Staying safe in SA is pretty hard sometimes

South Africa is notorious for brutal crime. Murder, rape, hijacking, armed robbery – you name it, we’ve experienced it in high volume. There are a number of contributing factors to the high crime rate. With an economy that is causing more jobs to be lost than created, people will do anything to simply fill the gnawing hunger they can’t seem to escape from.

Politicians thrive on poverty – that’s how they stay in business. Every election period gigantic promises are made, the masses who are the poor believe what they are told and yet again services are not delivered. Politicians need people to vote for them, and you are more likely to do so when you feel that it is something your life depends upon. However, people do not get what they are promised, poverty increases and naturally so does crime.

It’s unfair, to say the least, that those who have worked their entire lives for everything they’ve got must be raped, hijacked or murdered for their belongings because our politicians are too engrossed in corruption and absorbing the country’s resources for their personal benefit, than to take care of the poor.

On Friday evening before 7pm a friend and I were victims (perhaps “survivors” is a better word) of a “smash and grab” on Vanguard Drive in Cape Town which is notorious for such incidents. In a matter of seconds – but what felt like a lifetime – a man smashed the passenger window and grabbed my friend’s bag, but she clung to it, not wanting to give him the satisfaction of taking her personal belongings. Back and forth they struggled with the bag while we were screaming, and for as long as I live I will never forget the way he scrunched his face as he pulled the bag with force. Never will I forget the look in his eyes as he glared at us – murderous. Thankfully I managed to get the car into gear and sped off. There’s no telling what would have happened had I not been next to the yellow lane.

Metro cops at the next intersection escorted us to Phillipi East police station, where they outright refused to help us because the scene of the crime was “out of our area” – a lazy officer’s favourite words. I was horrified by their nonchalant attitude. They directed us, two women, to the satellite police station in Samora Machel which is probably the most dangerous township in Cape Town where murder is pretty much the norm. I was not going to risk my life a second time and decided against reporting it at the time. I nearly had to beg an officer to escort us to our next location.

Now tell me again… why is crime such an increasing problem in our society? I do believe the way the police treated us was not an exception. It seemingly happens often. What is the world coming to when you cannot rely on the police to protect its citizens? What will the state of our already-ailing nation become?

Unless there is a complete overhaul of management of the police force, and unless our men in blue are paid decent salaries, there will continuously be acts of mob justice and general violent crime.  When passion exudes from within you when doing your job, you will always be your best at it. And with our politicians only thinking of their own pockets by not creating jobs and alleviating poverty, we are in for a very bleak future.

It angers me that it has become okay for criminals to harm us and take from us. Oh, how I long for the day where I can walk on the beach, in the shopping mall or even down the road from my house without having to constantly look over my shoulder, frightened that I may be kidnapped, raped or murdered for a worthless cell phone or just a few coins.

A hungry man is an angry one. ~Buchi Emecheta

This article was originally published here.


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