“You sh*t, how could you have done that, do you know the trouble you got me in.”
The policeman was angry, and I didn’t know why. What I did know was that somehow I had made a blabs.
They happen in journalism, born out of frantic deadlines, names that are spelt wrong, maybe a number incorrectly added.
All journalists hate them and try their utmost to prevent them, but they do sometimes slip through. But with this policeman there was no misspelling there, hell I didn’t even use his name.
The cop’s name is Stroppies, a bear of a man who was a member of the Soweto Dog Unit. His search and rescue dogs were considered the best, there is a story how one of them picked up the scent of a body that was lying 40 metres deep at the bottom of a dam.
A couple of weeks earlier I had seen Stroppies in a canoe on the Klipspruit river in Soweto searching for a drowned victim. I had asked for a quote.
“You know I cant talk to you, you need to speak to the police spokesperson,” he replied, while prodding the undergrowth that lay at the water’s edge with his paddle.
From the bank I pleaded, I told him that police spokesperson sat in offices and knew nothing. I told him that they always got the story wrong.
I told him that the guys on the ground fighting crime and saving people, like him were never recognised.
I told him… “Okay I will talk to you, but you don’t use my name,” he barked.
“No problem,” I said, and pulled out my notebook.
He gave me some good stuff, that went into the paper.
This time around there stood Stroppies spitting mad.
“You got me into sh*t with your story, you @#@$.”
“But how could I have got you in trouble,” I said, “I didn’t use your name, I referred to you as a member of the Soweto Dog Unit.”
He looked at me as if I was real dumb.
“You idiot, I am the only member of the Soweto Dog Unit.”