Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The potholed road to an unabridged birth certificate (Part 2)

[This story was written in 2007 when I still lived in Namibia.]

This morning I pitched up at Home Affairs at 7h30. The row was even longer than the one I encountered yesterday. I got that sinking feeling in my stomach, and decided to tackle the long road to Gobabis. Only 197km of open road between me and four Unabridged Birth Certificates.

I took off after filling up at around 08h20. At exactly 10h00 I stopped in front of the Home Affairs offices in Gobabis.
There were people in front of me, but I’m guessing they were only about 6 persons.

This was a mixture of applications for ID’s, birth certificates and death certificates.

Mr. Agarob (his real surname, no kidding!) was sitting next to me on the bench. He featured a nice homely alcoholic aroma, and I suddenly wished I had also taken a few sips before entering this place. But I was soon relieved of my misery. I was at the counter only 15 minutes later. I explained that I needed full birth certificates. The nice lady said I should rather apply for them in Windhoek, because she has to request them from Windhoek, and she was still waiting for other peoples’ documents since May. I once again felt as if the earth beneath me had sunk in.

But this lady was really nice. She could see my disappointment, and then suggested that we phone them in Windhoek and get confirmation over the phone. The people in Windhoek take very long before they answer the phone, so she will dial the number and I must sit in her office with the phone, and call her when someone finally answers. This happened quite a while later, and she took over and discussed the issue with the person on the other side. This person took down the details of all three my kids’ birth certificates, and told her to hold on. The phone was again transferred to me, and I called my angel lady a few minutes later. The person on the other side confirmed the details on the birth certificates, and she was now happy that all details were correct according to the Birth register in Windhoek.

What happened now still seems like something out of a dream or a movie. She gave me the Official Full Birth Certificate book, and told me to fill in the details just as I had on the application form. My handwriting was very neat on the application, and she was happy that I could fill in the form myself. I faithfully and neatly filled in the details for all three my children. She signed all three certificates and stamped them.

Now the issue of my own birth certificate still remained unresolved. She said I could leave my application with her, enter my name in their other book, and call in a month’s time to see what happened. But maybe I should just try again in Windhoek, because she cannot promise me anything.


I walked out of the building exactly an hour after my arrival, with my three children's Full Birth Certificates in my hand. Not only were they in my hand, but they were also made out in my own handwriting! How many people can say that?

Lucky kids! Hopefully they will never have to struggle to obtain things like these when they are adults, because they will be citizens of a developed country. I wonder if the Australian and New Zealand Immigration guys know how much trouble we have to go through to obtain these simple items.

On the way home I took a few shots of a nice park in Witvlei. The Joel Kaapanda park. See what you down-under guys are missing?

I also took a nice shot of a donkey car:

When I arrived back in Windhoek at 12h30, I decided to give the Home Affairs Office another try after 14h00. Maybe the crowds disappear after lunch.

I arrived at 14h05. I couldn't believe it! There were only about 10 people outside. At 14h15 they came to open the gate, but did not even bother to control the crowd, as it was too small to worry about. I thought something must be wrong, but what the hell, try it anyway. I ended up second from the front in the row designated “Birth certificates Khomas region”. The only problem was that we were all now sitting nicely on the benches, and waiting, but there was no one behind the counter. Only the cashier’s box had an occupant.

Anyone who tried to go near a counter was confronted by the Police lady, who did not take kindly to any uncontrolled behavior. “Sit there!” was the only answer you got to any question you asked. I sat. The lady next to me began talking to me, and I told her where to go and what to do in order to obtain a passport. I was now suddenly the expert around here.

Ten minutes later our nice Police officer started handing out application forms. She walked along the row, and handed you whatever form you needed. I got a big frown because I had my form already prepared and completed. Now my neighbor needed a pen. I had a pen, because I was prepared for anything! My pen soon became public property, but I don’t mind as long as I get it back.

Finally a lady appeared behind the counter. People everywhere jumped up to storm towards her. “Only ONE at a time!” she yelled. Everybody got back. Soon it was my turn, and she took hold of my papers. She started filling in an A4 paper titled RECEIPT.

“Come back in 7 days” she said and handed me my receipt.

That was it.

I will go back in 7 days, (definitely in the afternoon), take my receipt with me, and see what happens. I got my pen back too. I walked out of the building at 14h30.

I am still a bit stunned. What a day.

And almost no one even noticed I wasn’t at work today.

This had better all be worth it…

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The potholed road to an unabridged birth certificate

I originally wrote this story on 30 July 2007, when I still lived in Namibia. This was in preparation for my move to Australia, which was well worth all the trouble:

This morning I had enough courage to try and obtain unabridged (Full) birth certificates for myself and my three children. I phoned the Department of Home Affairs last week about it, and they said I must bring copies of the abridged certificates, and come apply in the Northern Industrial area. You can only apply on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

So here I was. I first had to go the office to finish a few office-related thingies, and then pitched up at Home Affairs at 10h45. What greeted me was a "row" of people on the outside of the building.

They were roughly organized into three large bunches. I figured out my bunch was the lot standing behind a sign that said something about birth certificates.

The other two rows were Death registration (I don’t want to go there?), and ID documents. (Been there, done that!!! Did my ID in Gobabis, and it was worth the trip.) Imagine having to stand in this line to register the death of one of your loved ones - as if the experience wasn't bad enough already...

Anyway, I was standing here and noticing that nothing was really happening. Until about 11h15. The building is protected by a security gate. Whenever there is enough space inside the building, a police officer opens the gate and tries to control the crowd that wrestles to get inside. Once you're inside, you've made it! You’re “IN”, you’re on your way to progress! But while you're outside, you have to wait for the officer to open the gate every 30 minutes or so, and hope you can squeeze through.

At 12h30, it suddenly seemed that the outside row (where I was still located) tended to become less populated. A German guy next to me was also noticing the sudden progress, and started to investigate. There was a secret! Another door on the right-hand side of the building was open, and people were entering in there. Wow, we squeezed through and were just lucky enough to get in before someone realized the mistake and closed it up again.

The inside of the building was stuffed with people. I managed to get through to the counter, and requested information about the Full Birth Certificate. Apparently I was in the wrong line. This line is for people born outside the Khomas region, not those born in Windhoek. My line is the unorganized bundle that occupies the whole third of the building on the other side.

But after begging desperately I managed to get hold of the documents that you need to fill in. Nice photo copies, those that seem to be a copy of a copy of a copy. I still don’t know if I have to pay, but I've prepared myself to take some cash along.

Now I have a new plan. Tomorrow morning I will rise early, make sure I arrive at the building at 07h30 at the latest, and have my already completed forms with me. Maybe I will be able to squeeze through with the first bunch and then it shouldn’t take more than two hours.

If this doesn’t work, I’m getting in my car and driving to Gobabis. It worked for the ID documents, and should hopefully work for the Birth Certificates as well. I’d rather drive 4 hours than stand in a stinking sweaty bundle for two hours.

Pray for patience…

[To be continued]

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

'n Dag in 1977

Ouma was 'n tawwe Ouma wat nie nonsens gevat het nie. Ek kan onthou sy het op 'n stadium by die kommandos geleer skiet. Sy het nie tyd gehad vir Kommuniste en duiwelse mense nie. Sy het goeie Duitse bloed in haar are gehad. Sy het vir my 'n army boshoed gegee – 'n camo ene, wat ek tot vandag toe nog kan onthou.

Ek onthou eintlik bitter min van Ouma.

Ek onthou wel die hospitaal se gange. Daai reuk van die hospitaal wat ek nou nog nie kan verdra nie. Die reuk van mense wat doodgaan.

Toe ek in Sub A was het ons gereeld gaan stap saam met Ouma, daar in die straat af. Maar later was sy meer gereeld in die hospitaal. Kanker. Ons het baie daar gaan kuier, en dit was nie vir my lekker nie.

Op 7 Desember 1977 het my tannie by ons huis aangekom. My ma was nog nie terug nie. "Ouma is hemel toe", het sy vir my en my boetie kom sê, met trane in haar oë.

My boetie het my gevra: "wat bedoel sy?", en ek het geantwoord dat ek dink Ouma is dalk dood.

Oupa was nooit weer heeltemal dieselfde nie. Hy het 9 jaar lank geld gespaar sodat hy 'n huis kan koop voor hy sy vrou vra om met hom te trou. Hy was toegewyd in sy liefde vir haar. Daai tipe lewenslange band wat mens nie meer deesdae baie sien nie.

Elke jaar onthou my ma die datum – 7 Desember. Daar was blykbaar altyd sewes in haar lewe.

Nog 'n jaar verby, nog 'n seisoen langer terug – en mens onthou net sulke stukkies van alles. Hoe verder terug jy dink, hoe minder kan jy duidelik onthou.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

AKTUR en die olifante

Ek was 6 jaar oud, en groot genoeg om skool toe te gaan. Ek het 'n koffer gehad wat amper so groot soos ek was. Ek het groot-oog daar op die skoolgronde aangekom, en maatjies begin maak.

Ek kan nie onthou watter jaar presies dit was nie – party geskiedenis-boeke praat van 1977, ander noem 1978. In 1977 was ek in Sub B, en dit kon moontlik daai jaar gewees het. Wat ek wel kan onthou, is dat daar groot politiek aan die gang was. Volgens die maatjies op die speelgrond was daar slegte mense wat DTA's was – hulle is kafferboeties en hulle is kommuniste en wie weet wat nog. As jy iemand kry wat 'n DTA is, dan vorm almal so kringetjie om hom en hy word uitgestort.

Blykbaar is almal AKTUR, jy sien. AKTUR was die goeie ouens. Hulle het 'n olifant gehad vir 'n simbool. Baie belangrike olifant.

Dit was omtrent die somtotaal van my kennis van die politiek in 1977. Toe ek later uitvind my ma stem DTA, toe is ek vreeslik geskok. Solank niemand weet nie, dan is ek oraait. Miskien was dit anders op ander skole in Suidwes, maar in Dr van Rhijn laerskool in 1977, was AKTUR beslis die in-ding.

Ek het geen idee gehad wie of wat AKTUR was nie. Dit staan blykbaar vir "Aksiefront vir die behoud van die Turnhalle-beginsels". Ek is net vertel dat Dirk Mudge ons nasie uitverkoop en dat ons nie moet toelaat dat die swart satans ons land afvat nie.

Snaaks genoeg wys die statistieke dat hierdie tipiese houding onder die Afrikaner vir baie jare al voorkom. AKTUR het slegs 11.9% van die stemme gewen in 1978, volgens hierdie webblad. Meer as 82% van blanke suidwesters het vir die DTA gestem. Praat nou vandag met mense in die land, en hulle sê vir jou dis alles die mense wat DTA gestem het se skuld. Niemand het kamstig DTA gestem daai tyd nie. Almal is deel van daai 11.9% AKTUR mense. Skokkend ne.

Dis dieselfde met daai klomp wat "Stop FW" gestem het. Blykbaar is almal vandag deel van die minderheid wat vir hulle gestem het…

Ons het gereeld speletjies gespeel. Jy weet, daai speletjies waar iemand die kroek is en die ander ouens is die cowboys. Al verskil was dat die kroeks DTA's was, en die goeie ouens was die AKTURS. Enige ou wat in sy broek gepiepie het in die klas, of dalk 'n vuil kol agter op sy broek gehad het, was outomaties as DTA gemerk.

Al hierdie goed gaan aan op die speelgrond terwyl ou Hendrik van Rhyn vir ons staan en kyk terwyl ons so speel. Hy was 'n ou swartman wat jare lank by die skool gewerk het. Hy het geweet hoe om daai blou wasvelle op die afrolmasjien te sit en dan sommer 'n hele 100 afdrukke te kan maak – hy was 'n slim ou man. Mens kan maar net wonder wat in Hendrik se kop aangegaan het as hy hoor hoe die wit kinders politiek speel.

Daar was so outjie wat altyd na piepie geruik het. Wonder wat van ou Loekas geword het. (Ja, dis hoe hy sy naam gespel het.)

Klomp van die kinders in hierdie skool was in die koshuis. Plaaskinders. Hulle was bietjie snaaks, van hulle. Hulle het rog gevreet pouses, en altyd oor die koshuiskos gekla. Hulle pa's en ma's het hulle op die ouderdom van ses hier kom aflaai, en dan sien hulle vir pa en ma net as dit langnaweek is of vakansies – en dan moet hulle werk op die plaas. Meeste van hulle kon al bestuur en het al 'n koedoe of twee platgetrek voor hulle tien geword het.

Twee van die koshuisbrakke het elke pouse gesit en kar-kar speel. Ek kon die ding nooit verstaan nie. Hulle het op die stoep gesit met hulle rue teen die muur, en hulle voete so voor hulle uitgestrek, en dan kar gery. Wroem wroem, hulle start daai ou Ford en die rook trek en die biesies bewe. Hulle gaan om draaie en deur slote, en sit die voet oppie petrol en dan briek hulle verwoed.

Elke liewe pouse vir 'n hele jaar lank het Ian en Smittie hierdie speletjie gespeel. In die klas sit die man met 'n liniaal, en dan gebruik hy die liniaal as 'n speedo – jy weet mos, daai ou simpel speedos wat so in 'n reguit lyn geloop het met die wyser wat so van links na regs beweeg hoe vinniger jy ry. Dan slaat die onnie daai mannetjie met die liniaal dat die hare waai. More doen hy dit weer.

Die plaaskinders was nie altyd so lekker nie. Maar daar was ander wat erger was.

Baie van die kinders in die skool se ouers het by die spoorweë gewerk. Windhoek Wes was daai tyd 'n wit buurt naby die spoorweg stasie. Daar was 'n paar snaakse karakters in daai skool. Party van my maatjies het in standerd vier nog nie eens 'n telefoon by hulle huis gehad nie. As ek vir ou Danie wou bel, moes ek die bure bel, en dan roep hulle hom, en hulle is nie baie gelukkig oor daai ding nie. Dan hoor ek hoe skreeu hulle daar iewers in die pad af om vir Danie te kry. Die mannetjie was later onderhoofseun – kan jy dit glo. Ons hoofseun was een van die twee wat kar-kar gespeel het op die stoep. Hy het later onderhoofseun by Windhoek Hoër Skool geword ook.

Ek wonder vir wie stem hulle nou? (Wat se verskil maak dit in elk geval?)


Sonde met die bure

Die storie het eintlik niks met my bure uit te waai nie, en ek weet nie of ek veel sonde het om oor te gesels nie. Ek is sommer net lus vir nonsens praat, en die titel laat dit klink asof daar iets is om oor te praat.

Ek het gister weer bietjie vooruit gegaan met die tegnologie in my huis. Ons het op die oomblik drie rekenaars (of neukenaars, soos my oudste dogter die ding genoem het toe sy nog klein was). Ons het egter net een printer, en die kinders van vandag ken mos nie meer van pen en papier en kryte en potlode nie. Nee-eee, hulle moet mos Powerpoint presentations doen en technicolour plakkate in 3D produseer. Nie dat dit 'n verskil maak nie, want deesdae kan niemand mos meer 'n standerd pluk nie, hulle gee jou net so algemene punt wat sê jy is net so dom soos allie ander kinders, of dalk bietjie bo-gemiddeld, of effe useless in vergelyking met die gemiddeldes. Maar niemand kan tog in die 22 ste eeu so gemeen wees om te waag noem dat 'n kind te dom is om deur te kom nie. Dis 'n vreeslike skending van menseregte, en dis klaar nie meer sonde om gay uit te draai nie, dus moedig jy nie kinders in daai rigting aan deur te sê hulle onderpresteer nie.

In elk geval. Drie rekenaars. Ek het 'n fancy draadlose netwerk ook hier in die huis. Dit beteken natuurlik dat hier vreeslike brain-waves oral om ons koppe vlieg – daai radio seine is die hele plek vol. Ek het 'n stewige stukkie internet ADSL2+ konneksie wat ek by Telstra kry. Elke maand mag ek 25G se data aflaai. Ek weet nie wat maak mens met 25G se data nie – ek kon nog nooit by die limiet uitkom nie. Ek sal daai hele Wikileak-affêre se geheime tien keer kan aflaai en nog steeds 24G oorhe.

Die een printer is nou egter 'n krisis. Die ou rekenaar wat die kinders moet gebruik, se Wi-Fi ding werk nie altyd lekker nie. En elke keer as ek die printer uit daai masjien se USB port uithaal dan vou sy wireless konneksie ook. Dit gaan nou al vir 'n lang tyd so aan, en gister toe maak ek 'n plan.

Ek sien 'n advertensie vir hierdie wireless printer – die ding kan enige plek in die huis staan, en as jy kliek op die "print" knoppie, dan spoeg hy technicolour papier uit al is sy drade nie in jou masjien in gedruk nie.

Volgens die ou by die winkel is dit peanuts om die ding te installeer – jy druk 'n knop of twee, en binne 10 minute print jy Mickey Mouse prentjies in 3D en full colour. Ek is mos darem 'n ingenieur en ek weet dit behoort vir my nog makliker wees as vir die gewone ou leek om die ding aan die gang te kry.

Ek kom by die huis met my fancy HP boks en ruk hom uitmekaar totdat net 'n printer oorbly. Die dingetjie lyk sommer heel wild, pikswart met knoppies en liggies en 'n skermpie wat praat met jou. Dit alles vir slegs $48 – dink jou dit in.

Ek lees ewe die instruksies – wil nie tyd mors en sukkel nie. Hulle vertel my ek moet die CD in die neukenaar in druk en dan die installasie doen voordat ek die USB kabel indruk. Ek doen alles ewe geduldig, maar na 'n halfuur se gesukkel vertel die installasie program vir my dat die printer nie met hom wil praat nie. Ek lees op die internet, loer oral, soek, maar niks werk nie. Ek stel aan my virus program maar niks wil werk nie.

Ek sit natuurlik ook met drie neukenaars wat elkeen 'n verskillende operating system het. Die oudste een – die ene wat die kinders moet gebruik – hardloop nog op XP. Die ouer laptop hardloop op die gehate ou Vista, en my nuwe nommertjie gebruik Windows 7. (Mens sal wonder of Windows7 beter kan wees as Windows95 – die nommer is dan kleiner?)

Elkeen van hulle doen ander goed as jy die printer probeer installeer. Nou is daar al ongeveer 2 ure verby en hierdie man is boos.

Ek sien later die IP adres van die printer op sy screen is heel verkeerd – hoe het dit dan nou gebeur? Die ding se blou liggie brand, wat beteken hy is op die wireless netwerk, maar volgens sy IP adres is dit nie op hierdie netwerk nie. Ek kon net sowel gepraat het met daai maankarretjie wat op Mars sit – die ding se posbus werk nie reg nie. Ek vind later uit ek moet die wireless router ook so bietjie skok-terapie gee. Sit hom af en sit hom weer aan en siedaar – printer het nou nuwe IP adres.

Nou sien ek al die printer op die netwerk maar die ding willie werk nie. Die neukenaar sê later vir my dat hy en die printer dieselfde IP adres het. O gonna, wat maak ek nou? Ek kry toe 'n manier om in die printer se brein in te klim deur die IP adres in my web browser in te tik. Skielik gaan 'n nuwe wêreld oop – jy kan al die printer se binnegoed hier verander. Ek verander sy IP adres, en siedaar – alles werk.

Uiteindelik werk my slim $48 plan. Maar tien minute se dinges man – jyt 'n ingenieursgraad nodig om die ding aan die gang te kry, en selfs dan sukkel jy. My vrou wil he ek moet haar leer hoe om iets in te scan op die printer – ek sien nie kans nie. Dis een ding om self te weet wat jy doen, dis 'n ander om dit vir mense te leer. Veral mense wat nou nog nie verstaan hoe om files te copy en paste na 'n memory stick toe nie.

Wel, die ding is nou gedoen – my netwerk laat loop teen 'n gevaarlike 52 Mbps, terwyl my internet konneksie getoets is op 7Mbps – eintlik veronderstel om 20Mbps te wees volgens Telstra. Selfs my WII masjien is sommer met die wireless gekoppel – jy kan ewe nogal op Joutjoep gaan via jou WII console. As jy wil.

Eendag gaan Julia Gillard vir my 'n optiese vesel na my huis toe aanlê, dan is my internet spoed sommer iewers tussen 100Mbps en 1Gbps volgens die regering se beloftes. Dit beteken my wireless router sal useless wees want hy loop teen maksimum van 52Mbps.

Teen daai tyd sal daar seker in elk geval baie ander speelgoed in my huis wees wat daai bandwydte wil gebruik. Blykbaar maak die Japsnese alreeds yskaste wat vir jou emails en SMS'e stuur as die melk opraak. Of nog beter, die yskas bestel sommer melk van die local IGA af via die internet, en as jy weer kyk is die melk by jou voordeur nog voor jy agtergekom het die melk is op. (Of dalk vind jy uit jy het nooit die melk in die yskas teruggesit nie – dit gebeur elke dag in my huis…)

Friday, December 3, 2010



I haven’t written a lot lately.  I love writing, but at the moment there are a few things happening in my life that I don’t really want to write about.  Frankly most of it is just so negative that I would send you into a depro if I wrote about it.  And to lose the last few committed readers that still dare to venture onto this blog, would be a fatal blow to my waning popularity.

In short, a friend of mine bamboozled me out of a lot of money, and I am in the process of demanding justice.  This process is quite intimidating and complex, not to mention costly, and may in fact not have the required end result, which should be justice

I’ve always been one of those suckers who continue to believe in the idea of fairness and justice.  And I still do.  A little bit.

Although I know a few good decent people in the legal industry, I have to say that in general, lawyers are a bunch of blood-sucking thieves, and even when you do have a good case that should go your way, the costs of getting this through court basically reduces your ability to act in any way.

Most of the lawyers I contacted at first, just wanted to go the easy way and create a paper-war.  They want to sit in the office being a pen-pusher, in stead of actually taking the matter to court.  And they literally charge you in 6 minutes timeslots.  When you go over into the 7th minute, you’re out of pocket for another 30 or 40 bucks, depending on the amount of personal debt this lawyer has to cover in order to sustain his expensive lifestyle.  They’re worse than engineering consultants. 

And why not?  These are the folks who end up being judges, members of parliament and other kinds of high-rollers, and they draw up our laws – why wouldn’t they create a system where they are the beneficiaries of other people’s bad luck?

Even though I was totally able to draft and send off my own “final letter of demand” to the debtor, most of the lawyers I contacted insisted that I write a letter of demand on their letterhead, which would apparently have a much better effect than my personally written one, which I simply got off the internet. 

For this great service a company like Ah*rns Lawyers (Full Name withheld to protect the innocent) would charge you $440.00.  What a farce.  Even after I repeatedly stated that I had already sent off a letter of demand, and that I now wanted to proceed with real legal action, M*rc#s Ah*rns still insisted that I first send off another letter on their letterhead.   According to him:

“…I recommend a letter of demand from our firm. It will threaten the claiming of costs and interest and carries a lot more weight than your letter as it shows you are serious as you have engaged solicitors.”

There’s nothing in there that wasn’t in my original letter.  Except a huge cost to print a piece of paper with their colourful letterhead on it.

This, of course, was after Mr Ah*rns took more than a week to respond to my first request for assistance. 

I finally got hold off a legal company who seems to have a lot more integrity.  They responded to all my emails in a speedy fashion - they even arranged the first meeting for free.  I was free to discuss my whole case with a lawyer, and could then decide what to do based on their advice.  If you live in Perth, I would highly recommend Havilah Legal if you ever need to talk to a respectable lawyer.  Check out their website.

Anyway, this still doesn’t mean that I’ve received any of the money this scumbag has stolen from me, but at least it’s a start.  One day when the whole matter has been done and dusted, I will tell you the exact details of what happened.  For the moment, I’ll leave names and details out of this to protect the guilty.

Anyway, last weekend we attended the annual Fireworks at Hillarys, and I took a few nice photos of the events.  Fireworks seem to be part of my life for the moment: