Wednesday, 11 April 2018

"..But There's You and There's Me"

I love riding the Gaubus to work and back. The off-peak uncrowded, air-conditioned splendour affords me the opportunity to relax and listen to my own music while commuting through Joburg's northern suburbs. It's the perfect start and end to every work day - in the morning, swooshing through dark streets and hushed suburbs and in the afternoon, huffing along through the after-school traffic while seated far above it all. All this and an audio backdrop of Bowie, Supertramp, Gaia Consort and Resident AntiHero.

However, yesterday's reprise of Crime of the Century was - pretty rudely, I thought - interrupted by the acting out of some real-time cops and robbers a couple of meters from the golden flanks of the bus.

We were coming to a stop at the huge, complicated intersection of Main and William Nicol when the sharp reflection of flashing blue lights actually managed to catch my attention. By the roadside, mere feet away from the portside passengers on the bus, was slewed a really expensive-looking BMW - slewed right into the hard shoulder, that is, with a lighted SAPS vehicle right behind it. I'm assuming (and was told by another passenger, later) that there was an unmarked car cutting off the forward escape route, too.*

Even over my headphones - over Rick Davies declaring "Who are these men of lust, greed and glory? Rip off the mask and let's see"  I could hear the police loudhailer telling the occupants of the BMW to get out of the car and put their hands up, or they would be shot. And I'm not kidding, for from out of the SAPS van stalked a lean and fit young policewoman with what I can only call (in true peasant style) a "semi-automatic" gun cradled professionally and pointed (only temporarily, one readily assumed) at the ground.

My very first thought after removing my earphones was that I should perhaps be looking for something to duck behind. Not out of any gripping fear - it just seemed the sort of thing I should be doing in this fresh mini-playlet.

My fellow passengers, however, had all rushed to the left side of the bus, many waving smartphones at the spectacle of 5 men - 4 small, frightened-looking yellow-complected men and one much bigger dark-skinned Black man - getting out of the luxury vehicle, quite slowly and raising all their hands in the air.

We started babbling at one another, and a Sir Juice 200ml bottle rolled and bounced down the gangway as one young woman apparently lost control of her hands. The man who had been dozing in the well below me awoke and looked confused.The lady sitting behind me noted that the driver of the BMW looked guilty. I asked for someone to get the footage up on Twitter. Supertramp continued opining on corporate greed from my now-dangling earphones. Men stood around, meters from the Gaubus, with their hands in the air. A policewoman brandished an assault rifle in everyone's general direction....

And then the bus moved off, leaving a little tableau behind in the afternoon half-sun.

Image: Mises SA

*Addendum: I have since learned that the bus, after changing lanes to go around the SAPS van, then swung sharply inwards again, making an effective barrier to the supposed crooks. The bus is evidently in training as a superhero crime fighter.

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