The antics of the previous conscientious objector Carl Niehaus and specifically the special times that he is now spending in the company of the Nkandla crooner, Jacob Zuma, is constantly in the news. One of the political writers in the Sunday media converted Carl Niehaus’ name to “Kareltjie” and is deriving a great deal of joy in mocking the army uniform that Carl is now so often wearing.

Pollux, in Rapport, often refers to “Kareltjie” and his “PEP Stores” attire that the controversial Niehaus appears in these days when he tries to rally the masses at the Zuma gatherings. Mind you “Kareltjie” also has a big friend in the Ace of Spades who has fallen from grace as a big shot in the governing party. Then there is also his relationship with Dudu, formerly of SAA fame – but today also just one of those who move in darkness to scheme about all things evil.

“Kareltjie” is really in a sad state these days. He has also lost his ANC job – something that is normally given to all those who have been caught with their fingers in the cookie jar and who had to “disappear.” Sadly, Lethuli House, where “Kareltjie” found a comfortable home as one of the sidekicks to the Ace of Spades, has run out of money to keep this travelling band of “klipvreters” (those who live at the expense of others) going. The more Cyril sacks them, the more they settled on the couches of Lethuli House. Now, even their main protector, Ace of Spades, got his marching orders. Sadly, “Kareltjie” also gave Cyril so much grief that he that he had no alternative but to fire him.

Fredo finds it sad that “Kareltjie” should end up toy-toying outside the gates of Nkandla where the seriously ill Jacob is now sitting in the sun every morning to warm his aching joints. Freshly out of Estcourt Correctional Facility, the once powerful Nr 1 was apparently so ill that he could not stay one more day in that facility. Or in the private clinic where he had been treated by our best Doctors at the expense of the taxpayers.

How can one give up three fantastic meals a day, comfortable beds, your own TV and goodness know what other privileges that one gets in our private clinics? Jacob was apparently so much better this weekend that he took some time off for “casino time” in Durban. Guess who was there to greet him – none other than our special “Kareltjie” – and Dudu was there too! One wonders how many paper bags she was carrying with a bit of pocket money for both the Crooner and “Kareltjie”?

Perhaps they also played a few rounds at the Casino table – as they say – you never know what your luck turns out to be on the day.

“Kareltjie” impressed his masters

Back to “Kareltjie” and his history in South Africa. He attained fame when in the Apartheid days he refused to join the army – not even as a cook or a clerk – which would have been far away from any place one would hear the sound of gunfire. The Army thought they were giving “Kareltjie” a good deal. They were naturally upset when he refused. Just as in the recent case with the Crooner, he was offered a holiday at the cost of rate payers in a “nice” cell.

“Kareltjie” must have impressed the guys in the liberation struggle. They were also impressed by the man’s ability to make a speech – not unlike the ministers in the Dutch Reformed Churches we had to listen to on Sundays in our school years. Fredo thinks that “Kareltjie” probably really wanted to be a Dutch Reformed Dominee (Preacher) – and possibly preach in the Groote Kerk in Cape Town where he could have told PW Botha and his mates a few things. His masters in the ANC were so impressed that once we received our freedom, they felt they had to reward “Kareltjie” for his exceptional bravery. Nelson Mandela sent him to Holland as South Africa’s Ambassador – probably hoping that he could convince the Dutchmen there to try and keep their distant family in South Africa in check. It is no secret that in those early days of our wonderful democracy Uncle Nelson had his hands full with the Dutch cousins in South Africa. Later on the gratitude must have run out – because after Holland “Kareltjie” had a somewhat checkered career here in South Africa. Things started looking up when Jacob took over as  President – and “Kareltjie” fancied his chances as the Crooners’ best friend. Fredo is sure he was also impressed by the endless supply of good red wines at the Crooner’s official residences. Since Jacob left, things began to decline at a rate of knots.

That is when “Kareltjie” – according to those in the Sunday media – visited PEP Stores to get his uniform. And suddenly, out of the blue, “Onse Kareltjie” (Our Kareltjie) turned into that glorious liberation fighter. If you ever visit Nkandla, the chances are that you will see “Kareltjie” there – uniform and all.

Fredo feels that we should not be too hard on “Kareltjie”. He argues that every community in South Africa has their “Kareltjies” – and many other characters which makes up our daily life. Here at Riverside in the Southern Cape I was assured of this the other day. Non-other than Kleinjan Huppelbeen, descendant of the legendary Old Jan Huppelbeen who lived in these past many moons ago, told me that we have our own “Kareltjie”.

Haas Das en sy Nuuskas

“They all look the same, our ‘Kareltjies’ – and they cause equal amounts of trouble,” says Kleinjan. Fredo thought that he could be right – there is indeed a dapper man at Riverside who fits the bill. Fredo then also remembered that in the early days of television in South Africa there was a children’s programme called “Haas Das se Nuuskas” (A Rabbit called Das’ News bulletin).

In this programme there was “Karel Kraai (Karel Crow) and others such as “Liewe Heksie” (the lovable little witch), a little dog called “Fifi” and others. Later it was reported that “Mrs Malema” also moved into Riverside, although Fredo does not want to imply that this is part of Julius’ family.

Then, during a time of turmoil at Riverside, there were stories that Deep Throat (from American Watergate Fame) was also making late night phone calls to destabilize the community.

Yes, we have them all here at Riverside.

Kleinjan suddenly went quiet. He said that at times like these he misses Old Jan Huppelbeen the most.. “Just to know who to vote for in the coming election, is a nightmare,” he says. “We cannot let more “Kareltjies” loose – it will be a disaster!”