Correctional Services said that “matters are under control” at Johannesburg’s Sun City Prison on Wed.
IF AT times I sound like I have lost my marbles, there is a family history to it.
An uncle here, a cousin there, are what are lately referred to as "mentally challenged". That is why I really get all het up when one laughs at loony folks.
It is a newly found virtue, that. I laughed my tummy sore when a teacher I did not particularly like lost it right in front of the class.
He had been visibly unwell for days, his mouth drooling, jaw juddering and eyes not focusing.
One morning the principal apparently asked him to take some time off, and when he refused to go, got his family to come yank him off the premises, screaming profanities about the headmaster's mother's anatomy.
During break we met him at the shops and he asked us if we had seen his scheme book. When everybody told him they had not, he pleaded desperately: "Boys, please man. I'm late. I will buy you bread!"
We didn't see him for weeks after that, and word spread that he had been institutionalised.
Just when we had forgotten all about him he stormed into class one morning, wearing soccer socks with open-toe sandals, short khaki pants, a Boy Scout's cap and a green striped school blazer. His large hair, which had been a shiny Afro before Sir lost it, was an unkempt lump of dreads - and in those days dreads were sported only by juju men who made us believe they could make lightning. Nobody thought, let alone knew, that dreads would survive to be the trademark of even sissies.
A newly recruited teacher, mild-mannered as a lamb, was busy teaching when, out of the blue, the now obviously bonkers Sir stormed into class, reciting his favourite poem, Charge of the Light Brigade:
Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
"Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
The class broke into uproarious laughter but he did not seem to hear, or realise. He spoke like one possessed, walking up and down between the desks, taking his corners at right angles and looking straight ahead - at nothing really.
The new teacher, a softie if there ever was one, was petrified and stood trembling in the corner. When Sir walked towards him, and there was no escape route, he pleaded: "Joo, mo tshwareng ..." (Stop him).
Our sick little minds saw this as live comedy. We laughed and laughed and laughed. Later we called the new teacher Motshwareng and the story of how he handled the situation got embellished as it circulated around the school and township, until one of the later versions was that he wet himself.
That is not true. I was there through it all, until the principal and other male staff came to take Sir away and restore order.
This week I remembered one poignant, personal lesson Sir taught me. That lesson sustains me through life, and I was ashamed I laughed at him when he was down.
If you are reading this from heaven, Sir, I am sorry I laughed.