Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Man With The Giant Weapon In His Pants (Not A Euphemism)

Heerengracht Fountain, Cape Town by Mandy J Watson

This is one from the archives - I haven't had time to post in quite a while but I didn't want to let this slip into the ether unnoticed. The day before the president's[1] state-of-the-nation address in February a friend and I witnessed a rather disturbing scene at Heerengracht Fountain. I was there testing cameras and video-capture abilities on a number of products I was reviewing (for your information this photo was captured with a five-megapixel Nokia N900 phone camera) and my friend was assisting me. As we were working this guy wandered up from the foreshore side past us (and oblivious to us) to the people you can see on the lawn. The guys, I guess, had been tasked with working with some of the fountain mechanics and the woman seemed to be visiting them. I recall it was a very, very hot day (even for me), and trying to do any sort of task that requires physical exertion must have been excruciating.

As you can see from the photo the man has a rather large, completely not secured weapon tucked into the back of his pants, and was wearing a bullet-proof vest that my friend told me was being worn incorrectly. The weapon was completely loose and anyone passing with a death wish could have grabbed it from him before he'd have been able to react. Is that legal? Probably not. Stupid? Definitely.

He wandered to the people on the lawn, kakked them out, though we couldn't hear what was being said, then he drifted to the other side of the fountain where two homeless people were resting on the lawn (I would like to reiterate that this is a public place that belongs to all of us), and started shouting at them. Then he chased off the homeless woman and grabbed the homeless man, forcibly moving him across the road, away from the fountain, very roughly. After that he wandered back to our side and started kakking out the people in the photo again, which is when I took the picture (very quickly).

At this point he noticed that we were there (we seem to have been invisible to him, and I suspect it's because we are white people) and then he hurriedly wandered off back in the direction he had come, towards the foreshore. In fact, I would like to emphasise this: he appeared out of nowhere - it's not as if a van of security guards or "secret" police was nearby - bullied all the nearby black people (presumably) not of his social standing, and then disappeared as soon as he realised he was being noticed and/or filmed.

Once he had disappeared (because who wants to tangle with a bully with a large, unsecure weapon?) we went over to the guys on the lawn to ask what he had wanted, but there was a language barrier (they couldn't understand much of our English and we couldn't understand any of their Xhosa) so we couldn't get the whole story but it seems that he told them emphatically that they cannot rest on the lawn or something equally ridiculous... while, of course, brandishing a weapon and an attitude.

Welcome to Cape Town in 2010?

Heerengracht Fountain, Cape Town by Mandy J Watson

[1] That would be the South African president, for any US readers who may assume they have the only president who likes to make state-of-the-something speeches.

Previously Glimpsed At Heerengracht Fountain:
• Heerengracht Fountain, Cape Town, Late Afternoon

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