A Shift in Priorities - Sequel

Believe nothing you hear, and only one half that you see.
(Edgar Allan Poe)

He had – stealthily – traced a delivery. Three children, two girls and a boy, shuttled to Daressalam and Bagamoyo – and turned over to… Well, that was the difficult part. It was impossible to ascertain who had been the final customers. It smelled madly like upper crust, real upper crust, those who once had studied in Germany, the crème de la crème in administration, justice, media, medicine… He could prove nothing, of course, not without forensics, house searches and the usual apparatus.

Hermann Kizwete knew this number was far too big for him. He needed help. He had already tried to contact Anton Mbwesi, but the dude was out and about, it seemed. Without the star reporter he wouldn’t be able to unravel the case. Only Mbwesi had the stamina to get facts published which would compromise merited members of the establishment. – His own outfit couldn’t be trusted; the highest police officers belonged to the group in question. Hence, he had to keep still until Mbwesi returned from his errant.

Mbwesi might still decide this was too big for him as well. Sudden death was an imminent threat in this affair. The perpetrators, if exposed, would lose everything. – But he, Hermann, wouldn’t give up easily. This repugnant crime had to be brought to light. He was raking his brains how to accomplish that – without being killed…
The merit of all things lies in their difficulty.
(Alexandre Dumas)

Germany was… a great place when it came to earning money. He couldn’t complain, really. The family at home was now living in a neat house – and dad had a small moped. – But for the rest: it was like a bad dream. In the Ukraine, in Odessa, he had been regarded a respectable mason coming from Bulgaria – and been treated accordingly. Here in Germany, people had immediately identified him as gypsy – and were treating him accordingly ever since.

They were firmly believing gypsies were scroungers and crooks. And nothing would change their mind. Punka Nikolov had tried, many times. It was pointless. You were pigeonholed – and never had a chance to get out of the box. Well, he wasn’t alone, and during work you were among your sort, most of the time. And after work, you quickly learnt to stay away from the Germans – and any other non-gypsies. Yeah, the Germans weren’t the only ones who didn’t like gypsies…

Okay, he had long paid the agency that had facilitated his changeover from Odessa to Cologne. That meant although he was sending most money home, he was retaining enough to lead a decent life – in principle. Cologne was an empty shell, populated by foreigners and Germans sent here. The utilities were functional – had never gone out of order actually. The gypsy quarter had formed in the north, beyond the great rail line, in the vicinity that once had been known as Agnesviertel.

You got visits by the police quite frequently. They were looking for stolen goods. Now, what was theft in an empty town, where the former inhabitants were dead and gone? – It was chicanery, no doubt. But at least those cops were not shooting people arbitrarily. They would beat you with their rubber truncheons – and arrest you for a day or two; that was all. However, this new force, which had raided the Albanian quarter recently, they were killing folks. Hell, when would they crack down on the Agnesviertel?
In one respect at least the Martians are a happy people, they have no lawyers.
(Edgar Rice Burroughs)

Slightly vexed, Rudolf Luwele of Luwele, Kabinga & Hamzi Solicitors put down the telephone. This had been Max Sikuku himself, the nabob. But what had he really wanted? Rudolf scrutinised the notes he had written down. Heine Sikuku, the patron’s youngest offspring and leading member of the environmental movement Nature’s Hands, had been arrested at Boënde in Zentralkongo yesterday – for the attempt of poisoning a group of woodsmen. That was the clear part. The lad deserved a lesson. Okay… But he shouldn’t be flung into jail. Okay…

Anyhow! He would have to travel to Boënde. But first he should call the public prosecutor over there. The guy should reside at Mbandaka. He summoned Hertha, his secretary.
“My dear, call the Mbandaka district prosecution office and get me the responsible prosecutor for the case of Heine Sikuku, who has been arrested at Boënde yesterday. And start preparing my journey to Mbandaka and Boënde. But don’t book anything yet. Let me first talk to the man.”

It took Hertha almost half an hour to get a certain Oberstaatsanwalt N’Tingit on the line. Yes, this was a serious case, the young man and his accomplices had tried to poison the workers of a company called Torotal Limited. And the poison – pyrrolizidine alkaloids – was not at all innocuous, but could cause severe damage to an individual’s health. It didn’t engender just the shits, but serious liver injury – and even cancer. This was a crime that had to be atoned for.

The perpetrators had been put into pretrial imprisonment, and there was no prospect of releasing them on bail. Yes, of course, Rudolf was welcome to come along. Yes, the jail was at Boënde. And the judge to judicialise the case was residing at Boënde as well. – Good grief! What was that? What had happened? Nature’s Hands had become famous – or infamous, depending on one’s perception – for their gippy tummy stunts against wood clearing enterprises. Had they – by chance – got hold of the wrong stuff? Or had someone laid a snare?

Well, he was going to find out. Yes, Hertha could now start booking the trains and the hotel. – 1,600 klicks, roundabout, and an express train only to Bangi; it was quite a journey. Why must people always do silly things in the middle of nowhere?