Friday, June 25, 2010

Everything Including the Kitchen Sink

     In every police show that has ever been on television, or in every police movie that has ever been on film - all the way back to the silent films - or on every police show that has been on the radio back in olden tymes before they had TV, killing a police officer has always been the worst murder you could commit, crashing into a police car has always been the worst accident that you could get into, and stealing something from the police station - the drugs from evidence, pencils, whatever - was the ultimate in theft.  Those were all for instances.  Until now.  Some enterprising thieves in South Africa have pulled off the theft stunt AND made true an old saying, all at once.
     Yep, the guys literally stole everything but the kitchen sink.  Except that they stole the kitchen sink as well.  They broke into a new police station in Carletonville that was built and finished but not yet occupied and stole just about everything of value, including but not limited to the doors, cupboards, tile, sinks, cutlery, mortuary refirgerators, and furniture.  Bold strategy.
     You want to know what another bold strategy is?  The Department of Public Works, who I guess is in charge of the building or something, hired a private security firm to guard the place while the police were stuffed into a three-room station with no holding cells that was costing roughly $17,000 PER MONTH in rent.  That is 127,000 Rand for those of you following along in South Africa, or for those of you desperately wishing for a chance to put that knowledge you gained in your "Currencies of the World" class down at the Learning Annex to good use.  127,000 Rand.  That is the basic unit of currency in South Africa.
     Anyway, here is the deal: there are two different kinds of security companies out there in the world.  There are the companies like Blackwater, the firm that got in trouble in Iraq because they do things like sweep into your village in the middle of the night in black SUVs with dangerously dark tinted windows and no license plates and rape and pillage the fuck out of the place in the name of "security."  They would have been holed up in the police station with like 419 AK 47s and a grenade launcher and a SAM all dressed like ninjas with night vision goggled and nobody would have touched the place.  It also would have cost like 127,000 Rand a day.  The rand, that's the basic unit of currency in South Africa.  Anyway, the second type of private security firm is the kind that sends out a 350 pound guy with a box of donuts dressed in a security uniform that is vaguely similar to the bus driver's uniform that Ralph Kramden wore in The Honeymooners.  He would have been sitting in the station with his feet propped up on the counter, having fallen asleep while watching reruns of Magnum P.I. on the little black and white television, all the while the thieves sneaking around taking the things quietly, and him only waking up once everything was gone, including the counter, the TV, and the chair he was sitting on.  Very sitcomish.
     That's it.  That is really your only two choices when it comes to private security firms, and from the sound of it the Public Works folks picked the later, which is surprising me.  But I have come up with a third option: since the police were in an unsuitable office anyway, and the place was done, WHY DIDN'T THEY MOVE THE POLICE THE FUCK IN! God damn that was easy.  Put the police in the new police station if it's done.  Ain't nobody going to have the time to pull the copper tubing out of the walls if the police are in there because, well, at most police stations there are FUCKING COPS THERE ALL THE TIME!  I just don't understand it.  Maybe things are different in South Africa.  Maybe all the people who make decisions fell asleep because they were up late watching replays of Bafana Bafana draw Mexico 1-1?  What is going on there?  What is happening there?  Can someone explain this to me?
     As it were, politicians from the community just west of Johannesburg seem to be happy to lie the blame squarely at the feet of the Public Works folks, and from the gist of their comments it seems to me like this isn't surprising, which is really quite scary.  I am not sure I would trust the Public Works folks to make our facitlities if they can't even figure out to put locks on the doors and windows.  But whatever, I am hoping that I never end up in a South African police stations.  All I know is that if I do end up in Carletonville, there won't be a kitchen sink.

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