I'm in the Intercape Mainliner bus office in Nelspruit, the capital of Mpumalanga province. Nelspruit is a fairly relaxed, medium-sized city, as South African cities go: you can pretty much go anywhere you like in town on foot and not get hassled or risk being mugged during the day. At night, of course, it's recommended you be off the streets. Taking a taxi home from wherever you are at night is a good idea. So, pretty laid-back, overall.
Intercape is one of the big bus lines, along with Greyhound and Translux. Most of the passengers are white people take these buses because most black people can't afford them. They're pretty comfy, with air-conditioning, videos, and reclining seats. The bus company is reliable and not particularly expensive.
I buy my ticket to Maputo from the nice middle-aged white lady behind the counter, who suggests I take a seat in the waiting area, with all the other travellers, some of whom are seriously heavily laden with big backpacks. I pick up my ticket, and start walking across the room.
I don't get three steps in that direction when there's a bloody great slamming noise, like a file cabinet falling to the ground. Everybody turns and looks.
I see that the black man in a windbreaker sitting on one of the high stools near the entrance is bending down looking vaguely sheepish. I see that the reason he is bending down is because he has dropped the large revolver which is now lying on the ground. The revolver which made the loud slamming noise as it hit the tiled floor. The revolver which, it appears, he kept in his windbreaker pocket.
He smiles at us, still a bit sheepish, stuffs it back into his pocket, and straightens up.
I shrug, feel fairly glad that the revolver didn't actually go off, as I was the closest bystander, and take a seat to wait for the bus. I decide to assume that the man is actually the security guard for the bus office. He's not in a uniform, of course, but maybe he is anyway. He doesn't get on the bus, for one thing.
Later, a guy I meet in Maputo says he was told to wait in the bus office instead of on the street because he'd be safer in the office. We have a good laugh about that.