South Africa is alive with possibility. That's not just a fancy slogan thought up by overpaid marketing execs living it up at taxpayer expense. No, it's the truth, and nothing but the truth. Our politicians wouldn't lie.
All you need is to put aside your prejudices for a moment, and whatever your heart desires can be yours in South Africa. For next to nothing.
Take hits, for example. Not bong hits, or pop hits, although those are also pretty easy to arrange. Ask Paris Hilton or Steve Hofmeyr. No, I'm talking about taking care of someone. Or, as some tourists like to phrase it, "taking a client off the scene".
You see, South Africa is the murder capital of the known universe. We routinely have knife fights over how long to braai lamb chops, and we're liable to kill each other over the last sip of a warm Castle Lager. (Which, by the way, is an excellent brew if you're ever stuck in New York with only Bud Lite and Toto for company.)
In this country, everything we own is fortified with razorwire, and that's just to keep the lions and baboons at bay. For human criminals, we have branded security gates in our driveways, more at our front doors, and another one or two in the passage between the TV room and the toilet. We have movement sensors and laser defence systems that kill anything larger than a cat on sight. Our cars are all armed with flamethrowers for use against crippled beggars suspiciously carrying malnourished infants. You're safer in Kabul or Mogadishu than in Cape Town or Johannesburg, and that's a fact. It's the only thing the Sun and the Mirror agree on.
We once tried to count our murders, because we thought a Guinness World Record would be cool, but we couldn't find anyone who'd passed mathematics on higher grade since the end of British rule. So we hired an expert who used to count broken windows for Rudi Giuliani. He put all our crime into the only government computer that works – a Panda AT/286 donated by Bono. The computer crashed, so now we just have to guess, but we reckon at least 350% of the population get killed every day. More on weekends, because then we drink and fight a lot.
This, and the scenery, makes South Africa an ideal location to carry out a carefully-planned killing. It's not hard. Nor is it expensive. You just have to have your wits about you, and plan your hit trip carefully.
For a start, don't tell anyone where you're going. Even if it's a long-awaited holiday or honeymoon, keep your family and friends in the dark. They might get suspicious if you tell them you're headed to a cheap country with a great climate, exciting safaris and excellent wine, but where everyone is murdered three times a year.
When you arrive at the airport, don't ask your expensive hotel to arrange a car. True, their website probably claims to offer a "luxury chauffeur transfer service", and it might even be "complimentary", but everyone uses that trick. Don't trust the sneaky bastards. Truth is we all try to get jobs as uniformed chauffeurs for world-class hotels, because after the hotel takes its cut from the robbery or ransom, the money is still pretty good.
Rather hook up with a random stranger who says he'll drive you around town for a small fee. The South African establishment values its criminal professionalism, and keeps things in the family, so to speak. Witness that fellow with the Italian mafia name who got let off the hook the other day.
Now, the guys you see at arrivals don't move in these criminal circles. This is why they're not really permitted to tout their services at airports. The crime families, whom you can easily spot by their natty blue shirts, the webbing belts around their generous girth, and the openly-carried firearms, routinely rout them. However, because they're not licensed criminals, nobody ever suspects them of anything. This makes them the perfect alibi.
To secure the services of one of these taxi drivers, the price of a meal in London or Paris will do the trick. Besides, a lot of cash in an envelope will just attract attention of the rest of us.
Now, remain in contact via text message, or, if you know how to drum, the bush telegraph. Stick to public spaces when you do this, because there's no competition in a place covered by closed-circuit television cameras. Nobody will try to muscle in on the deal in full view of the armed goons employed by South Africa's criminal establishment.
Even though you're probably tired after your long flight, now is when you want to move quickly. The very day you arrive, ask the honest taxi tout to arrange a meeting with a pair of hitmen. Anyone in South Africa can do this, but the advantage of asking the taxi driver is that he can take you places nobody would ever suspect a tourist to be. This will make your story that much more plausible.
To divert attention from your plot, try defrauding a high-profile game lodge while you wait for the hitmen to arrive. Nobody ever really discusses the country's tourism industry or its image in the largely sympathetic British media, so it may be overkill. However, it's a great red herring to divert the occasional nosey parker who might be wondering what a tourist was doing on the dodgy side of town in the middle of the night.
Also, make sure that you demand a refund for the unused return flight ticket of your victim. This makes you look the picture of innocence, and establishes your bona fides as the perfectly ordinary victim who is just trying to piece his life together, and can use a couple of hundred quid to ease the pain.
If you follow these guidelines, there is little doubt that you'll have a hit holiday to remember.
There is, of course, a small chance that someone involved in your plot – like the unauthorised taxi driver – will decide this is a great opportunity to rat you out. After all, the carrot for doing so is juicy: a decade or two luxuriating at taxpayer expense in a South African prison. That's hard to resist.
If that happens, don't panic. Just get a publicist to rubbish South Africa.
We're all very naïve here, you see. While we think all lawyers lie all the time, we implicitly believe anything a PR hack with a smooth blow-wave, a salon tan and authoritative eyebrows says.
And when you get right down to it, we all know we're savages here in Africa. I mean, be honest. Who hasn't killed someone for R20 and a cigarette before? DM
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