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‘Gastarbeiter, demonise the witch!’ cried the Doc


Many years later, the Doctor Chairman’s secret recordings would be found in the ruins of an office park allegedly burnt down by operatives of unhappy advertising agencies because they got such bad value for money when placing their ads in his publications.

It is not clear from the recording whether the Doc (as he was affectinately known by his devoted staff) was on his own at the time or was hallucinating the presence of an underling. For the interest of those studying the media in South Africa during the confusing period of 2000 to 2020, here is a transcript.

“Come on, you blerrie stupid thing … [Sounds of something being set alight, crackling fire noises, long inhalations. Sonic analysts suggest that these are the sounds of someone smoking tik.] Aaah, that’s better … Now, this is what we gonna do, Gastarbeiter. We gonna screw that bitch over … that evil ultra-left-wing DA-supporting non-business-friendly racist workerist bitch who’s editing my newspaper – yeah, we gonna make her life so fucken miserable that she’ll vanish!

“Yeah, yeah, that’s what we gonna do … [The Doc starts rapping:] Nail the bitch, nail the bitch! [Our sonic experts say he would have made an excellent rapper – parental advisory for language, of course.] Nail the bitch! … We’ll find a reason, I don’t care what. We’ll do it for Madiba! You know I was his podiatrist? … Yeah, we’ll do it for Mandela’s toenails! [He is shouting now.]

“Yeah, first we plot plot plot … it’ll be like the glory days in MK, hey, Gastarbeiter, when we smuggled Mandrax for the struggle. [The Doc stars rapping again:] Nail the bitch, nail the bitch!

“So we plot, we find a reason, we can find reasons, we dump the witch. Whaddaya mean she’ll sue? I don’t fucken care if she sues. My lawyers will do anything I say. My editors will do anything I say. Okay, you better check the subbing, Gastarbeiter – don’t want any of your usual typos in our propaganda. It’s gotta be classy, lots of big classy op-eds demonising the bitch. Long, long, op-eds with politically correct bylines. She’ll have no comeback, ’cos she’s white! She benefited from apartheid! And we only want people who benefited from the struggle, however small their contribution. Listen, clipping Madiba’s toenails wasn’t nothing …

“Then, right through the court case, we keep vilifying her. Sub judice? I don’t care! We just keep demonising her. Look how well it worked for JZ in his rape trial – that woman’s never been seen again. Demonise! Demonise! [The Doc starts singing; this goes on for some time.]

“And I don’t care if we win or lose! I’m above all that shit! I’m the untouchable Doctor Chairman! I’ve got pots of renminbi! Even if we lose, even if we have to settle, we keep demonising, demonising … Contempt of court? What’s contempt of court? Hey, man, the truth stops with me …”

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Shaun de Waal
Shaun De Waal

Shaun de Waal has worked at the Mail & Guardian since 1989. He was literary editor from 1991 to 2006 and chief film critic for 15 years. He is now editor-at-large. Recent publications include Exposure: Queer Fiction, 25 Years of the Mail & Guardian and Not the Movie of the Week.

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