The Society of Dishonest Deviants

‘It wasn’t me.’

And with that immortal line in mind, yet another eminent personage joins the ranks.

One Mr Yengeni—the newest addition to the Society of the Dishonest Deviants. Where phrases like “red-handed”, “in the act” or “hands in the cookie jar” mean nothing.

A warm, fuzzy netherworld where, in the presence of all evidence to the contrary, the rule is simple. Deny, deny, deny.

This elite society has no name and owns no clubhouse, yet it has attracted the very cream of society. Famous athletes, government ministers, judges, you name them. Even a former president.

Their personal journeys to The Light are varied. Some were led astray by substances of the liquid variety. Others of powdery form. One or two involve inhalation of sorts.

But they stand firm and united against what “good society” sees as their deviance—and occasional brushes with the law. All the while bound by the sacred rules of the club anthem and rallying cry: “It wasn’t me!”

Its lyrics were forged in blood and tears across the Atlantic way back in 2000, by a tousle-haired and loose-hipped former marine called Shaggy.

Wailing on about being caught “in flagrante delicto” by a girlfriend “with an extra key”, Shaggy is advised to deny everything:

“To be a true player, you got to know how to play/ If she say a night, convince her say a day/ Never admit to a word she say/ And if she make a claim, you tell her baby, no way ...”

Shaggy may have been crooning about a somewhat more compromising situation, but his words no doubt resonate with the Dishonest Deviants.

Who would’ve thought it? That beneath that suave exterior, beyond the pricey eau de cologne, square-toed slippers and Italian threads, lurks the pulsating beat of a true ragga disciple. Jah be praised!

Personally, I would have figured our man Tony for more of a soul brother. The cultured, post-struggle image of our loveable former MP and occasional inmate looks more suited to higher tastes. One could say he oozes more of a jazzy, R&B, cigar-lounge feel.

But Mr Yengeni has clearly been jiving to the club anthem after hours. What else could account for the brazenness with which he told Metro Police officers in Cape Town he had crashed his BMW because of high doses of “flu medication” and not the booze on his breath?

At this point it would be useful to note that the society’s rules allow for a variation on the outright denial theme. Substituting it with what may be termed “truth economy”.

It is here that such memorable phrases as “I smoked, but didn’t inhale”, or “Someone must have spiked my fruit punch” are born. These were words trotted out by no less than former United States president Bill Clinton and world-famous tennis champion Martina Hingis, in response to allegations of smoking weed and snorting cocaine, respectively.

And if the local chapter of the club is feeling left out when it comes to phrases that will be immortalised on Google, there is always Judge Nkola “Five Roses” Motata.

Like his illustrious peers in the Society of Dishonest Deviants, the golden rule was religiously followed. Deny everything. As for your reportedly “glazed look”, “slurred speech” and sexist jibes at female Metro Police Officers … well:

“It wasn’t me!”

Indeed, denial is all the rage when it comes to admitting you’ve indulged in too much tipple or banned substances.

The higher the position held in society by the individual in question, the more stringently is the golden rule applied.

Given all that, one almost admires our embattled health minister—she of single malt and lemons fame. Perhaps more savvy than the rest when it comes to staring the evidence in the face, she has yet to crow “It wasn’t me” in response to media reports about her love for the bottle.

In a way, all this denial is sad. Deviance just isn’t what it used to be. Not so long ago, having “a past” or a reputed fondness for intoxicating substances conferred a badge of honour in certain circles. It used to “make” careers in certain professions. It sold records.

Alas, not any more.

The truth, despite what the Bible says, is overrated: and it doesn’t look good on camera.

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