Book Excerpt: The Unexploded Boer by Erich Rautenbach
In the winter of 1975, Erich Rautenbach’s life took a serious turn for the worse when he was bust for selling weed by gun-toting undercover cops. He’d been selling the dope to raise money to leave South Africa in a bid to escape his army call-up and resist having to shoot people in the name of apartheid. But instead he found himself in the infamous John Vorster Square, at the mercy of drug squad policemen who seemed convinced that he was part of some notorious drug ring.
Read an excerpt from this wild memoir that recreates the Cape Town of the 1960s and ’70s:
‘This,’ muttered the small, dark-haired man, ‘is a Parabellum with dum-dum bullets.’
The entire natural world seemed to anticipate his words before he spoke them. The clear, cold sunlight played through the trees, fracturing like in one of those Bergman movies that film buffs would watch at the old Labia Theatre on Orange Street in Cape Town, where the street curves near the Mount Nelson Hotel with its colonnades and tall palm trees.
He said it so softly. He didn’t shout. Perhaps he had rehearsed that line for months in front of the mirror at his mother’s house, angling his face this way and that, flipping up the collar of his jacket, adjusting the light and hoping to look cool to … whom – to me? Is this some fantasy script, me just a bit player in his personality opus? What the fuck is the point of telling me the make or the specs of his gun?
I lowered my gaze from his face and saw the object in his hand. It was pointed directly at my head through the open window of the Volkswagen. Shit! The morning sun glinted on the dull metal. My hung-over brain tried to catch up with his statement as I sat there in the passenger seat with the money and the dope in my lap.