The night the Boogiemen came

boogie man

Where I live getting robbed isn’t a big deal, not really.

It only counts if someone gets raped or killed in the process, otherwise it’s just another day in the city of gold.

I have armed response, two dogs, a wall and bars on every window.

That’s normal here too.

In Manchester, which is apparently the UK’s home invasion capital, 1 in 1 000 people experience a burglary. Every one of them makes it into the newspaper.

In South Africa a woman is 4% more likely to be raped than to be able to read and write her own name. Look online and you’ll see article after article about how crime rates are falling to acceptable levels. How is that acceptable?

It’s not a big deal.

My house was broken into.

Some stuff was stolen.

It’s just stuff.

We’re all okay and we have insurance – so, it’s all good.

Only it isn’t. All good.

My kids are terrified.

The fact that “bad men” watched them sleep has given life to a monster far scarier than the Boogie Man. Mommy can kill the Boogie Man, but she can’t stop the “bad men”.

Next time we might not be so lucky.

Next time they might not let us sleep.

The policemen who came told us that if someone wants to get in, nothing will keep them out. All we can hope to do is slow them down long enough for armed response to arrive.

Armed response took 12 minutes.

A lot can happen in 12 minutes.

I am very grateful to the men and women from the South African Police who came out to my house, took fingerprints, even though we all know it won’t make any difference, and spent an hour helping us upgrade our security.

Most of all I am grateful to the lady who called us the following day to offer counseling services to my children.

Thank you for realizing that just because something happens all the time doesn’t make it normal.

My husband said, “Its our fault. We become too relaxed.”

No, it is not our fault.

Yes, for the last little while we became less scared and starting living like normal people, having a glass of wine before bed sitting outside and watching the stars.

I hate that they stole that simple pleasure from me, it’s something insurance can’t get back.

That simple feeling of being safe in your own home.

My father-in-law spent the war in Dachau and what he said made me step back and evaluate what my life has become.

He said, “The way I am living now? It is worse than it was when the Nazis came.”

I am sick and tired of pretending that is all okay.

It is not f@$cking okay.

It is miles and miles away from okay.



N is for Not on your Nelly


The most important lesson I have learned in ten years of being a mother is how to say “No!” and mean it.

Most of my life I just went happily along. I had a very big problem saying no. I remember wanting to, but just not being able to verbalise the word.

I suppose I worried about what people would think about me.

From Stylish Thought
From Stylish Thought

Now I know that sometimes no is the kindest thing to say and the most responsible.

And I do not mean in a “Does my bum look big in this?” kind of way.

As a mother I have learned that no is the most important part of my vocabulary.

mmsNO. You may not eat M&Ms for breakfast because you need real food in order to grow up and not suffer from childhood obesity leading to heart attacks and other dread diseases.

Only, I don’t say all of that.


NO. You may not play in traffic, because some idiot in a Beemer will run you over and leave you flatter than a pancake.

NO. You may not stay up all night watching Doctor Who, because you have to go to school tomorrow.

Which leads directly onto…

NO. You may not stay home from school, because you have to get through 12 years of hell before you can study to be a robotic engineer.

And of course…

say-no-when-appropriate2NO. You may not have every Monster High ever created, a Ducati motorbike or a MacBook Air, because money does not, contrary to your belief, just spit endlessly out of ATM machines.

I’ve learned also to translate this new-found word into other areas of my life.

NO. I will not work overtime because you messed up the brief.

NO. I will not miss my child’s bedtime story because you think you’ve come up with an idea that will “change the face of advertising as we know it”.

NO. I will not sacrifice good grammar and punctuation to fit your layout.

NO. I will not work for a pittance.

opinion_noAnd my current favourite…

NO. I will not walk away from the 45k you owe me.

I know that 45k for you is pocket change.

I know you couldn’t care less that my daughter didn’t get her birthday party, that my credit rating is shot to hell or that the deposit for my children’s new school has to be paid by next Monday.

I know you don’t, but what you’ve forgotten is that I do.

I do care. A lot.

I cared when you promised the money would be in my account the very next day.

I cared enough to do more work for based on those promises for a client I also care deeply about.

I cared when you took my final demand and threw it in my face.

So, I will not apologise for the letters I have sent to your client and your business partners.

If those don’t make you realise how serious I am about this, you haven’t met my lawyer.


no-wayne-white-0508-lgAnd finally…

NO. I do not accept that crime in this country has been reduced to acceptable levels when three of my neighbours have been held at gunpoint in the last 52 hours.

No is a powerful word.

Use it wisely and use it well.



The bullet in the chamber


From Jerm

You know you live in South Africa when…

You call a barbecue a braai.

You call a traffic light a robot.

Just now means whenever I bloody feel like it.

It’s also when you come home to three men armed with an axe, a knife, a hammer and a panga in your driveway and think…

Bring it on!

(A panga, by the way, is not a fish, it’s a sort of machete.)

Of course I have a soft spot for Oscar Pistorius. Every South African does.

On the other hand I had no idea who Reeva Steenkamp was until she was shot on the loo.

I am in no position to judge whether or not Oscar’s story is true or not, except that I live here too, and my level of paranoia rivals his. Only I haven’t shot my husband yet. Actually, I shot myself. At least the accompanying bang had the knife-wielding robber running for the hills.

From Zapiro

The sad sad truth is that crime, particularly violent crime is endemic here. It is how we live. Everyone from every race group, class or economic sphere has been personally affected by violent crime. When we say that crime has dropped, we mean that we haven’t been hijacked in the last 6 months.

Crime in South Africa is not a racial beast. It is a lot like HIV/Aids. It really doesn’t care who you are, where you come from or how much cash you’re carrying. It certainly has nothing to do with the armed struggle or Apartheid. Today’s criminals grew up in the New South Africa. And they’ll slice your throat open for a cellphone.

Good to mention here though that the law of averages dictates that the majority of victims (and perpetrators) tend to come from the majority racial group. That’s numbers. Not racism.

From Zapiro
From Zapiro

When our President believes that a shower can stop STDs and that a woman wearing a skirt is, “asking for sex”, what do you expect?

Crime here affects every level of government, the public sector and the police.

7 out of 10 women in police custody (arrested, reporting a crime, victims of rape and abuse) are raped by police officers.

Three weeks ago I came home with my kids in the car to find three men in my driveway. I nodded at them, thinking vaguely that they didn’t look familiar, but determined not to brand every stranger a serial killer either.

As my gate opened they rose as one and walked to surround the car. At which point my Staffie came to the party. Truth is, I love my dogs, but I didn’t get them because I wanted pets. I got them for this very reason. Security.

Safe-ish behind my now closed gate I corralled my kids into the house, locked them in the bathroom and pressed the emergency button for armed response security. Armed response is not an accessory for celebrities, politicians and BEE-entrepreneurs, it is a necessity for every middle-class suburban home. Think suburban protection racket.

weapons 2
Smile for the Internet!

Turns out my three unexpected visitors had just stabbed a man for R40, the equivalent of under $3.

My security guard and the stab victim cornered them.

After calling our version of 911 three times, the police rocked up about an hour later.

The panga went MIA

About now, I began to wonder who was worse, the panga wielding mad men or the boys in blue.

They didn’t actually torture them as such. When one guy started to get up he was pistol whipped.

My wall is still covered in his blood. When they wouldn’t reveal where their weapons were hidden, the cops twisted their handcuffs until the metal bit into flesh and they screamed.

During this my husband got a call from Sweden,

“I’m sorry,” he said, “I’ll have to call you back, I’m in the middle of an armed robbery.”

“It is okay” said the Swede, “I will hold.”

She didn’t even know what an armed robbery was.

I didn’t think, hardened cynic that I am, that the whole incident affected me that much except that it coincided with Oscar’s Valentine’s Day.

Damn it, it should have affected me! All it did was make my world even smaller. Now I ask the security guard to drive with me down my driveway. I don’t go out at night. I don’t stop for broken down cars and defenceless women.

I laugh about it. I think that’s the worst part. That it’s all become a joke.

So, while I laughed at the Oscar jokes too, my heart bleeds for him and Reeva’s family. The thing is as improbable as his story sounds to someone sitting in a nice safe Western country, here it is pretty believable.

Oscar’s is story made it to the newspaper because of who he is, but the hundreds of others – they didn’t. In the week after Reeva’s death over 700 murders took place.

Not one of them reached the front page.

And to lighten the mood after that, here is the Oscar thread between my Facebook friends

  • What were Reeva’s last words? “No, Oscar. Just don’t do it!”
  • Notorious Pistorius. Coined it!
  • She didn’t notice Oscar sneaking up behind her. It was the silence of the limbs
  • Oscar Pistorius. Notorius for always being legless
  • And the Oscar goes to… Jail
  • I don’t think Oscar Pistorius has grasped the Valentines Day concept of “shelling out on your partner.”
  • Interesting fact about the relative strength of the carbon composite blades he has. They are so strong that they do not need to be very thick. Measured at their thinnest part, they glock in at around 9mm. True story
  • Roses are red, Violet’s are Glorious, don’t sneak up behind Oscar Pistorius
  • Oscar flipped after she put Footloose on the DVD
  • Oscar Pistorius can’t the first man to wake up legless on Valentines Day and shoot all over his wife’s face imagining she’s someone else!