LOAD-SHEDDING is the axis around which our lives revolve. Every day is planned around the times indicated on EskomSePush. We go to sleep in the dark and wake up in the dark. No one cares any more whether it's stage 2 or stage 11.
We stumble through life like zombies, making sure our cellphones have enough charge. Exhausted mothers iron school shirts at midnight but can't get out of the garage when morning comes because the battery died during the night.
We scream and shout at anyone from André de Ruyter to Cyril Ramaphosa to the dancing electricity minister, and all those three cat-farters say is, “we must stand together", then they continue twerking. Well, my fuck-you meter has finally hit red.
Apparently, load-shedding has also caught the automated revolving doors of the police station in Somerset West off-guard because now they're secured with slide locks and no one can get service after 7pm. But let me start from the beginning.
A week ago, I had to reluctantly leave Pringle Bay to attend to business in the city. Among other things, I needed to have documents certified, so I planned to get that done at Somerset West police station on my way back. My plan was to get there just after 6pm because by then the criminals were probably having dinner before embarking on their nocturnal looting, and it wouldn't be busy. The streets were quiet, Eskom had cut the power, and even the sex workers had left the yellow circles of lampposts. Boom, I'm done.
The police station is fenced off and you have to park outside. It's getting dark but its lights are shining brightly. I walk quickly, constantly looking back at the small gate, while South Africa's crime statistics and the resilience of women echo in my ears.
There is a revolving door that I remember from a previous visit but it is closed. I walk to the door next to it which bears a sign on a dirty piece of white paper: “Use next door." But I am at the next door.
‘Then I see someone, a tall policewoman with a stern face, hair pulled back with a bun on her head, pants pulled up high to her waist with a wide belt. I see her, she sees me, our eyes lock ... but slowly, like Homer in that online meme, she retreats behind the wall.'
I tug and pull while the adrenaline of fear pumps through my veins. The door remains closed. Maybe it's because of the load-shedding. I peek through the window; there is no one in sight. A police station without police? I walk back and forth past the windows. Maybe there's a Zoom meeting, someone went to the restroom, there's a workshop on crime prevention. Anything.
And then I see someone, a tall policewoman with a stern face, hair pulled back with a bun on her head, pants pulled up high to her waist with a wide belt. I see her, she sees me, our eyes lock. I think I see a glimmer of recognition but slowly, like Homer in that online meme, she retreats behind the wall. And there she remains.
I knock and I wave. I'm wearing an orange tracksuit, and my hair is coloured purple, so how the hell can't you see me? I tug at the door again. And then I see it: the revolving door and every other entrance are locked with multiple slide locks like Dinky Toys' exhaust pipes.
I go back to the car, creeping carefully along in case an attacker appears out of nowhere. As I walk, I look back to make sure I didn't imagine it. Ms Bun appears in the hallway and tiptoes somewhere towards the back. The rest of the office still hides behind the walls. My fuck-you meter starts glowing and I have to stop myself from turning into a Valkyrie.
I veer off the path. “Hey, Google. Call Somerset West police station. Main Road." The phone rings three times and someone answers. I can only assume it is Ms Bun. “I was just at the police station. As far as I know, police stations are community centres and provide 24/7/365 service. You have slide locks. And there's no one on duty."
No one answers but someone takes a breath. “Hello, are you still there?" Silence. And then Ms Bun says, “And then you drove away." My blood boils. “So, you saw me? You actually saw me driving away? I didn't have a serious matter, but what if I was a woman in distress, bleeding, attacked, raped? And the place of safety I went to, a police station, a community centre, is under lock and key? Why did you not open? You saw me!" Silence.
“Are you there? Do you have anything to say? Like, ‘I'm sorry', or ‘I went to the bathroom.' Anything?" Silence. Then, “Are you coming back?" My fuck-you meter is now blood red. “No, but I'll file a report in the morning." And she says, “Okay."
I didn't report the incident. Why? To be sent from pillar to post? To receive a letter saying, “We will appoint an investigative team"? I've had enough. I'm fed up with a system that has decided indifference and apathy are the watchwords in dealing with the public/voters. That employs people who are only there to get a fat pay cheque.
No one takes responsibility and no one is accountable for excellence and service delivery. From top to bottom, there is complete apathy. The country is burning while the ministers twerk. No one gives a fuck.
♦ VWB ♦
BE PART OF THE CONVERSATION: Go to the bottom of this page to share your opinion. We look forward to hearing from you!