It was the first Thursday of the month of December 2012.
My 18-year old daughter, Jancke, had just finished writing her last IEB matric paper at the Silvermine Academy, Fish Hoek. She was now at about 07:55 still curled up and fast asleep in her bed at home. I was on my way from Fish Hoek to CAPEMAIL, Goodwood to recover a parcel that had been posted to me from the United Kingdom. The SA Revenue Service had intercepted it as they questioned the stated value of the contents (It was correct). As I departed Fish Hoek that fateful morning I was completely ignorant as to the fact that I was about to encounter the Holy Spirit first-hand.
Unbeknown to me at the time, the Divine gears for this scheduled meeting had been set in motion about three months earlier, when I had placed an order for items for my hobby from the United Kingdom. Also unbeknown to me, there would be several gears running at different speeds in this scenario; all set by the Divine to synchronise their efforts on that fateful December morning.
The first gear in this event was my family situation. I was divorced in February 2005, and at the time lived about a kilometre as the crow flew, from my former wife. She had custody over the kids. But as we had agreed to limit the impact of the divorce on our daughter and son, they would stay weekdays with her and week-ends and school holidays with me. I was working overseas in the offshore industry at the time and, if my rotational circumstances allowed and the children so desired, they were allowed to stay over at my place during the week.
This custom led to the second gear being set in motion. My daughter expressed frustration studying for her 2012 matriculation examinations, with her very active and energetic younger brother creating mayhem at home. As I was home from the middle of November to the middle December and my place quiet, she requested to stay over at my place to focus on her studies and examinations. Thus she moved in and I would take her as required to the Silvermine Academy to write her examinations. Prior to the start of the examinations the principal had requested the parents of matriculants that once the youngsters had completed their final examination, for them to stay at home. So it came to pass that Jancke wrote her final subject towards the end of November, and decided that she enjoyed the quiet down-time at my place. She decided that she would extend her stay at my place until I had to fly out overseas. Thus came the weekend and time for little brother in Grade-7 at the local Afrikaans primary school to join the roost. When he, on Sunday afternoon, learned that his sister was not going back with him to mom’s place, he expressed his dismay and also wanted to move it. I told him to first clear it with his mom, as it was okay with me.
This led to the third gear being set in motion. Monday afternoon the phone rang. Son. Mom had agreed that the following afternoon, being Tuesday, she would drop him off at my place. I would then in the mornings and afternoons do his school runs.
The fourth gear, as had been confirmed, was the overseas parcel that had to be collected from CAPEMAIL, Goodwood.
The fifth gear was Thursdays in Fish Hoek. It was the municipal garbage collection day, and vagrants would pour into the suburbs to dig through the wheeled garbage bins set out for collection, for any potential usable items. One man’s rubbish is another’s gold. Thursdays was then also the day that the crime statistics like housebreaking, theft from properties, unlawful entry and attacks on the elderly and infirm escalated, for criminals would in turn use the vagrants as cover for their illegal activities. Despite sterling efforts by the police and neighbourhood watches, there were just too many loop holes, nooks and crannies to monitor and watch and, invariably, each Thursday brought its frustrations and challenges.
By Wednesday all the gears were engaged and running, albeit at different speeds. On Wednesday evening we discussed that on Thursday morning I would, after having dropped Jacques at 07:45 at school, proceed to CAPEMAIL, Goodwood to uplift the said parcel. Jancke would remain at home, and do what 18-year old teenagers of the female specie do best; sleep late. If all went to plan I would be back home at about 11:00 and dad and daughter would then go for coffee at the beach restaurant.
That was my plan. God had a slightly different plan. To which I was blissfully ignorant.
Thursday morning I went through the morning routines to get Jacques to school, leaving Jancke to hibernate under her duvet. As he was enjoying breakfast, I filled the garbage bin with the last trash from the kitchen and put the wheeled garbage bin just outside the safety gate to the property. Before I had returned to my front door the first ‘bin scratcher’ had descended upon the garbage bin and was engaged in a vocal appraisal as to the contents thereof. Whilst son went to brush his teeth, I decided to pull the vehicle from the garage. As we live in a cul-de-sac, I pulled the vehicle in front of the property, waiting for Jacques to join me. He soon came out the front door, pulled it close on the Yale, exited the boundary security gate and locked it. Having dropped his school bag on the bag seat, he jumped into the front passenger seat and off we went. At the Paul Greyling Primary School I dropped him off in front of the main entrance and departed for CAPEMAIL, Goodwood. I decided to head for the Main Road running through Fish Hoek along the coastal suburbs to Muizenberg and then onwards towards Goodwood. As I joined the Main Road in Fish Hoek the traffic density was high. It was not only morning rush-hour but the normal flow of traffic in the direction of Cape Town was bedevilled by roadworks in St James, necessitating Cape Town bound traffic to be re-routed in Kalk Bay up the hill and via the scenic Boyes Drive. This meant that the traffic moved slowly until after joining the Boyes Drive. So the traffic slowly crawled out of Fish Hoek and around the Fish Hoek bay towards Kalk Bay.
Now the first gears started to synchronise, although at the time I did not immediately recognise it. As we crawled into Kalk Bay, and about adjacent to the entrance to the fishing harbour, an unease settled over me with a sense of “go home”. I decided to ignore the feeling and questioned myself mentally why today, of all days, I was being neurotic. The second gear synchronised soon afterwards. As I got to the Boyes Drive turn-off the same uneasiness settled over me once more, but now the feeling of “go home” was markedly more pronounced. Once again I questioned myself and decided to ignore the feeling. I turned off onto Boyes Drive and started the slow crawl up the hill in traffic that moved no faster than a brisk walking pace. Ahead of me was the pedestrian crossing serving the local school, and with not a soul in sight, the pedestrian traffic lights turned red. The uneasiness once more settled over me, but now the feeling of “go home” was compelling. I was now becoming uncomfortable. As the light finally turned green we continued our crawl up the hill towards the final turn onto Boyes Drive (and as I was about to discover, the last possible road that you could turn right back towards the Main Road. Once past this turn-off you had to proceed some 5 km towards Muizenberg and Lakeside for the next opportunity). Right opposite the last turn off back towards the Main Road the driver in the vehicle ahead of me stalled his vehicle, and the brake lights came on. At the same instant the next gear synchronised. An authoritive voice spoke to me in my vehicle, ordering me “Go back home. That what you wanted to do, you must do on Monday.” Needless to state that I got the fright of my life, but immediately also a strange feeling of reassurance settled over me. I just knew I had to go home! Now! At this time the “why” was not important.
That was it. I put on the right indicator, confirmed that it was safe and took the turn-off towards the Main Road, now heading back to Fish Hoek, and home. Now everything seemed normal; no strange feelings, no voices, no nothing. So much so, that I started doubting both myself and the whole experience up to this point. However, to ease my mind I decided I would return home. The whole way I questioned myself why I would have such a feeling; as I mentally checked the boxes all were green. I pulled up in front of my house with about seven bin scratchers arguing whose turn it was to next ransack the last remnants from my bin. There was about another ten to twelve paying attention to the rest of the bins in the street.
Ignoring them I stopped in front of my property and leaned over to retrieve my security gate and house keys from the cubby next to the gear lever. No keys! I was just about to burn my son’s ears with a few choice words, for he had a habit of pocketing the keys. Then dad had to drive all the way back to his school to retrieve the keys. However, whist I was leaning over scratching for the keys the final gear engaged and synchronised. The very same “authoritive voice from Kalk Bay” said in a very calm, very reassuring manner “Look over your right shoulder”.
I did …. and went cold … very cold.
There, in the perimeter security gate on the street side of the gate was my bunch of keys. It was less than 2 meters to the nearest bin scratcher. Had he, or any of the preceding, or any of the criminals that operated in this environment observed the keys they would have had access to my house AND would have surprised my daughter sleeping inside. Every South African knows what the consequences for her would have been; most likely raped and murdered.
On that first Thursday of December 2012 God had sent the Holy Spirit to recall me, and to stand guard and blind those close-by as to the presence of my security and house keys hanging in the security gate lock. Was it not for the intervention of the Holy Spirit my daughter today would have been another statistic in the endless criminal records of this beautiful country.