Smash and grab

I was a woman with a plan.

If some asshole was going to hijack me or smash my car window I was going to go medieval on his ass.

I was going to be a hardcore Ninja assassin.

I was going to scream and shout and let it all out. I was going to stab him in the eye and punch him in the face.

I was going to floor the accelerator and drive off with him clinging helplessly to the car door.

Only, as it turns out, I didn’t.

I just sat there.

I think I made a sound that could only be described as an eep.

I was sitting in traffic, minding my own business, complacent in my daily route and listening to a podcast about crop circles. Just another trip to work.

Until my quiet solitude was rudely broken by the loud bang of shattering glass. It rained over me. But before I could comprehend that, the entire upper torso of a human being launched into the car and grabbed my cellphone. Just as suddenly he withdrew and ‘poof’ was gone. It took seconds.

I didn’t scream.

I didn’t fight.

I didn’t do anything kickass at all.

As a result of my inertia I am equally as annoyed with the thief (may he have a shitty Christmas) as I am with myself. I should have done something. Not sat there stricken dumb.

And there are the waves of self-recrimination.

What if I had another cup of tea before leaving the house?

What if I had taken the earlier off ramp?

What if I hadn’t had used Google Maps?

What if…?

Shocked panic gave way to intense rage which has simmered down into exasperation leaving me irked. I’ve never really had cause to use that word before, ‘irked’, but it seems to fit this situation quite aptly.

Dealing with the administrative aftermath was almost as taxing and traumatic as the smash and grab. I had to come to terms with the utter incomprehensible way in which our police service barely functions.

I went to a police station.

I was directed back to my cell provider for a blacklist number, which they didn’t want to give me because 3% of their revenues come from resold stolen phones.

I went back to another police station.

This time I could report it, but the forms would have to be sent in the mail to the first police station, which could take anything from 2 weeks to never.

Only then would I get a case number.

And then…

Everything is on paper. Labouriously written out by hand. Assigned a number in the big book and left to gather to duct in a filing cabinet somewhere.

How crimes are ever solved here is an utter mystery. It’s like the dark ages. Forget CSI, this is anarchy.

Not that I’m expecting anyone to solve the crime of the daylight robbery, but what if was far more serious? If a serial rapist rapes a different woman in a different neighbourhood every day, the cases will never be connected. This is because there is no national database or searchable record keeping.

And, here’s the rub. You see, even if someone programmed a simple interface where the cops could input the case data on a national scale, with searchable keywords, and even if that person went to the head of the police and gave it to them for free, it still wouldn’t be deployed because of the bureaucratic red tape, tender fraud and the fact that someone’s uncle’s cousin twice removed didn’t get the kick back.

I can’t solve this endemic problem, but I am going to take another shot at solving mine by going back to the police station this morning for another try.

I am somewhat resigned to the fact that my car will be windowless until the new year and that I will have to muddle my way through a digital world without a cellphone.

I feel better now that I’ve had a rant.

So, thanks for that.

Shots fired

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

“There’s a little incident downstairs.”

Incident: an instance of something happening; an event or occurrence.

E.g. “several amusing incidents”

There was nothing amusing about the ‘incident’.

Also, it wasn’t an incident.

It was a bloody (literally) armed robbery.

Not the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime.

When we set out to go to the gym, I hardly thought that doing cardio was life or death training. It was just something horrible I had to suffer through in order to drop a dress size. That’s how trivial my thought processes were on Sunday morning.

When the gym lady said, “There’s a little incident downstairs’, it did not, in any way, convey that a gang of 5 armed robbers were shooting at people.

So, we went downstairs.

And the pharmacy was closed.

So, we walked to another one.

That’s when the shooting started.

That’s was when the screaming started.

And the running.

Turns out that even when my legs feel like overcooked noodles, I can run quite quickly when the situation calls for it.

All the shops slammed the doors shut and watched the panicked masses run past, banging on the doors only to be denied entry.

We hung a right and dived into the Nespresso kiosk.

Hearts pounding, we tried to catch our breath and not panic.

In fact, the lack of panic was quite strange. We were all very calm – eerily calm.

Hanging a right turned out to be an extremely beneficial decision. The robbers went left. A split second choice that could have ended quite differently.

As we made it out of the danger zone we met someone we knew.

“What’s going on?” she asked.

“There’s an armed robbery and shooting.”

“But, can I go to Woolworths?”

“Um. No. It’s all locked down.”

“But, I just want pick up some groceries.”

Silence, as we absorbed this.

“Well, this is very inconvenient.”

Yeah, it was for us too.

Also, I imagine for the security guard who was shot and the robber who was killed, the other who was injured and the three who got away.

In mitigation, sometimes in such a dire situation you cling to the mundane like a small piece of driftwood in a tsunami.  

One upside from being denied entry into the stores, was that we managed to extricate ourselves pretty quickly from the chaos. Unlike the shoppers who found themselves locked in for the next 3 hours and who had to step over the discarded AK47s and the body.

As we sat in the corner of the Nespresso kiosk, all I could think was, “How very American”. It’s not really, but shootings seem to have made it into mass culture as an American thing. I didn’t even realise I had this stereotype until that moment. It all seems far too close to home for comfort, and I live in a city that competes annually for ‘Murder capital of the world’.

We arrived home.

I opened a bottle of wine.

And I drank it.

I don’t even like wine.

It gives me heartburn.

But, not nearly as much as being caught up in a jewelry heist.

Read the news report

“Gauteng police have launched a manhunt after armed men stormed a jewellery store in Bedford Centre in Johannesburg on Sunday afternoon. In an ensuing shootout with mall security, one suspect was killed.

According to Community Policing Forum chairperson, Gavin Henry, five men entered the shopping centre holding AK47 firearms when a security guard spotted them and raised the alarm.

“One of the entrance guards noticed them entering with their weapons and called in on the radio an armed robbery. One of the tactical guys responded and they started shooting at him first. He returned fire and the rest fled,” Henry explained.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said the suspect was declared dead on the scene.

“One security officer was rushed to hospital after he was allegedly hit by one of the suspects as the latter fled the scene,” she added. She said the suspects made off in two vehicles and [took] some watches. It’s unclear at this stage what the make and the value of the watches are. 

“Police recovered on the scene a rifle – AK47 – with two loaded magazines. The firearm will be subjected to ballistic testing for further investigation,” Peters said. 

In the video, which was posted on the Facebook group Intelligence Bureau SA, shots suddenly go off as people can be heard screaming in the background.

No other fatalities have been reported besides but some shoppers were treated for shock.”

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.

 

https://furrynuff.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/the-bullet-in-the-chamber/