Saturday, May 30, 2009

Chapter 30: Cleanup and Regroup

I called out to Daise to warn her that I was a friendly, then moved further round the front on the car to confirm that the threat was past. A quick glance told me all that I needed to know, and I rushed back to the driver’s seat of the Landrover. As I jumped in, I called to Daise and she sat back down, pulling her door closed behind her.

I shifted into reverse, and pulled back, wincing as the car I had crashed scraped as it pulled free of the Bull-Bar and crashed back down onto the road. Once I was clear, I shifted back into first gear and swung round to shine my head-lights onto the first car that had arrived at the hospital.

I was gratified to see that my confidence in Cpl Maseka’s ability had been fully justified. The driver of the car was face-down on the tarmac and his hands were secured behind him. Cpl Maseka’s helper was standing with one foot planted firmly in the center of his back, and his pistol pointed down aimed approximately in the direction of the back of his head. I could see two heads with long hair through the back window of the car, so I guessed that the women were still OK.

I left the Landrover with it’s engine running and jumped out. Cpl Maseka was in front of the car busy with something that I couldn’t see. When moved around to where I could see him properly, I could see that he had just finished binding the hands of a second man.

“Everything under control Cpl?” I asked

“Hundred Percent Major,” he replied, “no major injuries.”

“Major injuries?” I asked.

“A few cuts and scrapes from ducking into cover. Nothing a few plasters won’t fix.”

“The girls?”

“We just shouted at them to keep down when we pulled open the car doors. These idiots hadn’t even drawn their weapons.” His voice dripped with scorn as he gestured with his head to one side. A glance told me that he had recovered both of their fire-arms.

“Ok. We need to clean up and get out of here.”

“Two minutes. The Sgt-Major is getting the car.”


I reholstered my fire-arm and moved to the passenger door of the car. As I turned around, the headlights from the Landrover must have illuminated my face sufficiently for Bettina to identify me. The door suddenly flew open and I found my arms full of a sobbing woman.

“Hi Bettina, sad to see me?” I said jokingly.

My only reward was two fists beating on my chest. I gave Bettina a big squeeze, then pushed her away from my chest so I could see her face.

“Are you OK?”

“Yes,” she answered through her tears, “but I am worried about my daughter.”

“Ok. We’ll talk about that in a few minutes. What about your friend?”

Bettina turned back to the car and crooked her finger at the girl still sitting there. “This is Katerina.”

Katerina climbed out of the car slowly. It was obvious that any movement caused her pain. Once she was standing, she took two steps towards me and then reached up, put her arms around my neck and pulled me down to kiss me. I hesitated slightly and the thought ran through my head ‘Never kiss the groupies’, but I shrugged it off and returned her kiss. I figured that this was her way of thanking me for helping her, and that it would demean her to refuse.

“Hi Katerina, nice to meet you. We need to get out of here, so we will talk a bit later.”

I walked to the Landrover, pulling the two girls with me. Once there, I handed them over to Daise with a quick introduction, and turned to look for the Sgt Major. Typically of the breed, he was standing right behind me and grinned when he saw that he had managed to startle me.

“Geez Sgt Major, don’t DO that,” I admonished him.

“Do what?” he asked with a faux innocent expression on his face. “We’re ready to rock and roll whenever you are. Roy just wants to know where the brass is from the shots that you fired at that other car. He doesn’t want to leave any obvious clues.”

“It wasn’t me who fired, it was Daise. I suspect that her doppies ejected straight into the Landrover. She was standing in the passenger door when she fired.”

“Yebo. I’ll grab the other car, load up Cpl Maseka’s crew and make my way back to your place for a debrief. Ok?”

“Perfect. What is Roy up to?”

“He’ll hang around here. Arrest those two clowns and muddy the waters as much as possible when the Police arrive. He’ll have some story worked out by the time they get here.”

“What about the CCTV cameras?”

“What do you expect? Did you REALLY think they were actually working?”

“And if they are?”

“One of the guys has gone to sort that out. We figure a hundred rand or so and the tapes from tonight will be hard to find.”

“Perfect. See you back at my place.”

I jumped back into the Landrover and pulled out of the parking lot. Once we were driving, I called to Bettina, “Where is your Daughter?”

“She’s at my flat. I have a nanny who looks after her at night.”

“Directions please?”

It only took us five minutes to get to Bettina’s flat. I went up with her and helped her gather her clothes and a few personal items. Once we had thrown those into a bag, she went to wake up her daughter. The nanny turned out to be a young Zulu girl, who showed every sign of being petrified of me, until I was able to reassure her that I was not part of the crowd that had been scaring Bettina. Speaking her language helped a lot with that. Once she knew that I was going to take Bettina and her daughter away with me to look after them, she begged me to take her with, pointing out that we would still need someone to look after the child. I decided that she had a point and told her to come with.

Ten minutes later we were all loaded up in the Landrover and on the N3 Highway back up to Kloof.