’n Kortstondige verhouding met ‘Lady Luck’

Terwyl die sogenaamde goed opgevoede jong dames van Stellenbosch op ʼn Sondag oggend op pad kerk toe is, is Helené Bam op pad casino toe.

My hare is ge-tease, ek het my helderste rooi lipstiek aan en… moet nie vergeet van die ‘lucky underwear’ wat ek aanhet nie. Vir ʼn hele week voor ek my uittog na die casino by Grand West maak ek seker ek voldoen aan die streng reëls van geluk en bygelowe. Ek maak nie my sambreel in ʼn vertrek oop nie, trap nie op die lyntjies tussen teëls of bakstene nie en knyp my oë styf toe as ek ʼn swart kat oor die pad sien loop. Niks gaan keer dat ‘Lady Luck’ en hare trawante breed vir my glimlag nie.

Op pad na die casino toe bel my ouma my om te hoor of ek na kerk gaan kom tee drink by haar. Ek dink ʼn flou verskoning uit en probeer my bes om enige verdere vrae oor waarheen ek op pad is en wat ek die dag gaan maak te vermy.

Ek sidder om te dink wat my ouma sal sê as sy moet weet haar geliefde kleindogter is op pad casino toe. En dit op ʼn Sondag. As kind was ek nie eers toegelaat om by die kermis se tombolatafel ʼn draai te gaan maak nie. By Bybelstudies was daar vertel oor die euwels van lotto speel en dobbel. Wanneer ek en my ma wel die dag ʼn lotto kaartjie of twee gespeel het, het ons seker gemaak ons gee dit by die kafee in waar die ouderling nie sy brood en melk gaan koop nie.

Met my aankoms by die casino voel ek effe verbouereerd. Dit is ’n doolhof van ligte en klank. Die slot masjiene se elektroniese deuntjies skree soos honger babas vir geld en aandag. Ek is dadelik teleurgesteld toe ek ʼn plakkaat sien wat aandui dat ek ‘Jackpot Tuesday’s’ mis geloop het.

By die Black Jack tafel groet Lloyd Mveso my met ʼn groot glimlag en se “vandag is jou gelukkige dag, ek gaan ʼn goeie hand vir jou probeer gee”. By die Black Tafels raak een ding duidelik, om te dobbel vereis nie net ʼn vet beursie nie maar ook ʼn kop vir wiskunde. Die kaarte word vinnig uitgedeel en nog voor jy regtig weet wat aangaan word nog ʼn skuifie van jou weggeneem.

Jy moet kophou. Jou oog moet op jou kaarte bly, én op jou geld.

Ek wen ’n paar rondtes en verloor ’n paar rondtes, ’n hele paar. Ek groet liewer vir Lloyd en beweeg aan na die Roulette tafels. Sy Black Jack tafel het my nie veel geluk gebring nie. Hy lag agterna en sê “onthou verloorders weet waar die kitsbank is”.

By die Roulettetafel is die manne met stywe doppe en borshare wat teen hul nek opkrul min gespin met die groentjie wat by die tafel kom sit.

ʼn Man met ʼn dik snor en wenkbroue wat aan mekaar raak gluur my aan toe ek net ʼn R50 skuifie op die tafel plaas. “Neewat dogter, as jy wil speel moet jy speel, sit nog ʼn skuifie neer!”

Ek sit my geld op ʼn paar nommers en hou my asem op terwyl die balletjie histeries in die rondte draai. Ek verloor. Alweer.

Met my moed laag in my skoene oortuig ek myself dat ek beter sal vaar by die slot masjiene. By die slotmasjiene hoef ek nie heeltyd my kaarte dop te hou nie en daar is selfs ʼn stelling waar die masjien outomaties speel. Dit klink darem makliker.

By die masjiene maak ek myself lekker gemaklik. Die stoele is toegerus met sagte kussings. Hier kan jy lank sit. Daar is kort-kort mense wat die rondtes doen om eet en drink goed aan jou te verkoop. Een ding is seker, hierdie plek is toegerus om mense vir so lank as moontlik begeester te hou. By die masjien oorkant my is daar tot ʼn man en vrou wat ʼn piekniekmandjie gepak het vir die dag.

Ek raak totaal gehipnotiseer deur die prentjies wat voor my dans op die masjiene. Op die hele vloer is daar nie ʼn horlosie in sig nie. Tyd word irrelevant. Ek voer die masjien geld sonder om twee keer te dink. Daar is nie tyd vir dink nie. Daar is net tyd vir wen. Ek speel ʼn paar rondtes ‘Wild Western Cash’ en dan weer ‘Lucky Pin ups’. Ek wen vir ʼn slag.

Toe ek eers ʼn paar rondtes by die masjiene gewen het, kan ek nie genoeg kry nie. Ek maak meer gewaagde weddenskappe en op een stadium oorweeg ek dit selfs om al my geld op een weddenskap te speel.

Op die vloer praat niemand met mekaar nie. ʼn Dame wat langs my sit snou my toe met ʼn koue “ons is nie hier om vriende te maak nie” toe ek haar uitvra oor wat die beste slot spelletjie is.

Daar word ou mense met rolstoele voor die masjiene geparkeer en ander loop met die hulp van ʼn loopraam van masjien tot masjien. Die vloer blink, nie met geld nie, maar met grys koppe wat wanhopig hul pensioen geldjies wil laat groei. Die Parkinson hande haal vinnig nog geld uit ʼn maer beursie uit en sukkel-sukkel om die knoppies te druk.

My geluk maak ʼn skerp draai en toe ek meer as die helfte van my geld in die honger monde van die slotmasjiene verloor, besluit ek dit is dalk beter om huis toe te gaan terwyl ek nog iets in die bank en ’n bietjie waardigeheid oor het. Ek moet immers nog kos koop vir die week.

By elke masjien en tafel staan is daar ’n blou stikker wat met die woorde “wenners weet wanneer om op te hou”. Miskien moet dit eerder lui “verloorders weet wanneer om huis toe te gaan”.

Toe ek na 8 ure by my kar aankom groet ʼn vreemde vrou my en se “toemaar my kind, ons almal voel maar so na die eerste dag”.

Wie weet, dalk is ek terug vir die week se ‘Jackpot Tuesday’?

The ANC boat will not be rocked

Stellenbosch – ANC supporters in Stellenbosch are confident that neither the decreasing popularity of President Jacob Zuma nor the Nkandla scandal will have a lasting negative impact on election results.

The Media Officer of the ANC in Stellenbosch, Ntombende Landingwe, believes that the party is resilient enough to be successful at the polls on 7 May, “when we go door to door, house to house, region by region people support the ANC because they have a background with the ANC. When you walk around in Kayamandi and Klapmuts you see the yellow t-shirts queuing to vote for the ANC. We are very positive about these elections.”

According to Landingwe many ANC supporters do not believe the findings of the Nkandla report that Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, compiled. The report indicates that President Jacob Zuma wrongfully used public funds for upgrades to his private home in Nkandla.

“Yes there are these allegations, I would call it, but they actually have not been proven so they cannot stop voting ANC. People are voting for the party that they like not the face that they see. Nkandla is just being used by the opposition parties. No one writes about the wrong that the DA and other parties have done.”
The Election Manager of the ANC Stellenbosch branch, Cameron Mcako, contends the party is a broad church with many different facets, “the ANC is a collective and that is how we maintain the morale and standard of the ANC”.

Mcako says that people who think the ANC is just an individual does not understand the party, “the ANC is not Jacob Zuma. The ANC is alive”.
The Community Operations Manager of the DA in Stellenbosch, Odette Slabbert, says that “the people in Kayamandi specifically do not believe the report of the public protector. It has changed a few people’s minds to vote for a different party, but not necessarily for the DA. The conversations that we have had with ANC supporters indicate that they trust and believe their leader, no matter what anyone else says.”

One of the focus points of the election campaign of the DA was to highlight the abuse of power by the ANC and that of President Jacob Zuma.
Slabbert says “the DA wanted to make people aware of the facts and wanted to break open the scandal and tell people what is going on. I think the DA just decided that they are going to be aggressive with their campaigning and not stand back. We said what we wanted to say”.

Media Freedom Protects Democracy

Stellenbosch- Although freedom of the press is enshrined in the South African Constitution and guaranteed by Article 6 of the Bill of Rights, “the Secrecy Bill hangs like a hungry vulture over the South African media landscape”.
That was the argument of Jo van Eden, from Volksblad, and the other panel members at the International Press Freedom Day panel discussion that was hosted by the Journalism Department of Stellenbosch University on Friday 2 May.
The importance of responsible journalism was highlighted numerous times by van Eden, “ethics is the backbone of journalism.” Van Eden argued that journalist need to get it right for the right reason and that freedom of speech should not merely be used to make controversial statements; free speech should be used to make meaningful contributions to the national dialogue and to strengthen our democracy.
Tim du Plessis, from Media24, referred to media freedom as a parachute, “you only miss it when it is no longer there”. Tim argued that even under Apartheid media freedom was seized by courageous journalist and editors.
“Our current government has very little appetite for the free flow of ideas, especially ideas that they do not like.” According to du Plessis the digital revolution will make it very hard for government to completely snuff out media freedom.
Mark Weinberg, from the Right2Know campaign, emphasized the importance of educating the public on the role of a free media in a democracy, “the media must serve the public and produce constructive dialogue”. Weinberg continued saying that the Secrecy Bill is a “worrying symptom of a much deeper problem in society”. The Secrecy Bill has “no public domain defense” in its current form.
Media ownership came under fire from Weinberg saying that “media owners are not in the business of serving democracy but in the business of business and selling advertisers to audiences”. Weinberg had no kind words for journalist whose “interests get conflated with media ownership”.
Weinberg contended that if we agree that the media is a public good then it must be publically funded in order to develop the three tiers of media; public, community and commercial tiers.
Weinberg spoke passionately against the current form of media ownership and the importance of plurality and triangulation of the media. Weinberg proposed that there should be regulations in place that keeps a person from owning more than two newspapers in a town in order to enhance the plurality of ideas in the media.
According to Weinberg and du Plessis, the high entry level costs in opening a printing press and newspaper also places a limit on new players entering the market and significantly reduced plurality.