During the seventeen/eighteen years I lived in South Africa, it was a privilege to live, travel and work in a Society where Engineering was understood. In amongst the many things produced in the power-house which was the Engineering world of South Africa, they built locomotives, diesel and diesel-electric and electric engines which hauled the people and merchandise of a Sub-Continent; efficiently, practically and competently. The railways of South and Southern Africa were criss-crossed by the ever-familiar russet-red paintwork of the Zuid Afrikaanse Spoorweἒ (South African Railway) locos as they reliably pulled the freight of seven nations towards their destinations.
Fast forward thirty years, and into the reign of the African National Congress, the chosen Party of the Black man’s vote. They gave an order for seventy railway locomotives to a Spanish firm, an order worth 3.45 Billion Rands (£181 million Pounds), and when the first locos came off the ship in Cape Town, they found that the engines were 30 centimeters too tall. If used on the long-distance lines where the freight runs heaviest, they will rip off the catenary cabling as they enter a tunnel, and the trains will, simply, stop!
COPE spokesman Dennis Bloem questioned why Prasa had “wilfully” ignored explicit warnings about the unsuitability of the Spanish-manufactured diesel locomotives. “Was it because of sheer arrogance? Or was it because of the bag that someone might have passed under the table?” Mr Bloem challenged. Perhaps Mr. Bloem mis-spoke? He should have stated ‘several bags’
‘Alles kom regt; mijnheer!’