Once a villain, always a villain


Once a villain, always a villain

Without Hermanus's main thug, TINUS HORN has no desire to live there any longer, especially given his own reputation in the underworld.


AFTER 10 years in the Overberg, I decided last week that I would move to Cape Town. Hermanus without its thug is almost as unimaginable as a turtle without a shell. A turtle or my uncle Jerry, who later departed this life due to liver failure.

In my eyes, the place has lost half its lustre. Oh, and as for the other half … if you've seen one whale, you've seen them all.

I reckon that the crime rate, which has decreased so sharply in the blink of an eye, will make the town more attractive for incomers. That statistic doesn't concern me. I am armoured against white-collar thuggery. Just last month, for example, someone hijacked my Capitec account and now they have thousands of rand of credit card debt.

Another thing bothers me. Think back to the Godfather movies. There is now a power vacuum in Hermanus and I want to get away before someone makes me an offer I can't refuse. I'm pretty sure I'm on some or other shortlist. After all, I spent a night in a cell, which is more than I can say about some other people.

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It was the time, more than 40 years ago, when I took two pulls on a spliff on the train between Johannesburg and Durban and a fellow traveller accused me and two other guys.

Three members of the SAP waited for the train at Volksrust and bundled us into a van. At the police station they kicked the other two without mercy. I escaped with a hard smack and was let go the next morning.

My reputation in the underworld preceded me, I guess, and imposed authority on the officers of the law. That reputation of mine has come a long way since my first day at school. That's where I'm going to start my crime memoir one day.

So let's go.

I was assigned to Miss Wissing's class. She comforted all the little ones, whether they were sad or not. The worst whining stopped after a long time and the parents went home, except for one mother. A little guy had grabbed her by the leg and was holding her hostage.

Miss Wissing distracted him with a lollipop — no one else got one, in case you were wondering — and his mother bolted and was out the door in two long strides.

The screaming boy followed her but Miss Wissing was lightning fast. She caught up with him at the gate and picked him up.

The bell rang and the gate was locked. Back in the class, Miss Wissing put the boy down and said: “Octavius, you are so brave!" Then he kicked her on the shin. He was not in the mood for people talking nonsense.

We went on a tour of the bathrooms, which was more or less the highlight of the morning. I knew: it wasn't going to get better. I had to get out of there.

The problem with Octavius ​​was that he didn't have a plan. Without a plan, an escape is doomed.

The bathroom tour was helpful. That's where I hid during break until the bell rang and the other children went back to class.

I had noticed a gap between two fence posts on the way in earlier. That's where I wriggled through. I was free! I didn't long for my mother or anything like that. I wanted to go to the city.

The school is near the bus stop. I didn't wait long. The driver was a nosy parker who wanted to know everything about me. I said I was a bus mechanic and assumed he would be happy to have me on board, but he looked sceptical. Maybe because I didn't have a toolbox or a bus ticket with me.

The bus left without me. For the first time that day I wanted to cry. There was half a sandwich in my trouser pocket, but it was tomato, so I put it back and started trudging back to school. What else could I do?

Soon, a car stopped next to me. I made a dash for it, like my mother had taught me, when the driver told me to get in. When a car door slammed behind me, I quickly looked around and saw him coming after me. He was fat and slow. I easily shook him off and took a shortcut across an open field.

At school, I wriggled through the same two poles from earlier. Someone shouted, “Here he is!" Miss Wissing came running and knelt beside me. My lip quivered when I told her about the kidnapper. She hugged me and said: “There now, Tinussie, there now. You are safe here."

Yeah, right! The next moment the child thief appeared around the corner. “IT'S HIM!" I shouted, but instead of Miss Wissing blocking him, she grabbed my sleeve as I tried to get away. “It's Mr Grové. He went looking for you."

“I know! Call the police! NOW!”

“Mr Grové is the principal.”

I didn't care who or what he was. That's when I started crying. Miss Wissing was a double agent.

The Mr Grové person waved his finger in front of my nose and said: “Miss, you'll have to keep an eye on this one."

“No, Miss!” I sobbed, “you'll have to keep an eye on that one!”

He glared at me and said: “Little hooligan." He was red in the face. Red or purple.

So, yes, there I was, a five-year-old hooligan with half a sandwich in my pocket. It was loaded.

♦ VWB ♦

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