Jake De Villiers raised his left shoulder and felt a flash of pain streaking down the side of his body. The yellowish sodium street lights glared down as he was lying on a cold wet pavement under a free way overpass, somewhere on the south eastern side of Johannesburg.
Some five hours earlier Jake forcibly met a dubious character named Jeremiah in a sleazy and dimly lit bar just off End Street in Johannesburg. The bar reeked of stale smoke and a broken neon sign, supposedly advertising some alcoholic beverage, flickered intermittently in the darkened haze above the bar counter. The tables, chairs and even the bar counter seemed reminiscent of a time lost in history. In a corner a woman, with a cigarette dangling from her lips, played a dilapidated old honky-tonk piano … the sounds of which drowned away in the noisy and rowdy behaviour of unruly bar room regulars.
He said, “Jake I just had a call from an associate of mine and he mentioned that you had important discussions earlier today about some business dealings with China. He has some suggestions for you to consider about this business. It would be in your interests to give him some consideration.”
Jake immediately realized that this was the reason for him being ‘detained’ in the dimly lit bar room and cautiously responded, “Jeremiah, the matter is finalized and I have no influence or control over it. I cannot just discuss the matter with any outsider … it is a confidential matter. I suggest you call a taxi so that I can return to my hotel.”
Jeremiah responded, “Patience Jake, my associate will not hold you up very long … he should be here in maybe another half an hour and he will elaborate. Maybe it is in your interest to give him some consideration … I think you will understand … yes?”
Jake De Villiers, a commodity broker and mining equipment manufacturer’s representative had that very morning ‘seemingly’ completed an agreement for the supply of half-a-million tons of copper plate to China by the Yellow Mountain Copper Mine near Messina in the Northern Province. This was to be for shipment to several Chinese ports, mostly in Southern China.
During the negotiations, Mr Wang from the Chinese Metals Commission amazingly accepted the commodity agreement with Yellow Mountain Mine without any major alterations.
In a ceremony at the Chinese Embassy, Zach Zulu, the Chairman of the Chamber of Mines signed the letter of intent (LOI) with the Chinese Metals Commission, thanked everybody present emotionally, and repeated his “xié-xie” probably fifty times … reciting this paraphrase endlessly.
At that juncture, Jake accepted that ‘everything seemed fairly straight forward; the ore has to be extracted, milled to certain specs and processed into plates or cathodes.’
Jake stayed on at the Chamber of Mine’s offices for a small celebration after the Chinese officials left.
An action packed drama that unfolds over two continents with an interesting twist in the finale!
There are always those persons in life that pursue want or greed as their major motivation. Certainly, they will never admit to it being greed, but more probably an opportunity that begs some response! Call it a challenge, survival of the fittest or whatever … if the opportunity presents itself, the greedy will pursue the objective with ruthless intent.
This is not a story about the morality of human malignity, but simply about a diligent businessperson that negotiates the sale of a commodity between a mine located in the northern part of South Africa to interests in a far Eastern Country. The greed factor erupts and the lives of a number of people are turned upside down.