Welcome to the real world! Walking towards the entrance of the Durban Magistrates Courts, the first convo I overhear is, "Ons sukkel om n prokureur te kry vir Pa, hulle se almal, 'domestic violence?' en dan weier hulle." !!
Once inside I wander around, lost. A tall masked man all dressed in black sees me and asks Need Help? I say 'First Timer.' He says, Well, see if you can get legal aid, otherwise, here's my number. My fees are low for first appearances. Lovely friendly guy, name of Neville. Sounds very English! I tease. Neville Ngcobo, he says in a private school accent. I say my friend inside is N Ngcobo too! Ms N Ngcobo. I'll have to give you an even better deal! he now teases. A scrawny lil guy with an older guy is nearing the end of his tether. 'If he say-s that one more time I'm going to swear him!' he threatens in that unmistakable Durban-Delhi accent. Older guy with him tells him Calm Down.
'Go and wait outside, security will call you in by the name of the person on the list,' says the man at the info desk on the first floor. I go out onto the lawn. Lovely day. Sunny with a nice breeze, which I keep so its always blowing away from me. As the sun strengthens I seek shade for my bald head. At 10.42 I go in and ask security wassup. 'No, we're still waiting for the list,' says the man At 11.24am there's a stirring. Everyone crowds towards the door. Names are called and people move in, going to support their people. Quite a few names are called with no reaction. No-one to help those poor blighters. Then Ziggy's name is called. I go in. 'YOU for Nonsikilelo Ngcobo!?' the lady with the list asks pointedly. I nod, walk in.
Now I'm in court D, waiting. The court official ladies are talking: We got a 'theft.' Hey, we got a 'driving under the influence.' Eish, when last!? We seldom get those. All we get is DRUGS.
Some poor young fella is up before the beak. He's entirely on his own. No one to support him. He is asked what language he prefers. English, he says. Magistrate looks up and peers at him over his specs: Own lawyer, represent yourself, or legal aid? asks the robe. I'd like legal aid please, says the young man. The magistrate intones, 'No bail is granted. You are remanded in custody till your next court date on 21st June.' He tries to be brave but his shoulders slump slightly.
I ask the policewoman in court if I just need to wait and get a bit of attitude, but at least she confirms Ziggy is here. Tells me, 'Wait outside, I'll call you.' Damn, I wanted to watch and listen!
At last there's Ziggy! She sees me with huge relief, so tears roll down onto her mask. She's been in police custody for three nights, barefoot and no cellphone. I signal relax relax and bump my heart "Don't worry girl, stay strong!" When no-one can see she whips her mask down and mouths "I'm so so sorry!" with more tears!
A legal gentleman (legal aid defendant?) asks, Who's here for Ms Ngcobo? I say I am, sir, and he comes over very polite and asks who am I? How'm I related? Family friend? Where's her Mom? I give my details and her Mom's and he asks, after checking if I can confirm her Mom's address is real: How's R500 for bail? I say that's fine thank you. He tells the judge: First offender, no record, no job, no child, has a place to go to, has someone who'll pay. Will his lordship accept R500 bail? Prosecutor agrees. Magistrate says his ritual and agrees. Tells her to show up on 24 June early am, tells her what happens if she doesn't: warrant for her arrest and forfeit bail. Then he grants bail. Relief. Zig tries to disguise her tears.
They keep her while I am taken downstairs to go and pay bail. Then back up two flights. There's Zig still. Hand over receipt and clerk says wait, you need to keep this to get it refunded. And we're outa there. Ziggy barefoot since Friday. Hungry. I give her the packet with all the goodies n toiletries, toothpaste, tissues etc I'd packed for her Friday, Saturday, Sunday and today. Finally I can give it to her (no parcels allowed, no visitors allowed, nothing, both police stations said, even though the 'your rights' pamphlet they gave Ziggy clearly says she had the right to have certain visitors).
She uses a kilometer of toilet tissue first, then cooldrink. Thank you SO much, Geezer!
We have a long barefoot walk to my car. She asks do you have a spare mask, Geezer? Oh thank you so much! Mine is full of prison! She's been wearing it for 72hrs straight, slept with it on in the crowded holding cells.
Then home. She has three weeks to ponder.
The day before, Sunday, my lawyer had torn himself away from visiting friends in Ballito and joined me at Durban Central police station. They wouldn’t let him see Ziggy as he didn’t have his special Lawyer ID card, but they did take a note to her asking if she had a family lawyer, so at least she knew for the first time someone outside was aware she was inside.
Monday after the hearing I sms’d him: Got R500 bail, case set for 24 June. Thanks for your help! Tuesday I wrote his ladies, Your Boss was a star on a white horse on a SUNDAY, please send a bill. They wrote back a formal lawyer’s letter on a pdf, ‘Thank your for the gesture, we will not charge you for the work done on Sunday.’ So I sms’d him, ‘Does that motley crew you hang out with* know that you’re actually a gentleman?’ His reply: ‘Probably not. I don’t want that to get out and ruin my reputation.’
Ons sukkel om n prokureur te kry vir Pa, hulle se almal, ‘domestic violence?’ en dan weier hulle – Battling to get a lawyer for Dad; When they hear ‘domestic violence’ they don’t want to get involved.
* He hangs out with a bunch of geezers who swim from pier to pier in the early mornings. With the sharks and – IN SPEEDOS! At their age!
Took me sixty six years to learn what to do in a magistrate’s court. I spose some okes can do it with one hand tied behind their back. Maybe even both hands . . .