Searching and seizing with a difference

For the last 5 months or so, I’ve been working on a matter involving executing a search and seizure warrant at this dude’s house. Court orders allowing these search and seizures are hard to secure because of the violation of rights it involves, so you need to get your court papers just right… which takes alot of work. But this particular dude is a total douche, so we didn’t mind putting in the work if it meant achieving a little justice for our clients. When studying these orders at law school, I kinda had an idea in my mind of what executing one would be like… needless to say, that picture didn’t even vaguely resemble what it ended up looking like in practice when things went down yesterday.

Come 7.30am we were at the sheriff’s office getting ready to head off to the dude’s farm about 45 minutes outside Joburg. I’d grabbed a R5 cappacino from KFC on the way because, well, KFC has drive throughs and it seemed a) convenient and b) like a good idea at the time. Just for the record, they taste like ass. The fact that they cost only R5 should have been sufficient warning for me. Don’t judge, we all have our weak moments. Not a great start to the day.

These orders are also obtained and organised in secret, so not even the sheriff knew where we were going until that morning. The sheriff took one look at the dude’s name and sighed a *shoot me in the face* sigh before saying, “You guys do realise he breeds lions right?”. Being in a very Afrikaans area, this was all said in Afrikaans, but I understood “leeus”. Yes, we knew about the leeus. But we were hoping that he kept them in enclosures, so we went ahead anyways. En route, some SAPS officers we’d arranged to accompany us joined in the convoy just in case things got out of hand.

Within minutes of arriving at the dude’s house, he’d threatened to kill everyone. Repeatedly. With truly flamboyant language. For some of us it would involve drowning, for others slitting our throats, and for others he didn’t really specify how he would kill us. He also told us that we would be eaten if we set foot on his property. At that stage, one of the SAPS officers asked me what the dude meant, “Eaten? By what?” “Uhmm,” I said, “Probably by lions. He has a bunch of them on his property”. The expression on the SAPS officer’s face went from “you’re kidding me, right?” to “oh shit, you’re being for real”. It was so surreal I wanted to laugh just looking at his face… but laughing didn’t really seem very appropriate at the time.

If the SAPS hadn’t believed me, however, the notice on the gate may or may not have informed them… depending obviously on whether or not they paid close attention to detail.

Legal jargon… blah, blah, blah… and then “Free Ranging Lions” added almost as an afterthought, which most people probably don’t even read after having got bored with the standard legal jargon. Too awkward. I mean, you would have thought that the fact there were free ranging lions chilling nearby would warrant a little more importance on his warning sign… but apparently not.

To cut a very long story short, we eventually got onto his property with his consent and spent many hours in a 110 year old mill on the river (that doubled as his office) going through all the financial statements of his companies for the last 5 years. We did this whilst 2 white lion cubs ran around, nipping at our ankles, and whilst the dude intermittently threatened our lives and/or our physical safety, before making us coffee… and then continuing with the threats. Weird. It was very uncomfortable to say the least, not even taking into account the hot day and the total lack of airconditioning in the 110 year old building.

While everything we wanted was being packed into the sheriff’s truck, the dude asked me if I wanted to go into the cheetah cage to play with the cheetah. Please note they were fully grown cheetah. Two of them. “Uhmm, no, I’m fine right here thanks”. I mean seriously, he’d gone from threatening us to suggesting an excursion into the cheetah cage? And I was supposed to trust him? No thanks, I choose life. He also had another 18 lion, 6 leopard and 3 tigers kept in enclosures bordering his garden, some no more than 5 metres away from his house.

By the time we left though he was pulling out his mack moves on me with his “Hey gorgeous, so have you had a fun day?” with the nudge-nudge-wink-wink combination going on. Seriously? At that stage, being macked on by a psychopath was the only thing that could have made the day weirder. Well, that was until he did the “Heil Hitler” salute to my Jewish boss and our Jewish computer expert as we left… at which stage I was totally finished.

To be honest, I’ve kinda been put off ever being involved in a search and seizure situation ever again.

Not quite as bizarre as yesterday, today I went to Cranks in Rosebank for the first time. Its a thai restaurant and has festive big banana trees in pots giving shade to the outside tables. The plates are colourful and bright, clashing wonderfully with the fruit-patterned table cloths. After lunch I went inside to settle my bill and stumbled across the weirdest decor I’ve ever seen in a restaurant. At first I only noticed the life-size female nude sculpture covered by little squares of mirror. After I got over being distracted by bright and shiny things, I saw the numerous posters of kens and barbies having sex in a whole bunch of awkward positions… and as I laughed and looked up, I saw naked kens and barbies handing from the ceiling, piled into each other in sexually explicit positions. Words can’t really describe it, you need to check it out for yourself. The food is amazing too.

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