Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A shampoo bottle

Today, like most days, unraveled unexpectedly.

I was supposed to spend my day at the Johannesburg High Court covering a murder trial. It was the scheduled start of proceedings against a man with a floppy grey mullet. Unbelievably enough, the hairstyle was not among the offences listed on the charge sheet which stated that he had regularly assaulted the woman he lived with "as though married" in the back room of a house in Kempton Park. On one such occasion the injuries he inflicted caused her untimely death. The state had a line of witnesses all ready to testify to this.

I had discovered this case accidentally when hunting down a different love triangle murder case that had taken place in a caravan in someone's backyard. So what made Mullet Man's case different from your garden variety bludgeoning to death of a loved one? A shampoo bottle. A 350ml red plastic bottle of Palmolive aloe vera for all hair types in fact. This had been found inside the victim during the post mortem. It had been rammed into her anus during the assault.

It was one of those surreal experiences where you feel all weak as you sit back and look to one side and see Mullet Man in his lekker-tight jeans and leg irons and then look to the other and see the cloaked, stern-faced prosecutor with shampoo bottle in an evidence bag on the table in front of him. Behind were the witnesses with their interesting array of hairstyles and missing teeth and clothing styles that you wouldn't know where to begin looking if you ever wanted to replicate the look. And you wonder how it all came to this....

This morning Mullet Man was supposed to plead to the charges and I was going to write about it. And then the paper decided I didn't need to go anymore. The story was just too horrible. The pages are already too full of horror stories. So I didn't go.

Instead I planned a few features, spoke to an amazing woman I will write about soon and got the lowdown on railway police successes over the past two months. Not quite a front page blazer, but a lot happier indeed.

As my snowed-in sister-in-law mailed me from freezing England after we'd shared our day's troubles: "Hey, at least I don't have a shampoo bottle stuck up my bum - it's all about perspective isn't it?"

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