Monday, March 23, 2009

Chapter 23: Intelligence

We were right in the middle of our meal, when we were interrupted by a warning from Cpl Maseka. I looked up to see Roy threading his way through the tables towards us. The dark circles under the arms of his blue uniform shirt were a clear indication of how badly he had been sweating in the heat.

“Hey Roy, how’s it going?” I greeted him.

“Damn hot,” he grunted as he sat on the wooden bench across from me. “Hi ladies, I’m Roy,” he greeted Alina and Daise, perking up obviously as he did so.

“Settle down you horny dog,” I warned him. “These ladies are with me.”

“The ones you told me about?” he asked before extending his hand to Daise and Alina in turn. “Nice to meet you,” he told each one and smiled as each told him their name.

“Can I get a beer?” Roy asked the waitress who had arrived at the table, “A Castle Draft please.”

The waitress nodded and left and I decided to jump in before Roy had time to settle and start in on one of his inevitable monologues. They could be interminable, but were usually confined to one of two subjects: how inept and corrupt his fellow Metro-Policemen were; or how bad the scourge of crime was affecting the city. Sometimes both.

“Can you brief us about what I asked?”

“Sure. I just came off duty. We had a meeting earlier this morning to discuss exactly that.”

“And?” I had to prompt him to continue as his beer had arrived, and he had stopped to inhale it, before ordering a second one from the waitress who had hardly had time to turn away from the table.

“Ah, that was what I have been dreaming about since I got on duty. It’s been a long eighteen hours for me already.”

“Eighteen hours?” I asked, surprised.

“Ja. I’m on my night duty cycle. We got a call early on, about twenty-hundred, that there was a big shootout in the Point Road area. We were first on the scene. You know those old buildings down there, just behind Addington Hospital? Well, it seems that one of the Nigerian drug gangs isn’t going to be a problem any more.”

“Oh? What happened?”

“They’re all floppies now,” he grinned.

Daise looked at me with raised eyebrows and asked “Floppies?” I laughed and answered her, “Yes, when you shoot them, they go all floppy and fall down.” Daise smiled a little uncertainly, but seemed satisfied with the answer.

“That’s about it,” Roy continued, “there were a couple of bodies in the street, and then a few more in the stairwell. They had some rooms on the third floor, and the rest of the bodies were there. Lots of blood and gore and tons of AK doppies all over the place.”

Before Daise could ask again, I explained that doppies were cartridges, and that it seemed that her countryman’s brainchild, that most successful export to the shitty little wars around the world, was what had fired them.

“Hey,” Roy interrupted my explanation, “I’m supposed to be the cynical one in this relationship.” He grinned at me and called for another beer.

“Roy, before you get completely plastered, maybe you should tell us the whole story and how it relates to what we need to know.”

“No danger of me getting drunk. Just replacing lost fluids,” he replied. “It relates to you guys because we have been tracking these guys for a few months now. I think they are the same bunch that you are interested in, but their tactics and aggression suddenly got ratcheted up. We haven’t seem them getting into prostitution much as yet here in Durban, although they are apparently getting into it up in Jo’burg, but they have been taking on the drug gangs in a big way. The Nigerian gangs have been running the drugs ‘till now, but last night they were taken out completely. The scene that I covered was just one of three. All the same MO: automatic weapons mostly, AKs and the odd R4; all the Nigerians left dead; all the drugs in the place gone; and no witnesses, well none who will talk anyway.”

“Do you have any leads at all?” I asked hopefully.

“We know exactly who it is. It’s the guys you asked me about. There’s no proof though, nothing to show that they were there or that they did it.”

“How do you know it was them then?” Daise interjected.

Roy gave me a look, then turned to Daise. “I’m sure you’ve watched a few cop shows on TV. You must know that we work with informers and people under-cover?”

“Yes,” Daise answered, “but you said you didn’t have anyone who witnessed it.”

“No I didn’t. I said there were no witnesses who could talk. We have started finding the bodies of all our informers and under-cover people turning up in the strangest places. They all have their tongues cut out and a bullet to the head.”

“Shit. These guys don’t play.” I was a little shocked by that.

“So we have learnt. It gets worse though.”

“How could it be worse?”

“I told you I was in a meeting this morning?”


“Well, we made a presentation to the big bosses about the whole deal. It turns out that police intelligence knew that some of this stuff was happening, but had decided to wait-and-see as it was pretty low-key, and the politician types were encouraging that attitude. They want to keep this below the public radar as much as possible. There is no way they want anything to impinge on their World Cup cash cow. They are shitting themselves about the publicity on this. Expect to see a bunch of lies in the media over the next couple of weeks.”

“Ok, but if you know it is them, but don’t have any proof, what are you going to do?”

“At the moment, it is cover-your-arse time, so there are no really coherent plans coming out. No real prospect of any either. I have seen chickens without heads make more sense than that lot.”

“Maybe this plays to our advantage,” I said thoughtfully.

“How do you reckon that?”

“Well, I guess that your lot would be inclined to look a little in the other direction if something did happen to them.”

“What the hell are you thinking Major? You got some OPS-ORDER brewing in that twisted skull of yours?”

“Sort of,” I laughed. “Just thinking that we should check them out and see how much of a threat they really are. Unfortunately, if they have taken out their main opposition, then they might have more time to deal with us. I just don’t know. That’s why I gave you a call; I figured you might have some info for us to at least be able to evaluate them.”

“I was thinking a bit about that. I have a plan for you to get a look-see at the opposition if you like.”

“Ok. What did you have in mind?”

“Well, I thought you might like pay a visit to a strip-club.”

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