Three years ago one of my closest friends joined the South African Police Service. After graduation he got a posting in the VIP Protection Unit and often complained about how he wanted to switch to either Public Order Policing, Uniform Branch, Serious and Violent Crimes Unit or any of the SAPS units where he will see action. I have always, in a subtle manner tried to discourage him, instead urging him to stay in VIP until he rises to the highest rank.
He is just 25 years old, with his whole life ahead of him. I'm just afraid to tell him that my fear is that if he goes into any other contact units I might be called to tears in a hurry, as there are elements who are bent on killing police officers. I have faith in his training and readiness but I still fear that the rules of engagement for criminals are not the same as those of officers.
Criminals will not hesitate to shoot a cop in the back. They won't think twice about hurting an officer's family as a way of hurting a cop they hate. Worse still if he was in CID or any of the undercover units, criminals usually execute people they unmask as "snitches". He's my friend and I love him, and am not ready to bury him yet.
However I was fascinated when not long ago we sat discussing if we will live long enough to father any children of our own. Our point of departure was the infection rate of HIV/AIDS in this country. Between the two of us we knew more than 20 people who are already deceased and more than 10 who were still living with the virus. I said to him, "the best thing right now is just to find a well-behaved cultured sister make her pregnant, father the child and then use condoms for the rest of your natural life". His response was, "but where do you find a sister you can be certain she's negative?" We started pulling out names from the figurative bowl.
The first one to come out was the landlocked kingdom of Swaziland. "Nah, the infection rate is said to be too high. No wonder even the king suggests that his "virgins" undergo an HIV test first before he makes them wives", was my dispute.
My friend then drew the next name, "how about Nongoma in Kwazulu-Natal?" Now this place became interesting. We argued that truly rural KZN was the ideal place to find a woman who can mother healthy babies.
That was until one married friend interjected, "you need to find the bare-breasted ones who have not yet been touched by a man. The ones you don't chat on the streets but needs to greet their families first by giving the father a herd of cattle. The ones you get permission from their parents to marry not from themselves".
But wasn't that rather backward? We then argued that iNkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi confessed that two of his 50-something year old children have died of AIDS. And they came from heavenly KZN. The dialogue then shifted to the recent age of infection. "If Nelson Mandela said that his son died of AIDS and later says in his Fancourt 46664 Concert TV promo that most young women are infected by older men who take advantage of their poverty, what does that say about icons like the late Gibson Kente (72), the two Zulus and Makgatho Mandela?"
We didn't have the luxury of speculating. We then expanded our net to previously Gazankulu. The married man said, "you need to go there on a boring Sunday afternoon, just take a look and find yourself a Tsonga woman". We figured he was tribalistic and not making any social sense. He liked our label.
We finally concluded that the best woman to choose is the one who already has a healthy baby or some beauty straight from a virginity test (that's if you can afford lobola for the latter). Overall, our conversation mirrored the fears of most men today regarding their posterity and their chances of fathering babies. We figured a time would come when baby-making will be so scientific that vending machines will be vending healthy sperm.
What interested me was how at the end we were doing what LoveLife always preached, "Talk About It", though ours was in a humorous fashion. But the scare of AIDS is real, equally real like the risk a police officer takes everytime they don the blue uniform on behalf of everyone of us.
I know I can encourage my friend to stay in the VIP Protection Services, but I can't stop him from getting AIDS and vise versa in the cause of making that baby he so needs. He said another fear about AIDS was being involved in a car accident and getting it from spilled defiled blood. That scared and hurt me.

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