The excerpt from Deon Meyer's Blood Safari
in yesterday's post
was courtesy of the indefatigable Mike Nicol of Crime Beat (South Africa)
. He had sparked my curiosity with his observation that:
"We have also watched a venerated liberation movement slide rapidly off the high moral ground to wallow in greed, arms-deal kickbacks, fraud, corrupt land deals, you name it, without being of much help to a huge population of poor people for whom life hasn't changed. But I rant now. It's best to leave these things for funny asides between one's characters."
Naturally I asked for examples. Yesterday's excerpt was one. Here's the rest of Mike's letter:
"As crime has become a major problem in South Africa, and the state has neither the will nor the means to protect the citizenry, the private security industry has grown in leaps and bounds. Cop stations even have armed-response contracts with private security companies. An off-shoot of this has been vigilante groups, especially in the black sectors of society. Richard Kunzmann brought this phenomenon into his latest novel, Dead-End Road. In this scene Harry (his cop protagonist) gets told about a vigilante group called the Abasindisi that operates in the rural areas. The conversation plays about between Harry and one of his contacts in the townships, Makhe.
"`[…] you have a uniform, you have a gun. You are a symbol of violence that is state-sanctioned,' [said Makhe].
"`So any man that wants to protect his home when the state won’t do it has to create that same symbol for himself. He must be feared as a police officer is feared. Perhaps the Abasindisi’s methods involve what you might call crimes, but then the threat of violence you cops use to earn respect on the streets might also be considered criminal, only you can hide behind the barricades of laws and bureaucracy. You warp the process of justice to protect each other. No, English, [Harry is an English-speaking South African] these men, they exist because our state has forgotten us, because you cops only have your own interests at heart, and because not much has changed for us poor, apartheid or not. We are still left to fend for ourselves.’"
"The new crime writers have also turned their attention to the industrial giants. One of these is the diamond-mining concern, De Beers, which has long been accused of nefarious practices in their bid to control the diamond market. In his 2007 novel about blood diamonds, The Fence, Andrew Gray thinly disguised De Beers behind the name of his fictional Brano. In this extract the head of security at Brano, known only as The General, briefs an operative, Jan Klein, using the euphemistic double-speak that hides a language of violence:
"`I have said that Brano is a commercially-driven organisation, Jan Klein. This means, as you will soon discover, that we are also, necessarily, incentive-driven, conferring greater autonomy on employees, encouraging initiative and innovation, creativity but without prejudice, as it were.'
"He was smiling now as he used the legal term. `Without prejudice to the important notion of accountability.”’© Peter Rozovsky 2008
"In my own novel, Payback, I was handed an arms scandal on a plate. An investigative journal, Noseweek, had discovered that despite a cabinet order to destroy an ammunition surplus, some officials had decided to make use of this surplus to run a small arms trade on the side. They were dealing with a company called Industrial Spreewald Lubben and had netted themselves some R12 million. In the extract a government agent, Mo, explains to two former arms dealers, Mace and Pylon, how it’s done.
"`What they’re then doing, the Krauts,’ [Mo] explained, `is selling it on to the United States. Guys there can’t get enough of our surplus for practicing and hunting. Mostly 5.56mm and 7.62mm. We got maybe a billion rounds supposed to be destroyed or dismantled. Which is a waste when you consider there’re people willing to pay for it.’ He drew on the Montecristo, blew the smoke out in a plume.
"Pylon said, `Makes you wonder what the boers [Afrikaners] were thinking producing all those rounds. Like they were heading for a major war.’
"`Silly buggers,’ said Mo. `On the other hand what we’ve got here is what we call unofficially The Opportunity. Not something the minister wants to hear about, but then not something he’s inclined to stop either supposing he has heard about it. Which he must’ve. Income is income.’ He flicked off a stub of ash, glanced from Pylon to Mace. `Welcome to The Opportunity. We’re happy to do business with you.’
"`Again,’ Mace said.
"Mo chuckled. ‘` suppose you could say again, in a manner of speaking. I suppose should you look at it in a certain light the cause is the same: the upliftment of the people. Fair trade. Guns ‘n ammo for houses.’ He pulled out the shopping list Pylon had hand-delivered earlier in the week. `I can get these,’ he said, tapping it with the damp end of his cigar, `any time you want, as the man said.’"
Labels: Africa, Andrew Gray, Deon Meyer, guest posts, Mike Nicol, Richard Kunzmann, South Africa