I was more than a bit confused: there were hardly any bakkies and I didn’t see any huge khaki-clad guys with equally massive revolvers. Instead I was confronted with about 100 people you’d expect to find any day at the Centurion Mall.
Wearing fleeces and jackets, and bent forward in camping chairs, they listened reverently to Hans Drommedaaris sing. His rendition of DeLaRey and a fervent Die Stem remind me that I’m somewhere else.
But everyone has come to listen to Gustav Muller — the guy who is not going to win a Eugene Terre’Blanche lookalike contest. He looks comfortable in his suit and speaks easily. He smiles. His face doesn’t threaten to explode while he is addressing the group.
“We react, we don’t mobilise” is his mantra and he peppered us with it — usually after lurid newspaper quotes about real or impending violence. He spent some time on a Zimbabwe Mail report that casually revealed the real aim of Julius Malema’s recent trip there — to finalise plans for Zimbabwe-style land grabs in South Africa.
The article went on to an even larger exposé: that President Jacob Zuma met Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe in secret to lay the groundwork for the plan and Zanu-PF and the Zimbabwean War Veterans’ Association would provide crucial support.
It is vital that people are prepared because “once things get bad, they are going to very ugly very quickly”, Muller tells us. He mentions xenophobic attacks such as one in De Doorns recently, where people were chased out of their homes at 2am.
Muller encourages everyone to visualise that happening to them: “Imagine something like that but on a massive scale, with organisation and resources.
“All of us were sleeping. You had maybe watched 7de Laan, had dinner, a bath and were fast asleep.”
The Haiti earthquake and the New Orleans hurricane also show what happens when things get out of hand, he says: “We’re not talking about some small country here. We’re talking about America. Even they had to get 200 000 troops in to quell the unrest.”
Sure of the terror he’s instilled, Muller piles it on. “Everyone must have a sleeping bag, tent, food and diesel or petrol,” he says.
“How much food do you recommend we have?” asks a housewife from the back. “A few weeks’ worth,” is the ready reply, “but you can even have three months’.”
The questions come fast: “How will we know where to assemble?” “What about my parents in the retirement home?” “What do we do if phone contact is down?”
Muller opens his Bible. “I listen to what my Bible tells me,” he says, and reads from Ecclesiastes: “A wise man’s heart directs him towards the right, but the foolish man’s heart directs him towards the left.”
“People can laugh at me,” he says, “they also laughed at Noah. Is this all possible?” he asks. “Well, a kid asked someone if all this is possible and the response was: ‘We live in a funny country, funny things can happen’.”