Hunting Whores In The Veldt
Sometimes, the most dangerous game is showing up
Published September 8, 1999 in Whoa!

Imagine you are a hunter focused on prey in the African bushveldt, where nature favors survival of the fittest. The target comes into sight. With your breath held, you squeeze the trigger, dropping your prey.

See also...
... by Schwann
... in the Whoa! section
... from September 8, 1999

But if shooting defenseless animals isn't for you, here's a fresh slant to the thrill of the kill: Chase a gorgeous, half-naked blonde through the wilderness on your motorbike and pelt your human quarry with paintballs. Sound fun? It's a new game being played in South Africa, where prostitutes willingly take on the role of the hunted.

It all started in June, when 49-year-old Johan Maree announced to the press that he'd be hosting a different sort of bike rally at his farm, Waterkloof. He promised that bikers would enjoy an "unusual weekend in the wild," and "what happens between hunters and hunted would be entirely up to consenting, fun-loving adults."

Ten thousand bikers were expected for a long weekend of "enlightened fun" on Maree's (or so he claimed -- more on that later) 3,000-acre farm outside Ellisras. For R300 (about $50), bikers could purchase three color-coded pellets for paintball guns supplied by Maree. They would then be able to "hunt the whores."

Dressed only in loin clothes, the prostitutes would run through the veldt amidst herds of eland, kudu, and zebra. The human "game" was to be paid $50 an hour, whether they were "caught" or just shot up with paint. A 19-year-old hooker called Lindy was quoted as saying, "The fee is low, but it's an adventure, and at least I should lose a bit of weight."

Boetie Smith, 32, a game hunter, even tried to level the playing field by volunteering himself as prey for any female bikers, saying "Women are slower than impalas, but they're likely to be tricky. I reckon their natural survival instincts will come back to them."

Trouble Brews in the Bush

Ellisras, in South Africa's Northwest province, is situated on the banks of the Mogol River. It's four hours from Johannesburg, and the last stopover for safaris en route to Botswana and the Okavango Delta. The area is well known to hunters, birdwatchers, and fisherman, but it's also where growing number of Afrikaners are trying to consolidate a Boor-Afrikaner Volkstaat. It could be the last outpost of religious Afrikaner indignation.

Sure enough, after Maree's announcement, church and community leaders held emergency meetings to try and halt the event. Rev Theo van Blerk of the area's Dutch Reformed Church said, "This is a God-fearing town and we're determined to keep it that way." And according to local clergyman Hannes Pien, "This is all bad publicity, it'll take years before our community recovers as an eco-destination." Even the local SPCA complained that the wildlife on Maree's land would be "traumatized by the bedlam."

Maree, complete with bike, beer, and babes, dismissed critics of his plan as "people living in an outdated hypocritical age." Thanks to Maree's advance publicity, the townspeople fully expected hordes of depraved bikers to descend upon Ellisras and chase naked hookers through the veldt. On Friday, August 6, the BBC, Sky news, Channel 4, and a host of local reporters arrived in town to observe the promised invasion...and, of course, the hookers.

The Big Letdown

But the event was not all that. Confronted by nearly five miles of bad gravel, some bikers turned back. Elna Hennen, a concessionaire who owned a stall at the event, observed "one Joburg couple in black leather on identical black Harleys. But they didn't want to ride on that dirt road with those bikes." Those who did choose to venture down the dirt probably wished they hadn't.

The road led to a farm with minimal washing and toilet facilities for campers. Pitching their tents on a dusty sand patch next to the old farmhouse, people weren't happy about the lack of showers and/or hot water. The primitive toilet facilities were comprised of 50 longdrops (a hole with a plank balanced over it).

The four girls -- a blonde, a redhead, and two brunettes -- who'd come up from Pretoria were not bad-looking, which is not to say that they were good-looking. Still, things brightened a bit when they took their tops off. But the turnout was so bad that several concessionaires left after unsuccessfully trying to confront a drunk and aggressive Maree. They'd been told that 9,000 bikers had confirmed their reservations, but the actual turnout was somewhere between 100 and 200.

As the mood turned more desultory, an Oompa band from Joburg played a number or two. But when they found out that Maree wasn't paying them the agreed deposit, they split. A nude oil-wrestling event was over before it had begun, leaving Shane, South Africa's filthiest comedian, knocking back brandy on the stage. None of this went down with the semi-hostile crowd. To make things worse, the Ambassadors for Christ motorcycle club started singing religious songs. The now-miserable congregation clustered around their fires -- it's cold in the bushveldt at night.

Things got steadily worse, and Maree got increasingly drunk. When an irate journalist asked where the showers were, he responded with a diplomatic "Go piss on your own heads."


As morning dawned, most of the bikers rode off. It's doubtful whether Maree, who'd been up all night drinking, noticed. After breakfast, a journalist asked Maree where the promised hunting entertainment was. He was threatened with physical violence for his troubles. Fortunately, the reporter was also a big man, so there was only a standoff. The press left soon after.

The handful of attendees too drunk to leave immediately were gone at first light the next day. Some of the concessionaires had lost tens of thousands of Rand in spoiled food.

David van As, 37, vice-chairman of the Ambassadors for Christ motorcycle club, said, "We regard this 'disaster' as a major triumph. We prayed that this prostitution wouldn't happen, and there is no one here for it. I think the organizer's plan to lure people with this has backfired."

By this time you must be desperate for details of sex in the bush. Sorry, only rumors survive -- of a single liaison in the bog during the early hours on Saturday. Although, according to one reporter who wished to remain anonymous, "We were offered free head, but were obliged to refuse for professional reasons. He's a scumball with incredibly dubious motives, deeply racist, and a compulsive liar. He just stumbled across a good idea." Good idea or not, gigolo-organized girl hunting in the bush isn't new to South Africa. Maree, however, was the first one stupid enough to publicize it.

As it turns out, Johan Maree didn't even own Waterkloof. Maree had apparently hoped to make enough money to buy the property, and was subsequently called unprintable names by everyone I spoke to. According to John Thorpe, the actual owner of Waterkloof, "[Maree] shot my bottle-fed eland and bulldozed my trees. I've had that eland since it was a baby. I'm really sad. I don't care about the money."

I phoned the cops. Superintendent Geldenhuys, commanding officer at Ellisras police station, told me that Maree had disappeared and people were "looking for him." I asked if any hunting had been done. "We told them to forget about the guns," he said. "Someone might get hurt."

Schwann, reincarnated in the early 90s as one of Africa's first netizens, is a published columnist and a Sci-Fi writer. He lives in Cape Town.