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.
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.
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.
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.
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!