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 in a previous expat assignment, which is 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. And 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 what I do know about crime.  A fellow school mom told me yesterday that she had been mugged somewhere along William Nicol Drive, 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. 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 give 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 did indeed not know the area, we declared it suspicious and skipped every single one of those pesky robots.

I confess that this was the most fun we’ve had in a long time.

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