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Missing: 10 babies, 1 iPad, and my jab

Thursday. It’s Day 455 of the Covid-19 national lockdown. Suddenly, the judgment of my neighbour, Karen, whose purchase of about 5 000 rolls of toilet paper last March caused serious laughter in the Harper household, appears to have been a little premature on my part, and spot on from her perspective.

A full 15 months into the lockdown, Karen’s garage full of tissue is still not empty, but it’s getting there: a roll by roll homage to the gods of hoarding.

With the third wave of the virus that has engulfed Gauteng — swamped the province’s hospitals with more than 10 000 infections — Karen may have been right after all.

The third wave hasn’t quite hit KwaZulu-Natal yet, but it will inevitably reach us. There’s been no real difference between the behaviour of human beings in Durban and Johannesburg in recent months and weeks so all we can really do is wait for the worst. 

I’ve pretty much gone into a personal level-five lockdown.

No face-to-face jobs.
No media briefings.
No courtrooms. 
No crowds.

At least until I get a needle in my arm.

Somehow, I’m more hopeful that I’ll eventually get a jab. 

Deputy Health Minister Joe Paahla gave us over-50s a bit of a lifeline on Wednesday, with the heads-up that our registration starts next, after the teaching profession.

Until then, it’s the #Rastazenica. 

The mobile goes.

The presidential iPad has, we are told, been found.

Unlike the fictional 10 babies, who, it appears, did not only not disappear, but never existed at all.

Like the babies, the head of state’s device was, we are told, never lost in the first place.

Fair enough.

For a moment, when the head of state froze on our screens on Monday and issued that plaintive appeal for the return of his device, I honestly thought that Cyril Ramaphosa’s iPad really had been swiped.


Spirited off, along with the five twins, to a storeroom in Sauer Street; jacked, not for the president’s deepest, darkest secrets, but to keep the tiny 10 occupied with some streamed Takalani Sesame Street while Oom Piet and Uncle Ike plot new ways to destroy a media group in the boardroom.

A strange scenario indeed, but certainly nowhere near as outrageous a story as some of the tales we have been fed of late.

Perhaps the prez froze like that because he feared not that his iPad was being covered in baby drool; or being swapped for gear by some light-fingered passerby; or quietly handed to a foreign intelligence agency, but that it had fallen into the hands of the most dangerous enemy of all — his own comrades.

Within seconds of the commander-in-chief going all deer in the headlights on national TV, my mind was racing, joining the dots, as it were — conjuring up images of Ace Magashule and Carl Niehaus huddled over the presidential device in the front seat of Carl’s bakkie in a Bloemfontein back street, trying for dear life to hack the lahnee’s password; mine his iPad for some dirt to use against him ahead of next year’s ANC national conference.

CR17. No joy. 
Buffalo#1. Nada.
WMC007. Nothing.
#Stellenbosch. No go.

The president looked angry — and terrified — while he waited for his minders to find his technology. The head of state vibed stolen nudes; jacked bank accounts; a New Dawn Guptaleaks in the making, while he stood there, trembling, bewildered, furious, nothing at all like a man who was, we are subsequently told, taking the piss.

I get the president’s bleak response to his iPad taking a walk. 

I was gutted when mine disappeared a couple of years back.

It took a walk from my locked flat, at about 2am. Along with my laptop, my kids’ phone and every electronic device in the house, bar the TV and the PlayStation. This was not long after the Croc, photographer Khaya Ngwenya, and I flew over Ramaphosa’s predecessor’s house at Nxamalala, near Nkandla, in a chopper from which we hustled to get the first aerial pictures of the property.

The bedroom windows at the back of the flat were wide open, and still shaking from the burglars’ exit, by the time I unlocked the front door and found my gear was gone.

The discovery that the iPad was gone left an awful, empty feeling in the pit of my stomach; along with the knowledge that some bastard — whether it was crime intelligence or a presidential henchman or some stray opportunist didn’t really matter — was creeping through my life.

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper

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