Authors: Casey Christie
Earning the nickname of the Black Bastards followed after only a couple of shifts on duty in their all black uniform and gear. Three hardened South African cops, all with level three body armour casing Kevlar vests, trauma packs and ceramic plating. Each with a 9MM pistol strapped to the webbing on his chest with five extra magazines of ammunition, Sergeant Night with a 12 gauge pump action shotgun, Constable Stanislov with a 7.62 R1 assault rifle and Constable Shaka with his weapon of choice for close work --a massive killing knife he straps down his right leg that he refers to as his assegai (the Zulus’ traditional iron-tipped spear, known in modern South African political-speak as a “cultural weapon.”) The trio wore Black Berets proudly displaying the SAPF blue and yellow badge.
Constables Shaka and Stanislov would stand like mountains on either side of their leader who commanded definitive respect and interrogated criminal suspects with an almost priest like manner, apparently knowing instantly if someone was good or evil, telling the truth or lying.
What also helped distinguish the Black Bastards was the extreme violence they meted out to known criminals when confronted with violence themselves. And the criminals simply had to put a name to the only three cops in all of Norwood that they knew didn’t take Cho-Cho, the South African slang word for bribes.
The Black Bastards were born combatants and never questioned the reason for their existence on God’s great earth. Their collective purpose in life was to take down South Africa’s most violent criminals by whatever means necessary. Constable Shaka believed in the rule of an iron fist, a tenet of faith quite commonly held in Africa. Constable Stanislov believed in the letter of the law and Sergeant Night believed in a healthy balance of both. Sergeant Night was their commander and leader, Constable Shaka was the muscle and linguist and Constable Stanislov was the law and weapons expert. Together they made a formidable team and were known throughout Norwood as lawmen of old in a new corrupt age.
As the various police officers were about to get back into their vehicles to head off to the bank their police radios collectively came alive once more.
“Control this is Metro Ten. We have been monitoring your radio traffic and heard the 32 Alpha call. We are about to break at the Metropolitan Bank.”
“That’s a negative Metro Ten!” said Control forcefully. “My SAPF vehicles are responding to that call headed by one of the Norwood Sergeants. You do not have clearance to break at that scene. More importantly you do not have the sufficient firepower, backup or experience to respond to this call! STAND DOWN Metro Ten!”
“Sorry Control we are here now, it’s too late…” And with that the Metro officer ended the radio transmission.
At that moment Constable Shaka looked at Sergeant Night as though he had just seen a ghost and said: “That’s my little brother in that vehicle Mike, I know because it’s his first shift as driver and he brought Metro Ten home with him last night.”
In South Africa there is the South African Police Force that has complete and full jurisdiction and police officers and stations throughout the country and local smaller Metropolitan Police Forces that enforce municipal by-laws in all the major cities. However because of the escalating levels of violent crime -- 50 murders a day and 50 armed robberies a day -- Metro units throughout the country were starting to try and tackle the more dangerous common law crimes. This was a worrying trend as these Metro officers, albeit well intentioned, were not experienced enough or tactically trained to deal with South Africa’s hardest armed criminals, most of whom themselves had military backgrounds and were veterans in the use of AK 47s. In both forces the officers on duty would take on the call sign of whatever law enforcement vehicle they were working in for that shift. All police vehicles have their own call sign.
“All right guys let’s mount up and double time it, that’s Zulu’s brother in Metro Ten! Let’s move” said Sergeant Night, his voice harsh with urgency.
Many times in the past had November Whisky 50 responded to armed robberies in progress and faced the enemy in battle. Whether the robbers got away, were caught or killed, the Black Bastards had done it all before. This time however Sergeant Night felt that something was different. He intuited there was a special resonance in this call. At some deep level of his spirit he sensed that this call was ushering in a new age for him. A wholly new experience.
“Zulu, do you feel it?” asked Sergeant Night.
“Yes my brother, I feel it. Look at the sky, the clouds, the wind, the rain.”
Looking out the window Sergeant Night noticed a storm was brewing and saw tree branches of lightning forming in the distance.
“Are you ready?” asked Constable Shaka.
“Yeah I’m ready. What about the old Russian bear in the back, Stani, are you ready?” grinned Sergeant Night while looking at Constable Stanislov, sitting in the back seat of their response vehicle with his 7.62 calibre R1 assault rifle affectionately in hand.
“I came out of my mother’s womb ready for moments like this, Mike” said Stanislov coolly.
At that moment the convoy of police vehicles arrived at the main entrance to the large parking lot of the new Metropolitan Bank on Louis Botha Avenue. Normally the vehicles would be parked a block away and the men would tactically move in on foot to the Alpha Call location. However because of Constable Shaka’s younger brother’s unwanted involvement in this call they had to break best tactical practice and go straight in. They found the Metro Ten vehicle parked right outside the front door of the bank on the other side of the parking lot with blue lights still flashing and driver and passenger doors wide open - Rookie mistakes.
The huge modern building contained many offices and up-market shops. Night knew that right now in the stark modern architecture of the bank scores of civilians were on the floor. The South African public knew the drill when robbers raised their AK47s in the air and they hit the deck hard, some cowering there in terror, others fuming with anger, weeping, hyperventilating, thinking “For God’s sake, not again!”
As Night sat in the passenger seat of NW50, flushed with adrenalin, a recent conversation flashed like a ticker-tape across his mind. It was Suzanne, a visiting Aunt from the UK talking. She was telling him she went to her favourite shopping mall in the upmarket leafy suburb of Bedforview, Johannesburg and parked on the first floor area. As she got out of the car and headed to an entrance a guard lifted his hand to her and said:
“Madame please don’t go in here.”
“Why not?” asked London-born Suzanne with a touch of acerbity.
“Because this side we are having a bank robbery. Go around that side” and he pointed.
“Okay” said Suzanne and went that way. Later she told Night: “This country is insane. You can’t go shopping in case you get mown down in a robbery.”
“Control, November Whisky 50” said Sergeant Night.
“November Whisky 50 send your message” said the police radio Controller.
“Break 32 Alpha Metropolitan Bank on Louis Botha Avenue. I have November Whisky 21 and 14 with me as well as Yankee Nine and 25. I can also see Metro Ten. We are going in, Control.”
“Thank you November Whisky 50. Good luck and be safe.”
Sergeant Night was all about tactics but when a fellow policeman’s life is in immediate danger all art of war becomes secondary to saving your brother’s life. For this tactical relaxation they were immediately greeted upon arrival at the bank by the clatter of AK47 fire hitting the frame of their vehicle. It’s a high pitched metallic sound similar to that of hail hitting the roof of your car only more violent, more insistent on getting in and more sinister. Fortunately the Black Bastards were in the only fully armoured vehicle that the Norwood station had, thanks once more to Sergeant Night’s old mate General Arosi. It was a specially modified and performance-enhanced V8, 5.0 Litre, Turbo Charged, Double Cab pick-up truck that they called the Beast. And that was why they led the police convoy to the bank.
“We are here boys. Listen to that sweet music. Nothing like the sound of gunfire in the morning. Stanislov, take out that AK sniper greeting us from the roof. Zulu keep eyes on the bank’s front door. November Whisky 21 and 14 cover the bank’s parking lot perimeter and Yankee Nine and 25 use your vehicles to block the entrance to the underground parking that leads to the basement of the bank.” Sergeant Night rapped out his instructions. “I will suppress the bastard on the roof until you have your kill shot Stani.”
Sergeant Night quickly got out of the Beast, moved around to the driver’s side of the vehicle next to Constable Shaka and raised his 12 gauge pump action shotgun to the AK sniper’s firing position while resting on the hood of the vehicle. He started to let off rounds in the sniper’s direction. He knew that from this range the shotgun would be ineffective but also knew the sheer power and noise of the weapon would keep down his enemy’s head and the AK47 quite long enough for Constable Stanislov to get a clear shot and eliminate him.
Constable Stanislov, already out of the Beast on the driver’s side, took a deep breath and focused his mind, his task clear. Kill the enemy who was trying to kill him and his brothers. He rested his assault rifle on the roof of the response car and found his target. It was a large male in blue overalls and a black balaclava in a prone position on the roof and who was now concentrating his fire on the Yankee vehicles travelling across the parking lot. Constable Stanislov saw that the AK sniper’s weapon was rested on a bipod. They were professional current or ex-military for sure, he thought to himself.
At this point all that could be heard was the multi-layered sound of Night’s 12 gauge pounding away at the enemy, and the bank robbers’ unmistakable AK, with the sharper sound of police pelting down 9MM rounds from their Vector pistols at the AK sniper – none of which would be effective in killing their opponent at current ranges. It was up to Stanislov and his trusted 7.62 assault rifle to eradicate the sniper threat and in the mind of Sergeant Night there was no one better for the job.
Constable Stanislov looked down the iron sights of his weapon at his target and focused in on the sniper’s head. He found it face down in a natural attempt at shielding himself from the incoming rain of fire and now firing blindly at the police officers. Constable Stanislov took one more half breath and squeezed the trigger, slowly with focus and intent. He saw his round make impact, splitting the enemy’s skull, killing him instantly.
At that moment Constable Stanislov heard a thunderous bang and looked to his right to see a 7 series BMW crash straight through the two Yankee vehicles that were en route to block the entrance to the underground basement parking. The Yankee vehicles were light and small Ford Focus hot hatches built for speed and highway pursuits and stood no chance against the larger luxury saloon vehicles that were the criminals’ car of choice for cash-in-transit robberies – using the sheer weight and state-of-the-art safety systems to ram the CIT vehicles off the road. This time though it was the Yankee vehicles feeling the force of these cars.
Sergeant Night quickly noted the now dead sniper on the roof, the luxury vehicle breaking through the police blockade and like Constable Stanislov made the calculation that they were up against the real deal -- professional South African criminals coming from police and military backgrounds. Ruthless post-apartheid killers who will kill anyone for anything.
In a shootout a gunfighter’s mind works at an extremely fast rate. It seems as though one is able to write a diary full of thoughts while engaged in deadly combat with your enemy. Everything happens in slow motion, happening both fast and slow together. Fast thought, slow movement.
In unison Sergeant Night and Constable Stanislov looked at each other and both knew that Constable Shaka’s baby brother was already dead.
Another luxury getaway vehicle emerged behind the first, this time an E Class Mercedes. The armed robbers were making a break for it.
“Suiciders are coming out the front door” shouted Constable Shaka.
“Suiciders” were what members of the South African Police called a small element of bank robbers who would stay behind after a bank robbery or CIT heist if a job was interrupted by the police, such as this. Their job was not to survive, in fact they were obligated to die so they could not inform on their companions and more importantly to them, so that their family members would not be raped and killed by the gang leaders. Their job was to kill as many policemen as possible and to allow their higher ranking gang members to escape.
There were four of them, all armed with AK 47s and it was their purpose to kill Sergeant Night and as many of his brothers in uniform as they could.
The two luxury escape vehicles were now past the two Yankee vehicles, whose police crew had managed to get out of their battered vehicles and spread out across one line of the parking lot behind their now immobile response cars and were giving the criminals everything they had – the vehicle drivers firing at them with 9MM rounds from their police issue Vector Z88 handguns, the vehicle commanders blasting away with their 12 gauge shotguns and the vehicles’ third crew members blasting 5.56mm rounds from their R5 assault rifles. The noise was deafening.
The damage being done to the escaping criminal vehicles was hardly apparent and the vehicles were not slowing down.
The cars were now approaching Sergeant Night’s position and he was readying himself to unload his 12 gauge, and then his holstered 9MM into the following vehicle which he was certain was carrying the gang’s leader. As the lead vehicle came level with Sergeant Night’s location there was an uneasy silence, partly because the Yankee vehicles had to stop firing or risk hitting November Whisky 50, but more so due to something eerie, something Sergeant Night had never experienced before.
As the lead vehicle drove past Sergeant Night looked into the car and tried as hard as he could to identify any of the men inside the vehicle but for some inexplicable reason all of their faces were blurred purple and black. Before Sergeant Night could process this strange information the second vehicle drew nearer and Sergeant Night raised his weapon, finger on the hair trigger and he prepared to fire, the weapon level with the car’s windows.