/ 13 September 2019

Hlaudi put me flat on my back

Hlaudi put me flat on my back
Scarily funny: Former SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng testifying at the Zondo commission this week. (Antonio Muchave/Sowetan)


It’s mid-afternoon. A bolt of pain pierces my lower back and brings me instantly awake. I make it halfway upright before my right hip locks, halting any further movement off the couch.

I’d passed out there a couple of hours earlier, courtesy of the breakfast cocktail of cannabis oil and anti-inflammatories I’d taken to deal with the pain from my back.
PROMOTEDMake this Summer the best everGet the Samsung Galaxy A30s and R250 Online Voucher for R299 PMx24 On Smart XS+ Buy Now.Vodacom | vodacom.co.zaMy dodge disc had popped on Friday when I slipped while running in the rain.

It first went about 15 years ago. I’d jumped in when some coked-up racist took a swing at Prince Sifiso Zulu at the Bean Bag Bohemia one Sunday evening. Mageba and I had been on the sauce all day. Neither of us was in a condition to walk, let alone fight. Sifiso’s eye was closed from where he got blindsided. I got handed my ass — and a lifelong bad back — for diving in. Sifiso was my bra, so my only regret is that I didn’t get any decent licks in before I was floored. At least I’ll always have a reminder of my friend, who died in 2015.

I try to control my breathing — and the pain — and force myself upright. I have to stop there for a moment as another spasm hits. I steady my feet and raise my body. It hurts, but eventually I’m on my feet. Monday’s session with the chiropractor realigned my hip. Hopefully Wednesday’s manipulation will get the errant disc back into place, get this broken old bastard back on his feet.


I unmute the TV on the way to the kitchen. I’m ravenous. The oil will do that. It’s great for the pain — and way easier on the kidneys that a handful of painkillers on top of the anti-inflammatories — so I can live with the constant hunger. The buzz doesn’t hurt, either.

I’d killed the volume earlier during live coverage of the Zondo commission into state capture during the testimony of former SABC lahnee Hlaudi Motsoeneng. Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo had spent the morning in stitches over parts of Motsoeneng’s evidence about his relationship with the Gupta family and his rise to power at the public broadcaster. I did too, but it came with a price tag. Every bellow of laughter ripped straight into my spine and hip, so eventually I had to hit the mute button.

Motsoeneng’s evidence was straight up madness. Lunacy. Our man got headhunted to become SABC boss while on his way to write matric, turned the corporation around while capturing the Guptas and eating their curry.

Funny, but terrifying. A hoot, but a stark reminder of where we were as a country, of the fact that not that long ago our public broadcaster was run by what in East Belfast would be described as a head-the-ball, a nutter.

I can see what former president Jacob Zuma saw in Motsoeneng, though. Who better to turn the broadcaster into your personal propaganda machine; siphon off what cash was left to your Saxonwold chommies; purge the corporation of journalists unwilling to toe the line, than Hlaudi?

uBaba must have been wringing his hands in glee when he first came across the organic intellectual. The man was tailor-made for the job at hand. Built for purpose.

I wonder how uBaba will respond to the summons from the VBS Mutual Bank liquidators, who want to repossess his home at Nxamalala over the R7.8-million loan he was given in 2016 but hasn’t serviced very often?

The attorneys appointed to liquidate the bank and recover R2-billion it loaned out want the high court in Pietermaritzburg to grant an order attaching the former head of state’s home. According to the court papers, Zuma hasn’t made many of his R69 000 a month payments on the 20-year loan. The former commander-in-chief never made a single full payment. uBaba now owes more than R500 000 in arrears.

The liquidators have called in the loan. They want the R7.3-million Zuma still owes on the loan — apparently taken to pay the state what he owed for the R248-million upgrade to the property — by September 14.

It’s a tough one. uBaba has essentially pawned the pozi. The slip is about to expire. The pawnbroker wants his money, or the house will be sold.

It’s a tough, but not unfamiliar situation. I’ve hit the pawnshop to make the rent more than once, over the years. My Uncle Martin was a pawnshop specialist. One day my cousins, Young Martin and Jim, came home from school to find the old man had pawned their bedroom cupboard. Same story with the living room carpet and Young Martin’s bicycle.

The volume kicks in on the TV. Motsoneng is still on the screen, babbling. I kill the power. My back can’t take any more laughter, right now.