lawyer on safari
All members of his family were gathered around Bapsfontein. His brother Rustie was farming, his Sister Elmarie in high school at Benoni, even oupa Org and oumaPoppie moved in one of the houses on the farm. George was enjoying his freedom. Hungry for progress, the perfect law of liberty was waiting at KEMPTON PARK, away from the Code of Discipline in the Airforce.
Situated at the corner of Voortrekker and Casuarina Streets, the old house was waiting for renovation into the law offices of Scoon&Kleynhans Attorneys. George and Smiley met through the estate agent selling the house. Practising for his own accounts before this partnership, Smiley was popular, social, outgoing and a perfect partner.
They were young, energetic, dynamic, and the practice was booming as they received instructions from corporate clients. Arnold Goldberg, who had a large practise of his own, joined the firm with bigger clients and they became Schoon, Goldberg &Kleynhans.
The prospects at the office were excellent. George bought a double-story house with thatch-roof and swimming pool in Glen Marais, elite area, BMW vehicle and motorbike to suit his new image as a successful attorney. He was the man about town, young, handsome, with credit at his disposal.
The ladies were available more than he could handle. One client gave him the keys to his Jacuzzi, the other to his house or flat, anytime was party time with girlfriends on call.
Yoka was more than happy with her new house and car, even resigned from her position as sales-rep and was looking after the children for a change. George’s medical-aid provided the opportunity for a histerectomy, vaginal correction and booblift. This was done, she claimed, to please her husband, but then she must have developed such a guilty conscience she joined the Baptist Church, her mission to convert the whole town and to baptise her husband.
At the tender age of 30, and George 27 yrs, the marriage was in serious trouble. The removal of her uteris must have affected her hormones as she became holier than thou with a bible-under-the-arm attitude, praying in tongues while George was out for lunch or party with a nutty taste for alcohol … Entertaining new clients for the law firm was a good excuse to avoid the house and party with his friends.
The women and alcohol in his life escalated to an all-time high in 1981. George became reckless in his actions, indiscreet with married women. The husband of one lady invited him to the Holiday Inn.
George never saw it coming … the man caused trouble in the ladies bar, security was called and they were asked to leave …… George was still looking at himself in the mirror of the lift when this bouncer broke his jaw with his fist. It was not the last time he landed in hospital because of alcohol … he had to practise the next 6 weeks with his teeth wired together.
George made a lot of money in real estate buying from auctions or people who were in trouble and selling at a profit. Always keen for new business, he consulted an agent selling time-share at Margate … This was a new concept of marketing holidays in South Africa, appeared to be lucrative as all the peak time was in summer and school holidays.
His mind was on the 3 farms at Alldays and what better time-share between hunters for the cold winter months. He could not wait to reach father Hendrik at Bapsfonteinwith this brilliant new scheme.His father agreed after some persuation on capital gain, with a holiday resort at the farm Campfornis.
The young attorney had never been so excited before … a father-son connection, apartheid or not, this was the partnership of his life with the opportunity to go back to the bushveld. The money in practising law was good but his dream was to have his own game farm.
ALLDAYS SAFARI (pty) Ltd, was registered as company with 50% of the shares to each director. His father being the owner of the 3 farms signed a 12 yr lease to the company with consent to erect a holiday resort on the farm Campfornis. The company signed time-share agreements with clients including the right to hunt on the 3 farms (Campfornis, Riversdale and Concordia) during the week purchased.
This was his dream come true, George worked like a man possessed. The contracts and brochures were completed, but the marketing proved the most difficult, that was to sell his dream to prospective clients. He advertised in the Sunday Times and Magnum, booking his site at each major show to exhibit his product.
He had the agents to respond to each and every response on adverts … within six months they signed 300 contracts at R2,000-00 each. AlldaysSafari(pty) Ltd became a reality with enough funds to commense the construction in 1983.
It was time to move to Alldays, out with suits and in with safari clothes with a pair of elephant-skin boots. The challenge was physically to build , mentally to fullfill his obligations with clients. The pressure was on. They stayed at Riversdale while the buildings at Campfornis were in construction.
Yoka,however had her own agenda. It was pay-back time. Her modus operandi was flight by night with the children, leaving George on the farm with responsibilities. The marriage had irretrievably broken down … for every action there is a re-action.
Bricks and building material were transported over long distance, depending on where the best price was available… loading door and window frames from Johannesburg,
George visited an old flame at Kempton Park … Hetta was too sexy for her clothes, wild and adventurous … she immediately agreed to load her furniture and moved in with him. At CAMPFORNIS, the old farm house was renovated for their home.
The new found love had many obstacles to overcome … with snakes and scorpions around the house … George with builders and plumbers around the chalets … the department constructing a new road was still camping on the farm using his water.
The day came that hismedula oblongata headed for a break-down … the devil himself took hold of George that day … he parked the truck in front of one gate … a chain and lock on the other gate … broke the branch of a dry tree and chased the workers.
He had been drinking brandy and coke since the morning. As the yellow trucks were leaving he waited at Alldays hotel with his Trooper for a yellow bakkie … the man in charge of the road workers … the SAP had just changed their vehicles from white to yellow.
The bakkie stopped; he did not recognise the blue uniform, he hit the officer on the chest back into the bakkie … the police drove away to get re-inforcement … George grabbed the .308 from the Trooper and shot in the air …. There was chaos in this one-horse-town. Piet (tandjies), the owner at the hotel, grabbed the rifle with ammo and hid it in his safe.
When George came to his senses … the boere commando were there armed with automatic R1’s … the officer commanding SAP, Karel, saved his life … He told George to behave himself … the boere were told that the drinks were on George that day … everybody departed peacefully.
The bank account of Alldays Safari(pty)Ltd was running out of funds, but his project was almost completed … game farm with 7 chalets, ablution block, swimming pool, lapa, coldroom, shooting range and most important the game. The scene was set for the best day of his life. Trucks were arriving with different species of animals. First the eland, then gemsbok, zebras, and finally giraffe.
The greatest feeling for any game farmer, when the doors open, the animals step outside to inspect their new surroundings … all the hard work with the fence and waterholes worthwhile, the natural beauty of this farm with fountain, klipkoppies, thornbush and high trees welcomed the animals.
The lapa covered the swimming pool on the side of the bar with seats to be served on the deep-end. An elephant head with tusks hanging from the roof. In the middle of the pool a large flat rock seemed to be drifting on the water … the tropical climate inviting a swim. At sunset the hunters gathered around the fire to boast and toast about experiences …the self-service farm-bar always open and everybody sharing drinks together.
Hunters arrived, one group after the other, most of them under the influence of alcohol on arrival. After sighting their rifles at the shooting range, they were looking for that 4-legged animal. The adrenaline-rush-first-shot to draw blood. For those who were fortunate to make the kill, meat or trophy, it was party-time … all-the-time.
George, the big, strong hunter-lawyer, was hunting all the time, every group of hunters a new challenge. At night with the spotlight in the fenced-area and during the day with guides on the open veld. Every morning starting with a cold beer, drinking during the day progressively towards the night with stronger drinks …… it was all a vicious circle, at least during winter and hunting season.
Hetta turned into a man-eater with the hunters … she thrived on all the attention … she was the only 2-legged one.
George’s addiction to alcohol was not the only problem after the hunters left. There was not enough income to keep the farm running … he had to recover and focus on survival. Hetta was not the type for a lasting relationship … the honeymoon was over and they moved back to Bapsfontein.
Hetta was very vocal during the process of making love, he did not expect her to depart without noise, but he was in for the shock of his life … he had one too many for the road and Hetta was driving the Isuzu Trooper on the Bapsfontein road … she swerved in front of an oncoming vehicle colliding on the passenger side.
It was terrible … the sound of breaking glass with the impact. The Trooper landed on its roof sliding along while George was hanging on for dear life … he was bleeding all over but miraculously survived …. Recovering from the scars of the accident he claimed a hundred thousand rand for pain and suffering.
The third-party insurance settled within 3 months and George booked at Club-Med, Mauritius, for December holiday in 1985. He preferred to go alone and fly away from his recent bad luck. On departure he exchanged rands for five thousand American dollars. On arrival at the hotel he first paid the tour guide a few hundred dollars to look after him, his jewellery and balance in the safe deposit box, his first time overseas.
His straight dark brown hair was long, face scarred in the accident, with all the colour bead-strings around his neck. Beads paid for drinks around the hotel. The climate was humid, with very hot sun; wearing his speedo and drinking rum and coke all the time …
After 3 days on the beach he must have looked like a drug-dealer suffering fom sunstroke. The Mauritian police woke him in the morning, searching his room. They dressed him and escorted him out of the hotel. Fortunately the tour guide was waiting to take him to the airport … his deportation not official, but effective.
On his return, George wanted to open a new law practice. After he met Hoffie, the Sheriff of BENONI, they agreed on a partnership and practise at Benoni under name and style of Hoffmann-Kleynhans Attorneys … he was back in business … and big business it was with the next consultation ….
The client was a polish lady from Johannesburg, dressed very smart, calling herself the Madam of an escort agency. She told George that Benoni was a virgin town for such an agency and she instructed him to apply for the licence … Vina promised him half the shares of the agency as a sleeping partner. He was always a fast mover, and brought the application in record time.
The problem was to convince the members of the city-council that a business like an escort-agency, with the name Pandorah’s Box, should be allowed … The 5 members on the council voted 3 against 2 in favour of opening the Box.
The previous office space of Hoffman was still available. With a few changes to the lay-out, walk-in, the ladies-bar with a one-way-mirror to ladies and then the lounge area where they relaxed waiting for the next client. Vina was a real Madam collecting payment at the reception.
The opening of PANDORAH’S BOX proved to be good for trade at Benoni. However, in George’s life it was the manifestation of the devil himself and evil things to come. His love life was in shambles. Being a sleeping partner of an escort-agency provided free sex on demand but no satisfaction.
During an interview with a new girl applying to be an escort agent he was told: “I don’t do blacks … I do blow-job, wax-job, pins-and-needles-job, discipline-job ….” This girl was a mean machine, the madam’s favourite, because she satisfied customers within half-an-hour. Being the owner of an escort-agency was demoralising even if you were a criminal defense attorney.
In many ways George was the author of his own misfortune. He phoned a young lady, inviting her to come and stay with him. She was from Alldays, a farm-girl who could cope with farm life at Campfornis. Lenie and her youth was a new beginning. At the end of 1986 he sold the practice at Benoni and they moved back to the farm at Alldays.
Alcohol had a strange effect on George in those days. Having the first drink made him very sick, he lost his balance and was falling as if the earth was moving. He abstained from alcohol while they prepared for their wedding. Lenie was stupid, stubborn and mean to get her own way … but he believed she would change with maturity and he married her … big mistake.
The marriage lasted until their first disagreement. She packed her bags and left to her mother at Tzaneen. Martha, the house servant, informed George that Lenie was giving him some tablet without his knowledge.
Her secret was out. He was furious to find the anti-booze tablets in the house. The disappointment became worse when he found that his mother, Rita, was supplying these tablets to his young wife.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. He advertised in a major newspaper about the vacancy for a manageress at Alldays Safari, requesting applicants to forward a photo. The ladies responded from all over the country and he was getting all the contacts needed for a bachelor on a farm.
By this time George knew very well that most hunters were looking for 2-legged ones after they shot their quota of animals. Besides, he had the reputation since Pandorah’s Box as the supplier for this kind of demand. The client came from Pietersburg, he was insolvent and wanted his estate to be sequestrated, being an old friend, previously married to his niece, George agreed to help … on condition that he, Vonnie, open and manage the new escort agency at Pietersburg.
The application for a trading licence of Pandorah’s Box caused heavy commotion in the conservative town of Pietersburg. The churches opposed it and after it was turned down by the council, the news was in the Sunday Times.
George even received phone calls from The Times in London while he was a game farmer minding his own business. He was infamous. He appealed against the decision of the council and the licence was granted, Pandorah’s Box opened at Pietersburg.
In retrospect, George had a better chance of survival during apartheid on his farm. Most of his real friends and clients were black people. Land was set aside for black development in a trust area at TaaiboschGroet, about 20 km away from Campfornis … the kgoshi or captain of the Mamadi tribe allowed him to hunt in this area, sharing the meat with each hunt.
Another friend, Solly, offered George a corner stand to erect a store. They applied for a liquor licence in this large community. With the licence granted, his drinking habit was set for life, helping Solly to open the bottlestore.
The farm manager, Frans, was available to send to TaaiboschGroet with the land cruiser to get a refill of alcohol supplies to his private store on the farm. Young northern-sotho ladies were available for entertainment at night, without too much conversation required.
Nature has a way to temper farmers. Nothing can be more disturbing for a game farmer than a long drought of ground in a fenced-in area that leaves the animals to starve over time. The kudu’s feed are the leaves on trees … these are the first animals that fall to a slow death … a hopeless feeling that drove George to apply for a position as legal adviser at Pretoria.
The two major problems, alcohol and Lenie, followed him to Pretoria. At first he was trying to keep both in check, but these weaknesses would cost him dearly later in life.
Alldays, a one-horse town, has one stop sign in the centre of town, two churches, a post-office, policestation, fillingstation, a general dealer and hotel. The town is about 50 kilometres behind the Soutpansberg in the Limpopo Province, South Africa.
The town was given its name, according to a local report, by a hunter who was a heavy drinker – van der Merwe arrived on this place during the day. He was on ox-wagon loaded with crates of brandy, consumed too much on his arrival and he fell asleep. The hot sun woke him the next day and he started drinking brandy again until he was unconscious only to be woken by the hot sun again the next morning. He called the place ALLDAYS.
Hunters around the fire at night tell their believe-it-or-not stories. The days when the bushveld was wild, without camps or roads and big game roaming this area.
Big John with the red beard was leading a hunting party setting up camp before dark near Alldays. John decided to shoot something for the pot, walking with his .303 mauser, he saw an impala ram. When he took the shot the ram moved forward taking the bullet through the lungs.
He followed the blood spoor, much to his surprise there were lions around the impala – no time to find another before sunset, he shot the first and second lioness but the male was charging – his last bullet wounded the lion and John ran for the marula tree.
The lion was waiting under the tree and John saw a black mamba staring at him from another branch – fortunately he had his pistol and shot at the mamba, but unfortunately he wounded the mamba, but fortunatelythemamba fell out of the tree on top of the lion. The mamba struck the lion and after a while both were dead. Big John picked up the impala ram and carried it back to camp.
In those days hunters feared the black mamba the most. Once bitten by this snake you have to greet the dear ones around you very quickly otherwise they remain ungreeted – big John and his friend Paul were out hunting the one day when they were charged by a black mamba – they were running and big John managed to take a few shots at the mamba during the chase but the mamba kept coming and struck Paul from behind at the back of his neck.
The two exhausted hunters sat down under a big boab tree and Paul was giving big John his last will and wishes before he died … Paul was explaining to John what to tell his wife and children, how to distribute his goods, where he wants to be buried, and so on…
After about half an hour Paul was still talking and big John decided to take a good look at his neck … the poison of the mamba marked the skin of Paul’s neck but to his amazement … no bite marks – big John and Paul searched for the mamba and found that the upper jaw where the fangs were supposed to be, was removed by a bullet.
George hunted mostly on the farms at Riversdale, Campfornis and Concordia around Alldays, his experiences were not so far-fetched and very true.
The prime trophy for a hunter is a kudu bull with those curled horns as long as possible. The length of Roland Ward’s trophy was measured at 56 inches, any hunter would be very fortunate to find a kudu bull with horns close to 50 inches. The berg-kudu with narrow horns and thick neck was found at Campfornis near the mountains, the sandveld-kudu with wide horns and longer hooves at Riverssdale.
The older the kudu bull, the wiser it gets to avoid hunters, the big ears are sensitive and they run at the first smell of a hunter – a hunting trip successful when you shoot one of these animals.
The opportunity of a lifetime came to George one day on the farm Riversdale during 1987. Freddy, the farm manager, woke him at 04h300 in the morning. They drove with an open land-cruizer at sunrise. From the tar road Freddy spotted a kudu cow. They were hunting for game meat, selling as much as possible to Kovisco who paid by kilogram including skin, horn and legs, only the inside to be removed. The first kudu was on the cruiser at sunrise.
Freddy has been taught by George to drive and shoot since his youth as a black boy on the farm. He knew the farm well, aware of the dangers of big holes dug by warthogs, the rooibos veld easy to drive as the trees have no haak-en-steek thorns. Freddy had the skill to know when it was time to stop and shoot and when to chase after the kudu – for some reason when kudu are chased they tend to stop and look at what is behind them.
They entered the first camp from the tar road driving through the bush with one kudu loaded – the next moment kudu bulls (about 8of them) were standing around – George shot the first one through the heart with the .308 winchester. The bull jumped backwards landing on his horns.
The next one George shot in the run through the lungs and the Freddie chased after them … the third bull stopped to look back … the third shot hit his neck and he dropped.
George and Freddy loaded this one first and went back for the other two. The first bull still lying on his horns and the other bull they found about 100 metres away. The four kudu loaded they arrived at the coldroom at the farm house, while the other workers take skinned and removed the inside of these four kudu .
George and Freddie rushed back to the next camp, the direction of which the remaining kudu were jumping.The next camp was observed along the fence, when they took the turn at the corner a kudu bull was standing 300 metres away, when George took the shot some other kudu jumped into our camp.
Freddy chased after them … hitting brakes when they stop … George shot four more cows as they proceeded and after loading them, they went back to the spot where the kudu bull was standing … they found blood and followed the spoor … the bull could not go far with so much bleeding … this was the old bull and heavy to load on top of the other kudu. George and Freddy shot 9 kudu before breakfast and they were very hungry.
In these years it was the alltime record for shooting kudu in such a short time on the open field – Lukas Steyn of Kovisco wrote a fat cheque to George for a few hours of fun.