Police college is where the young teenager regains her sense of balance, but new dangers lurk.
‘My one concern, Santie, is that very able brain of yours,’ said her uncle one evening. ‘How about signing up for a few subjects so you can finish your matric through correspondence college?’ Santie nodded her head. ‘I think that would be a very good idea, Uncle Bob. Do you think I would have time, though?’ She had come to love her Uncle Bob, and even trust him a little.
A large group of young people waited outside the police station on that Tuesday hot summer’s morning. They were all in civvies, chatting nervously. Most were a little older than Santie, about fifty boys and ten girls in all. An old white bus with a broad green stripe eventually pulled up at the curb. A boy standing near Santie started shivering violently and one of the girls started sobbing on her mother’s shoulder. The Police College’s reputation was fearsome. But Santie was elated, on a strange, unnatural high. Happily she gave Uncle Bob and Aunt Maggie a bright hug, and leapt onto the bus.
The bus did not take long to get to the Pretoria police college. The girl sitting next to Santie was morose and silent, and hardly spoke a word. They slowly made their way through the city arriving at the huge gates about an hour later. Awed by the sheer size of the place, a centre for some of the most advanced police training in the world someone at the back of the bus said, most of them were cowed. As the gates slammed shut behind them, another door located deep with Santie's mind silently clicked shut, formatting many of the memories of the last years. Behind it, a deeply encapsulated boil began to foment; it would not be lanced for almost a quarter of a century.
Glancing at the armed guards standing at attention, one young man voiced all their thoughts: ‘Do you think we will ever get out of here?’ Through the dirty bus windows they could see hostels and parade grounds, a platoon of men on horses and a large, seemingly incongruous church. Training centres, large offices buildings and even a shooting range could be seen. Stepping out of the bus they collected their meagre belongings. The boy started shaking again.
A drill sergeant barked at them as they stepped onto the tarmac: ‘Move, move, move: line up, men on the left, women on the right. Hurry up, you!’ It was all in Afrikaans which Santie of course spoke fluently. Since her mother died she spoke no other language.
The girls moved at a jog to join a group from another bus when a battleaxe screamed at them: ‘Run, run, run’ followed by a string of epithets. Some of the more genteel girls reddened at the four letter words pouring from the female drill sergeant’s mouth. ‘What’s a Soutie?’ one whispered. The others giggled bringing another tirade from the ugly mouth that was to be their constant companion for the next six months.
‘Not happy, Sergeant?’ chortled a Lieutenant.
‘We’ll knock them into shape, sooner enough, Sir. Just you watch.’
‘I’m sure you will, Sergeant,’ he replied. Turning to a colleague he muttered; ‘I suppose we should applaud because the Bitch manages to cow them in half the time.’
‘That’s her brief,’ his friend answered. ‘Subdue and intimidate, knock out all individuality.’
‘Turn them into a machine, eh? That knows only one word; obey.’
found herself in a large residence called Rosehof, on the second floor
in a dormitory with the thirty-five other young women making up their
platoon. The intimidating sergeant and the Spartan circumstances broke
two girls as the first week passed in a blur, fortunately not from their
platoon. ‘The Bitch’ they soon discovered was the sergeant’s nickname.
Her brief: Without question.
From Police College to Ch 12. Boys will be boys ...
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