They would spin a yarn for the clumsy, absent-minded detective and he would gobble down their nonsense, dutifully writing in his notepad with his stubby pencil
Growing up, one of my favourite TV shows was Columbo. Columbo was a crime drama series set in Los Angeles starring Peter Falk as a homicide detective.
Columbo was sharp as a tack, but his demeanour was clumsy and bumbling. He wore a baggy trench coat and his hair was usually unkempt. His tie was never straight and his top button was always undone, and there was usually stubble on his chin.
At the start of the show, there would be a murder, seemingly unsolvable, and then Columbo would be assigned the case. I used to sit and concentrate because I knew that at the end of the show Columbo would run down his list of clues as he unmasked the killer. I would sit ticking off the list in my head, seeing what clues I had missed.
What impressed me most about this particular detective was the fact that, though he was brilliant, he dressed shabbily and therefore the criminals – who were sometimes high-class socialites – would underestimate him.
They would spin a yarn for the clumsy, absent-minded detective and he would gobble down their nonsense, dutifully writing in his notepad with his stubby pencil. Then he would thank them for their time and turn to leave the room.
For me the highlight of the show would be when, as he walked out of the room, Lieutenant Columbo would pause, turn around, scratching his head and say, “Just one more thing ”
He would then ask a question, almost childlike in its simplicity, that would highlight a flaw in the yarn that had been spun. Often he would not wait for an answer. He would ask his ‘one more question’ leaving the criminals to stew in their contradiction.
It was brilliant!
I can’t help but hope that our lawmen are cut from the same cloth as detective Columbo. Crime syndicates are wreaking havoc on our infrastructure and the police are seemingly unable to stop their rampage.
I have personally seen a few people on social media questioning why something is not done. One post left nothing to the imagination: “Unless we clamp down mercilessly on scrap metal dealers and drug lords – cable theft is here to stay.
“All the serious threats of arresting copper thieves amount to nothing. Shut down their market and drug supply!”
Many people I know have echoed this sentiment, and I am waiting with bated breath for that moment where our own South African version of Columbo, maybe named Koekemoer, turns around and says, “Oh, just one more thing ”
Another friend of mine is a bit more jaded. He doesn’t believe that the South African government has the will or capacity to deal with crises. I took the liberty to translate what he said from Afrikaans. Pardon the language. He posted: “The South African government says they are ready for the coronavirus this is the same country that last year was f*****-up by polony.”
Do you remember the Listeria hysteria?
Things are really bad in this country. But then if we look up for just a moment, we will read stories like the one about Abduragiem de Klerk who was on his way to buy drugs when his brother-in-law asked him why he didn’t use that money to buy a bicycle instead.
A few weeks later ‘Boeta Giem’ thought he was going to die as he pedalled up a hill in his first cycle race on the bicycle he chose to buy instead of drugs to continue his habit.
He said that he was weeping and regretting being born, let alone buying the bike, but he said that the experience of cyclists passing him, touching him on the shoulder and encouraging him to summit the hill changed his life.
Now, at the age of 61, Abduragiem has recently obtained his teaching diploma and he has been clean for 16 years.
See? Cyclists are good for something.
Presently our country is scruffy, dishevelled and in a mess but there are amazing people with incredible stories around us, even if they sometimes don’t look the part.