Zebra Inn murder a loss to Maboneng
IT MADE sense that Zebra Inn in Maboneng was a favourite hangout, especially for old patrons not amenable to the crowded restaurants of Maboneng, which usually teemed with young and energetic patrons.
I was one of those who loved the restaurant and, just like TV producer and presenter Johann Botha, the owner had become a friend of mine.
In fact, Botha was introduced to me during a late night of socialising by the owner who, until recently, I only knew as Swazi.
His name was, in fact, Werner Josef Peherchtold, 76, an Austrian and a legendary hunter who was also a former war pilot.
Most of the time, Swazi did not reveal much about himself, but he surprised me one night, leading me downstairs to the basement to show me his treasure trove – stacks and stacks of books, over 200 000, that he had collected over his lifetime.
Swazi was a man whom I had come to know as a book collector, reader and hunter. He was an eccentric and came over as being cold, even a bit suspicious of patrons that came to his establishment for the first time.
But once he knew you well, and you knew him, he was one of the sweetest guys I’d ever known to run an establishment.
In fact, Swazi is the one who, only a few weeks ago, introduced me to his buddy Botha, with whom he would be always playing pool in his establishment. In turn, Botha warmed to me, to such an extent that he immediately invited me to a party at his home the next day, a Saturday.
Playing the race joke, I said to him: “As long as there are no racists at the party, I will definitely attend.”
And true to his promise, as soon as I got home, I received the following text: “Hey man, this is Johann Botha, just met you at Swazi’s.
“What are you doing on Saturday? I would really like you to come and visit me. You would be the only racist here,” he wrote.
I felt embarrassed for having ever made that racist joke in the first place, for he was now clearly playing it back to me in a wicked way.
Until this day, I still have that message on my phone and I agonise over whether it was appropriate for me to have made that racist joke in the first place.
Well, I did not make it to the party in the end, as I was committed elsewhere on the day.
I regret that I never went to it, following the murder of both Botha and Swazi last Wednesday.
However, living just three streets away from Zebra Inn, I nearly went in there that Wednesday at 7pm, exactly the same time it was estimated that the robbery that took my friends’ lives occurred.
However, something said to me that it would not be okay to pass through the pub at that time, while clutching a takeaway beer that I had bought from a nearby bottlestore on my way home.
I am glad that I made that decision out of good manners, for I would have walked straight into a robbery in progress and, like my two friends, could have been a victim of crime at a place I least expected such a thing to happen – my favourite neighbourhood pub.
In fact, Zebra Inn is a pub I had introduced many friends to, ever since I “discovered” it, after being introduced to the cosy pub by filmmaker Terry Stevens about three years ago.
Just the previous Friday, my friends and I had downed a few drinks there.
One thing about Zebra Inn is that it is often quiet and has its loyal patrons, both the locals and tourists who visit Maboneng.
Swazi had always been careful about security at this establishment, with cameras that ensured that he could see patrons as they came in, as far as Albertina Sisulu Street, where the pub is situated.
It is almost unimaginable that such a murder would take place at this establishment, which had assumed iconic status in Maboneng, especially since, if Swazi did not know you, he would sometimes not open, by remote, two electric doors, complete with delay technology.
Zebra Inn is also a stone’s throw from Jeppe Police Station and one would assume that should be a deterrent for those trying to take a chance.
But, obviously, it did not discourage the three robbers – a woman, and two men – who robbed Maboneng of the lives of two of its most prominent characters.
Swazi is survived by his partner Lucille.
His memorial service is scheduled for tomorrow at the Edwardian Church in Houghton.
Swazi was a collector, reader and hunter. He was an eccentric