People with confused expressions were lining the hallways. All of them sitting on the hardest bench in the history of mankind, waiting. Waiting to die, waiting to live, waiting for an absolution that would never come… (Sorry, I watched Titanic last week.) In reality it was nothing that dramatic, they were all just waiting for their turn in the witness stand, ready to condemn another criminal to a few months in prison.
Which is why the Wife and I were spending the day surrounded by cops and robbers. Wife was subpoenaed (Yes I had to Google the spelling) by a court of law to appear as witness for the state. I was playing the role of supportive husband, protecting his soul mate from the vile of society. Another public disclaimer as to how much I love her. (I must have so many browning points by now.)
Fortunately for us the legal process of South Africa is a fine tuned machine running like clockwork and 150% effective. NOT. EVEN. CLOSE.
The only thing that’s great about the legal system in our town is that nothing is great about the legal system in our town. We entered the old building very confused as we were ill-informed about the whole process. We didn’t know where to go and clutched the piece of paper like our lives depended on it. Two geeky kids entering the classroom at the new high school where every kid owns a gun or two. Everyone stared at me like I had a pimple, the size of Mount Vesuvius, on my forehead. Discomfort would be an understatement. But there we were, facing dread because it’s our duty as proud citizens of South Africa.
That’s actually a lie, it had nothing to do with pride, it’s more about the fact that if you ignore the summons, you might end up with a big bro as a cell mate and a stretched rectum. I like the size of my rectum, thank you very much.
Wife fell victim to a crime. In 2007. She popped into one of those places woman go to make themselves look pretty and when she popped out again, beautiful with a totally different hair colour, she realised that during her wonderful transformation some imbecile broke into her car and stole the car radio. She reported the crime, gave a statement and they bothered to take a fingerprint or two. I now wish to highlight the most important part of this paragraph… In 2007. For those of you not keeping track with time, it is now 2016. And that is, give or take a few months, 9 years ago.
In 2007 the mortgage bubble finally burst leaving all of us tattered and torn, we said goodbye to Harry Potter which caused even more distress for some and then to top it off, we said Hello to and through the first iPhone. All of that happened nine years ago. That’s how long it took our justice system to catch the thief who stole a car radio worth roughly US 96.75. Nice.
Before you judge, I’m not criticizing the great work done by the police force in bringing this criminal to book, he was obviously involved in a crime spree during his nine years on the run. I’m just criticizing the fact that I was stuck on a bench, one that made granite feel like cotton, for the whole f*cking day. Only to have the case postponed.
Now we have another day to look forward to where we can waste our time and dodge criminals in cuffs. For the criminals are paraded up and down in the exact same hallway we are all waiting in! And that is not intimidating at all. I mean, what normal person doesn’t enjoy spending time in close proximity to rapist, thieves and murderers? I should say “alleged”. You are innocent until proven guilty down here. But dearest readers, some of the men we saw, gave me shivers. Evil was rising from them like dark smoke from a smoldering fire. Wife didn’t have the courage or desire to face any of them.
And for us it was only a car radio. What about all the families that fell victim to serious crime? Or even the family of the convicted, seeing them in chains. Normal people, a dad and a mom, siblings and friends, all of them innocently thrown into turmoil and tragedy and tears. An inevitable result of violence and crime.
The bottom line is that I don’t like the current system they use in the courtroom of our town. They should separate the entrances or something. They need to eliminate or just even reduce the confrontation between victim and witness and alleged criminal prior to the actual hearing.
Oh, and yes, I broke my arse sitting for such a prolonged period of time on that damn bench. I’m still recovering from severe pain in my posterior region that oddly enough, makes it very difficult to climb stairs. And as Lady Luck would have it, my office is on the second floor. I am fortunate enough to walk up the stairs twice a day, looking like a dying snail who’s final resting place is at the top of a steep hill. (I’m assuming the pain in my butt is from sitting on a hard bench, unless someone out there found a genie and wished for me to have this massive pain in my buttocks.)
PS – I’ve just realised I’m using the same tags as the previous post…