‘Good morning,’ I said to the officer behind the counter, ‘My name is Kalaki. I need a police report on the loss of my driving licence.’
‘Certainly sir,’ she replied. ‘You just have to get a report form and fill in the details. That’ll be fifty pin for a report form.’
‘Oh really?’ I said. ‘I thought it was done free of charge.’
‘Maybe you thought a long of things, sir. If you read the newspapers you’d know that all subsidies have been removed. So instead of thoughting a lot of things and upsetting yourself, just give me the fifty pin, get your report and go on your way.’
As it happened, I had just had an unexpectedly pleasing encounter with the very ATM that had in the past been continuously unsympathetic to my financial problems, and I was therefore on a high of financial exuberance. So I carelessly took a bundle of fifties out of my pocket, peeled one off, and said, ‘OK, darling, give me a report form.’
She fixed a swiveling beady eye on my little hoard, suddenly whipped away the fifty pin like a chameleon catching a fly, and disappeared down the corridor. She came back only two minutes later with a blank piece of paper. ‘Here,’ she said, ‘just write down all the details.’
‘Excuse me,’ I said, ‘this doesn’t seem to be a report form.’
‘Report forms are out of stock,’ she said. ‘So just write me a report of what you lost and when.’
As she spoke a grimy half naked figure appeared at the metal grill door behind the counter. ‘Please madam, I need to go to the toilet.’
‘Toilet!’ she screeched in mirth. ‘That’s a good one! Toilet!’ Then, turning to me, she sneered ‘Since the Police Service has been privatized, we get some very demanding customers.’
Then turning back to the wretch in the filthy metal cage she said ‘My dear sir, I saw from the moment you arrived that you were a gentleman, accustomed to the very best. That’s why I took the trouble to give you the very best self-contained accommodation. You’ll find the bucket in the corner.’
‘Excuse me interrupting,’ I said, ‘but can I have a receipt for my fifty pin?’
‘Certainly,sir,’ she replied politely. ‘Receipts cost fifty pin.’
Just then there was a kafuffle outside and then two youths were hurled into the station by a rowdy group of men. ‘We found them walking down the road holding hands!’ declared the leader of the gang of ruffians.
‘A blatant homosexual act in broad daylight, contrary to the Penal Code Section 1175, as amended in 1734!’ the policewoman squealed in delight, as closed the steel door behind the pair of illegal hand holders.
I was just about to again raise the matter of my police report when a man and his wife came in holding a young boy by the scruff of his neck. ‘This thief stole our son’s bicycle!’ shouted the woman,’ as if in a paroxysm of hate against all humanity.
‘That’ll be fifty pin to open a docket and fifty pin to write a statement,’ declared the policewoman, as the grill door clanged behind another captive. ‘Go to Room 6 down the corridor and speak to CID.’
It was some time before she managed to return to me and my little problem. ‘Excuse me,’ I said, ‘I’ve written down the details here. What do I do now?’
‘You pay me a fee of fifty pin to sign and stamp it. Then we make a photocopy for our records and put it on file. That’ll be another fifty pin.’
Just then there was a sound of running feet, and a man came panting up to the counter. ‘There’s a whole gang of thugs coming down our street with pick-axe handles and pangas, and they’re heading for the Evangelical Church!’
‘Why are you telling me all this?’ shouted the policewoman. ‘We’re non-political and non-partisan. We don’t take sides in these things! We don’t even have bullet proof vests, so how can we get involved in politics? I suggest you make a complaint to your member of parliament.’
As he ran out cursing, I turned to the policewoman. ‘Look,’ I said, ‘Even if you can’t do anything yourself, can’t you phone HQ and warn them about an attack on a church?’
She turned to me with a sneer. ‘And why don’t you mind your own business, just as I mind my own business? My job here is just to lock up people when there is a complaint against them, and release them when their relatives arrive.’
‘It’s a nice little business,’ I admitted.
‘This is just a peaceful community police post,’ she said. ‘My husband and I bought it during the time of privatization. Like all small business people, we just get on with our daily work, and keep out of politics.’
‘What about HQ?’
‘Now that’s big business. We keep clear of them. They have a contract with the ruling party.’
Just then a distraught woman came in sobbing. ‘You’ve locked up my Billy for stealing his own bicycle.’
‘For only fifty pin,’ said the policewoman in a kindly voice, ‘I can release your son on police bond.’
The policewoman turned to me. ‘You see how we keep both sides happy. The complainants pay to put them in, and then the relatives pay to get them out.’
‘Yes,’ I said, ‘it’s a nice little community service. I’m sure we’re all grateful. Now if you’ll just sign and stamp my police report, I think I’ll be off.’
‘There’s just one other thing,’ she said.
‘Oh?’ I said. ‘What’s that?’
‘I notice from your report that you lost your license last September. So there’s a fine of five hundred pin for driving without a license.’
Courtesy of http://kalakikorner.blogspot.com