerous place to be; especially late at night, during the State of Emergency and in the middle of political unrest. We really couldn’t have been in a worse place at a worse time.
The boys were full of jokes in the beginning; giving us a ‘tour’ of how the ‘other half’ lived. All was fun and games until the driver realised he was completely lost and didn’t know how to get us out of the township, as all the windy roads merely led to more rundown buildings and shacks with sans a person or car in sight.
The smell of paraffin and smoke was overpowering; and the lack of voices, dogs barking or any other seemingly normal neighbourhood sounds; ominous.
The sound of tires rattling on the uneven sand road alerted us to the presence of other road users; and the boys were thrilled that someone was nearby in order to give us directions to get home.
The bakkie sped past us on the wrong side of the road, and screeched to a halt several feet in front of us. With no street lamps we couldn’t see anything; and it was only when our car was surrounded by six youths with AK47’s pointed at every window, that we realised we were in danger.
I was sitting at the back left passenger side, with the girlfriend of the driver to my right. We grabbed each others hands and held tight in absolute fear. The guys in front had lost every ounce of cockiness and even they were frightened.
Time stood still and nobody moved. The men outside kept their stance; one at the back, one in front, and two at each side. We sat still in car, not talking, not moving. Each party awaiting a move from the other side.
The bakkie in front of us make a u-turn and slowly inched towards our car, the lights illuminating the interior of our car; giving our armed guards a full view of the occupants; and a huge shadow of the man in front of our windscreen, looking larger than life.
One of the men shouted instructions to his comrades in vernacular; and immediately my window was hit by the end of the barrel of the assault rifle.
“Get out girly.”
“Hey! I said get out!” the barrel bashed against the window again, and this was accompanied by the rattling of the car door handle.
Soon similar actions were taking place on the other side of the car, with our windows being hit with the guns. Hard enough to echo in the silence of the car, but not enough to break the glass.
By this stage my bladder was my empty, but not a fuck was I going to move. I couldn’t, even if I wanted to. I was frozen to the spot. If they wanted me, they were going to have to break the door open and take me. And they’ve probably have to take the car seat too, as the seat, my urine and I had all become one.
This was obviously the plan, as after more deliberations in their dialect, my captor turned the gun around to use the butt to start bashing against my window. It didn’t break on the first try, and so he stood back to get a better brace to hit the window.
Before I could finish the prayers in my head; bright lights came up behind us, along with the rat-a-tat-tat sound of gunfire blasting in the air.
“Oh Jesus, here comes the rest of the gang. Just make it painless.” I prayed, to the only God I knew at the time.
To be continued …