An Excerpt from Chapter Eleven
In September of 1990, I had made an appointment the previous day at the Canadian Embassy in Pretoria, from a pay phone in Alberton. I had to leave the country and needed a bit of help getting out. Once upon a time, I was in charge of much of the security in this country, that made me a very dangerous commodity and if no longer here in SA, a serious liability. The South African government dealt with liabilities in the same manner they had taught me, swiftly and permanently. I wasn’t about to take any chances with my wife and kids, so I slipped on my shoulder and ankle holsters, checked my guns to make sure they were fully loaded and put two extra clips into the leather sockets.
I loaded my briefcase with what I thought would be the necessary papers, Michael’s birth certificate, all of our passports and an expose on the corruption in the South African government and military. Bundling up the wife and kids, we jumped into the car and headed to the Canadian Embassy.
We drove north through eastern Johannesburg, got on the N1 and proceeded to Pretoria. The embassy was a little difficult to locate but I eventually located it, I even found parking on the street. We exited the car, crossed the road and entered the building making our way to the elevator and finally to the floor where the embassy was situated. When we entered the reception area we were greeted by a young lady sitting behind two inches of bulletproof glass and heavy electronic combination lock doors.
After being told how much everyone loved Canadians I wondered why so much protection was needed, but it was an embassy... I informed the girl behind the glass of my appointment, she quickly rang the Consul, a Mr. R.A.J. (Adrian) Brazeau. Within a few minutes the Consul was at the door and waving us inside, onto Canadian ‘soil’. He led us silently to the board room. They never searched me for weapons and man, I was armed to the teeth.
Once in the board room, after a few cordial exchanges, I drove directly to the heart of the problem. He already knew who I was, so I clarified our position by explaining that since I was the author of most of the software and lethal barrier systems for the military, there would shortly be a price on my head, if there wasn’t already, as I was trying to leave the country.
He nodded agreement and questioned, “are you sure there isn’t already a contract on you? I am a little nervous just having you here.”
I point blank asked him, “can you put us on the next Canadian government plane and get us the hell out of Dodge?”
He said, “I can’t do that.”
So I asked, “why?”
He explained that I was politically, “hot” and any interference by the Canadian government with any future efforts of the SA Military to retain or terminate my services would create a political situation. One that might very well endanger the lives of other Canadians living in South Africa.
My response was, “I am just one guy, I can’t be that bloody important.”
He said, “in our eyes you’re a mercenary. You have been working for the military of a foreign government that Canada is not altogether friendly with and during an arms embargo. The potential situation between yourself and the South African military is one you and they created by your joint relationship. We cannot interfere.”
I said, “I know these guys, they won’t care if they hurt or kill my family to get to me.”
He said, “we can do nothing about that”
By this time Ericka was sobbing at the end of the table. Tears were streaming down her face, not so much for us, but for our kids. They were innocent in all of this, actually so was she. I was angry and upset with this consul, I expected more from our government. I didn’t expect a ‘we know they are going to kill you and probably your family, so what, your problem’ attitude. I decided to play a card I didn’t really want to use, unless I had to. I opened my briefcase and removed the nine page document I had written. The document contained names, dates, account numbers, amounts, for all of the bribery and corruption I knew about in the South African government and military.
It also contained the information on how and why the Helderberg, a South African Airways 747, was blown up over the Mauritius trench killing 159 innocent people. I handed Brazeau the document and told him to sit down and read it, he complied.
I watched him read as my wife quietly cried in the background. I watched the expressions on his face. The expressions of surprise and disgust. I watched how he went from white to grey as he got to the final page that contained the information on the 747.
When he finished, I watched him sit for a moment while the invisible gears turned in his head, trying to comprehend the magnitude of what he had read. There were many answers to many questions in the short nine page letter. Answers the future Harmes Commission wanted, that the ANC wanted and that the families of people killed wanted. Now, he had many of the answers, but he could not cope with the impact of this new information.
After a few moments I questioned, “well?”
He said shaking his head, “my God, I didn’t realize.”
I said, “realize what?”
He stated, “you know far, far too much... you’re in way too deep, you’ll have to leave now.”
I said, “good, when does the plane go?”
He said, “No, the embassy, it’s too dangerous for you to even be here.”
I said, “right, it’ll be fine, they don’t know I am trying to get out yet. The cover story I have been promoting has been to be here at the embassy to get Michael’s Canadian citizenship papers.”
A look of consternation came over Brazeau’s face. I stated, “I want you to take that letter and put it away, to hold onto it should what we all expect to happen, happens.”
He said, “I can’t do that.”
I asked, “why in the hell not?”
Carefully he chose his words, “anyone who has this letter, who knows its contents would be killed. We are not involved and choose not to be.”
Angrily I expounded, “you people are fucking spineless, truly fucking useless. I thought you were supposed to help Canadians abroad?”
All he had to say was, “you’re in too deep, I expect you will be dead in less than a week.”
That set off Ericka so badly it just wasn’t true. Tanya started as well when she realized what was being said. The voices got louder and she stopped colouring, started listening and the waterworks began again. Ericka stood up and approached Brazeau. I thought she was going to slap his face. He backed up a little as she approached.
Ericka through the tears said, “you know all this and you are going to let innocent people die because you don’t want to get involved? Your disgusting, our government is disgusting”, she spat out the words like they had no place in her mouth.
Brazeau said, “there is nothing I can do, you’ll all have to leave now.”
Ericka presented Michael’s face to Brazeau, “you see our son, he’s one.” She then pointed to Tanya, “our daughter, she’s six, you would do nothing and let them be killed.” She shook her head, tears still rolling down her face, “Remember them and don’t sleep at night.”
Brazeau’s face contorted somewhat. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next, Ericka had really put him on the spot and he knew it.
He said, “the best I can do is get you and the kids out, but only on one condition.”
Ericka said, “what’s that?”
Rather morosely he stated, “if Dave is dead and you and the kids happen to still be alive I will send my car for you and we will get you out, but only under those conditions. The South Africans aren’t stupid, they don’t want to create a political mess so they will probably only take Dave out.” Ericka still crying couldn’t say anything more.
I said, “fine, I’ll stay and take the bullet, I just wanted her and the kids out anyway”, it was the most I could really hope for.
Ericka got Tanya to pack up her stuff and comforted her. Tanya had heard the worst part of the conversation, that her dad was probably going to be killed, Michael was too young to understand what had just happened. Ericka was shattered. We left the boardroom and the embassy to the voice of Brazeau saying, “I’m sorry.”
The door closed behind us, literally and metaphorically, all there was left was us, Ericka’s sobbing, Tanya’s crying, our son sleeping and a plan was brewing in my head. One that might just work and get us all out of the country. If I could just divert attention a bit and make it look like we weren’t leaving.