Let's negotiate for crime-free days
By James Clarke
Inspector Dlamini, you can forget it. Just because one South African police station has decided to install an alarm system linked to a security firm, it doesn't mean we all have to.
After all, we have razor wire, an electric fence, burglar bars, floodlights, buzzers and our faithful Maltese, Bonzo - all
generously paid for by our loyal taxpayers. I will not stretch their generosity further.
The station commander then crossed his heart and spat on the floor to underline his sincerity.
Besides, if the security company comes around and finds somebody burgling our station, what is it going to do? It is going to call the police, isn't it?
And we are going to have to tell them we have no men to spare because we are out there chasing other people's burglars.
Our best bet is to leave nothing in the police station worth stealing - a scorched-earth policy.
Yes, I realize certain elements will want to steal our files to compromise our investigations, so we'll just have to carry our files with us wherever we go.
Why don't we have a sentry on duty in a fortified pillbox?
Dlamini, you've seen how the deputy state president's house had every fortification imaginable - plus our patrons, the ever-generous taxpayers - may God bless them (again crosses heart and spits) - supply her with 18 bodyguards and security staff.
And what happened? Three burglars nip in, nick her cellphone and Smarties. Easy as that.
Look at that member of parliament who is practically joined at the hip to his chief bodyguard, yet somebody still stole his briefcase with quite a lot of cash in it from a well-wisher.
Dlamini, we live in a nation of thieves. In fact, it seems that only half the country is involved in honest labour. The other half steal from them.
And yes, you are quite right, Inspector - the third half are employed by security firms.
In fact, we have 130 000 people in the police force at present and we spend R20-billion a year - yet still criminals run rings round us.
The most sensible thing to do is for us to call a truce and get together with the criminals and negotiate certain crime-free days when everybody can relax.
A reader wants to know why we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are dead?
How must I know?
And why doesn't Tarzan have a beard?
And how is it that we put a man on the moon long before we found it to be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?
Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?
And why, he asks, does someone believe you when you say there are 4-billion stars, but feel they must test it when you say the paint is wet?
Noughts for Comfort
In fact there aren't 4-billion stars. The Milky Way galaxy alone contains 5-billion, each larger than our sun.
And, in the same vein, according to an item in the International Express last month, mathematicians in Hawaii have recently calculated that there are 7 500 000 000 000 000 000 000 (seven sextillion five hundred quintillion) grains of sand on all the beaches in the world.
So are there more stars in the sky than grains of sand on a beach?
Australian astronomer Dr Simon Driver says "Yes".
"There are 70 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 stars in the visible universe - nearly 10 times the number of grains of sand on all the beaches."
I had always suspected this.