The Mexican Horse Thief and the Rhino Poacher.


Let me tell you a tale, of how the Mexican Horse Thief was conned, solidly, by a Rhino Poacher. The story begins in 1983 where I first met Nick van Deventer, the place, 7th South African Infantry Battalion, Phalaborwa, South Africa. I am certain this kind of shit could only happen to me, that is why I write the Chronicles I suppose.

I do not recall the first day I met Nick, it was when those men chosen to be Mortarist joined Oscar Company. I do know that often Nick was the guy that had to be carried, sometimes literally in the harsh training we received. What surprised me was that one day, in all their wisdom the powers that be made him a Lance Corporal. He became insufferable and I avoided him whenever possible. Unfortunately when the Mortar guys got put into Alpha and Bravo Companies, Nick and I were both sent to Alpha.

One day I remember very well, the day we finished up at Lataba Ranch, we had a forced route march back to the camp, carrying full kit. I know as a number two that a 81mm mortar pipe weighs 13kg and each bomb is 2.5kg. I weighed in at an amazing 55kg, so with full kit, if I sat, or fell down, I needed assistance to get on my skinny legs again.  The Captain, Fourie, was his name, promised that the first 12 men in would get 5lts of ice-cream and the rest of the day off.  I like ice-cream. Nick pulled a ligament in the first few kilometres and road back in the Unimog ambulance.

Due to great tenacity I was in the first 12 back, and got my ice-cream. There I was, lying on my bed, eating my ice-cream and minding my own business, when Nick came up to me. He told me to go and get his kit which had been unloaded on the top parade ground. I told him to fuck off. He then threw a tantrum telling me he is a corporal and I had to obey his direct order. He got the same reply, I was off duty and eating ice-cream. The argument got out of hand and then Nick said some thing that really pissed me off. The sleg soutpiel did not bother me at all, but when he said, in Afrikaans, that my mother was drunk, lying in the gutter and a dog impregnated her, I hit him, once.

It was a good shot, Nick’s nose was squashed so flat no blood came out of it. The blood did go down his throat and he started drowning, medics were part of the support team, and in the same bungalow fortunately. Nick was hauled off to the sickbay and then airlifted to 1 Mil in Pretoria. I was arrested by the MPs and never finished my ice-cream. I spent two days in DB, and it was not that pleasant, getting beaten was not so bad, but having to clean the toilet with my toothbrush was. I was told that I then had to brush my teeth with that same toothbrush. I would not, so it took 4 MPs to do it for me.

It all turned out well, at my court martial I told the Colonel that if he said that about my mom, by God, I would bliksem him as well! I got sent back to my unit. Two weeks later Nick got back from Pretoria and was minus the little stripe he loved so much.

Nick went out of his way to become my friend after that, later we were shipped off to the Border together.

After my National Service I did not hear from him again until the event of Facebook. We became friends on the side and belonged to a few of the same groups.

We then jump to the year 2014, and the next place I saw Nick was at Mabula Game Reserve, where I had been working as the head of the Night Shift APU. How and why that happened is another story, and for tomorrows post.

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