Good conmen thrive on the Bible

One of these days, while I am still on medical aid, I have to get my doctor to refer me to a shrink to sort out this morbid fascination I have with - yes, you are right - conmen.

One of these days, while I am still on medical aid, I have to get my doctor to refer me to a shrink to sort out this morbid fascination I have with - yes, you are right - conmen.

Believe you me, this week I meant to interrogate what makes a good boy - we were all born good boys - turn into scary horrors such as Robert Mugabe and, if he is kept around long enough, Julius Malema.

Then the news came: a conman, who took advantage of me and my family, punching a Bible and spewing soppy bullshit almost in rhythm, leaving us some thousands of rands or so poorer, had died.

In my heart I have long forgiven the rapscallion, and I will spare his family the shame of naming him. I just wish he had asked me for forgiveness himself before he kicked the bucket.

Conmen are more efficient when they invoke the name of God, wave the Bible about and can play Jesus the man Himself.

And now I am not talking about the departed one, but about a former head server at my church back in the 1960s. I will call him Simon here, in case he has repented.

He had a halo around him and you could never catch him without his hands clasped together between his chest and chin - as if always in prayer - and when he took his rounds around the altar he did so at right angles. We younger servers thought he was proof Jesus was black.

Then one early evening I met him on my way from a local grocer, and he asked me if I could do him a favour. The story was he had been sent by a local principal, popularly known as Mzi, to deliver a letter to the grocer asking for help.

"Harriet (Mzi's wife) isbaiesiek en ouMzi was laat vir diebank. So, you see, he needs some groceries and a bit of money until tomorrow."

He could not deliver the letter himself because the grocer, one Bra Mali, always reprimanded him about taking his studies more seriously each time they met.

Even when he threw in a bit of tsotsitaal, the head server lost none of his dignity.

I had just left the shop and Bra Mali had seen me. By luck an old friend, Sipho Sefatsa, jogged past us and I asked him to do the errand for me. No questions asked - in minutes Bra Si had the money and a bag full of groceries and was whistling off into the dark.

To cut a long story short it emerged that Bra Si had hit several other businesspeople in the area the same way - and poor Sipho had to explain himself out of a big mess and turn state witness - missing out on quite a few school days.

If you read this, Bra Si, repent and ask for forgiveness. For I swear, if you pop before I do, I will shame you in death.

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