A MAN, A FIRE, A CORPSE: The story of Soweto's top cop , livre ebook

icon

177

pages

icon

English

icon

Ebooks

2022

Écrit par

Publié par

icon jeton

Vous pourrez modifier la taille du texte de cet ouvrage

Lire un extrait
Lire un extrait

Obtenez un accès à la bibliothèque pour le consulter en ligne En savoir plus

Découvre YouScribe en t'inscrivant gratuitement

Je m'inscris

Découvre YouScribe en t'inscrivant gratuitement

Je m'inscris
icon

177

pages

icon

English

icon

Ebook

2022

icon jeton

Vous pourrez modifier la taille du texte de cet ouvrage

Lire un extrait
Lire un extrait

Obtenez un accès à la bibliothèque pour le consulter en ligne En savoir plus

A Man, A Fire, A Corpse tells the story of Captain Amos Maneta: a man who was most often referred to as ‘The Top Cop of Soweto’; as written by his son Rofhiwa Maneta. The book is a collection of the physical and metaphysical bruises collected by the author’s father in his 30-plus years of working in the police service.
Voir Alternate Text

Publié par

Date de parution

01 août 2022

Nombre de lectures

0

EAN13

9781990907074

Langue

English

A MAN, A FIRE, A CORPSE:
The story of Soweto's top cop



First published by Blackbird Books, 2022
593 Zone 4
Seshego
Polokwane 0742
South Africa
www.blackbirdbooks.africa
©Rofhiwa Maneta, 2022
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-990907-07-4
Also available in print.
Cover design by Nsuku L. Sithole
Editing by Wamuwi Mbao
Proofreading by Collective Media Co-operative Limited
See a complete list of Blackbird Books titles
at www.blackbirdbooks.africa




A MAN, A FIRE, A CORPSE:
The story of Soweto's top cop
ROFHIWA MANETA






For my father, my mother, my siblings, my son and Zolile Nokwe


Contents
Prologue: Of fear and
Part I – Fear
01
02
03
04
05
06
07
08
09
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
Part II – Fate
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
Epilogue: Days after a fire
Acknowledgments




Prologue: Of fear and
fatherhood
It is 2018, a few minutes to 8pm. The Uber driver is tearing down the long stretch of road leading from the Cape Town city centre to Bloubergstrand. Evening is eating up the last bit of horizon and, to our left, the coastal suburb of Milnerton has been reduced to one clean line of ocean blue and brown beach sand. The car settles at a red light and we both turn our heads to take in the scene. There are couples strolling hand-in-hand down the sidewalk, beggars rummaging through refuse and, occasionally, a surfer with their board tucked under their armpit, body glistening with ocean droplets and legs plastered with beach sand.
Just as the Uber driver motions for a woman with an oversized straw hat to cross the road, my phone vibrates. It is my father.
We exchange greetings.
‘How’s the weather looking over there?’
‘Perfect’, I tell him. ‘You know what it’s like here. The sun refuses to set in summer.’
‘I see. I’m about to call it a night here … long day at work.’ A moment of silence runs across the line. ‘Is everything okay?’ Dad resumes.
‘How do you mean?’
‘I’m just asking. You hadn’t called or messaged the entire day. I’m just checking up on you and that you’re fine.’
‘Oh … that. No, I’m fine. Same as you actually. I just had a long day. I was planning to text when I got home.’
The Uber driver navigates a sharp turn and, for a moment, I brace my feet against the floor to establish my balance. Our eyes meet in the rear-view mirror and it is only when he lifts his hand in apology that I notice the faded tree-shaped air freshener swinging. I lift my hand in return and round off my conversation with my father.
‘I’ll text you when I’m back home. Please greet Mom for me.’
‘No problem. We’ll talk tomorrow.’
The car stops at another red light. I squint at what’s left of the sun and think about fear and the illusion of safety. Four years ago, I moved from Johannesburg to Cape Town – it was the first time I had been away from home – and during this time, my father has always called or texted in the mornings as well as afternoons to check whether I was still in one piece. Part of it, I imagine, is down to the routine low-hum anxiety most parents carry when their children move out. Is he where he says he is right now? Is he making the right decisions? But in my father’s case, behind that rote fear that every parent experiences, lies a more significant, graver fear: one inspired by three decades as a detective in the South African Police Service.
‘Yini ndoda?’ the Uber driver asks. ‘Abazali bafhuna ukuthixa ucango?’ he smiles.
‘We’re not even in the same province’, I laugh. ‘He’s in Johannesburg.’
‘Ungowase Jozi?’
I nod. ‘Soweto, yes. It’s just something my Dad insists on doing. He calls to check if ngi sharp.’ I motion towards my block of apartments and ask him to drop me off at the gate. We’re still exchanging the last of our pleasantries when he holds three fingers up in the air.
‘I have three’, he says.
‘Three?’
‘Children. The oldest is almost a teenager. Don’t take it as if ithayima lakho liyaku controller. I don’t know how old you are, but as umzali, you never stop worrying about your kids.’
***
Police stations have a disorienting aura about them. In 2003, my two brothers and I see the inside of a police station for the first time. It is mid-week and a burst pipe two blocks away from home means there has been little or no water in our house for the last three days. On the third day, Dad waits for us to finish watching an episode of Dragon Ball Z before driving us to Naledi Police Station.
We walk down a long, narrow hall that leads to a shower with greying walls and small fogged-up windows. Dad turns the shower on and for a few seconds we hear the piping come to life, before a jet of lukewarm shower water comes out of the showerhead in short randomised bursts. We go in one after the other, lathering our bodies with soap before letting the water run down our bodies and into the sooty drain.
Dad pops into his office to fetch some or other documents from his desk before we head back home. I remember looking at the small room with its grim interior and being taken aback by the sheer volume of dockets on my father’s desk. Reams of case files flank both ends of the table: victim statements, crime scene pictures and exam pads scrawled with some or other pieces of detail, phone numbers, case numbers and lists of to-dos related to the investigations he was carrying out. Before then, the only signs of the demands of Dad’s job had been written on his body. For one, he always seemed tired. When my siblings and I were younger, it was not rare to see Dad only twice a day: first in the morning before we went to school and second, late at night when he would come to tuck us in good night. When we would ask our mother where he was, she would tell us he was investigating some or other case.
‘But how long will it take to finish working the case?’ we’d ask.
‘However long it takes’, she’d respond.
‘But you work for the police too.’
‘I do.’
‘But why does Dad work the whole day? You come back every day; why isn’t it the same with you?’
‘It’s different. You wouldn’t understand. I think you three should go to sleep now. It’s getting late.’
By the time my father retired from the South African Police in 2020, he had earned the nickname ‘the Top Cop of Soweto’. There are hundreds of newspaper clippings scattered across our house logging his achievements as a detective and the high-profile arrests he made over his 30 years as a detective. The last of his big cases was the disappearance and murder of UJ student Palesa Madiba. On 4 December 2020, Dumisani Mkhwanazi, a relative of Madiba’s friend, was found guilty of her murder. For most people, the case represented everything the public has come to believe about police inefficiency: Madiba went missing in 2013 after sleeping over at a friend’s place. Her body was only found two years later, in a shallow grave in the backyard of her friend’s family home. In 2019, six years after Palesa first went missing, Mkhwanazi was arrested as the main suspect and, a year later, he was sentenced for Madiba’s murder.
My father was assigned to the case as the lead investigator in 2015, and in the same year he led the team that dug up Madiba’s remains after they received an anonymous tip-off. It was my father’s detective work – the statement he took from Mkhwanazi’s nephew and the statement from a close friend of Dumisani Mkhwanazi who said the accused had admitted to ‘crushing Palesa’ – that helped lead to a successful conviction.
In his 33 years as a police officer, my Dad has seen more dead bodies than he can recall. There is the case of Thato Radebe – a 14-year-old who was raped and murdered in Naledi, Soweto: used condoms, blood-spattered stones and liquor bottles were found next to her lifeless body. Forensic pathologists would later reveal that she had been bludgeoned to death with a rock and that beer bottles had been used to penetrate her.
It took my father a week to arrest all four suspects.
Then, in 2009 there was the case of 20-year-old Matsie Mmola who had been raped and bludgeoned by her boyfriend and left for dead at Klip River in Soweto. According to her family, she had left with her boyfriend the previous night to attend a church vigil. Her body was found the next day when Mmola’s sister Mamaki Lepotlako walked past the crime scene, a nearby veld that had been sectioned off with yellow tape by the police.
‘I saw the boots on the side [of the crime scene] and I thought to myself “I know those boots”’, she told The Star . Her uncle, Edward Mokonyana, said, ‘It’s terrible the way she died. She was not a street girl, she did not drink. … She died brutally coming home from church’.
On 27 July 2009, The Star ran the story with the subheading ‘Tensions run high as top cop Maneta starts hunt’. The article features a black-and-white photograph of my father under a fading streetlight in the cold of the night. He wears a loose-fitting leather jacket, straight cut jeans and cuts a bulky frame. He is flanked by a witness on either side and takes a statement while a massive floodlight bends around my father’s body. It is the kind of shot that would not be out of place in a 1960s pulp film – the badass detective, taking names and hot on the heels of his next suspec

Voir Alternate Text
  • Univers Univers
  • Ebooks Ebooks
  • Livres audio Livres audio
  • Presse Presse
  • Podcasts Podcasts
  • BD BD
  • Documents Documents
Alternate Text