The Ndundulu Invasion – Chapter 6 – Goldfinger

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mantzariscoverThis time the meeting place was a three star Bed and Breakfast place in Empangeni.
As Bongi walked through the entrance encircled interestingly with two bull horns, the tall blonde 50-something White woman who introduced herself as Dolores welcomed him cordially, but without a smile , more or less formally. He introduced himself and she asked him for his particulars, with emphasis on formal identification. She in fact insisted on identification, possibly it was his Afro and his genuine POLO t-shirt that made him a suspect in her deep blue eyes. In fact he noticed that her eyes inquisitively searched the POLO pony emblem in his red shirt before they moved from its top to the bottom. She seemed to be an expert on t-shirt authenticity, as it was obvious that she was aware that those POLOS  imported from China became rough in the edges after a couple of washing exercises.

She examined his passport as thoroughly as the New York CIA operatives examine the bearded tourists before they take their photographs and search the 60 million names in their suspected terrorist data base engines.
She inquired whether he was a South African and why he had not acquired a green identification card denoting his South Africanness. He explained that he was a South African and an African and he did not need a green I.D. to confirm his history and identity. She seemed taken aback by his vocabulary, which she had possibly mistaken for arrogance, but her attitude did not bother him. He was here to do a job and he was determined to complete it, despite the mental hurdles presented to him from people with a false sense of superiority, or stupidity for that matter.

After a tiring process filling of forms and other B and B formalities, she announced the prices for a single and double room and queried the purpose of his visit. He told her that he had arrived to pay ilobolo (dowry price) for His Majesty King Zwelithini’s 24 year old daughter and was expecting his best man to discuss the details of the delivery of the 120 cows.

He felt she was taken aback by the casual announcement and sensed a glimpse of admiration in her eyes, but possibly he was mistaken. He also informed her that the best man would be paying the bill as he was the go between in arranging the marriage because of his closeness to the royal family.

Finally before he took his room key, the manageress officially announced that because of the strong Christian principles of the establishment only married couples were allowed to cohabit in the rooms. This meant no lovers, engaged couples, homosexuals, bisexuals, lesbians, transvestites or prostitutes were allowed to be together in the room. He inquired whether best men where allowed with the future groom, and she replied in the affirmative, unless they were homosexuals. This was not permitted.

Bongi entered the room with trepidation, but was pleasantly surprised by the surroundings. Spotlessly clean, a triple bed, with a Bible located in between the pink huge pillows. This was the first time he saw the Holy Book positioned so prominently, the establishment was very Christian and it showed conclusively.

He was extremely surprised Gapon did not carry a Green Label with him. He was seriously officious, almost a different species.
Mfundisi, I don’t have much time. Let’s go down to serious business.”
“I’m ready.”
“No, you’re not; you will be after we complete the session.”
“You’re the boss.”
“Now this is the first device.”
“What device.”
“Don’t be impatient.”

He opened the leather bag and took out a tiny, almost microscopic steel object. That looked like a tiny ant.
“Look carefully at this device, Mfundisi, what is its colour?”
“Off white.”
“Correct, now see it again.”
He threw the object on the red carpet. It turned red, becoming indistinguishable from the carpet.
“Try to touch it, Mfundisi.
Bongi went on his knees and tried to find the object. Nothing.
His eyes turned to Gapon, full of questions.
“Miracle, right?”
“What happened?”
“It became a part of the carpet, it cannot be detected. It was absorbed by the carpet, so to say.”
“What is it?”
“It’s a pick up device.”
“A bugging device.”
“A pickup device, it picks up sound images and coverts them into electrical impulses. It uses a memory that stores information digitally. It has an amplifier that filters out background noise.”
“Who’s the manufacturer?”
“Lin Piao Enterprises, a private-public partnership in Shangai.”
“Chinese.”
“Who else?”
“Carry on, I’m listening.”
“Here it comes.”

Gapon picked up two completely similar pieces and put them on top of each other. He held them in his hands, with respect, almost affection, possibly with the same affection he held Thokozani, his first born.
He put them in a tiny white plastic bag.
“You only take them out to out to place them on the appropriate location.”
“Elaborate.”
“Don’t rush.”

He pulled out a small device, very similar to the mini radios they used to listen to in Umlazi thirty years ago, the time of the Buccaneers glory days. He put it next to Bongi’s plastic bag.
“This is the listening post absorbing the transmission link, the electrical impulses created by the pickup device. It’s done through a radio frequency transmission. The signals are monitored, recorded, or retransmitted to another area for processing. Voice-activated equipment is available to record only when activity is present. A recorder can record up to 12 hours of conversation between tape changes. Don’t forget that. Use only when necessary. An hour of speech can be stored on a single chip. This is a passive system that records information but emits signals only when interrogated. This makes detection very difficult, if not impossible.”
“Chief.  I need some clarification here.”
“What clarification?”
“You’re asking me to bug this man. Can I see the RICA clearance for this?”
“RICA, what is this, Bongi? What are you talking about?”
“RICA, my chief, the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act, that regulates the legal interception of private communication. I want to see the judge’s decision, you have one, and I take.”
“Chief, now what you’re saying into my face is that I do not follow the law and that I’m asking, no, instructing you, that’s the correct word, to do something illegal. You forget my bru that in fact I am a legal custodian assigned with the safety and security of the state and all its citizens.”
“Gapon, I’m asking you a legal question of substance, I want to see that you, the boss, and me, the employee do not beak the laws. It’s as simple as that.”
“Now tell me, my chief, while you keep on moralising, what is more important, some legalistic details or the safety of a nation in the making?”
Bru, I’m asking because I want to protect you.”
“I can protect myself, bru, now you want to become a bourgeois philosopher like Socrates who preferred to drink the poisons instead of betraying the laws of his country, no bru, this is idealistic hogwash. The paramount benchmark of a person like me is the guaranteeing of the safety and security of our people and our nation. This is the revolutionary duty bestowed upon us by our ancestors and our leaders.”
“Gapon, I want confirmation on your part that Section 16 of RICA is followed. I want you to confirm with documents that there is a legal warrant to bug this guy, simple. Otherwise….Otherwise I won’t be involved.”
“Bongi, listens to me carefully, now I know you have a Ph.D. and all that, but what irritates me is your legalistic view of processes. What you’re telling me and asking me is whether I have acted within the legal and regulatory framework governing the activities of the intelligence services, am I correct?”
“Absolutely.”
“OK, this is what you want to see, right?”
“I want to see a judge’s legal warrant for bugging the man in the name of service of national security, like in the Ngcuka/Lenard Macarthy case.”
“OK, here it is.”

He pulled his notebook out of the bag, took out his Monief Joseph pen and moved towards the bare table next to the lamp He started writing something. After five minutes he handed it to Bongi, almost triumphantly.
Bongi pulled his glasses deeper and whispered.

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN

“ I , GAPON NKOSINATHI KHUMALO , Director in the SANIA , KwaZulu Natal Region , PERSAL NO 2113452GAP, state under oath that every step undertaken in relation to OPERATION : CODE NAME NDUNDULU INVASION has been within the legal and regulatory framework as prescribed by Section 16 of the Regulation of Interception of Communication Act .
I, as a senior employee of SANIA, am responsible for any legal repercussions and sanctions associate with the planning, designing, implementing, assessing and monitoring the operation.

DATE        TIME

SIGNATURE

Bongi looked at Gapon’s face. Gapon’s triumphant smirk indicated his feeling of an imaginary triumph over a man who though he was too clever to patronise him. Bongi realised that there was no chance to change his employer’s mindset.
He felt he had to relent and carry on with his life, he was thirsty.
“Have you finished with the devises, Gapon?”
“Don’t be impatient.”
“I’m thirsty.”
“Have water, it’s in the fridge.”
“I’d like a PERONI.”
“Not now, afterwards. When we are complete.”
“OK.”

Gapon pulled out a small device, like a miniature transistor.
“What is this Gapon?”
“A bicycle tracking device system .The transmitter is a powerful One Watt, magnetically-mounted device with internal batteries. It is very compact and can be positioned in seconds on any target bicycle. The tracking receiver fits comfortably and discreetly on any part of the bicycle. It can record and transmit the movement of the targeted bicycle. The tracking receiver fits comfortably and discreetly on any part of the bicycle. Bearing is shown on an 81-LED polar display panel with an accuracy of 6 degrees.
Distance between the target and the receiver is indicated by a 10-LED signal strength meter. The synthesised receiver circuitry uses surface mount micro-miniature components. Display brightness is controllable -essential for discreet night tracking. A flashing light on the circular display of LEDs indicates the course of the target bicycle and a linear display shows its approximate distance. The system has been engineered to accurately track the bearing by determining the direction of the target and indicating the level of confidence. Connected to the receiver is the antenna-switching unit. To this are connected the antennae of the system.”
“Have you finished?”
“No, here is the manual.”
“What are all these things, Gapon?”
“The tools of the trade we call them Goldfingers.”
“Whose trade?”
“Yours.”
“My trade is cultural anthropology.”
“That was your trade then. Now your trade is OPERATION: THE NDUNDULU INVASION.”
“What must I do with these things?  I mean do you expect me to plant them at the man’s places and bicycle?”
“Think about it, why the hell am I giving you these babies? To place them in your B and B and tape yourself?
“I can’t think, I need a PERONI.”
“Have a PERONI, I’ll have a double blonde.”
“Where is she?”
“In my bag.”

He re-opened the bag and pulled out a Green Label. He poured a triple into the tall glass. He had a giant sip. He turned his eyes to Bongi.
“Ask now.”
“What must I do with these things?”
“Apply them.”
“Where?”
“Hu’s home floor, or toilet, depending on the convenience and his bicycle.”
“You’re mad, Gapon.”
“Possibly, I’m mad to pay you 20 grand a month to do landscaping. I could take a laitie from Umlazi and pay him one clip (one hundred rans) a day to do land-scaping. This is not the way things are done in this job, Bongi, this is not a cultural research project, you take two students, pay them slave wages and they surf the Internet. This is called in our language, and your language, I’m sure, land-scaping. This is what it is; you landscape the object of investigation. Now in our case these babies prove beyond reasonable doubt that the man under suspicion can be caught and charged for espionage. Or, alternatively the Coordinating Committee makes a plan of how to politically utilise the hard facts, provided as evidence by the devices and their accuracy. These are the instruments of the trade , my bru, now until the job is finished you sleep , dream , eat and think Mr. Hu , or whatever his name is , and for once my bru , see my eyes deep inside , I’m telling you straight . I know the twenty grand is handy, but above all think about the service to the Motherland, my bru, a service provider for the Motherland. Think about it as a vocation, too, now you are not a teacher of Radcliff Brown’s theories, you are a well skilled, articulate and well equipped intelligence operator. Now think about it the other way , if I didn’t care about you, if I didn’t feel strongly that you could do the job , would had I approach you? Go deeper, Bongi, if I didn’t trust you as a man of honour, intelligence and patriotism, would have I trust you with the Goldfingers? No, now the onus is up to you, my bru, not just to justify the twenty grand, but to show that you are the best, that’s the bottom line.”
“I’m not doing it, Gapon.”
“Yes you will, don’t forget, there is an extra 50 grands when you complete, right?”
“Now let me tell you, Gapon, I don’t need this shit to do the job. I can do it my own way.”
“If I wait for your own way then I’ll wait until Amazulu becomes the PSL champions. Bru, the Chief is becoming impatient. He takes his anger on me. Let’s be sharp, just do it, check the manuals, operate the devices, klaar the graaf (finish the job), get paid, get drunk, get laid, not necessarily in that order. This meeting is finished. Now before I go, here is the packet with a few other devices you need to use to unlock all doors, whatever and de-sensitivise all electronic systems. Doors, metal, wooden. These are simple and 150% guaranteed products with their instruction manuals, a piece of cake for a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.”

Gapon did not wait for an answer. He gulped the last bit, packed up, and tried a high five unsuccessfully. As he moved towards the door he turned around.
“Now is the time to give the concept of Native Intelligence a new spin, my man, he said triumphantly .By the way you can finish the PERONI’s in the mini fridge. The Agency does not let those who work tirelessly for the safety and security of the country thirsty. Asta lavista (bye bye) baby.”
He tried to open the door, forgetting it was double locked from the inside. He turned to Bongi.
“Throw the key, bru.”
“Before I do that, let me tell you one thing, Gapon. You can take these things and stick them in your arse.”
“My arse is allergic to Chinese made devices, bru. I buy Proudly South African products.”

Bongi knew he had lost the plot. He threw the keys and watched as his childhood friend and present employer walked out the door whistling Codry Ziqubu’s SKOROKORO. Some things change all the time to remain the same.

Bongi looked at the devices and then packed them up nicely on his laptop case, carried the remaining Peronis under his armpit, put them in his boot and drove to his temporary home safely.
He opened a beer and picked up Ronald Suresh Robert’s masterpiece on Thabo Mbeki’s fitness to rule. He searched frantically for a couple for minutes for the word that escaped him for the entire night.
A sign of relief as he underlined it with his red pen with the picture of Buti Manamela on it, “soul-gazing”. “What a word” he thought, “it says it all and nothing”.
He was aware, he had a lot of soul gazing to do for the next couple of hours.

For a change Gapon was correct. He gave the concept of “Native Intelligence” a new spin, no, a completely new meaning, or this is the way it should be.
He did not go to sleep until four after midnight.

Next chapter: Chapter 7

©  Evan Mantzaris – The Ndundulu Invasion – Rozenberg Quarterly 2013 – ISBN 978 90 361 0201 8

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