The driver and his front-seat passenger complied with the shouted instruction to exit the vehicle. They walked, hands raised, palms slanted above their eyes to offset the effect of the bright floodlights, stumbling on the uneven ground. However, the three people on the backseat refused to move. They wore coats, hats on their heads. The police, cocked rifles in hand, slowly advanced, in a half-circle formation, on the car. Closer scrutiny revealed three sheep, seated in an upright position. Two more were found in the boot of the car.
I was at seminary in Grahamstown in those days and these were one of the reports I gleaned from The Eastern Cape Herald, one of the region’s daily newspapers. Stories such as these were sparse in details and I suppose were inserted in the paper to fill space when required.
The reader was left to speculate, as in the case of this incident, about the back story of the report. Were the sheep stolen? The disguise led one to that conclusion. If so, were the animals returned to their owner, or were these regarded as the spoils of police duty on a long cold night in an Eastern Cape winter?
Some of my fellow seminarians and I, sipping our mugs of Ricoffy, would scrutinise these stories with scholarly intensity. Our fervour no doubt kindled by a pedagogical approach to knowledge whereby we were encouraged to interrogate our own understanding of everything we had deemed as fact and as truth.