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#PoeticLicence: There are snakes in Parliamentary villages

Writer and poet Rabbie Serumula. File image.

Writer and poet Rabbie Serumula. File image.

Published Jan 10, 2022


Johannesburg - Apparently Christmas came early this year.

He came with hands eager to ignite.

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The ridges on his palm lines are tapestries of tales about smoke.

His left hand, crafted in flint. And the right is steel.

He should have known the severity of the friction from rubbing his hands palm to palm. Igniting his aura.

Apparently Zandile Christmas Mafe, the traveller accused of setting Parliament on fire, had explosives.

Perhaps it was just his flammable aura. The same energy that warms your chest on cold nights.

Cold nights when fire doors are kept open, merely hinged onto cheap latches in Parliament.

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Cold nights when we are reminded that a mountain of ash can be created with one stick from a box of cheap matches in Parliament.

Cold nights when the entry to South Africa’s legislature is easy pickings for any Tom, Dick and Zandile.

What a temptation to naked flames these nights are.

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Somebody should have told the fire that this was a trap.

That nobody was monitoring CCTV cameras at 2am, when Christmas supposedly came wandering in the wee hours of the morning on the day the raging blaze ignited at the Old Assembly and National Assembly.

But then again, perhaps the fire also knew that this was not the first time security had been breached in Cape Town’s Parliamentary precinct.

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Flaming is a spark’s basic instinct. All that fires know and do is burn, this is their nature.

They are a result of either mother or human nature. Mother is violent, she can crack a tree with a lighting bolt and burn a veld to dust.

Human nature and his man-made fires – arson, accident, negligence or scapegoating.

Explosives were allegedly brought into Parliament and laptops, crockery and documents had been stolen when the fire was set in Parliament.

Let us not look too close at these “documents”, the closer you look, the less you see.

I am eager to know what temptation lured Christmas to the Parliament.

Even if security was not on duty, how dead would the building have felt when he arrived?

If he was not coerced, freedom was his temptation. A fire awaited him. And the question was, ‘what are you capable of’?

It was Ben Okri, the Nigerian poet and novelist who said the fundamental freedom is the freedom to be exactly what we’re capable of being.

Be it an arsonist or thief, a negligent or corrupt legislature, or perhaps the fall guy.


A snake and mole programme has been implemented at one of the three parliamentary villages in Cape Town.

These same villages, where Members of Parliament live, cost South African taxpayers R74 million a year to maintain. I digress.

Whether Christmas ignited the flame or not, the fire is a result of the failure of the executive and legislature, who are damned whether he did it or not.

I am eager to know if the story of Christmas is myth or truth.

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