I was at the Wynberg Court just now. Although, by the time you read this, it would have been last week…is it even called the Wynberg Court, or does it have a fancy name? I hope not.
It needs a good clean up, if you ask me afore we can call it by any name, if truth be told. What was I doing there?
I accompanied someone who had to “appear” on some or other charge. The case got thrown out (always liked that phrase, “thrown out”), like it was something smelly in a diaper that gets “thrown out” in the bog. How is that for cultural appropriation?
An Americanism and a British reference in one sentence. But that’s not what this week’s column is about, folks. This week is about the filthy, pungent building that is the Wynberg Courthouse.
The journey starts with the parking of your car…if there is no parking in the street outside the building, you look for paid parking in and around the area. Not so bad…R10 and you can park to your heart’s content. R20 and the plot is yours! Just kidding…it’s just that the terrain is a little rough. Four by fours should do well. My car, not so grand!
Anyhoooo, the South Easter was alive and kicking on that day…so skirts were flying high and hats were tumbling en route to the court from aforementioned rough terrain. Well, from one rough terrain to another…once inside the court only the South Easter has no effect. Then it is the turn of the “officers” working there. Nobody knows where anybody should be.
There are many people walking about – some in fancy dress…ooops, sorry…gowns, like the academic gowns I wore to graduation ceremonies, looking like bad Batman impersonators, and some in ordinary clothes, others in uniforms. All of them looking very busy and very officious. Yet, nobody knows where anyone needs to be. Welcome to South Africa! Inside, on the right is an information desk with a huge information sign, with about three uniformed persons. And, you guessed it, they don’t know where anybody needs to be!
Long story short: we are now on the second floor, along with tens of other people – all of who also don’t know where to be. And no, we are not in a waiting room, we are in the corridor, in the passageway, outside what looks like a courtroom – where everyone walks up and down, briefcases and files in hand, gowns “foaming like waves beneath their knees”, looking nothing like Judge Judy.
Eventually, my friend is told to put his name on a list and wait to be called. About half an hour later…oh, did I mention the stench and the dirty floors? I think I may have.
But at this point your senses are becoming numb to it. Looks like this place has NEVER had an overhaul to become part of the new South Africa (what dat?). Looks like those old Apartheid Homo (sic) Affairs-type buildings.
Then some official (note: officious versus official) looking woman takes the list and calls out names that must now go to room G40 on the same floor and wait in that corridor to be called. That was us. Off we canter to room G40, or was it 40G? I no longer remember. Sit in passageway. Wait. More people looking busy, walking by. A few more walk by. And still a few more. Someone asks where the toilets are. If you hacked off my legs and called me shorty I wouldn’t be able to tell you, I’m afraid. And I was…afraid! A little…but that’s another story!
Wait. They eventually call a name. The person goes into the room and stays for about ten minutes. In the 10 minutes I learnt all about Deborah’s (spelt D-e-b-o-r-a-h, but pronounced Debra) rape and how she was scammed by a con-artist on Facebook. Sad story, with much empathy for Debra, but not exactly a post-breakfast page-turner.
It is now around 10am, maybe just after. We have been there since 8.30am. His name is called. He is in for all of three or four minutes. Case is…wait for it…”thrown out”. Baby, bath water – everything! Relief. Even the South Easter seemed relieved, blowing a little less viciously and more generously, as if to soothe, almost.
A little rough terrain to negotiate. Pay the car guard (very important in this neck of the woods) and drive home, straight to the computer to write this story.
And just there the real purpose of my visit to the Wynberg Court was revealed. Who knows, without this jaunt I may have bored you with Jingle Bells, Donald Trump or something equally banal and ineffectual.