Saturday, January 17, 2009

South Africa trip, Week 3, part 2. The crime report.

Anyway, I wanted to touch on crime in this post. That week seemed to be filled with so many crime-related events. On the way back from 'Maritzburg, I talked to the guy sitting next to me in the khumbi. For a while he wouldn't believe I wasn't S. African, either. What was going on that day? He seemed surprised that an American would be taking this type of transport. Khumbis are like giant vans that people buy and they work essentially like a bus but they seem to be independently owned. Anyway, I was happy to talk to him because I needed to know where to get off so I could catch a metered taxi back to my place. It was night time and I was pretty nervous about going back to my place in any other fashion because my neighborhood is really rough. He was really kind and helped me find a taxi, accompanied me, and even paid for the taxi. On the way he told me he had been mugged twice in the last 3 months by the same guy. Even his laptop was stolen. He said he knew who he was but they wouldn't arrest him because he was the son of a policeman. Anyway, I remember really thinking my neighborhood was bad because when I told this guy, who had been mugged twice in the last 2 months, where I lived, he said "that rough neighborhood?!"

The next day I decided I'd go to the beach. On the way to the beach I ran into a rally in a courtyard, I think that bldg was City Hall. It was against violence against women and children, part of a big affair being called "16 Days of Activism". I've seen posts about it around town. Anyway, it was really interesting to hear all the stories people told. They had speakers from the community and church officials. Also there was a spoken word artist. She would sing a chorus and then she would recite verses about teen pregnancy, abortion, baby rape, etc. It was intense! There were t-shirts strung all along the courtyard with messages painted on them. I took a couple of pictures

Really powerful messages.

I left after a bit and continued on to the beach. As I was walking along the string of hotels across from the beach, I saw a couple of people running. Now, I try not to be the one who jumps to the conclusion that young black males running means they stole something. But, um, these dudes were running hard. It took a second before I saw what they were carrying. One had a small rack of sunglasses and another had several backpacks. A guy (Indian) was chasing them, but they got away, running right past me. The Indian guy went back to console another guy (black), so I guess they were the vendors. I looked at the hotel security guard like , but I guess he was only protecting the hotel, not the vendors across from it. He didn't even budge!

The next morning I heard yelling outside the window. It was 5-something in the morning and I looked out the window, where there's a park. I saw two young black boys running, again a little too hard. A man was yelling behind them and chasing them, but he soon gave up. They were also carrying something, but I couldn't see what it was. I thought to myself "again?" Twice in less than 24 hrs. for me. But I went back to sleep. A couple hours later I was woken by a lot more yelling. That's where this story (here I had a link to a post on the site. I'll post it separately in the next blog) comes in. Not saying necessarily that I'm against a community protecting itself, but it was still disturbing to watch.

All in all that weekend really unsettled me. The weekend before a student where I'm staying was car-jacked. She borrowed the family car to take her stuff from here back home and before she even got fully out of the gate she was car-jacked. Man, my 'hood is really . . . 'hood.

Next time it's the hair report.

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