The Shebeen Lady By Thandi Mkhatshwa

The Shebeen Lady

By Thandi Mkhatshwa

Published on Tue, Apr 21 2009 by Thandi Mkhatshwa

Crazy stuff always happens at my neighbor’s place. She owns a shebeen (an unlicensed bar). The lady and her boyfriend sell beer and also brew traditional beer. Most of their customers get really drunk and start fighting all the time. Some of them even chase each other straight in to my yard and hit each other with beer bottles.� These acts annoy the hell out of me, but I have no power to stop it. It’s even impossible to sleep at night because of the horrible loud music they play all night long. Every night I toss and turn. Eventually, I get tired and fall asleep only to wake up in the morning feeling tired, like a truck or something had hit me.

Last week, things were a little different. I found myself smiling endlessly under a marula tree in my yard, watching over at my neighbour’s place as three police vans and a mini bus filled with police men and women paid my nosy neighbour a surprise visit. Soon the streets were filled with spectators who were as happy as I was to finally see the police intervene. Apparently the police came across two 13-year-old boys holding ice-cold beer on the streets during a raid at Tintwsalo village, South Africa. Since it’s illegal to sell beer to anyone who is under the age of 18-year-old, the police asked the boys where they bought the beer, and they directed them to my neighbour illegal shebeen. The police arrived with the boys, and soon they were all over the place. The police asked my neighbours if they sold the beer to the boys, and of course the lady denied ever selling beer to anyone at her house, even though there were beer bottles, caps and crates scattered all over the ground.
The police knew that the woman was lying because this was not their first visit to this woman’s house. They had been there on a number of occasions because some people were fed up with the loud music at night, and so they ratted her out to the police. The police never really did anything though, they only took the beer and left, and of course the following day it was business as usual at my neighbour’s place.� On this day, the police did more than just take the beer for themselves. They searched all over the place, and they also found marijuana plants in the field. They chopped it down and took it to their vans along with the beer. The police also arrested the woman’s boyfriend for planting the marijuana in the fields, but again the woman defended the boyfriend and said that none of them planted the marijuana. I knew for a fact that the plants were indeed planted by the boyfriend so he could smoke.

The woman was not afraid to show her disproval to the police and everyone who was watching. She cursed and accused the police of turning her home into a police playground, and that they would pay dearly for this.� As the police were moving around she followed them with a grocery plastic bag and gathered the sand with their footprints, threatening to take it to a sangoma so that she can bewitch them for messing around her home and embarrassing her to the villagers. I could tell that some of the policemen and women were starting to get scared at the sight of that lady collecting their footprints. Soon the lady’s brother joined in and also collected the footprints. Unlike the sister who placed the footprints into a plastic bag, the brother furiously collected it into a three-legged pot. I laughed so hard that my stomach started to hurt and tear fell from my eyes. The police had no standing ground on this because the South African law simply states that witchcraft doesn’t exist, and therefore they couldn’t charge her for threatening to bewitch them.� This did not mean the police did not fear for their lives.
My neighbour is well known in the community for being a dangerous person who uses witchcraft on people who mess with her in the wrong way. That is why none of the people in my village or I dare to confront her to stop playing her music so damn loud night.
Regardless of my neighbour’s tantrums the police took away with them her boyfriend, beer and marijuana to the police station.� The woman and her brother drove away and I think they went to consult to their favorite sangoma. The loud music stopped for about a week and it was on again the following week. Her boyfriend only spent three days in jail, and then he was back again to pick up where they had left off. For us, it was back to tossing and turning again as the music continued to play all through the night.


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