Highveld

by Hamster

Part 3: Highveld and Bloemfontein, 2016

Chapter 1

Pete pushed back from the dinner table and complained that he had eaten far too much, and would need to get back on a proper diet if he wanted to keep his job. Simon, who was sitting next to him just laughed, saying that Pete never put on weight however much he ate.

Across the table, Gloria looked with pride at the two thirty-year old men she had raised. She still couldn't believe that they had been a couple almost from the time they had met, and both had prospered and become well known in the sporting cauldron of South Africa.

Her own son Simon was a sports journalist. He had followed Pete during his sporting career and now made a decent living writing articles for the Cape Argus, with syndicate rights to sports magazines around the world. He wasn't seen much in public, but his name was well known and he commanded respect among fellow journalists and with the sportsmen and women he wrote about.

Pete was the face that South Africa knew and loved. Following his time at the South Africa Golf Academy he had rapidly risen through the ranks to become a junior national champion, had won many times on the South African tour, was successful several times in Europe and America, and almost won a Major championship. All this before he was twenty five.

Then the physical stress of playing competitive golf around the world began to take its toll. He started to get back pains and finally his physiotherapist told him he better quit. If he didn't, then he might become severely handicapped.

With reluctance Pete took the advice seriously. In no time at all ZATV offered him a job as commentator on their golf broadcasts. Quickly he became known for his incisive analysis of the different players, but more important was his ability to make the commentary interesting, amusing and gripping.

ZATV recognized these skills, and promoted him to be the lead presenter for Sports Session, the daily sports round up program. Pete was able to get a wide range of sportsmen and women to talk about their accomplishments and reveal their personalities. Ratings for the show increased as more and more people were attracted to Pete's infectious humour, willingness to be honest and blunt about people and teams who failed to live up to expectations, and showed a rare skill in forecasting upsets in the sporting world.

To keep the program relevant to all parts of the country, ZATV adopted a policy of hosting the program in all of the Provinces of South Africa. This meant it was not just a Cape Town centered program but one that could bring in local interest from wherever the program was being broadcast.

Consequently Pete and Simon spent quite a bit of time on the road. Simon, always looking out for Pete's health and well-being, decided a peaceful vacation was in order, and they took a week off to stay with Simon's mother Gloria at the family home in Riverdale. Well, Pete did spend a couple of days giving a clinic for the high school golf players, and had to attend a gala dinner charity event at the golf club, but there were none of the pressures of meeting deadlines, being on top form every time the program was broadcast, and all the associated interviewing obligations.

Gloria was understandably proud of her two boys, but she had a special place in her heart for Pete. She remembered the shy and withdrawn fourteen-year old boy who would hardly speak when they first met. He clung closely to his Social Worker throughout that first meeting, scared to look at her and looking more like a rabbit in the headlights than anyone she had ever seen. Now he was a confident and outgoing figure who was always on TV, known to millions of viewers, and never short of words. What a contrast!

She remembered how somehow Simon had sensed the inner hurt of the troubled boy, had treated him with all the kindness and concern possible, and even within that first meeting had begun to develop the trust and security Pete so desperately needed.

While she had been uncomfortable that this friendship soon developed into something more complex – two fourteen-year old boys sleeping together every night was not what she had really signed up for – she soon realized that there was nothing she could do to stop them. She learned to embrace their mutual love and as a result the three of them had become a strong and unshakeable family.

Simon was still the more mercurial of the two, but he had lost some of his impetuous approach to life, and with Pete maintaining his cautious approach to making important decisions, the two of them were a unique and inseparable couple.

"It's bedtime for me", said Pete. "We have to drive to Bloemfontein tomorrow and start getting set up for the broadcast on Saturday. You are going to watch, aren't you, Gloria?"

"Of course, I never miss your shows. You look so handsome under the lights!"

"Oh, that's just all the make-up I have to wear. It makes me look much better than I really am."

"Nonsense. You always look perfect."

"OK, OK, you two lovebirds. We've had enough of the mutual self-admiration society for a while." Simon stood up, went over and kissed Gloria. "We'll see you for breakfast, OK Mum?"

"Yes, Simon. Don't let this boyfriend of yours keep you up all night!"

"Mum! Now you're embarrassing me!"

"Well, you deserve it!"

Pete and Simon picked up the remains of the dinner and took it all into the kitchen for the maid to deal with in the morning.

Pete gave Gloria a big hug and kiss. "Thanks, mom, for everything. We have had a wonderful break!"

"OK, Pete. Sleep well!"

Then they went back through the door into their private little world where they had lived together while they were still in high school. One room was now their bedroom with their large double bed, the other was a little sitting room with a couch and a TV, plus memorabilia from all of their accomplishments – photos, articles, and trophies cluttered up almost every surface in the room.

Then Pete took a deep breath. "Before we go to bed, Si, there's something I want to run past you."

"What, my love? Is it serious?"

"Yes, it is. It's something that's been on my mind more and more recently. I think I'm ready to finally talk about my past in public."

Simon gasped. "But you said you never wanted to ever go there again!"

"I know. But when I look around and see how happy we are, and how lucky we have been in our lives, both professionally and especially us together, I feel a sort of responsibility because we could do something to stop what happened to me happening to somebody else."

"Are you sure, Pete? That's going to open up a lot of bad memories for you."

"Yes, I know, but I'm committed to doing this."

Simon thought for quite a while. He was one of a handful of people who actually knew the truth about Pete's past. He knew that when Pete told him what had happened to him before they met, the two of them were bonded together forever. It was a level of trust Simon never thought he could have been offered by anyone.

He also knew that once Pete had made up his mind about something it was almost impossible to make him change his mind.

"You know I love you more than anything in the world. If you are sure, I'm not going to stop you, but I'm so worried about what the consequences might be. It may put us right in the public spotlight, and have huge impact on both of us."

"Si, we are already in the public spotlight, and that's one reason why I think it is a good time to tell the world what happened. I'm sufficiently well-known that I think it would have a good chance of making an impact."

"Impact? It will be one of the largest news stories of the year!"

So they sat and talked and talked and talked. Slowly a proper plan began to form in their minds, and they both went to bed agreeing that the time was right, and they could do this so people had to sit up and listen. Their lovemaking that evening was slow and poignant because they both sensed that their world was about to change.

Chapter 2

Both Pete and Simon yawned and looked pretty tired when they came down for breakfast the next morning.

"I thought I told you not to keep Simon up all night, you naughty boy."

Pete chuckled. "Actually we started talking about something, and we got very involved in the discussion. So we didn't get into bed until far too late."

"Well, it must have been very important to keep you two out of bed together."

Simon blushed. "Yes, it is something important, mum. You'll find out soon enough, but until we get some plans lined up it wouldn't be fair to tell you."

"I expect we'll know better by Monday and then I'll be in touch."

"OK, but don't keep me in suspense too long. You know I hate surprises."

They got down to the serious business of eating one of Gloria's famous breakfasts. Eggs, sausages, bacon, tomatoes and lots of toast and coffee.

"Oh God!" complained Pete, with a big smile. "More calories to lose in the gym!"

They got their bags, put them in the SUV, gave lots of hugs with a few tears for all three of them, and then set off.

It only took about an hour and a half to go to their planned stop. They drove up out of the Riverdale valley with the flat topped craggy mountains on either side. Slowly the landscape changed, there were fewer trees, a lot more large farms, plenty of cosmos flowering to make the landscape look like an impressionist painting, the hills got rounder and lower, and then they were on the high veld heading west towards Bloemfontein. Pete decided to drive this part of the trip, partly because he knew exactly where to go, and give Simon the drive into Bloemfontein once they had stopped. For his part, Simon decided to take a nap. This was OK with Pete because he really wanted to get his head around what he was going to do.

"Si, wake up, we are arriving" Simon groaned, opened his eyes, stretched and yawned.

"Too much breakfast makes me sleepy!"

"So do late nights and too much sex!"

"There's no such thing as too much sex when it's us two together."

Pete glanced over and they smiled at each other.

"OK, Si, here we go!"

"I do hope we are doing the right thing" said Simon with a little quiver in his voice.

"So do I" whispered Pete.

They turned off the main road between a couple of white gateposts, and down a dirt track towards to typical farmstead. There was a clump of trees breaking the monotony of the landscape, and one of those cell towers made to look like a pine tree. On the left were a couple of farm buildings, some grain storage bins, and a circular concrete water tank. Behind them were some quarters for the farm workers.

On the right was a small but well maintained single story thatched farmhouse, with a tidy lawn on which lay an old rugby ball, a cricket bat and other bits of games that boys play. There was an out-of-ground swimming pool, and a vegetable garden off to the side of the house.

Pete pulled up under a tree and they got out.

A man of about their age came out from the barn. He was dressed like the typical farmer of the Free State, short khaki shorts, a short sleeve work shirt, socks and boots, and a deep tan on his strong looking arms and legs.

"And what can I do for you, gentlemen?"

"Well, I'm sorry to bother you, but I wonder if I can use your bathroom. I think I ate something for breakfast that didn't like me!"

"Of course, come this way."

The farmer led the way towards the terrace on the front of the house. The French windows were all open.

"Don't worry about your shoes. Just go straight in."

He turned to Pete and then his jaw dropped.

"My God" he said, "you're that TV sports guy, Pete Miller! Jesus, what an honour! Come on in! Make yourself at home! Let's have some tea or something. My name's Heinrich"

He rushed inside. "Maryke, Maryke, come quickly! We have guests!"

A lady came in from the back of the house, a solidly built woman with wide hips, a big bosom, and hair vaguely kept in check with a headscarf. She looked like the typical Dutch woman of Boer ancestry. She had a dusting of flour on her forehead, and wiping her hands on an apron said "Oh, do come in, I'm Maryke!"

"Maryke, look, it's Pete Miller from Sports Session!"

"Oh my Goodness! I'll make tea! Do sit down! Oh, I've never met anyone famous before! This is so exciting! Welcome, welcome! Oh, wait till I tell my friends about this!"

Simon chuckled. "He is actually quite a normal human being! You don't have to get too excited, well maybe just a little bit!"

Maryke laughed. "Sit, sit. I'll be back in a moment."

She ran off to the kitchen. Simon sat down and looked around. It was a typical bright and airy living room, with a couple of chintz covered couches, some arm chairs near the fireplace, and a dining room table at one end with half a dozen chairs. The walls were covered in pictures of animals, a couple of mounted antelope heads, and some family photos including several of identical twin boys at different ages.

Pete, meanwhile, had moved towards the door on the right side of the fireplace, looked at Heinrich, raised his eyebrows in question, and when Heinrich nodded, he opened the door. "Simon, I may be a little while. Please start tea without me if you need to. Heinrich, please excuse me."

He turned the doorknob and walked in.

Chapter 3

Pete carefully closed the door behind him, took a deep breath and looked around. The room was bright and full of colour. The walls were a pale yellow with white trim on all the doors and windows. There were two twin beds with brightly covered bedspreads. There was a desk in front of the window with a computer, a pile of CD's, pencils and what looked like unfinished homework. The bookcase was crammed with all sorts of things that boys accumulate: snapshots of the boys playing sports and fishing, some trophies, books, DVDs, a couple of old and well-loved stuffed animals, a few toy cars, some jigsaw puzzles, two cricket balls, everything you could have with twin teenage boys.

The walls had posters of different sporting heroes from rugby and cricket and in a large case a replica cup two worn rugby shirts that had their names on the back: Jan and Japp van Damm. Underneath was a little card that said 'Free State U-15 Champions 2015'. Next to it was a blow up of a photo of the two blond boys in their sweaty and dirty rugby kit looking into the camera with huge smiles of their faces. They were two of the best looking kids Pete had seen for a long time, identical twins even to the way their hair was plastered on their foreheads. Slowly the germ of an idea came into Pete's mind as he gazed at the photo.

Pete sat on the bed and just absorbed the atmosphere. This was a room filled with happiness, and energy, and love, and family. He felt tears well up in his eyes as these sensations flowed into his body. Eventually he could not hold back any longer, and he just burst into tears.

Crying uncontrollably he managed to get the bathroom, found some tissues and dried off his face as best he could. He took some extra tissues just in case, and then he went and sat on one of the two desk chairs in front of the window and looked out over the vegetable garden to the field beyond.

For a long while his thoughts went on a crazy journey, but then eventually they solidified into a single resolution. Yes, this was the right thing to do.

Pete washed his face, dried off, and then went back into the living room.

"Are you OK? Pete" asked Simon, with a look of genuine concern on his face. "You've been a long time."

"I'm fine, Si, don't worry. Actually, I haven't been so happy for a long time."

"So did you decide?"

"Yes, I did. And the answer is 'yes'."

Heinrich and Maryke looked completely lost by this stage. So Simon decided to take the lead in explaining what was going on.

By the time Simon completed the explanation and what he and Pete were proposing to do, the tea was completely cold, there were four very emotionally drained people sitting looking at each other, and a sort of eerie quiet in the room.

Maryke and Heinrich looked at each other but there was little they needed to do before they both nodded.

"Yes, we agree to your proposal, Simon" Heinrich said, while Maryke nodded in support. "We understand that your plan may cause us some problems, but we can't stop you doing what you feel needs to be done. We'll support you fully, and we'll do anything to make it work out. Good luck."

"Thank you" said Pete "I can't tell you how grateful I am to you. I'll be in touch as soon as the details are worked out. Si, we better get going."

Maryke stood up. "I can't believe what just happened this morning. I can certainly say that this has been the most surprising day of my life. I'm just so sorry the boys missed you. You know they watch Sports Session all the time."

"Damn, I'm so stupid!" said Pete. "What are you doing tomorrow afternoon?"

"Well, nothing in particular. The boys will want to watch the Cheetahs on TV tomorrow afternoon, but we don't have any other plans. Why do you ask?"

"Would the four of you like to go to Bloemfontein tomorrow to watch the game live?"

"Well, of course we would but you know it's pretty expensive and I'm not sure we could get tickets if we even wanted to. I heard it's already a total sellout."

"But if you had tickets, would you go?"

"Oh, yes, the boys would be thrilled. They've never been to a live Cheetahs game."

"OK, hang on a moment."

Pete got out his cell phone, dialed a number and waited.

"Oh, hello, Christiaan, it's Pete Miller here…… I'm fine, thanks, and you? …… Good, that's great….. Well, Simon and I are about an hour away, so we should be there for lunch around one…… Super, we'll meet you there…… Look I need your help…. Yes, I know, but this time it's not a difficult task…… I need four VIP area tickets for the game tomorrow…. Yes, I know it's short notice…. Yes, I know they are scarce but you will get them…. Well, if you don't I'll take up that offer I got from SABC to take over their Sports Desk….. Just kidding….. You are an angel, and I shall never work for anyone else…. No seriously, this is really important. If you get those tickets, I'll give you the biggest news story of the year…. I promise!..... Wonderful, I knew I could rely on you!.... The name is van Damm, Heinrich, Maryke, Jan, Jaap…… No, I only just met them….. you'll find out later….. Oh, and another favour, please!..... no, not more tickets…. Can you add a couple of more seats to the set for the halftime show…. Two teenagers….. Yes, I know but really Christiaan, when you hear what I have to offer you, you would give me anything I wanted…. yes, it really is that good….. Yes, same to you, you old fart…. See you at one, then. Bye."

Pete put his phone away.

"Four tickets for you for the game tomorrow, on the house."

"I don't know what to say!" stammered Heinrich "Thank you just sounds wonderful. The boys will go crazy when they find out. And what was that about teenagers on the set?"

"I thought Jan and Jaap would be my special guests. They're good looking enough to keep the viewers interested. Think they can do that? They're not too shy?"

"Oh, yes, they never turn down any opportunity to be in the spotlight. Cocky little buggers, really, but we love them! Shy? They don't have a shy atom in their bodies!"

"Good. But don't tell them about the possibility of them being on TV. I'll wait till right before the show so they won't get nervous. Trust me, it works better that way. And don't tell them about all the other stuff either. They'll find out just like everybody else."

"OK, and thanks!"

Pete dug out his wallet, took out a business card, and wrote something on the back.

"Heinrich, here's my card. When you get to the ground, go to the VIP parking lot, show them this card and they will let you in. Then at the VIP entrance there's a desk and they'll give you your tickets and show you where to go. If you can get there just before noon then I'll have time to show you around. I'm sure your boys would love to see all the TV stuff and everything else behind the scenes. Then about two o'clock you'll get a good lunch and great seats for the game. Any problems, call this number on the card, and if I'm busy call Simon on this number because he should be available. He'll be in the VIP area anyway."

"Oh, the boys will never believe all of this. I'm just blown away! They'll think you walk on water. And of course, they'll be heroes at school. And to be on TV!"

And with a lot of similar comments from Maryke, followed by lots of hugs all around, Pete and Simon set off for Bloemfontein. Simon drove and Pete sat and looked out the window at the flat and drab landscape of the high veld.

"Well, Pete, we've started this off. Nervous?"

"Yes and no. I worry about publicity, but it is the right thing to do. Having started we can't stop, and I really don't want to."

"Getting those two boys on board was really lucky, wasn't it?"

"I had no idea who lived in that house, and yes, they are just perfect. They are really photogenic and people will notice them and remember them. That work's out in our favour."

"Oh, so you fancy them, do you?"

"Piss off, you dirty minded old bugger! No, I don't. But I'll tell you what. That photo of them reminded me a lot of a boy that age who I knew when I was fourteen. I really fancied that boy from the first day I saw him."

"Oh, is that so, Pete? What happened, did you get what you wanted? Tell me!"

"Well, as a matter of fact I did. I still fancy him even though he is thirty and his first bloom of youth has disappeared. But now I don't just fancy him, I love him, and what's even better, he loves me just as much."

Simon leaned over, rubbed the inside of Pete's thigh, and smiled.

"God, I'm so lucky we met even if the circumstances where a little unusual. I love you so much, Pete. And I think we are going to need that love a lot during the next few weeks."

Chapter 4

Christiaan Schoeman was waiting for them when they arrived at the restaurant. Christiaan was the head of the ZATV station in Bloemfontein, which gave him full authority over all programming originating in the Province which would be broadcast locally. For programs that would be broadcast nationally he had to compete with the stations from the other Provinces to get those coveted time slots on the national feed. So he was always eager to get good material that would give him more exposure.

He also lobbied hard for roving programs such as Sports Session to come to Bloemfontein. This helped boost local viewing, and helped establish his position as one of the more successful Provincial station heads in the country. Getting Pete Miller was always a boost for ratings, and he, Pete and Simon had struck up an easygoing friendship.

"Pete, Simon, wonderful to see you again! It's been far too long since you were here last. What do you want to drink?"

"Just water for me, and that alcoholic reprobate next to me probably wants a glass of white wine, right Simon?"

Simon nodded. "Yes, that's just what I need. It's a pity this worn out old sports host never drinks, maybe he would be more interesting."

Christiaan smiled. "You two are something else. I never thought an openly gay person would become a successful sports host but Pete, everyone knows but they still all love you. The ratings are sky high."

"Nobody can resist my charm. It is all powerful!"

"OK, let's order and then get down to business. I want to know what you have for me. You said it was something big."

They ordered. Neither Pete nor Simon ordered much, just a salad for both of them. Christiaan ordered a steak and a glass of red wine.

"We've been at our mother's house all week and she feeds us like there's no food tomorrow. I need to hit the gym or else I'll lose my job as being too fat and ugly for the show."

"So what was all this about those tickets you needed so badly? That's all arranged, by the way."

"Thanks. It turns out this is going to really boost what we want to do because of two teenage boys."

"Oh, and what do you and Simon want to do with two teenage boys? Have a foursome on live television? That would certainly boost our rating but we'd lose our license pretty damn quick!"

"No, no foursome, although if I were fourteen again I wouldn't mind trying! But, seriously, I want to use them as bait for our viewers. They will make our story very powerful and poignant."

"OK, shoot!"

Christiaan listened in silence while Pete and Simon explained precisely what they wanted to do. Christiaan had not risen to his position without being aggressive, but he also knew when to keep quiet and hear people out. He had to listen to all sorts of propositions, some really good, some really stupid, but he never commented until the proposal was fully presented.

Pete finished the presentation, and looked Christiaan straight in the face.

"So what do you think?"

Christiaan looked straight back, and said nothing for a while. You could see the wheels churning away in his head analyzing the benefits and risks of doing this.

"Holy Crap! Is this really all true? Can you prove everything you just told me?"

"Yes. One hundred percent."

"So let me recap a little. You are asking to be interviewed on ZA Reveals for broadcast on Wednesday evening, and you are going to tell the audience everything you just told me."

"Yes."

"Hell's bells. This could be huge!"

"Yes."

"I think it's fantastic! You have my full support! But for this I have to get permission from HQ. I don't have authority. Can you give me a couple of minutes to think this through?"

Pete went to the toilet and washed his face and took a break from the intensity of the conversation. A lot was on the line for him, and he was desperate to keep things moving now he had made up his mind.

Christiaan looked at him when he sat back down.

"You're on, but I have three conditions you have to meet before I do what you proposed."

"OK. Let's hear them."

"First, Are you sure of the facts in both of the court cases? Can someone's lawyers shoot us down? We are dealing with some pretty murky stuff here, and I don't want us sued."

"I have a certified copy of the court documents that dealt with both cases. Although the court records were sealed, that confidentiality clause can be removed. The only real names used in those documents are the accused, the rest were fictitious to protect their identities. So, yes, the legal side is pretty well covered."

"OK, that's essential. Second, can you guarantee all the people who will be mentioned in the program are OK with your revelations?"

"There are only a three people alive who know the whole truth: me, Simon, and now you. Mr. and Mrs. van Damm know some of the first part of it, they don't know names so their involvement is marginal. I only told them as much as they needed to know to secure their permission to use the location. I'm sure you agree that the location makes the whole story real. They know only as much as was needed to get them on board for the program. Sadly, the other three who knew all of the facts have all passed away. I have legal documents I received when they passed on that verifies everything, and I have their written permission to use that information if and when I need to."

"OK. That's good. It seems awfully simple which always scares me. If it's complicated it seems easier to get the legal crap sorted out."

"Yes, I agree, but I can assure you it's watertight. What's the third condition?"

"How much does ZATV have to pay for the story?"

"Nothing."

"Nothing? But you could make a lot of money! Are you crazy?"

"No, this is not for money. You know me better than that, Christiaan. If I have to get paid something for legal reasons, I'll accept one rand, nothing more."

Christiaan looked hard at Pete. "You really want this, don't you?"

"Yes, I do. Other than Simon, there is nothing or no one more important to me than this. Simon is on board although we know this is not risk free for us. But we both think that if ZATV supports us, everyone will benefit. You'll get fabulous publicity, and Simon and I will get what we want because I think ZATV will put all of its resources behind us to make it happen. It's a win-win situation."

"OK. I'll talk to Cape Town right away. I'll not mention your names but I'll tell them it is someone really well known that our audience will immediately recognize. If they agree, which they will, then we can film on Monday, get editing and any tidying up done on Tuesday, and broadcast on Wednesday evening. Oh, I can't wait!"

They all shook hands to seal their agreement.

"Pete, you have more balls than I ever dreamed of. It will be really tough but I will back you every inch of the way. Good luck!"

"Thanks, Christiaan, I'll need that luck. But it's all going to work out, trust me."

Chapter 5

After the lunch meeting Pete and Simon checked into their hotel. As normal, ZATV had booked them a suite with sitting room, bedroom and bathroom. Fruit and flowers were provided compliments of the management – ZATV did a lot of business with the hotel - and they were guaranteed privacy needed by well-known personalities. The media always wanted to talk to them.

"Simon, I'm knackered. This is stressful. I need a nap."

"Then I'll join you. We were up late last night, and it was hard listening to you and Christiaan. But you were wonderful."

So they went to bed even though it was only three in the afternoon. They both needed each other, and it didn't take too long before they were snoozing away clasped together, still sticky between them.

Later they woke up and showered. The suite was luxurious and had a large walk-in shower big enough for two (actually more, but that was never an option for Pete and Simon). Pete's stomach growled as he was drying off.

"What do you want to do for dinner, Pete?"

"I want to stay in, have room service, and then go back to bed with you. I really want to catch up on sleep so I'm on top form tomorrow. Is that OK?"

"You bet! Soup and salad OK?"

"Yes, wonderful. I love you!"

"I love you more!"

Simon knew that even after some years as a television personality Pete was nervous before shows. He wanted them to be perfect every time, without silly mistakes and blunders that would make him and the crew look stupid. So he took it all very seriously, did his homework on whatever sporting event they were covering, made sure his guests were properly briefed, drafted out the scripts they would hope to use, and then double-checked everything.

Simon also knew that covering live events meant that Pete had to be on his toes all the time, responding to what happened in real time, and ensuring everyone in the studio was completely on their toes as well.

Tomorrow was different, however. In addition to the normal routine stress of live television broadcasting, the presence of the two teenage boys was something really important for Pete. Working with teenagers was high risk. Not every TV host wanted to take chances, but Pete felt it added reality and broadened the viewing audience. Simon therefore took extra care to make sure Pete was not disturbed, and was as relaxed as possible when they went to sleep.

Immediately after breakfast Christiaan called with the news that Cape Town had agreed in principle to the program, and they should assume it would go ahead. Pete felt really good about that, and it was in a really upbeat mood that he went to the stadium and prepared his team for the broadcast of the game in the afternoon.

At noon the next day Pete got a call from the VIP Welcome Desk.

"Mr. Miller, I have four guests of yours at the Welcome Desk. There's a Mr. and Mrs. van Damm and their two sons. Is that all in order?"

"Thanks. That's great. Can you send them up to the VIP Lounge and I'll meet them there?"

"Yes, sir, and good luck with the program!"

"Thanks!"

Pete left the TV studio and walked down the corridor to the VIP Lounge. Simon was waiting there with Heinrich and Maryke, and two absolutely stunning handsome identical teenage boys. Identical in every aspect – short blond hair, same height, same build, same freckles across their noses, same cornflower blue eyes, tanned golden brown on their arms and legs. They were just reaching that point where they had some muscles developing on their arms and legs. They were wearing identical clothes as well, Cheetah rugby shirts and shorts, and sandals.

Pete had to force himself to stop staring at these two. If he had been able to choose any two boys to be on his show these would have been exactly what he would have wanted.

"Hey, I'm Pete Miller, and you must be Jan and Jaap. Great to see you! I'm so glad you could make it!"

The boys blushed a bit, making them even more attractive.

"It's an honour to meet you Mr. Miller!" said one of the pair.

"There's no Mr. Miller here, I'm Pete and that's what you are going to call me. OK?"

"Yes, Pete" they said in unison, and gave him a big grin. "We're so excited, we can't believe you are doing this for us!"

"Well, it's as much for me as it is for you. Just relax and enjoy yourselves. We're going to have some fun together."

Pete went over and shook Heinrich and Maryke's hands, and gave Simon a big smile of thanks.

"Heinrich, Maryke, if you don't mind, I'm going to steal these two boys and give them a little fun in the studio. Simon will bring you along in a few minutes, but there really isn't room for all of us in there. It's much smaller that you would imagine. Simon, I'm sure you can find them something to drink, and then maybe come along in twenty minutes. OK, everyone."

Everyone agreed. Pete led the two boys down the corridor to the studio, and sat them down next to him on the set.

"Wow, this is really cool! Look at all the cameras and stuff!"

"It really is much smaller than it looks on TV! How do you do that?

Pete got one of the technicians over, and he explained how everything worked to the two boys. Their eyes were like saucers as they looked around. Pete nodded at the producer who had been well briefed on what Pete wanted to do.

"OK," said the producer. "How would you two boys like to see what you look like in TV?"

"Yes!" "Yes!" "Wow!" "I can't believe this!"

"What I want you to do is to take these two little scripts, read them through, and then when you think you're ready, give me a nod, and try to read what's on your script as best as possible. This machine is the teleprompter. It has your scripts in it already. When you look at it, it will seem you are looking straight at the camera. You don't have to be perfect, and if you mess up we just start over. OK?"

The two boys nodded, looked at each other with those huge grins, and took a piece of paper each. They didn't have much to say so it wasn't long before they nodded, and the producer gave them a thumbs up, the red light on top of the camera went on, and they starting recording.

The two boys looked at each other, smiled, and then looked at the camera.

"Hi, everyone, I'm Jan van Damm. I'm fourteen and I come from Highveld."

"And I'm Jaap van Damm. We're twins if you hadn't already guessed."

"We are auditioning to be co-hosts of Sports Session."

"We think Pete Miller is too old and we want younger people on TV."

"Yes, Pete Miller is over the hill, he's a has-been."

"We'll do a much better job than him, and we're better looking."

"And he never gets the results right. I mean how dumb can you get."

And then they looked quickly at each other, and in perfect unison said

"So tune in soon to see the van Damm Twins take over Sports Session!"

It took a couple of tries to get it right. By the end of it, everyone in the studio was cracking up laughing. The producer came in and said the tape was absolutely fantastic.

"You boys were incredible. First time ever on TV, right?"

"Yes!" "Yes!"

"Pete, is this what you wanted for the Pre-Game Show?"

"Absolutely! It couldn't be better!"

The two boys turned to look at Pete.

"You mean you are going to show that on TV?"

"No way, you're just kidding, right?"

"It's going to be part of the Pre-Game Show if your parents agree. When they come along, we'll show them the tape and see if they'll let it be shown. You're not old enough to give that type of permission yet."

"They'll agree, I know they will, they love us."

"Yes, I'm sure they'll agree!"

When Heinrich and Maryke saw the tape they couldn't stop laughing.

"Of course you can show it! That's hilarious! Pete, you are one good sport to do this! Boys, your friends will go crazy when they see this!" Heinrich and Maryke smiled at each other as the boys started whooping and high-fiving each other, and Pete, and the producer and anyone else they could find.

"Can we call our friends and tell them we are going to be on TV?"

"Yes, please, can we do that? That would be really neat!"

"I don't see why not. You can tell them to watch Sports Session at about 2:45. I'll use this as part of the introduction of the guests on the Half Time Show. Then you can tell your friends to watch the Half Time Show because you guys were so good we are going to have you as my special guests!"

It takes quite a lot to silence two exuberant teenage boys, but Pete had managed it. They looked at him eyes wide open, mouths wide open, and looking at each other in bewilderment.

The adults were all laughing while the two boys just stood there shell-shocked. Eventually one of them (we never knew how to tell them apart) spoke.

"Pete, are you really serious? We are going on live TV with those superstars on the Half Time Show?"

"Yes. You just did a screen test for me, you passed with flying colours, and you are going to be superstars in your own right!"

"Wow" "Cool" (and a few not so polite words that are not suitable for a TV studio such as "Holy Crap" "Fucking A" and so forth).

"Thanks, guys" said Pete to the technicians in the studio. "I love working with you because you do everything perfectly! I'll be back by two to get ready for the Pre-Game show."

Then Pete looked at the two boys. "But there's one problem we have to sort out beforehand. Come with me. Heinrich, Maryke, Simon, let's go."

He led them off down towards the VIP lounge but they didn't go in. Instead they went into one of the many team store outlets where they were selling all the Cheetah paraphernalia: shirts, shorts, scarves, hats, socks, all the things to make money out of the paying customers."

The store manager came rushing over.

"Hey, Mr. Miller, good to see you. What can I do for you?"

"Well, I've got two special guests who are going to be on the Half Time Show and I need them to be wearing this year's kit. ZATV can't have people on the show in last year's kit! They need a complete set of everything, but the shirts are essential."

The manager walked up to Heinrich and asked him what size shirt he wore. Heinrich just laughed, shook his head, and pointed at the two boys.

The manger looked at the two boys, his eyes lit up, and then he looked at Pete. "These two are going to be on your show? Oh My God, they will steal they show completely. All the teenage girls in South Africa will be hysterical. It will be sensational!"

In no time there was a pile of Cheetah clothes ready for the boys, plus some shirts for Heinrich and Maryke. She looked at Pete and shook her head.

"Pete, this is too much. You don't have to spend all this money on us. We can't allow it!"

"Maryke, don't worry. I'm not paying, ZATV is paying. We can't pay underage boys for appearing on the program in the same way as we do for the other special guests, so this is the only way we can give them something for appearing on the show."

"Well, that's very kind of you, Pete!"

"No problem!"

While this was going on, Pete noticed the two boys whispering to each other, glancing at Pete, and whispering some more. Eventually one of the boys came over to Pete, tugged him off to one side, and whispered in his ear.

"Do you think Jan and I could have an extra shirt each? We both have a special friend we'd like to give a shirt to, and we don't have enough pocket money to afford shirts like this!"

"Do you know what size you need? Boy or girl?" Pete was smart enough to whisper back.

Jaap blushed a bit. "They're both the same size as us, more or less. And they both need boy's shirts. I know you and Simon understand."

Pete gave a huge smile. "I understand, and my lips are sealed!"

Pete walked over to the store manager and said each of the boys would need three shirts, not just one.

"One I'm going to sign with a Sharpie after they wear it on the set: they'll probably want to hang that on the wall in their bedroom. Then they have two others, one to wear normally, and one to do what they want with, maybe as a spare, or maybe as a gift, whatever."

Both boys grinned at Pete and nodded their thanks. He told the store manager to charge the whole lot to ZATV, they bagged everything up, and went back to the VIP Lounge.

"OK, everyone, I'm going to have to go and get ready for the show. It takes more time than you think to get ready. Simon, would you be able to show everyone some of the sights behind the scenes, and then show them where lunch is served."

"No problem, Pete, we'll do the grand tour of the stadium!"

"And you two" said Pete, looking at the boys, "Simon will bring you down to the studio immediately after the half-time whistle. It takes about five minutes before we talk to the guests because of advertising breaks and all that stuff. Wear your new Cheetah shirts, of course! During the game you should watch carefully, because you may be asked something about it during the show. Enjoy the first half!"

"Yes!" "OK!"

"Don't forget to call your friends! And the Pre-Game show will be on in the VIP Lounge so you can see yourselves on live TV!"

Pete went to work in the studio. He talked to his two official guests to prepare them for the Pre-Game show, and when the commercial break was over, Pete started to talk into the camera.

"Welcome back, everyone.

"This really is a special game for us. The Cheetahs are confident that they can use home advantage to overcome their underdog status, while visitors from New Zealand, the Canterbury Crusaders, are the most successful Super Rugby side. It should be a great game.

"Now it's time to tell you what we have lined up for you in the Half-Time Show. As normal, I've got two guests who are here to provide expert commentary. First, we've got former Cheetah star and World Cup winner Adriaan Strauss (his picture comes up on the screen). He's a local boy and I'm sure you'll all be pleased to hear what he has to say. Then we've got former Canterbury Crusaders star and World Cup winner Andrew Mehrtens (his picture comes up on the screen). It will be a pleasure to welcome him back to Bloemfontein, even if he kept on beating us when he was still playing.

"Then I have two other special guests who will be joining us, Jan and Jaap van Damm. They are not World Cup winners, but they are champions in their own right. Last season they were both on the winning side in the Free State Under-14 Championship representing Highveld. Let me give you a taste of what is in store for you."

The tape of Jan and Jaap came on, and it was clear from the reaction in the VIP lounge that this was going to be a great hit.

Simon was watching the TV in the VIP lounge along with the van Damm family. Everyone immediately recognized the two blond bombshells who were in the Lounge, and gave the boys a big cheer.

Both boys' phones started ringing immediately as well. They were in seventh heaven. Jan looked at the list of callers, selected one, and answered.

"Hi Zayden!..... Yes, I can't believe it myself….. of course I was fabulous, I always am…. Yes, at half time…… yes, a little nervous but Pete is wonderful and he seems to know how to run the program….. yes, I know….. look, I have to go…… no, I'm with lots of other people, so I can't…… me too, more than ever…. See you soon… me too…. Bye"

Jaap had had a similar call.

"Mum, Dad, Zander just called. He can't believe what he just saw. He really wants to come over and see me, and have a sleepover. And Zayden would like to come as well and see Jan. I said we'd be home by seven. Is that OK?"

Both parents looked at each other.

"Sorry, boys, we can't do that. We aren't going home tonight. But we'll let you do that next weekend. Tomorrow there is something else ZATV wants us to do, and we can't have anyone else around."

"What do you mean, we're not going home tonight? Where are we going?"

"I'm not quite sure yet. ZATV is arranging it, but I can tell you it will be somewhere really fancy."

The boys seemed a little disappointed – Zander and Zayden were also twins, and the four of them had bonded and were best friends. And some. But the excitement of being on live TV in a few minutes soon took over.

Then Simon intervened. He looked at Jan and Jaap.

"You know, I know where you are staying the night. It's not so far from Highveld. Maybe if you talked nicely to your parents they would try to get Zander and Zayden's parents to drop them off there, and you could have your sleep over there. Try it, see what happens!"

"Oh, thanks, Simon, that's a great idea!"

It took little persuasion. Heinrich and Maryke knew the kids were so hyped up they wouldn't sleep much tonight, so a sleepover wouldn't matter. In ten minutes it was all arranged, and Simon enjoyed watching the boys glow with total happiness.

The game started. Pete was sitting collecting his thoughts and making notes about things that would be possible topics of conversation with the halftime guests. Then his phone rang.

"Hey, Christiaan, what's up?"

"Your ratings are going to skyrocket! Where did you find those kids? They are going to be the talk of all of South Africa! You are a genius! I can't wait for half time! I'm so glad you talked me in to all of this!"

"Hey, all in a day's work! I've got to watch some of the game so I can talk sense at half time. Call you later, OK? And the show will be great!"

"I still can't get over those kids! They are stunning. The girls will be creaming themselves!"

"Yes, and probably lots of teenage boys as well! They were better than I ever dreamed!"

"Dirty Old Man! Talk to you shortly!"

At half time the score was Cheetahs 13, Canterbury 17. It had been a pretty hard fought contest, Canterbury scoring twice early, and Cheetahs pulling one back later on.

"Welcome to the Half-Time Show Everyone. This is Pete Miller alongside Adriaan Strauss, former Cheetah star, Andrew Mehrtens former captain of New Zealand and Canterbury Crusaders, and Jan and Jaap van Damm, Under-14 Champions of Free State. Welcome everyone!

"Well, we've got a good game going for us today, haven't we! Let's hear what our panel of experts has to say, and see if they can predict the winner. Adriaan, you go first."

"Yes, it's a really exciting game, high standard by and large, with both sides having chances. Even though Canterbury are up at the half, I don't think the Cheetahs are out of it yet. But they need more discipline if they are going to hold the Crusaders. I don't like to bet against my own side, but I think this time I'm going to pick Crusaders as winners at the end of a very tight game. Maybe they'll be three point winners. It should be fun!"

"Thanks, Adriaan. That's not very loyal of you, is it, but I see where you are coming from. What about you, Andrew?"

"I agree it's been a super game so far. Given their generally poor record in games against teams from both Australia and New Zealand, I think the Cheetahs are doing very well. They've kept the score close and that gives them a chance. But in the end I think they'll tire, make more mistakes, and Crusaders should end winning fairly easily by a couple of scores."

"Thanks, Andrew. You never give us much chance, do you, on or off the field. Let's hope you are wrong!

"OK, let's move on and see what our other two experts have to say. Seeing I can't tell you two apart, why don't one of you go ahead, and tell us which one you are, please!"

The boys looked at each other, then one of them spoke.

"Thanks, Pete. I'm Jan! First, thanks for having us, and for ZATV to give us these super Cheetah shirts. The game is certainly exciting but that's mostly because the score is still close. I think both sides made more mistakes than they should have. They are supposed to be world class professionals, aren't they, but sometimes you wonder! Our school coach would drop us if we played like that! Crusaders got lucky early to get their two scores, but Cheetahs have come back. I think the home crowd will help them keep up the tempo and Cheetahs will win by four points."

"OK, thanks, Jan. So you must be Jaap, and we just listened to what your brother had to say. What do you think?"

"Thanks, Pete. Like Jan I want to thank you for inviting us, it's been great! I agree fully with Jan about not making mistakes. When we won the Free State Championship we did so by sticking to the basics. Don't drop the ball, don't knock on, tackle like it's the last tackle you'll ever make, run till you drop. And what have we seen so far from Cheetahs? Three knock-ons, four dropped passes, seven missed tackles. And they get paid to do this? If their coach is like ours at school they will have their ears burning in the locker room."

"It's nice to hear someone tell it like it really is! So, Jaap, do you think Crusaders can win?"

"It really doesn't matter what I think. It's what the Cheetahs think. If they think they can win they have a chance. If they don't have that confidence they'll lose. It's as simple as that. Would I like them to win? Sure, of course I would. I hope they win, it'd be great, but there's nothing I can do about it. And I'm a loyal fan. So Cheetahs by two points."

"You guys are amazing! Two fourteen year old experts who have just told Cheetahs want they need to do to win this game. I wish my other so-called experts would be so open and honest. Adriaan, Andrew, you can certainly learn something from these two!"

"Yes" said Adriaan, "the boys are absolutely right. They seem to understand the game better than I do!"

"I agree," added Andrew "and it's so refreshing to hear this coming from two lads like this. You two are going to go a long way!"

"So we are split!" Pete looked hard into the camera. "Two for Crusaders, two for Cheetahs! So I have to make my final choice. And I'm going to go with youth. I really hope that the show was on in the Cheetah locker room during the half time break, it normally is. If so, then I think that what these two said can give Cheetahs the kickstart they need. Let's see! Should be fun! I'll split the difference and go for Cheetahs by three. I like the momentum and home field advantage as well, but really it's hard to disagree with these two young men here that it is belief in yourself that ultimately wins you games. Cheetahs don't give up easily!

"Well, it's almost time to wrap up this part of the show. We'll have some highlights from other games after a short break.

"Adriaan, Andrew, thanks for your opinions. I'll see you in the post-game show. You better be hoping Crusaders win, because if they don't these two boys will have made fools of you. Enjoy the second half, if you're not too nervous, of course!

"Jan, Jaap, I can't thank you enough. You were fantastic. You know that I can't pay you for appearing because you are both too young. But I do have a small gift for each of you. It's a rugby ball for each of you signed by all the team members, by Adriaan and Andrew, and of course by myself. I'm also going to sign your Cheetah shirts for you. Let's hope that when they go out for the second half they'll play their hearts out for you two! Thanks for coming! And I hope I'll see you both again soon. Good luck!"

"Thanks, Pete!" "Thanks, Pete!" The two boys gave their trademark grins to the camera and a little wave to the millions who were watching.

About forty five minutes later the game was over, and Pete was back on live TV.

"Welcome to the Post-Game Show here on Sports Session. I'm Pete Miller. I'm still trying to catch my breath after that incredible game: the result in the balance right up till the last minute, Cheetahs and Crusaders going flat out to try to clinch the win. And, of course, to the delight of the home crowd, Cheetahs managed a last-second penalty kick to give them the three point margin of victory. Congratulations Cheetahs, bad luck Crusaders. That's a game that's going to stick in everyone's memory for a long time!

"So let me turn to my two colleagues here. Usually they are referred to as expert analysts but it seems they both got skunked by our two young guests at half time, Jan and Jaap van Damm! So much for being experts, right? OK, Adriaan, you are up first!"

"Well, you're right, Pete. Those boys have really showed me up, and I'm embarrassed. Not just because I got the result wrong, but because as former captain of the Cheetahs I didn't give them the loyalty they deserved. Sorry, guys, in the dressing room, you did great today and I'm proud of you. I'm told you did see what the two boys had to say at half time, and you took it to heart. You played your hearts out, you cut out the silly mistakes of the first half, you took everything the Crusaders could throw at you, and you hung in there right to the end. Keep playing like that, and we may be Super Rugby Champions!

"Yes, Pete, those boys seemed to understand the situation better than us. Now I'm afraid I'll have to look for a new job because it looks like they are better as expert analysts than either Andrew or myself. And you may need to look over your shoulder pretty soon, Pete, because those kids are going to be superstars!"

"Yes, I'm already sure they're plotting to overthrow me! And what about you, Andrew?"

"Yes, it was a wonderful game. The second half raised the level to new heights. I'm proud of the way Crusaders stayed head to head with the Cheetahs, but I have to admit that Cheetahs played like Champions today. If they keep it up, we may lose the Super Rugby title to them this year!

"You know, Pete, we all consider ourselves pretty young still. But it makes me so happy to see the next generation coming along. They don't get messed up with being politically correct, they call it like it is. Those kids gave the Cheetahs a right talking to at half time, Cheetahs responded, and that's why they won. While it may be a few years before those two are in the public eye, they reminded us we always have to keep on our toes to make sure we do the best job possible.

"So I got it wrong today, and the kids were right! I don't mind too much because that's the nature of sport – you win some, you lose some, although losing to fourteen-year olds is a lot harder than losing to people your own age. Good luck to them both."

"Thanks to both of you. Maybe we'll give you another chance, Adriaan, so we'll see you in a couple of weeks. Andrew, it's always a pleasure to have you in South Africa. Safe travels back to New Zealand, and maybe we'll see you in the final!"

Pete turned to face the close-up camera.

"Well, everyone, that's our show for today. Sports Session Extra is coming up after the break. But before I go, there's something I'd like to tell you.

"On Wednesday ZATV is having a special edition of ZA Reveals, our award-winning investigative telejournalism program. The topic this time is the infamous Highveld Scandal from fifteen years ago.

"ZA Reveals has startling new information about that scandal. I can guarantee that you will be shocked by what you see and hear. I'm the first to announce this because our two special guests, Jaap and Jan, along with myself, will play some part in that program. So tune in, Wednesday Night, ZATV, 8:00 pm for "ZA Reveals: The Highveld Scandal Revisited.

"Have a wonderful weekend, and see you next time on Sports Session!"

Chapter 6

It took a long time for Pete and Simon to get back to the hotel. Everyone in ZATV in Bloemfontein wanted to congratulate them on a topnotch edition of the program. Even though ratings would not be known for a while, it was clear this program was a hit.

Calls had been coming in from across the country asking when the two young superstars were going to be on TV again. Requests had been made for interviews with them from several other TV stations and newspapers, but the family was not available. ZATV had taken them away as soon as the game finished, and put them up in a luxury game resort near their home where they could recover from the excitement. Pete and Simon had agreed to meet them the next day, and review what was going to happen when filming was going to take place.

Eventually they got back into their suite. Pete felt drained. That was pretty common, especially after a good show, but with all the added issues surrounding this show he felt wiped out.

They were undressed and just about to take a shower when the phone rang.

"Pete, this is Christiaan again! This was the best Sports Session ever! The phones are still ringing off the hook! If you ever meant to get people's interest, then you did it in spades! And the interest in Wednesday's program is going to be huge! I mean HUGE! Advertizers are screaming for time and our rates are shooting up! You are a genius!"

"Yes, yes, I know, it is beyond my wildest dreams. But now I'm standing in the bathroom completely naked and I'm going to take a shower. If you want to come by in half an hour, Simon will give you a drink and we can talk some more. OK?"

And he hung up. Normally you don't do that to a head of station, but Pete was feeling pretty confident. He and Simon stepped into the shower. It took them quite a while to finish off all of the things they had planned, only one of which was actually getting clean and washing their hair.

At seven Christiaan arrived. He gave Pete a huge hug, and then one to Simon.

"Man, is this going to be the greatest event ever! The whole country is already excited for Wednesday! We are going to break records! They don't have any concept of what's going to hit them! And it's your name and the two boys that seem to be the catalyst. Yes, the Highveld Scandal is still of interest to people, but I'm absolutely sure that nobody can fathom out what Pete Miller and two beautiful boys have to do with all of that! I can't wait."

"Christiaan, I know you're excited because of ratings and publicity and everything, and that's how it should be. I'm excited because I am finally going to get to do what I've secretly been dreaming of for years. It's great our two different objectives are running side by side."

"You're right, Pete. Sorry, I'm just so excited. Now, dinner, what do you want to do?"

Pete looked at Simon and they both nodded. Simon spoke for them.

"We're pretty tired, Christiaan, so I think we're going to stay in, eat from room service and just relax."

"I understand, but I have to tell you that you have a visitor who is coming to have dinner with us. You absolutely have to trust me about this, but you can't afford not to have dinner with him. He's critical to your plans in ways I never thought of."

"I'm sorry, Christiaan, I'm just too tired, and I really want to stay in. If we go out, there's bound to be someone who recognizes us, and that means attention I really don't need tonight."

"Then let him come here and eat in the suite. He won't mind, and in fact he probably prefers it that way because he is also publicity shy. OK?"

Both Pete and Simon sighed.

"You are so goddam persistent, Christiaan! I guess we don't have a choice, do we?"

"No, you don't. Yes, I'm persistent! That's why I'm head of station and you are some lowly little sports correspondent about to lose your job to two cute fourteen year olds!"

"They're too young to work!"

"When they turn sixteen you'll be unemployed!"

Pete laughed.

"You win, as always! Now who's this secret visitor?"

"That's for me to know and you to find out! He'll be here at eight sharp."

"That's only fifteen minutes. You were sure of yourself, weren't you?"

"Yes, and you'll see why when he turns up!"

So Simon got a drink for Christiaan, and they sat reviewing how well the show had gone.

At eight sharp there was a knock on the door, and the hotel manager came in.

"Mr. Pete, sir, I'm really sorry to bother you. I know you don't want to be disturbed, but Mr. Christiaan here said it was OK. I have your visitor for you."

He stepped aside, and in walked an older man. Pete and Simon both gasped. It was Charles Botha, President of ZATV.

"Pete, Simon, I'm so sorry to intrude. I know you must be tired and just want to rest, but I need to talk to you both urgently. I hope that's OK?"

"Yes sir, that's fine, please come in, sit down, make yourself comfortable, have a drink, Simon, get Mr. Botha whatever he wants."

"Pete, calm down! This is an informal meeting, and I think you are going to love the outcome! Simon, a glass of red wine, please, just like that drunken old sod Christiaan! Then let's order dinner now so we can finish business and you can get some sleep. I gather the next few days are going to be pretty intense."

"Yes, thank you, sir…"

"Charles, if you would be so kind, Mr. Botha is too formal!"

"OK, thank you, Charles. I didn't know you were in town. I would have invited you to the show and everything."

"Don't worry, I wasn't here. I was in Cape Town. Now, let's get dinner sorted out."

They ordered dinner and then Charles Botha started to talk.

"You know that Christiaan had to get clearance for this special program on the Highveld Scandal from me because it gets shown nationally. Well, at first I was reluctant, but when he said you were going to be involved I was more interested because you are one of our superstars. He told me some of what you want to talk about, but by no means all of it. I think it's a great idea."

"Thank you, that's very kind."

"Not at all, completely deserved. He told me you had some scheme to have a couple of boys on your show to act as bait for the audience, and that they would be on Sports Session this afternoon. Now, normally, I don't watch Sports Session on Saturdays. I prefer to stay home with my wife and do some gardening and stuff.

"But today, at Christiaan's insistence I stopped gardening at two thirty and watched both the Pre-Game Show and the Half-Time Show. Those boys were magic. How long have you been cultivating them? They were so professional, and also funny."

"I only met them today for the first time. I met their parents yesterday, and then suddenly a whole new plan opened up because the boys were perfect for what I wanted."

"You only met them today? That's amazing! They never blinked once in front of the cameras. They smiled, they oozed happiness! It was uplifting! You may have to look out for your job!"

"Yes, I am very, very lucky. It's a total coincidence that they are exactly the perfect fit for my plans, and I never even knew until yesterday they existed!"

"Well, as soon as you announced the Wednesday edition of ZA Reveal, and that you and those boys were going to be part of it, I knew I had to come and talk to you. The public reaction has been immense. Everybody is waiting for Wednesday. You really have people interested. So I decided to come by and talk to you."

"But you live in Cape Town, not Bloemfontein!"

"Yes, but recently they invented some form of flying machine. I just took the company jet up here. It only takes an hour and a half, and I don't have I don't have to go through long security lines!"

"Yes, of course, sorry!"

"Look, Pete, this thing on Wednesday is going to be a huge national sensation. I gather from Christiaan that you are going to be taking a big personal risk that may change your life. So I want to know all of the details of what you propose to do. Can you tell me, please?"

So Pete gave Mr. Botha a full description of how the program should be put together, and what he was going to propose to end the program.

Botha looked at him for a long time.

"You are a really brave man. I wish I had half the courage you have. I wish you all luck and success. You have my full approval."

Pete looked over at Simon, who was smiling.

"Well, I really appreciate your support, Charles. I think it's going to work out. It'll create some tough times for me and Simon, but we're ready to face that head on."

Botha looked back at him.

"If you think you are going to do this on your own, you are very mistaken, Pete. ZATV will give you every support imaginable to make this work for you. I gather you are doing this pro bono, with no fee. That's not fair. I don't think you should do that when you could go to SABC and get millions. So I have a proposal to make that I hope will satisfy you. And that's why I wanted to come up here this evening to talk to you face to face."

And he then laid out what ZATV was willing to do. Pete was stunned. He now knew his dreams were going to come true.

Sunday morning Pete and Simon had a long lie-in, interrupted by one more passionate interlude. The hotel had provided them with the Sunday papers. The boys' appearance on Sports Session led all of the sports pages, and some papers had their pictures on the front page.

Without exception, the papers praised Sports Session and Pete for bringing a welcome breath of fresh air into TV sports broadcasting. The honesty and direct approach the boys had taken put other sports programs to shame, with their analysts accused of being self-serving rather than analytical.

The coach of Cheetahs admitted that watching the Half Time Show in the locker room had really inspired the Cheetahs to win. He said the team felt they had been given a really good bollocking by the boys and went out more determined than ever to make amends to their fans.

And so it went on. And to Pete and Simon's great happiness, almost all articles included a reference to the ZA Reveals program because nobody could possibly image why Pete and the boys would be on a show dealing with a topic like the Highveld Scandal.

The bait had been taken. Now it was time to reel everything in.

They took a long shower, had a light breakfast, and then with the assistance of the hotel manager, went down the service elevator and out through a side entrance where an anonymous white SUV and driver was waiting.

An hour later they were at the exclusive game resort where the van Damm family had gone the night before.

They were told that the van Damms were all out by the swimming pool, so Pete and Simon wandered through the hotel and out to the pool.

Heinrich and Maryke were sitting by the edge of the pool drinking fruit juice and enjoying the relaxation. In the pool were four teenagers trying to duck each other, splashing around, and just having some proper teenage fun.

When Pete got to the edge of the pool, it was like SeaWorld. Two of the boys shot straight up out of the water and grabbed Pete and hugged him.

"Oh Pete, it's great to see you! Why didn't you say you were coming?"

"I didn't really know myself! Having fun?"

Oh, it's wonderful, we each got two connecting rooms, and our friends were able to come and we had a great time together. Zander, Zayden, come and meet Pete!"

The other two boys came out. They were twins as well, just as tanned as Jan and Jaap, but otherwise were different. Dark hair, brown or almost black eyes, a little bit stockier, some dark hairs starting to grow on their calves. They were a bit shy meeting Pete for the first time.

"It's nice to meet you, Mr. Miller!" said one of the two, probably Zander.

"Yes, it is. We love your program, but yesterday was amazing!"

"You can call me Pete, just like these two TV stars here! I don't bite!"

Jan and Jaap were still pumped up from yesterday.

"Hey, did you see our picture on the front page!" "They said such nice things about us!" "We're superstars!" "Future presenters of Sports Session!" "Expert Analysts!". And they went on and on for a couple of minutes like this.

Everyone was laughing. Simon thought that the sight of four boys, all in their swimming trunks, laughing and pushing each other around, would be a highlight memory. It's not often that you play a part in making people so happy.

"So, why are you here, Pete? We didn't expect to see you."

"Well, it's good news and bad news for you two, I'm afraid. The good news is you are going to be on TV again."

"Yes, we saw something about that. They said in the papers that you and us were going to be on ZA Reveals on Wednesday, but it's on something don't know anything about. That doesn't make sense to us."

"Yes, Pete," chipped in Jaap, "What's going on?"

"You'll find out very soon. But the bad news is that after lunch we're all going back to your house, and we are going to do a little filming for the program."

"What do we have to do?"

"Almost nothing. I want to have you filmed in your bedroom just playing around with some of your stuff, you know, video games or something like that. You don't have to learn any lines."

The two boys looked at each other. Jan shrugged.

"OK, that's sound easy. And we have to go home anyway to get ready for school tomorrow. We are going to be heroes!"

"Yes, I think half the school has phoned or texted and said how wonderful we were!" said Jan. "But it's going to be tough dealing with all the girls, most of them probably want to get in our pants!"

"Jan! Enough!"

"Sorry, Mom. But you'll have to get used to us being teenage heartthrobs!"

The four boys went off to get showered and ready for lunch.

It's always an amazing sight to see teenagers taking on a buffet. While the adults had a little of most things, the boys all had lots of everything. Then they went back for just as much again. How they manage to stay so slim is a miracle of human biology.

By two the van Damms, Pete and Simon were back at the farm. Zander and Zayden had gone straight home with their parents because they were not part of this. The van Damms were surprised to see a security guard at the gate, who asked the van Damms who they were before letting them through. There was also a police car parked on the verge of the main road. At the farm itself there was a ZATV mobile broadcast van parked near the house, and a couple of people waiting for them, including Christiaan.

Christiaan introduced himself, Jana Smuts who was doing the interviewing, and the camera operator. Then he asked everyone to come into the living room.

"I'm sorry about the security guard. We had some journalists trying to get in. I don't want you to feel imprisoned or anything, but these days journalists can be really intrusive. Until the story is broadcast ZATV would like to keep the guard here, but after that we think that the media will be following another part of the story. If anybody bothers you, just tell the guard. Here's a two-way radio for you. There's also someone hidden out in the back in case anyone tries to get in that way. The boys are a hot item today, and will be until Wednesday.

"So what we would like to do today is this. We'd like to have some outside shots of the farmhouse, including the garden. We'll get Jan and Jaap to throw a rugger ball to each other, preferably wearing their Cheetah shirts so people will remember them from Sports Session. We'd like to have a few inside shots of the living room, with you all there being normal. Maybe you can be watching TV together or something. Do you every play any board games or card games together?"

"We sometimes play Monopoly together" said Heinrich.

"Oh, that's perfect. A happy family playing together. That's exactly what we want. Then we'd like some shots of the two boys in their bedroom playing together. Like video games or something. Just sort of normal things you two do together when you're left alone. Can you do that?"

"Yes, that's easy," said Jaap, "we're good at FIFA16. Of course, we hardly ever beat each other because we are so alike!"

"Pete said we didn't have any lines to learn. Is that right?"

"Yes, that's right. You can talk to each other, or yell or whatever you normally do when you play video games. Just be yourselves, OK?"

Both boys nodded.

"And that's it, really. Pete and Jana will then do some shooting in the boys' room without the boys there. We should be out of here in about an hour. And then we'll all go home and leave you alone."

"Seems straightforward" said Heinrich. "Does anyone have any questions? Maryke? Jan? Jaap?"

Everyone seemed happy enough.

And that's what they did. Jan and Jaap put on their Cheetah shirts and threw a rugger ball at each other in the garden, a Monopoly board was set up and made to look like it was half way through a game, the boys changed into tee shirts and they sat and played the game with their parents. Then they went into their room with the camera operator, and filmed them playing FIFA16. This involved a lot of laughing and shoving and whoops when someone scored.

Then Pete, Jana and the camera operator went into the boys' room and closed the door. They were in there about twenty minutes. When they came out it was clear Jana had been crying, the camera man looked shaken up, and Pete was pretty pale.

Simon rushed over. "Are you OK, Pete?"

"Yes, I am. It's a bit emotional but that part's done, and I'm satisfied it's OK."

By the end of the hour everything was completed. Pete, Simon and Christiaan were really pleased with what they had. Maryke made tea for everyone, and they got ready to take off.

"Thanks to all of you" said Christiaan. "That was one of the smoothest location shots we've done for a while. You'll all look good on TV on Wednesday!"

Christiaan, Jana and the camera operator got into the ZATV truck and headed back to Bloemfontein.

"Well, we better be off as well" said Pete. "We've got a lot on our plate tomorrow."

Jan and Jaap looked at each other. "When will we see you again Pete?"

"I'm not sure. I think it might be a little while, but I do plan to have you back on the show before too long. The audience loved you both and there's a huge interest in having you back. But let's wait until after Wednesday. Then we'll know when we might invite you back."

Maryke laughed. "Pete, I hope you know what you're doing! I'm not sure the world is really ready to deal with these two again! Their heads will be so swollen they won't be able to go through doors! You've unleashed a monster, you know!"

"Yes, I know, but I've got over a year before they're old enough to take over my job! That's enough time to get them properly trained! But if they like, I'll give them my private phone number so we can keep in touch from time to time. Jan, Japp, do you have your phones?"

"Here!" Two breathless boys held out their phones.

"I'm tapping in two numbers. One is my personal number, under the name P, the other is Simon's under the name S. These are very private numbers. Almost nobody knows them. Please keep them that way. But if and when you need to talk again, use them. I trust you to be responsible."

Both boys nodded. Pete and Simon stood up and there was a big group hug between the four of them before Pete and Simon went back to the living room to say goodbye to Maryke and Heinrich.

Chapter 7

Pete spent most of Monday working on his script and running it by Simon to make sure it was exactly what was needed. In the evening he called Jan and Jaap and listened to their stories about how the school had feted them, how they had made lots of new friends (of both genders) and how exhausting it was to be famous.

Tuesday was spent in the studio in Bloemfontein with Jana as interviewer, although in reality she had little to do because it was almost all Pete. A film crew went to Highveld just to get some background shots. They were just told which buildings to film because there were no interviews. Jan and Jaap reported things had calmed down a bit at school but that they had made plans for six boys to get together with them at the weekend and go to the movies. Zander and Zayden were included, plus a couple of new friends.

Wednesday morning the editors put together all the bits and pieces of tape, including some material from Cape Town, and made sure the background shots and voiceovers were all in order. Pete reviewed the final product, and gave his approval. Charles Botha called, and gave his approval and encouragement. Special arrangements were made to have additional phone operators on hand in case there was heavier than normal phone traffic after the program.

At eight o'clock sharp the program started.

ZA Reveals:

The Highveld Scandal

Reported by Jana Smuts

Smuts:

Welcome to ZA Reveals! We have a very special program for you tonight. We are going to present you new information about the Highveld Scandal that has never before been shown to the public. Some of the content is graphic, but ZATV believes that the content is so important that we are not going to sugar coat what you are going to see.

We want to start off by taking you to a present day location just west of Highveld. As you can see, it is a typical farm scene of the high veld. A cosy thatched house with a tidy garden, a big front lawn with two teenage boys practicing some rugby, a few farm buildings off to one side.

As we go inside, we can see that this is a house that shouts 'family' to you. We see a husband and wife and their two sons playing a board game at the dining room table. A tidy living room with family photos, some pictures, some game trophies, and a fireplace that looks like it gets good use in the winter.

And we can go into the boys' bedroom. If the boys look familiar to you, they are. If you watched Sports Session on ZATV last weekend you saw these two steal the show from Pete Miller, the host of the program. They not only inspired the Cheetahs to come back and win, they showed up the so-called expert analysts in the process.

Well done, Jan and Jaap! Two budding TV superstars (the two boys, who had been playing FIFA16, somewhat noisily it should be said, as they jostled each other to gain an advantage, turned round and gave their infectious grins to the camera.)

You can see that this room looks like a typical teenage boy's room. Somewhat untidy, full of stuff, posters of heroes, shirts they wore when they won the Free State Under-14 Championship last season, and so on. You can find hundreds of similar rooms throughout South Africa.

It all looks perfectly normal, doesn't it? So why on earth are we showing you all this, and what has it got to do with the Highveld Scandal?

To tell you the answers to this, let me introduce our special guest for the night, Pete Miller. (Pete walks into the bedroom, the two boys grin at him, and leave the room.)

Welcome, Pete, it's great to have you on our program tonight.

Miller:

Thanks, Jana, it's great to be here.

Smuts:

I doubt I really have to introduce Pete to anyone, but just in case you don't know him, Pete is the host of the highly acclaimed and popular Sports Session. You can see him every weekend on ZATV. Before broadcasting he was a world renowned golfer, winning the South African Open twice, and similar success in Europe and America until a persistent back injury forced him to stop playing.

But you are not here to talk about sports, are you, Pete?

Miller:

No, I'm not. I'm here to talk about something really serious that is close to my heart.

Smuts:

OK. So what do you have to say?

Miller:

I'd like our viewers to look around this bedroom. As you said, it is house that epitomizes the concept of family, and inside we have a room that is the private space of two very dynamic and intensely happy boys. I really thank them both for letting us use it for this program.

Those two boys and I have some thing absolutely unique in common. I didn't know they even existed until last Friday, and I didn't meet them until last Saturday just before they appeared on Sports Session. But we have a common bond, and that's really how the idea for this program got going. I guess I need to explain.

To do that, I'd like our viewers to try to imagine this room looking a little different, before the two boys were born. (As Pete spoke, the CGI view of the room replaced the bright and cheerful room they were standing in. The walls are a muddy brown, all the woodwork is painted dark brown, there is no covering over the concrete floor, there is a single bed with a brown blanket, a wooden table and hard upright wooden chair, and a dresser that holds a few threadbare clothes. The curtains are thick and dark brown so little light comes in to the room. There are no pictures, no decorations, no colour, no books, nothing except a bible.)

Smuts:

That's horrible. It looks like a prison cell.

Miller:

It was a prison cell, but it was worse than that. It was a hellhole. This room was where a fourteen year old boy was savagely beaten by his father many times over, repeatedly raped, and locked inside without food for long periods of time. The boy's name was Ruan van der Merwe. And it was his story that led to the unmasking of the Highveld Scandal.

These are pictures of the boy when he was finally rescued from his father. Viewers will be shocked, but sometimes we have to face the fact that child abuse was, and still is, rampant in this country.

(The images of Ruan's back and face froze on the screen and then gradually faded to say ZA Reveals: the Highveld Scandal, End of Part 1)

(Commercial Break)

(The scene changes to the studio in Bloemfontein where Smuts and Miller are in chairs facing each other)

Smuts:

Welcome back to Part II of ZA Reveals: the Highveld Scandal. Pete Miller, our special guest, has just revealed a hidden secret about the location of the first part of the Highveld Scandal. He told us that over a period of some months a fourteen year old boy, Ruan van der Merwe, was repeatedly beaten and raped by his father, deprived of food for long periods, and kept as a virtual prisoner.

Pete, that's terrible. But I think you have a lot more to tell us.

Miller:

Yes, I do. And it gets worse, I'm afraid.

By luck, if you can call it that, one Monday morning after a weekend where the boy Ruan had been very badly beaten, the housemaid returned from her Sunday off to discover Ruan's father dead in his Land Rover having crashed into a tree. She had called the police and ambulance.

When the police came, the housemaid said she feared for the man's son because he had been very violent on Saturday before she left for her day off in Highveld. She said that from time to time the boy was beaten.

Smuts:

So what happened to the boy?

Miller:

He was at Highveld School. He was in bad shape, and almost in a state of withdrawal. There was no immediate family, his nearest relatives being an old Great Uncle and Aunt in Kimberly.

Fortunately, his father had made a will, and had named a local lawyer, Mr. Cornelius, as guardian. It was an odd choice, but Mr. van der Merwe was not very popular, and didn't know who else to nominate. He gave occasional sermons in church that were mostly about sin and hate and damnation. So he really didn't have friends, and I guess the lawyer agreed to be guardian because there had to be one named. I can't imagine he ever expected to end looking after the boy.

Smuts:

So the boy went to live with the lawyer. What happened next?

Miller:

Again by good fortune, the lawyer had another role in Highveld. He was Chairman of the Board of Governors of Highveld School, where Ruan was a student. Incidentally, Ruan only went home at weekends. The rest of the week he boarded at the school.

When the doctor came and treated Ruan's injuries, the lawyer was puzzled and angry as to why nobody had reported the obvious abuse Ruan had suffered. There had been several times when Ruan had come to school covered in bruises and with a black eye. People at the school must have known, but they did nothing.

And in this case he had been left unseen by any adult for a period of over seventeen hours, and hadn't got any medical attention from anyone in the school.

As Chairman of the Board of Governors Mr. Cornelius led an inquiry into why the school had neglected Ruan. Eventually the inquiry found enough evidence to convict the hostel warden and the school nurse arrested under the 1957 Sexual Offences Act because they had failed to report actual or suspected abuse to the police. They were tried and given short prison sentences, and banned from ever having any job where they were responsible for dealing with children.

Again, there was no public trial. The accused pleaded guilty in front of the Regional Magistrate, the evidence was sealed to protect the boy, and nothing came out in public.

Smuts:

And that was the end of the story?

Miller:

I wish. It got worse.

The lawyer also asked other boys, particularly those who had shared a dormitory with Ruan, why they hadn't spoken up about his abuse.

He got very little out of the boys. They seemed to be hiding something, and they would not say anything about whatever it was to him. He felt that the boys were really scared of saying anything because there might be repercussions. But he just couldn't get a breakthrough. After all, teenage boys don't trust strange adults very much.

The final breakthrough eventually came when the older brother of one of the boys in Ruan's dormitory asked to speak to the lawyer in private.

The older brother, who knew Ruan slightly, decided to take matters into his own hands. He approached the lawyer and told him that he should try talking to some past pupils who might be more willing to speak about things. From these past pupils, the lawyer learned that there was a group of three men, two staff members and a businessman from the town, who were systematically sexually abusing boys in the hostel at weekends when the majority of boys had gone home.

The lawyer managed to get the police to interview one of the three who had already been arrested, and eventually he broke down and told the whole truth.

The staff members involved preyed on boys who were the most vulnerable. They selected boys who were full time boarding students because the hostel was pretty empty at weekends. They gave them alcohol and had got hold of a supplier of Mandrax, the locally manufactured Quaaludes, and after drugging them to make them compliant, sexually abused them.

This finally became public, although not all details were released. The Highveld Scandal resulted in the closure of the school hostel, the arrest, trial and imprisonment of the three men and the school headmaster, and led to the boarding School Reform Act that laid down stricter rules for how boarding schools could operate.

I guess the rest is history.

Smuts:

That's fascinating, and really, really depressing.

But one thing intrigues me, Pete. You grew up in Riverdale which is some distance from Highveld, and yet you seem to know more about this than anyone else. How come?

Miller:

Good question. That's what I'm here to tell everyone.

(Pete takes a deep breath, leans forward, and looks into the camera.)

You remember we started the program with scenes from the farmhouse where those two boys, Jan and Jaap are living? In a place of happiness and family values and love? I said earlier we had something in common. Well, this is what we have in common.

(Pete takes another deep breath. You can see he is sweating slightly and looking really uncomfortable.)

Those two boys are growing up in the same room that I grew up in when I was their age. The difference is this. Those two boys are happy and cheerful and full of life. I wasn't. It was only when I was fifteen that I changed my name to Pete Miller. Before that I was the abused boy called Ruan van der Merwe.

Smuts:

Oh My God!

(All sorts of off stage noises can be heard, it sounds like chaos)

(The image of Pete froze on the screen and then gradually faded to say ZA Reveals: the Highveld Scandal, End of Part 2)

(Commercial Break)

(The scene returns to the studio in Bloemfontein where Smuts and Miller are in chairs facing each other)

Smuts:

Welcome back, everyone. I think everyone watching is as shocked as we were in the studio when Pete Miller

It's hard to believe looking at you now as a successful, greatly loved, outgoing, charming public personality could have suffered such hardship and deprivation. How did you manage that?

Miller:

Five people changed my life. I want to thank them each.

The lawyer who fought on my behalf, Andrew Cornelius and his wife Mieke, are the truest Christians I ever knew. When I left their house I gave them a picture as a thank you gift. It was of the Good Samaritan because that's who they were.

They fed me, they clothed me, they loved me, they helped me come out of great depression and grief, and they helped me find a real home and family where I could forget the past. They never asked anything in return. I spent about eight weeks with them.

Smuts:

Have you kept in touch with them?

Miller:

No. They refused. They found a social worker who looked far and wide for a suitable placement for me, and when that happened they said goodbye. I never saw them again. It was at their behest.

The only thing we agreed was that if ever it was necessary they would contact me through a lawyer of my choosing. When I found that lawyer, I provided a contact address in a sealed envelope. That was it.

And when Mr. Cornelius finally died last year, his partner in his law practice sent my lawyer a message. I would have liked to go to the funeral but I'm too recognizable. So Simon visited the lawyer, and he received the sealed court transcripts Mr. Cornelius had kept for me. And the picture of the Good Samaritan.

Smuts:

Who else knew?

Miller:

The social worker knew because she found my new home. She never told Mr. Cornelius who the new family was. She retired a few years ago, suffering from cancer, and has also died recently. She saw me almost every day for at least an hour. She helped me start to come out of my withdrawal, and I learned to trust her. So when she said she had found a possible family, I believed her. Thank God I did. She found me the perfect placement.

Smuts:

And who else?

Miller:

I told my new family yesterday. After I left the Cornelius household, Gloria Barnes took me in to her home in Riverdale. She still lives there. She is the kindest person I've ever known. Loving, patient, understanding, supportive all through my recovery, tolerant and then fully embracing my love for her son, and she still makes the best chocolate chip cookies in the world. Gloria, Mum, I know you are watching. I love you more than you can imagine.

Smuts:

And, of course, Simon, your partner of sixteen years.

Miller:

Yes. I won't say any more than this. Life without Simon for me is a life not worth living. He has known from shortly after we first met and fell in love. You can't share a life and hide secrets like that.

Smuts:

Now that you have revealed the truth about the Highveld Scandal and your own identity, where do you go from here? I assume it's not going to be business as normal, or you wouldn't have done all this, right?"

Miller:

You're right. When I got that package from Mr. Cornelius after he died, I felt that he had passed on to me a burden that I had to carry. Yes, I've been lucky, I've made money, I have a great job, I have a wonderful soul mate in Simon, I'm a public figure. But I also began to feel something else. A lot of people helped me to get past what was done to me, so maybe I need to see if I can't help others who are in the same place I was sixteen years ago.

So I want to say a few things to a few different people, and then I want to share my plans for the future.

First, to all those people out there who have suffered terrible abuses like I did, please speak out. I know it's hard, but if we don't speak out, nobody will do it for us. Once I started to confide in people about what happened to me, I realized something very important. I wasn't to blame for what was done to me, I was the victim.

Most of us who have been abused feel shame and guilt. We place all the blame on ourselves, and we hide the truth. That makes it harder to move forward. I didn't ask to be beaten, I didn't ask to be raped, I didn't ask to be starved. It was forced on me. I now realize it was not my fault and now I don't feel guilty.

I know it's easy to say, but try to find just one person you trust, share your problems, and it'll be much easier for you.

Second, I have a message for all of you who know people who are being abused, but you don't say anything. You are just as bad as the abusers. Every day you go without telling someone, you are letting the victim suffer another day of pain or torture.

You may say it's none of your business. I don't buy that. It's your business as a human being to look out for your fellow humans and help them out. I don't care about your religion or any of that. It's human morality I'm talking about. If you know about it, report it. You may well save a life.

Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius were true Christians. I remember one of his unorthodox sermons when he spoke out about Sunday Christians and the Sin of Omission. He said a Sunday Christian came to church, was pious for an hour, and then went out and continued sinning like nothing had happened. A true Christian went out after church, and lived a proper Christian life for the next seven days, and returned to church regretting the things they couldn't accomplish during the week.

So here's a message to all of you who don't report abuse when you see it. You are guilty of the Sin of Omission, not doing something when you should do. You will face the wrath of God unless you stop being a Sunday Christian and become a true Christian.

Thirdly, to the abusers themselves, I have nothing to say. You will be caught, you will be punished, and you will go to prison. Child abusers are not liked in prison, many of them die there.

The guilty men from Highveld had their identities changed so they wouldn't be murdered in prison. They are all serving life sentences without chance of parole.

Finally, and really this is what this whole program as been about. I want to speak to those people who are being abused. I know you are out there, in your thousands, boys and girls, people of all races.

I know what you are going through because I've been there. Your life is hell. There doesn't seem to be anyone out there you can trust. The world is against you, and you feel you are going to suffer forever.

But there are people you can trust, and I hope to develop ways to bring you together with people you can learn to trust.

My plan is to establish a foundation for abused children. We will establish safe houses where you can escape from your agony. We will staff them with people like me who have been abused, not just well meaning adults or social service workers. We will look after you until you can move on, just like Mr. Cornelius looked after me until they found the perfect placement.

We're going to provide a hotline that I will answer as best I can. Me, personally, because I hope you can trust me because I've been where you are now.

I'm going to start this Foundation with my own personal money, initially with a sum of 10 million Rand. Naturally I'll look for donations but we'll get to that at a later stage. And I'm going to take a leave from Sports Session to get this going.

I wanted to name the Foundation after Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius but on reflection I don't think they wanted that type of publicity. The good Samaritans don't seek out reward on earth but in heaven.

So after reflection, Simon and I decided we would name the foundation after a boy who was abused and beaten and raped, almost killed, and living a life without hope. That boy no longer exists, although he has been reincarnated. So I'm starting the Ruan van der Merwe Foundation to help those who need help just like I did.

Thank you for your patience.

(The screen fades out and there is a short silence. Then it comes back on with an older gentlemen facing the camera).

Botha:

Ladies and Gentlemen. I'd like to introduce myself. I'm Charles Botha, President of ZATV.

When I first heard of this program I was sceptical. Now I am convinced that Pete Miller is really in a position to make a difference.

I'm pleased to announce that ZATV will match every rand that Pete puts up out of his own money.

I'm also pleased to announce that we will also match the first 10 million rand of public donations.

If you want to donate, there is number on the bottom of your screen, or if it is more convenient, follow the instructions on our website at ZATV.tv.za

ZATV is also going to sponsor the hotline for abused children which we plan to get up and running as soon as possible.

ZATV is donating a vacant hostel we have here in Cape Town that was previously used for our own staff but is no longer needed. It needs a little work, but in a couple of weeks it will be ready to take in the first children who need shelter.

We wish Pete Miller all success. We shall miss him on Sports Session but it is only temporary. As long as he is working for the Foundation, ZATV will employ him, and keep his seat on Sports Session open for him for as long as he wants. We are honoured to have such a wonderful person working with us.

It's been a privilege for ZATV to have broadcast this program, and let us wish every success to the Ruan van der Merwe Foundation.

Thank you, and goodnight.

(Screen fades out)

At nine thirty Pete was beginning to recover. He watched this with tears pouring down his face, and when Charles Botha came up with his offer not just of money but also a building to get started, he lost it completely. Simon hugged him and told him he had done everything he could, and it had been wonderful.

"You know, Simon, this is just the beginning, isn't it?"

"Yes, it is."

Then the phone calls started. The first was from Christiaan.

"Pete, Fantastic!. But let me warn you! The phones haven't stopped ringing. The response is fantastic. Money is pouring in. You have become an instant national hero. You may need to hide! If you ran for President right now, you would win by a landslide. The press and TV have gone wild."

"Thanks, Christiaan, but you know why I'm doing this."

"Yes, yes, I know. But this is the most sensational story to hit South Africa for ages."

He hung up.

Then Pete got a special call.

"It's Jan and Jaap on speaker phone. Pete, you will always be our hero and we love you. I can't believe what we just saw on TV. Wow! We shared the same room, even if it was a really crappy time for you and a super one for us! Don't forget us, but we think you are going to be really, really busy. We know kids who could do with your help. That's sad, isn't it. I think your idea is going to work because everyone trusts you.

"And, you know what, one of those boys we're going to the movies with gave me this really cute smile and asked me very quietly if I could make sure I sat next to him in the cinema. Yeah! We both love you!"

Pete smiled at Simon. Passing the baton of love and understanding from one generation to the next is something special.

Then the hotel manager arrived.

"Mr. Pete, you were amazing. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you're doing for those kids out there.. Thank you, thank you, thank you. But I have to warn you to contact me before you think of leaving this room. The press is outside in huge numbers. Be careful!"

Somehow Pete and Simon survived the next couple of weeks, dealing with the press and the hordes of people who wanted to talk to them. They tried to stay as far away from publicity as possible, but at the same time they wanted to keep public interest as high as possible.

They made one trip to Highveld to see the one person Pete had missed for all these years. They went in a nondescript vehicle, drove into the Highveld Township, pulled up outside a very popular restaurant and walked in. Rachel Mfolosi was waiting for them and they had an emotional reunion with tears all around. Lunch was special because Rachel had cooked it herself, and it reminded Pete of the one small piece of happiness he had had during those dark days of abuse. And Pete promised to see Rachel as often as possible to make up for the lost years.

Finally the day came when the hostel was ready, and ZATV started to advertise the helpline number. They gave Pete a mobile phone that he could answer if he was available before transferring the caller to people specially trained to help kids in need.

The new phone rang. It would the first of many such calls he would receive.

A small person with a slightly husky voice came on, and whispered

"Is that Pete Miller? I think I need your help. Can you come and get me?"

The End

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