Correctional Services said that “matters are under control” at Johannesburg’s Sun City Prison on Wed.
A couple of weeks ago my good friend and former schoolmate Themba Molefe relived in his column our days at high school under the strict tutelage of one JA Nakedi, aka Chief.
It was under Chief that we crammed reams and reams of lines from the Student's Companion, an English booklet that made us speak like little Englishmen.
Every one of us boys wanted to be like Chief. He spoke with a deep, raspy voice probably induced by the Viceroy he smoked even at assembly. Those good pre-Nkosazana-Zuma days, the only place you could not smoke was inside church.
Nevertheless, we tried to speak like Chief, who had the habit of pausing for a few seconds after hurling a bombastic word at us to take in the inevitable round of muffled praise before continuing.
He would say something like: "It is preposterous [pause .] to imagine you will pass if you do not burn the midnight oil."
In addition to Chief and the Student's Companion, we had an old ex-student called Mr Goli Nkabinde who came to address assembly occasionally.
Before I lose you, let me tell you why I am gaaning aan about all this. I was thinking about how sad it is that a whole generation of us grew up thinking, and continue to think, that speaking good English is tantamount to being intelligent and educated.
For example, we all thought Mr Goli - I don't know why they called him that, but he looked like a real golliwog - was an absolute genius. When he started losing it, selling rotten eggs and peanuts which he carried in a dozen tattered paperbacks, all whispered: "O tlhantshwa ke thuto," (Education is making him mad).
Mr Goli was the highlight of our assemblies. We gave him uproarious applause every time.
He spoke with a high-pitched nasal tone, and repeated the same, mystical lines each time.
"I did not want to stand here, but due to certain unforeseen circumstances, I am bound to stand. True magnanimities [Good lord, what's that!] don't consist of never fall, but rising each time you fall. We rise to fall, and we fall to rise ."
Years later I am still bamboozled by what Mr Goli was trying to say to us. And I loved the bugger. The whole of the Vaal loved him to bits, buying his eggs and nuts not to eat them but to support the brother.
But then I also know quite a few people who cannot string two words together in English, but who speak a whole lot of sense most of the time. I marvel at the depth of their wisdom, analysis and foresight, and wish they could just forget trying to "impress" with their pidgin English and say it in the mother tongue.
If I still do not make sense, I am saying that, rather give me a bad English speaker who makes sense than one who will nywerrsh-nywerrsh in impeccable English but speak crap.
Still, I loved Mr Goli.
l Charles Mogale is the editor of Sunday World