Sunday, July 12, 2009

A lethal sting

Working on Sunday is something I dread enormously before the time, and then feel an enormous sense of relief over when it's done. I know I can walk in on Monday morning with a skip in my step, feeling like I am secretly starting Tuesday while everyone else is hitting Monday blues. So my shift is now over, roll on my day off on Friday!!
So today's shift is over. A few hours were spent on one of those awful non-story events that takes a lot of running around and talking to people, on for it to unfold into something completely unexciting.
Then I followed up on the story I did the last time I worked a Sunday - the Dr Mike Sprenger murder. The bad news is that absolutely nothing has come of it. Detectives have no idea who ambushed him in his rooms, stabbed him and set his body on fire. Nor do they know why it was done. The good news is that somebody anxious to track the killer has posted a reward. So here's hoping it will eventually lead to justice being served and some kind of resolution and closure for poor Mrs Springer and her three small children.
Working on a DA press release turned out to be a whole lot more entertaining than I expected. The party has, since government announced its decision to disband the Scorpions, been really angry. They took every opportunity to oppose the move. Then last week we saw the final closure of our country's most elite crime combating unit. And the cops launched the replacement unit - The Hawks. The glitzy bash at Gallagher Estate was followed by days of colourful newspaper adverts heralding the arrival of our new birds of prey that will swoop down on criminals and tear them apart. By the end of the week the cops had chalked up three impressive arrests as Hawk successes. The first came on Tuesday when it was announced that they had arrested two guys who were planning on hitting a jewellery store in Durban. They also nailed the witch doctor who had been aiding them with muti, I think.
This delightful crowing about sudden big busts served as something of a sharp prod up the backside of the angry DA lion as the party lashed out scornfully. Dianne Kohler Barnard, their "Shadow Minister of Police" was incensed as she pointed out that only the head of the Hawks had been appointed, all other applications were still under review and so the unit now has only one member.
The cops, she maintained, are treating South Africans like 3-year-olds, expecting us to believe their fake claims. The launch, the fake success claims and the newspaper ads, she said, were nothing more than Hollywood treatment given to an issue, much in the same way as we have seen with the non-release of crime statistics, amounting to nothing more than smoke and mirrors.
The police maintained that technically they have not lied. Reporting structures mean that the big busts they gave out were those of units (organised crime) reporting ultimately to the head of the Hawks and so therefore they can be counted as Hawks arrests.
Dianne K-B raged: "Since when is the arrest of two would-be jewel thieves and a sangoma fallen under organised crime? It's hardly a multimillion Rand fraud scam, or a Fidentia scandal."
The Police Ministry kicked back against the DA's claims, describing them as nasty and unfair.
But Kohler Barnard's last crack was the one that had me in stitches.
"They've done away with the Scorpions and instead given us a featherless chick that eats mice and will likely never leave the nest."
Let us pray that she is wrong...


  1. I tend to think it a bad move to name any unit after a bird. It will swoop, yes, and might just soar, but there's very little else it can do before its wings are clipped, it loses its tail-feathers, and is caged, shot down or grilled. Sometimes the best names are not those given, but those which evolve with time and reputation.

  2. Has there been any breakthrough on the MIke Sprenger case? He was a good person who will be deeply missed.