www.MyPE.co.za: The last few days have been surreal to say the least as I have touched base with ex-clients and employees from more than a decade ago.
In my dim and distant past a business that I owned installed, monitored and responded to alarm systems in Port Elizabeth. The security side of the business evolved out of the training of unemployed persons that we did as part of a Department of Labour contract that was in operation from 1984 to 1991.
This contract expanded into a familiarity with business people in the townships and their needs and we first developed a simple in house car and alarm system that our trainees assembled and installed themselves as a means of financial empowerment. As the business evolved we identified a gap for a decent alarm and security service to the numerous business owners based in the townships and slowly began plugging that need.
I could fill a book of my experiences in the townships – good and bad are remembered rather fondly and yes we did build up a hard won reputation for exemplary service.
On one of the occasions when the townships were shut down by the police, a concerned New Brighton shop owner wanted his alarm serviced and tested so, no problem to him, he came and fetched me in a delivery vehicle and smuggled me in. He then closed his shop for the entire time that I was testing and servicing so that no-one would see a white man in the townships.
Getting a foothold with the business owners was fraught with obstacles – most feigned no knowledge of the English language, all transactions were in cash only and we had to fetch payments, the first statement was invariably; “all white people only come to the township to rip us off!”, the element of danger was ever present, finding a business was almost impossible owing to no street signs and numbers, people were invariably suspicious of our motives and maintenance was high owing to the not too sanitary conditions in and around each business.
But, fun was had by all.
Over the years I developed friendly and open relationships with many of my township clients along with great respect. I watched many come to Port Elizabeth from really impoverished areas to start a business on just a dream and a couple of rand and now, more that 20 years after they started, to have returned to Motherwell and see those very same people thriving and building is really special.[streetview width=”100%” height=”250px” lat=”-33.800887″ lng=”25.602326″ heading=”115.06282780940822″ pitch=”-4.366397700366656″ zoom=”0.6699999999999999″][/streetview]
23 December was the day that I attended a Hyundai function at Mondes Tavern in Motherwell and connected again with an old mate, Monde. The Hyundai iExpress event involved various people performing on stage for the chance to win an iPod. The winners on the day were; Thembela Antoni, Sanele Jakavula and Mandilakhe Tom – even after a couple of tavern beers I was still blown away by the singing of this youngster as too were the girls in the audience who, fortunately, stopped short of tossing various items of underwear onto Mandilakhe.
Right next door to Mondes Tavern is his ASB Butchery – a legend in my time for this reason:
In early 1990 the alarm at Monde’s ASB Butchery was activated. We alerted Monde and the Motherwell Police who are based literally around the corner. The police were first on the scene and parked around the corner. Unbeknown to the police a neighbour was watching proceedings through her bedroom window. One of the policemen entered the butchery and came out of the shattered front door carrying some meat, only to return for more and then calmly drive away. Naturally Monde was incensed and identified the scoundrels to their superiors.
To this day nothing has been done to the two.
In our catch up session Monde told me that one of the meat stealing accused is still a policeman but at the same grade as all those years ago (more proof that shit doesn’t rise!) and the taller of the two is now a Minister who always preaches loudly when Monde crosses his path.
As always the people of the township epitomise the ‘friendly’ in the ‘Friendly City’ moniker that Port Elizabeth proudly carries.
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