Is Dainfern Safe?

As I mentioned earlier, our neighborhood was broken into the other day. According to the bulletin that was immediately posted by our security office, this was one in a string of similar break-ins throughout the Dainfern area (which makes you feel slightly better, somehow). Apparently the thieves knew ...  Continue Reading

I Might Have Spoken Too Soon: Fraud in the South African Postal Service

Just a humble suggestion to the South African Postal Service: Aspiring to be number 10 in the world does not sound all that ambitious, but you will never be even close to that if you cannot control rampant theft in your system! So my little experiment of sending mail to the U.S. went well, the package was delivered, and quickly at that. However, no such success the other way.

If you remember, I told you our neighbor had warned us about having foreign bank correspondence sent to our PO box, and I did indeed make a half-hearted mental note to perhaps change that, but what with other pressing to-dos and the Christmas season approaching it didn’t get much attention. As luck ...  Continue Reading

Have You Brought Anything for us Today?

So I’m innocently driving along William Nicol the other day, my car full of 4th graders going on a field trip, when I run into a major road block. I’m third in line of our little convoy going to visit a dairy farm, and of course the two cars in front of me are waved through, but sadly I’m not. I’m a little nervous, since of late I’ve left my American drivers’ license at home. I’m still not entirely sure what kind of drivers’ license I actually need, as it seems impossible to obtain a South African one. But I also don’t want to lose my Kansas license, which is why I’m only keeping a copy on me, the original safely at home. However, I do keep my international drivers’ license on me, and I’ve also dug up an ancient German one (German licenses don’t expire – or at least they didn’t back sometime in the Middle Ages when I got this one).

All this is going through my head when the cop walks up to my window.

I hand him the German license, which he eyes suspiciously, wanting to know if it’s an international one. I’m sure I could have said yes, but just to humor him I also hand him the international one. Mind you, the two ...  Continue Reading

Crime and Security

In the interest of fairness and even-handed reporting, I will now step into the highly emotional minefield of discussing South African crime, a topic I’m usually trying to avoid. If you’ve been to any other expat forums, you will know that 90% of the South Africa coverage typically consist of a debate about crime, as if there is nothing else the country has to offer. How about climate, people, nature, freedom? Having lived in Singapore, one of the safest places on Earth, I know that you cannot make safety your number one concern. There are many things our family loved about Singapore, but it is still not the place we would choose to live the rest of our lives. The one thing I find truly alarming about South Africa’s future is not crime, but the Zuma administration’s recent efforts to suppress the freedom of press, just because they’re annoyed by persistent reports of the government’s ineptitude. But, like I said, I also want to tell you all that I know. (You’ve certainly found out more about Eskom than you’ve ever wanted to!) Another school mom told me yesterday she was mugged somewhere along William Nicol, which I consider a safe area, when picking her car up from a car wash. We only talked in passing and I didn’t get the full details, like what kind of weapon, if any, was involved, but I had the impression it was not so recent, maybe within the last two years. In any case, you hear many such stories, but this is the first I’ve heard first-hand from someone I know, so I wanted to relay it to you. It does make you pause, because it is more real than just hearing it on the news. I have to admit I do not read any local papers (other than the Dainfern Estate newsletter). Headlines such as “Man fathered 4 million babies” have a way of turning me off, even in a country where many politicians’ escapades make the more fantastical headlines seem tame. A first hand account is different, but even so I have a hard time feeling alarmed. My thoughts always turn to practical matters, like “maybe I should remove my unused U.S. credit cards from my wallet, those are always a pain to replace” and “probably should keep my drivers’ license in a different place, especially since it seems impossible to get a South African one.” Oh, and should I use a different purse? I’m very fond of my Coach handbag and matching wallet and would hate to lose it. But it’s the only one big enough to hold all the stuff I’ve become used to toting around Joburg, such as our lease agreement, in case anybody asks about it. And also, should I have pepper spray? But would I really use that to counter a gun in my face, rather than just handing over the wanted goods? I probably haven’t helped you much, but I did find clarity in one thing: Get Noisette’s company to finally give us that security training we’ve been promised for five months, so at least we know what to do in certain situations. Like not stopping for red lights in the middle of the night in suspicious areas. We were coming home from Sun City (to see Jeff Dunham live) late at night in September, and were both cursing because the route our Navi sent us on had one gazillion traffic lights. Since we didn’t know the area and that was enough to officially declare it suspicious, we skipped every single one of them and let me tell you, it was the most fun we’ve had in a long time!

Scenes of a Smash and Grab

I’m glad I have not yet found out what a typical Joburg Smash and Grab is like, but I think I’ve discovered what it  might lookk like the next morning. Notice the bricks and broken glass, and the plastic bags which no doubt contain more bricks:

Security and Crime

If you’re moving to South Africa, this is probably your number one concern, so I’ll share the few insights I’ve so far gained. Not that I’ve gotten much of a sample yet, because any security problem you might encounter would happen when driving into a not so safe area, and I haven’t even ...  Continue Reading

Red Robot

The following comment as I was browsing a Johannesburg travel forum on Wikitravel was making me laugh:

Can someone explain what is a “red robot”? [QUOTE]At night do not stop at red robots.[/QUOTE]

A robot, to all newcomers, is what South Africans call traffic lights! I remember feeling confused ...  Continue Reading