2007-04-08 : Pre-recorded birdsong for Fort Bullard now

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2007-04-08 : Pre-recorded birdsong for Fort Bullard now

Postby GOSA » Wed, 2007-04-11 08:06

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Pre-recorded birdsong for Fort Bullard now

08 April 2007
David Bullard: Out to Lunch

I have been taken to task by a few readers over my optimism for this country after my shooting four weeks ago. They suggest, in the kindest possible way, that I should remove my head from the sand and get out while I still can.

They may well be right. Over the past few weeks I have also had cause to question my optimism, particularly after I received a signed death threat from a student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He expressed joy at the fact I had survived the shooting because it would give him the opportunity to finish the job, and he wouldn't miss.

The journey from the back door to the compost heap is fraught with danger, so I now wear my panic button whenever I carry the potato peelings out. Similarly, emptying of the rubbish bins into the dustbin and the weekly transportation of the dustbin to the street for collection has become an exercise planned with military precision.

My young nephew in Scotland was to be the latest family member to visit, in July. I was to spend two weeks showing him this beautiful country and introducing him to some of the wonderful people who live here. That is no longer going to happen. I told my brother that I didn't feel we could guarantee his son's safety if he visited South Africa, not only in our home but on something as mundane as a shopping trip to the local mall.

Can you imagine being custodian of a 14-year-old boy and having to phone his father to say he was stabbed to death or shot by intruders who wanted his cellphone?

My brother was greatly relieved. He hadn't wanted to offend me by saying he was unhappy about his son's proposed visit, and was pleased that I had taken the initiative to suggest that it be cancelled. I have also told two other sets of friends who were planning to visit this year that we are unable to host them unless they sign legal documents absolving us from all liability should they be attacked in our home.

I'll send them an SA Tourism DVD as compensation.

My house is now surrounded by spikes on the walls; laser beams guard the outside access areas, a security camera watches the gate, there are bars on the bedroom windows and ugly steel security gates on the doors.

On a warm summer's evening we now sit indoors with all the doors and windows closed, the security system on, and use an electric fan to keep cool.

In our innocence we used to sit in our garden enjoying a glass of wine, listening to birdsong and watching barbets and weavers build their nests.

That's obviously asking for trouble, so one evening I put on a bulletproof jacket and ventured out to the garden to film the sunset and the birds. Now we sit indoors watching a recording of our garden and the birds on TV ... it's so much safer.

The idea of inviting friends around for a braai is quite preposterous, and going for a late-night swim completely out of the question. In fact, going for a swim at any time of day is risky, and I'm looking around for a waterproof panic button.

It's an appalling way to live, but it hasn't dampened my enthusiasm or optimism for the future of this country a bit. The sad thing is that our equality has been achieved in such a perverse way. Now we are all afraid and none of us is truly free.

Listen to Bullard's podcast on the death threat at www.sundaytimes.co.za
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