”When I was a young boy, our elders used to regale us with tales of the legends that lived among them.”
But one day he was caught. In a saga later to be known as Travelgate, he was outed. Jail beckoned. But in his true style, out of nowhere, Phunyukabemphethe escaped. The matter was not only swept under the carpet, but the debt incurred—thanks to his remarkable feats—was wiped off the slate.
Three years ago a high court judge sentenced Phunyukabemphethe to 15 years in jail for having paid large bribes to a sitting deputy president. No sooner had he arrived at his Durban prison than did Phunyukabemphethe miraculously escape to a hospital, living it up there for months on end. When officials got wind of where he was and were preparing to send him back to his cell, he escaped from the private ward to a lavish house in an exclusive suburb.
Now we hear after eight years of the legal eagles trying to pin him down for accepting bribes and being involved in unsavoury business, the charges against Phunyukabemphethe may just be dropped. He has been in and out of court, once even on a rape charge, but nothing has stuck. True to form Phunyukabemphethe has continued to escape, leaving mouths agape again and again.
Now, just to rub salt into the wounds of those who have sought to pin him down once and for all, Phunyukabemphethe is surely headed for the office of the president. Question is, will those that have persecuted him over the years escape his wrath?
Our public officials have surely become the latter-day Phunyukabemphethe. Just when we think that wayward members of the party are cornered for one misdemeanour or another, they make a dash for it. We have had premiers lying, ministers blowing thousands on festive parties, spouses of officials eating straight from the government coffers, deputy presidents flying with friends to desert holiday destinations and parliamentarians sexually misbehaving. They have all walked scot-free.
It appears to me that Phunyukabemphethe may just not be the kind of hero my elders spoke about. I have a funny feeling that when it is my turn to tell my children and grandchildren about the legend of Phunyukabemphethe, they will be so frightened they won’t want the lights to be switched off at bedtime. Scary.