Before the funeral , livre ebook

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2011

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200

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2011

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Before the funeral is a novel book written by: Magasa S. Ledwaba.
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Publié par

Date de parution

01 janvier 2011

Nombre de lectures

0

EAN13

9781776032679

Langue

English

Poids de l'ouvrage

1 Mo

Novel
Before the funeralis a novel book written by: Magasa S. Ledwaba. Copyright © Magasa S. Ledwaba All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photo-copying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from publishers. First Edition: 2011 First impression ISBN: 978-1-77603-267-9 Printed & bound by: Sharp Shoot Printing  PO BOX 2893  POLOKWANE  0700 Tel : (015) 297 8416 Fax : (015) 297 8415 E-mail : sharpshootpublishing@gmail.com Book design & layout: Sharp Shoot Publishing Cover Design by Sharp Shoot Publishing
I t was just after nine on a cold June evening when the people of Mokerong Township heard the rumbling of a high calibre weapon which could have been an AK47, R5 or any assault rifle. As the noise was continuous, it was not easy to hear whether it was just one gun or several guns shot simultaneously. The sound was so heavy that the township went dead silent almost immediately. Even the dogs stopped barking. People in the vicinity of the place where the shooting was taking place locked their doors and switched off the lights. No one could venture to go outside. They were used to occasional gunshots in the evenings which mainly came from smaller weapons as boys in the township had a tendency of attempting to perfect their shooting skills at night. The victims of such practices were mostly the road signs. Gunshots from such small weapons seldom caused panic among the residents. What the people used to hear in the past was nothing compared to the sound that punctuated the winter air that evening. The people were even afraid to cough or make up any sound that could attract the gunman or men. For the same reason, no one even dared to draw a curtain to look outside. It was quite scary. Parents whose children had not yet returned from their nightly strolls prayed that their children shouldn’t be among the victims of the shooting. After the shooting had stopped, people heard the screeching of tyres as a car sped away. No one saw the car. After about thirty minutes the police arrived with their sirens and blue lights. The arrival of the police served as a cue for people to get out of their houses 1
and go to the scene of the shooting. It was as if a bell had been rung to summon everybody. The entire township was there, even the pre-scholars. The police immediately cordoned off the area with their tapes. People were shocked when they arrived to find the car belonging to a local man surrounded by the police. The car had hundreds of holes made by a hail of bullets. The driver’s side resembled a brazier (mbaula).The lights of the car were still on and there was a motionless human being inside the car. There was no way that person could have survived as he had received numerous shots to the body. The scene was horrific. Even if there had been no police tape people would still have remained a little far from that perforated car. Only the very brave could advance to within a few metres from the car. From the reactions of the policemen, it was obvious that they too were shaken. The car belonged to Sello Kubu, a taxi owner who was also a leader of the local taxi association. He was a powerful man. He was educated, having been a teacher before he joined the taxi industry. The residents of the township knew him as a humble and soft spoken man who liked peace. When he joined the taxi industry many were surprised. By his very meek and peaceful nature Mr. Kubu did not fit in the violent taxi industry. Those who were close to him, tried to convince him to leave the industry mainly because of its violence. The bad thing about taxi violence in the modern days is that it results in the loss of numerous lives. This is in contrast to the olden days where taxi people used to fight withknobkerries. With a knobkerriefight people seldom died. Those who were seriously injured would go to hospital, get some stitches and come back to continue with their normal activities. With gun violence on the other hand, very few victims have a chance of even arriving at a hospital. Normally a victim of gun violence is taken directly from the scene to the mortuary. A few that are transported to hospital are almost always certified dead on arrival. The taxi violence is so complicated that it will take many years to bring it to an end. There are so many local associations that affiliate to bigger ones. By affiliating to one big association called a mother body, you automatically become the enemy
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of the other associations which are affiliated to other mother bodies. As these big associations are represented nationally, it is possible for a taxi war to be exported from one province to the other. In some cases people do not even remember what they are fighting for. It just becomes a matter of revenge attack after revenge attack. As most of these taxis carry stickers of their mother association, it is easy for the rivals to identify and attack them. The big bosses are easy targets because they are prominent and well known. They do not need a sticker to betray them.
At the crime scene the police took their time as always. They were in no hurry to remove the corpse and they did not even cover it as it was standard practice. The police asked anybody to come forward and identify the body. People were reluctant to go nearer the damaged car. Somebody told the police that the car belonged to Sello Kubu. One of the policemen said, “We want you to identify the person, not the car. It is possible that someone might have been driving. It is not enough to tell us who the car belongs to”.
People continued speaking among themselves. No one heeded the call by the police. Just as everybody seemed to be describing one or other issue to anybody, a private car arrived at the scene. The car belonged to the local taxi association and it was clearly marked. It had three male occupants inside. They stopped the car abruptly, alighted quickly and rushed into the crowd. They pushed their way to the front. One of them by the name of Sticker went below the police tape and proceeded to the door of the damaged car. The door was open and he looked at the bullet-riddled body behind the steering wheel. The man was silent and he was still buckled to his seat belt. Sticker greeted the police but they did not respond. He kept his eyes firmly on the body and tears started flowing from his eyes. One of his friends, who came with him by car, stepped forward and looked at the body. He could not contain himself. He burst out and cried loudly. The scene was overwhelming to him as he was the chairperson of the association. He cried because he had just lost one of
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his most trusted lieutenants. He also feared for his life and the lives of other members.
“Bra Cry, they killed you. They killed you, these dogs. Why? Why? They have killed a man of peace.” The man uttered these words in between sobs.
“Do you know this man?” one policeman asked
“Yes. He is Bra Cry. Sello Kubu. He is our secretary and spokesperson. They have killed him, these witches”.
“Are you from the Taxi Association?”
“Yes. I am the chairperson”.
“What is your name?”
“Oliphant. William Oliphant,” the chairman of the association said between the sobs.
“You will have to come to the police station tomorrow morning”.
The man continued crying. He responded by just nodding his head. His wailing caused some people in the crowd to cry also. The doubts they had about the identity of the deceased were eliminated when the man mentioned ‘Bra Cry’. Sello Kubu was known throughout the township as Bra Cry. This is a direct translation of his Sesotho name, Selloa cry. In the township very few people ever called him Sello. Young and old simply referred to him as Bra Cry. So, when the crying man mentioned this popular name, everybody knew that the gentle giant had been slain. Bra Cry’s tragic death brought anger in the hearts of the township folk. More people went closer to the car and all confirmed that it was indeed him. The policeman had to chase them back when he realised that they were already crowding the scene. He wondered why the people who were earlier reluctant to get nearer to the car when they were called suddenly
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vied with each other to be as closest as possible. Were they perhaps waiting for the chairperson to identify him first before they could also have a look?
Sello’s body was full of blood and hundreds of pieces of glass from the driver’s window which had been totally demolished by bullets. The body must have had about eight or nine bullet holes. He was shot at close range and the impact was huge. From the many holes on the car’s body and on the man’s body, it became apparent that he was not shot by one assailant. There were several spent cartridges on the ground. Both the right wheels of the car had been shot. The driver’s door was open and it was not clear whether he had opened it while trying to flee or whether he wanted to speak to his assailants. From the look of things it seemed that he was the one who had opened the door. Another possibility is that he must have known his assailants and as a result they wanted to make sure that he dies instantly. Otherwise he would spill the beans. While some were still crying and others talking, a van from the department of health’s forensics services arrived. It was followed by an ambulance. It was then that people began to realise why the police were so slow. They were actually waiting for the department of health to come and remove the body.
The people from the forensic department were as slow as the police if not slower. They took their time. They put on their gloves slowly and took several photos. One of the paramedics from the ambulance certified that the victim was indeed dead. Thereafter forensic guys covered the body with aluminium foil and put it on something that looked like a stretcher. Just before they could take the body into their van, a car arrived. It was driven by a young man. He got out of the car and opened the passenger door. Out came an old woman who was covered in a blanket and wore adoek on her head. She went to the forensic guys and asked them to remove the cover so that she could see the corpse. The forensic guys informed the police. The police gave them permission to remove the cover. The old woman looked at the face of the dead man for a long time 5
without saying a word. Just when the forensic men were about to close the cover, the woman collapsed. She fell down thunderously and remained silent. People started to blame each other. Somebody should have held that woman because as the mother of the deceased there was no way that she would have been strong enough to tolerate looking at her son in that condition. The boy who was driving the woman’s car started crying as he felt responsible for what happened to the woman. He should have held her. More people joined the crying.
The paramedics then sprang into action. The old woman had fainted and they tried to resuscitate her. They carried her into the ambulance. Many people feared that she had died too as she seemed so lifeless when she was carried to the ambulance. The two paramedics gave her first aid. They took their time and at long last she opened her eyes. It was obvious that she was delusional. The paramedics decided to take her to hospital. The ambulance followed the forensics van. In the meantime a breakdown truck had also arrived. It lifted Sello’s car and it followed the other emergency vehicles. The police remained for some time. They interviewed the members of the taxi association with the hope that they would get some leads. The police were in turn interviewed by two journalists who had arrived on the scene.
The spectators were reluctant to leave. They were afraid but they also wanted to witness everything that was said and done at the scene of the accident. Everybody who was at the accident scene wanted to remain there until the end of the proceedings. Leaving early would be a foolish idea as it would mean that the following day one would have to listen to other people explaining the events that shall have taken place later. People remained at the scene of the accident until all the policemen had left. Being a spectator is nice, particularly if you do not have to pay for watching such a drama on the other hand, to watch a traumatic event is detrimental to one’s health and emotional well-being. It is possible that what you have witnessed may haunt you for many days, weeks or months. The trauma can in some instances last forever. When the people 6
who had been watching the accident scene departed to their respective homes, they started to feel the trauma. Others were afraid to walk alone to their homes. Those who stayed far had to plead with others to accompany them to their destinations. This was not easy as very few people were in a mood to venture far away from their homes. What would happen to them when they returned home? It would be very foolish for one to go far from home only to come back alone in such a tense place. People rushed into their yards and locked the gates. Thereafter they tucked themselves into the houses and switched off the lights. Those who lived far from the scene had to run so as to reach the safety of their homes earlier. There was no time for a leisurely stroll. No one wanted to listen to any other stories. Everybody was in a hurry to arrive home. It was scary. There were many unanswered questions on the people’s minds. Who killed Sello Kubu? What was the motive for the killing? Where did the killers come from? Who was next? Nobody felt safe.
That night many people could not sleep. Those who had seen the corpse could not get that scene out of their minds. All of them were freezing. While they were watching the scene they had been oblivious of the cold. When they were supposed to sleep they started feeling the effects of being exposed to cold temperatures for a long time. They were shivering from both the fear and the cold.The inability to sleep increased the fear and the worry. Just what have become of human beings? How could people slaughter another human being in cold blood as if he were vermin? Do people still fear God? Do they even recognise God’s presence? Another thing that disturbed people’s sleep was the constant movement of police cars with their searchlights and sirens.
When the news of Sello’s murder reached Gladys Kubu, she was devastated and confused. She had been estranged from her husband for seven years. She was a nurse at a provincial hospital. She was left with her three children in their home when her husband left them after numerous quarrels and fights. Sello was staying with his girlfriend by the 7
name of Florence Thaga who was a widow. Florence also stayed in the township of Mokerong. Gladys knew Florence and the two women hated each very much. They had been involved in several hostile encounters in the past. Gladys Kubu was estranged in the true sense of the word. Unlike other women who could count on the support of their in-laws when they were fighting with their husbands, Gladys and her mother-in-law were sworn enemies. Emma Kubu was a retired teacher who had only one child and was never married. She brought Sello up alone. Emma loved her son so much that she believed that he would never do any wrong. So anytime when Gladys had tried to report Sello to the old lady, Emma always chose Sello’s side. Not once did she try to be neutral. After Sello had left his home, his mother never set foot at his home to visit her grandchildren. Sello’s mother and his wife had not spoken to each other for a very long time. In fact they stopped talking to each other even before Sello left his home. On the other hand, Emma liked Florence Thaga who was Sello’s mistress. Emma was always encouraging Sello to divorce Gladys so that he could marry Florence.
Gladys was confused after hearing about Sello’s murder because she did not know who she could talk to. She had also been told that her mother-in-law had been admitted to hospital as a result of Sello’s death. Gladys knew very well that if she could visit her mother-in-law in hospital, they would inevitably engage each other in another ugly verbal contest. Gladys cried. Even after what Sello had done to her, she still loved him. She wanted to give her husband a decent funeral. How was she supposed to do it? Could her mother-in-law agree to bury the hatchet for the sake of enabling her son to be sent off in a dignified manner? Would the old woman allow Gladys to bury her husband in peace? These and many other questions troubled her the whole night. She just couldn’t sleep. She wanted to tell her children but she did not have the courage to do it. She lay wake the whole night and in the morning she phoned the hospital to tell the matron that she won’t be able to report for duty as she had heard the most devastating news. Fortunately for her the matron already knew and she was very sympathetic. The matron also told Gladys that her 8
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