The urge for some hot, dark, syrupy sweet koeksisters covered in grated coconut overcame Saleema while she was typing up the minutes of a recent meeting the Campus Manager had had with the Academic Heads. She stopped and looked at the wall clock, which showed it had gone just after 11:00, the perfect time for a break. She contemplated the idea of popping off to the nearby Vangate Mall situated in Jakes Gerwel Drive, and before she could change her mind, she minimised the document page, grabbed her purse and car keys and left her office.

   “Zimkitha,” she said to the receptionist as she passed through the foyer, “I’ll be back in about 30 minutes. If Mr. Mansell needs me, just gimme a call on my cell, ok?”

   She didn’t wait for confirmation because she was telling, not asking Zimkitha what to do.

   “If I asked that cow for permission, she would probably want to know where I’m going to,” she thought to herself as she crossed the parking lot to her Toyota Aygo.

   On the way to her car she had to wave hi to a number of her colleagues, as she was quite popular. All the lecturers adored her and Management knew her to be efficient and reliable.

   Saleema was the PA to the Campus Manager of the Guguletu Campus of the Steve Biko Academy. She had been working for the college for 13 years and in all that time had seen Campus Managers come and go like bouts of the ’flu, or the change of seasons.

   She looked very good for her 39 years and often surprised others when she revealed that she had a 19-year-old son and a laatlammetjie of 8, or that she had been married for ten years to Reyaad, her high school sweetheart.

   She exuded an aura of confidence and competence, and she took absolutely no kak from anyone. In fact, even Saleema’s bosses knew not to rub her the wrong way, but Saleema taught them this in a subtle, non-confrontational and highly diplomatic way. If the manager snapped at her because of some personal issue,  he would inevitably discover that his meeting calendar had mysteriously been changed and a meeting he was supposed to have had at 10:00 had suddenly been shifted to 9:00. Or the time on the office clock was set ten minutes early, causing him to look like a fool when he berated a colleague for being late for a meeting when said colleague was actually on time.

   Small things, but they were effective in getting the message across in no uncertain terms. Of course, Saleema did not do tea or coffee, and pity the twit who decided to nogal order her to make him a cuppa. What he would get ensured that he would never again ask her to be his tea lady.

   Just as she reached her car, Wasiela, the Student Affairs secretary, came running out of her office.

   “Saleema,” she shouted across the parking lot, “where’re you off to? Wait for me,” she screamed and eventually reached Saleema, totally out of breath.

   Wasiela was your typical Coloured Malay tietie, one of those women who spoke loudly, laughed uproariously, always had food on her person or in her bag, and lived to skinner till the boetas came home for dinner. And they all had hearts of pure platinum. Of course, the majority of them were fat, too, hence Wasiela’s breathlessness.

   “Al daai bollas en samoosas wat haar so vet maak,” Saleema thought to herself as Wasiela was trying to catch her breath.

   “Meit, kan djy vir my ’n bra koep, kanalla?” she now asked Saleema. “My strap just broke and you know how I need my jugs to be firmly cupped,” she added and guffawed.

   “Yes, okay,” Saleema replied, “as long as it’s not a panty.”

   “Nah, my panty is sitting tight around my t–”

   “Okay, okay. Too much info!” Saleema interrupted her. “But what size bra? And talk quickly! I need to be back before one,” she added.

   “40B,” Wasiela said, “in white or beige.”

   “At Woolies or Edgars?”

   “Man, ek care nie! Just get me one, please. I’ll pay you once you’re back.”

   “Ok, I’ll be back by 12.30, ne?” Saleema said as she got into her car.

   “Ooh! Terminator. The ‘I’ll be back’ line,” Wasiela said and laughed as she went back to her office, holding her hands across her bust to keep her jugs from jiggling around too much.

   Saleema just shook her head as she pulled out of the car park and entered Steve Biko Drive. Traffic was light at this time of the morning so she didn’t have to kamikaze her way through the insane taxi drivers seemingly out to see how far they could tempt fate by playing chicken with the other law abiding road users.

   “One day, God’s truth, I’m going to smash in the teeth of one of these taatie taxi drivers,” she promised herself as she navigated her way past a stationary taxi at the turn off for Klipfontein Road.

   Traffic here was crazy, as usual, and Saleema felt as if she were driving through a military zone or past a daunting gauntlet of aggressive Avanza drivers and reckless roadsters who all seemed to be under the misguided belief that the road belonged entirely to them.

   She expertly dodged a taxi van as it veered into her lane just before she passed the Manenberg Police Station on her left. She expelled a few colourful expletives that ended in “-ing” and accompanied these with exaggerated finger gestures. Her phone suddenly rang, cutting her music off, as she had paired the phone via Bluetooth to the car audio system.


   “Babe, are you driving?” asked her husband.

   “Ja,” she replied as the traffic light changed to green, “and these assholes are driving like varke again,” she complained.

   “Take it easy, love,” Reyaad instantly responded before he explained why he had called.

   “I’m running late on this job today so I won’t be home till after nine. Don’t worry to cook tonight, ok? I’ll just grab something on my way home,” he added.

   “Cool. I wasn’t in the mood to cook anyway,” Saleema admitted. “Bring me also of whatever you’re going to buy, which is probably gonna be Nando’s, ne? See you tonight then,” she said and ended the call.

   Reyaad always made her think of Chris Hemsworth because he somewhat resembled the actor. She smiled naughtily as she remembered what she had told Reyaad the first time she had seen Hemsworth execute his killer dance moves.

   “Those who dance so kwaai got a whole lot of belt strapping when they were laaities. Daai moves kom van keer en beweeg! Trust me.” She giggled aloud at the image of Hemsworth ducking and diving to avoid being belted.

   “Hemsworth can shake his hips in my face any time,” she remarked to herself as she put on her indicator to turn right.

   As she neared the turn off from Klipfontein Road into Jakes Gerwel Drive, she noticed one of the ubiquitous fruit sellers ahead. He was walking between the cars waiting for the light to turn green, trying to sell the bags of fruit he was carrying to the drivers. He seemed a bit loaded down, as he was carrying two heavy bags of avocados in his left hand while in his right he was carrying what appeared to be three bags of golden yellow bananas. Saleema was thinking of buying a bag of bananas when the fruit seller tripped. She assumed it must have been a loose shoelace that made him fall, but at the time she was simply shocked by how rapidly he tripped and the manner in which he landed.

   He fell straight down, like a tall felled tree crashing unimpeded to the forest floor. In his case, it was hard, unyielding tarmac. Because his hands were full of bags of fruit, he couldn’t even break his fall. One second he was shouting, “Avos, avos! Get your fresh avos here!”, and the next second he went splat!

   He landed flat on his face, still gripping the bags of fruit in his hands. Saleema gasped and winced in empathy, fearing for his front teeth until she remembered that most hawkers tended to have these teeth extracted to create a “love gap”, to better facilitate French kissing. She couldn’t help herself and started to giggle. This suddenly turned into a bark of a laugh when she saw with what alacrity the fruit seller jumped to his feet.

   The man toddled off to the curb to take stock of himself while Saleema took the turn into Jakes Gerwel Drive. She cast one last glance back at the unfortunate man, who was sitting on the curb, holding his face in his now bags-free hands.

   “That’s gonna leave a nasty bruise,” she said out loud and suddenly burst into laughter again when she replayed the man’s ignominious fall in her mind. Although she felt sorry for him, she couldn’t deny that it was hilarious, too.

   “Hy’s lucky sy ander tande het nie gespat nie,” she commented to herself as she pulled into a parking spot at the mall. What she would never know is that later that day, the hawker had to go see a doctor, as his face had ballooned to huge proportions due to the blunt trauma he had suffered.

   Zain, the fruit seller, would spend the next two days in Victoria Hospital, suffering various indignities and ordeals, but that’s another story for another occasion.


   Vangate Mall had recently installed some spiked barriers at both main entrances due to a sudden spate of armed robberies in the hopes that these would serve as deterrents to any criminals who might want to target the mall. Although the mall itself was quite popular and fairly safe, the area in which it was situated was infamous for its high crime rate.

   Now, as Saleema got out of her car, a car attendant (“Just some fancy name for a damn bergie,” Saleema always said.) popped up next to her like some Jack-in-the-Box.

   “Yes, Madam,” he said, “I will look nice after car, ok?”

   Saleema engaged the car alarm and started to walk off, ignoring the annoying man as so many other car owners did. Before she had taken four steps though, the heel of her left shoe gave up the ghost at precisely the same time that the strap on her right shoe snapped.

   “What the hell? Seriously?” she exclaimed in utter disbelief.

   The car attendant quickly hid his smile and ran off to direct another driver, who was reversing his car out of a parking bay.

   “Come back, come back,” he repeatedly advised the driver, who obviously did not require his assistance.

   The driver was apparently highly aggrieved, for he rolled down his window, stuck his head out, looked up at the beckoning car attendant and said, “I know how to reverse, you moron. Kan djy ry of kan ek?” he asked the man vehemently. “Now stop telling me to ‘Come back’ and get out of my way before I reverse over you!” he yelled and revved his car’s engine.

   The car attendant-slash-bergie nimbly jumped out of the way and walked off to the next reversing driver, totally ignoring the man’s outburst and instructing the driver to “come back”.

   While this drama was being played out, Saleema had kicked off her shoes in disgust and proceeded barefeet to the mall. Before she entered the mall, she dumped the offending shoes in the first rubbish bin she saw.

   Unsurprisingly, she received many an outright stare and quite a few double takes, but she was ashes about it. She walked confidently into the mall, not in the least bit self-conscious or rattled.

   Fortunately, she had parked at the entrance closest to the Food Court, and Woolworths was just around the corner. She decided to get her koeksisters first and sort out her shoe dilemma afterwards.

   On her way to the Donut Centre, she noticed two tieties watching her. They were seated on one of the benches placed in the mall and one of them was openly pointing at her feet. Both old ladies had wide-eyed curiosity plastered all over their Cape Malay features.

   One of the tannies spoke to Saleema as she passed them. “Ai, bokkie. Don’t tell me someone stole your shoes.”

   “Ja, if you’re not careful here in Vangate Estate, the skelms will soema steal everything you have on you,” the other old lady added. Both of them were shaking their heads in commisseration.

   “No, my shoes broke just as I got to the mall,” Saleema explained. She kept on walking though and didn’t wait for the ladies to reply.

   Nevertheless, the one who spoke first shouted unsolicited advice after her.

   “Meisie,” she yelled, “ go get yourself a new pair at Woolies.”

   “Exactly what I’m going to do!” Saleema hollered back, totally unconcerned about all the people in the mall.

   It was only then that she noticed how crowded the mall was. She wondered why there were so many people around when they should be at work.

   “As you should be, too,” she reminded herself. Her stomach gave a loud grumble and reminded her that its craving had  not yet been satisfied.


   After having had her fill of the deliciously decadent koeksisters, Saleema took a leisurely walk to Woolworths. She was looking casually into the various stores as she passed these, like everyone else does, when she observed something that made her stop in her tracks.

   A hold-up was in progress in the American Swiss jewellery store. The two clerks were being threatened with a gun by a young neatly dressed criminal. The robber was brandishing his weapon wildly, demanding the jewellery from a specific display case. He was whispering intently and totally focused on the clerks, unaware that he was being watched by Saleema. One of the clerks was holding the bag the thief had ordered them to fill while the other one was throwing rings, necklaces, earrings and bracelets into it.

   “The watches, teef! Sit die fokken ’losies oek innie sak!” the raider demanded.

   Without even thinking what she was about to do, Saleema walked slowly into the store. Two things counted in her favour at that moment. One: the store did not have one of those door chimes that announced a customer’s entrance. Two: she was still barefeet, thus her entrance was as quiet as the sneakiest lioness stalking her prey in the tall grass.

   When she was positioned right behind the miscreant, she took careful aim, lifted her right leg high and kicked him from behind as hard as she could between his legs. The bridge of her foot made full contact with his testicles, simultaneously shocking and incapacitating him.

   The man screamed and doubled over in extreme pain, dropping the gun and grabbing his injured gonads. His butt was the next perfect target, as it was raised high while he was bent over, clearly begging to be kicked. Saleema willingly obliged.

   She planted her foot firmly on the seat of his pants and shoved mightily. Her thrust forced the unstable robber forward, straight into the glass display counter. His head made a most satisfying klunk as it hit the steel frame. He crumpled to the ground in an inelegant, unconscious heap.

   One of the salesladies started to scream and ran to the back of the store while the other dropped the bag and grabbed the phone on the counter. Saleema kicked the gun out of the would-be robber’s reach, checked to see that the man was definitely out cold and then calmly left the store.

   “I don’t have time for this,” she commented to herself as she walked unhurriedly off. Behind her, the shop’s alarm finally went off as one of the ladies triggered it.

   When Saleema entered Woolworths, the security guard looked in surprise at her bare feet, but she was distracted by the blaring alarm echoing in the mall and didn’t say anything. Saleema sauntered over to the ladies’ shoe department, where she took her own sweet time selecting a pair of black Glam embellished wedge sandals which had a black zip and bejewelled strap. They were luckily on special for R499.00.

   “Reyaad can’t moan about this,” Saleema thought mischievously to herself.

   The saleslady was extremely helpful in getting Saleema her shoe size, and when she returned with the sandals, she couldn’t resist asking the obvious question.

   “So, Ma’am, what happened to your shoes? I hope you weren’t mugged.”

   “You’re the second person of probably many people who assumed that today,” Saleema told her with a smile. “My stupid shoes broke as I got to the mall and no, I wasn’t walking. I drove here,” she ended with a short laugh.

   “Both shoes broke at the same time?” the saleslady asked, her voice rising slightly with incredulity.

   “Yeah, go figure,” Saleema responded with a shrug.

   The saleslady shook her head in disbelief as she placed the sandals back in the box.

   “Nope, don’t bother. As you can see, I need those sandals right now,” Saleema pointed out as she wriggled her toes in front of the saleslady’s nose.

   “Oops, obviously!” the woman said as she unpacked the sandals from the box. “I’ll take the price tag off so you can pay for the sandals at the cashier,” she explained while removing the tag.

   “Super,” Saleema said and walked over to the pay stations to make the payment. The sandals fit her perfectly and she was quite pleased with how things had turned out.

   As she exited the store, she once again passed the two old ladies who were still sitting on the bench opposite the Telkom outlet. They were also still eating from the same packet of chips they had been nibbling on earlier.

   Said one of the ladies, “Lekker sandals, bokkie. They suit you.”

   To which the other added, “Soos ’n koppie met sy piering.”

   Saleema laughed and said “Trammakassie” over her shoulder as she walked past them. She felt good to the bone and loved the way her new sandals fit like a well-worn pair of favourite kicks.

   At her car she spotted the same annoying “come back”-shouting bergie she had ignored earlier. When he saw her, he started to walk the other way and was most surprised when she called out to him.

   “Hey! Here,” she said as she held out a ten-rand note to him. The man looked at her in astonishment before he quickly snatched the money from out of her outstretched hand.

   “Thank you, Ma,” he said in gratitude. Big mistake. Saleema hated being made to feel old and his reference to her as “Ma” – meaning “Grandma” – made her blood boil.

   “Jou ma se –” she started to say before she controlled herself, got into her car and suffered through his litany of “come back, come back, come back,” until she could drive off.

   She looked at the clock on the car’s dashboard and saw that she had made great time. It was just after 12:40 PM and she would make it back to work before 13:00 PM.

   It was only as she pulled into the college entrance that she realised what she had forgotten to buy.

   “Oh, fok,” she cursed. “Wasiela’s bra,” she mumbled to herself. “I guess I’ll just have to give her mine to wear,” she declared as she pulled into her parking space and spotted Wasiela making a beeline for her.

   She was still unclipping her bra when Wasiela reached her car and banged impatiently on the window.

   “Nou gaan die kak spat,” Saleema said in resignation, as she turned with a facetious smile to face Wasiela.

Later that evening, the Cape Argus would headline the story of the mysterious heroine who had single-handedly – and with a few well placed kicks – foiled a robbery at the American Swiss jewellery store in Vangate Mall. The store manager was effusive in her thanks and was quoted as saying, “She was barefeet, but she kicked that guy so hard it looked like he was going to spit up his balls!”

   The next morning many of the other local newspapers also carried the story on their front pages. The most noteworthy headline was, of course, from the Ons Skrik Vir Niks tabloid, the Daily Voice: Kaalvoet Kleurling Kicks Robber in sy Moer!

by Hidayat Adams


Cape AfrikaansEnglish Translation
koeksistersa Malay sweet doughnut covered in grated coconut
laatlammetjiechild born late in a marriage
kakcrap / shit
nogalcheekily / brazenly
tietie (singular); tieties (plural)old lady / aunty; old ladies / aunties
boetasuncles or older brothers (term of respect)
Al daai bollas en samoosas wat haar so vet maak.All those bollas (round doughnut balls) and samoosas (triangular meat pie) that are making her so fat.
Meit, kan djy vir my ’n bra koep, kanala?Girl, could you buy a bra for me, please?
Man, ek care nie!Man, I don’t care!
ne?okay? / Right? / Isn’t it? / Really?
taatieslang for mad, crazy, insane
kwaaislang for cool, excellently, amazingly
laaitiesyoung children
Daai moves kom van keer en beweeg!Those steps come from ducking and diving!
Hy’s lucky sy ander tande het nie gespat nie.He’s fortunate his other teeth didn’t go flying.
bergieslang term for a beggar; comes from the Afrikaans word for “mountain”
Kan djy ry of kan ek?Can you drive or can I?
Ai, bokkie.Oh, sweetie pie / darling / sweetheart.
soemaslang for “for no reason at all”, “suddenly”
Meisieyoung girl
Sit die fokken ’losies oek innie sak!Place the fucking watches also in the bag!
Lekkerlovely; beautiful; great
Soos ’n koppie met sy pieringlike a cup with its saucer
Trammakassiederivative of Malay word for “thank you”
Jou ma se –Your mother’s –
Nou gaan die kak spat.Now the shit’s going to hit the fan.
Ons Skrik Vir NiksWe are frightened of nothing