I am tired of being a victim
If you live in South Africa, it is certain you will be affected by crime. Crime is a part of our daily lives. It is something we live with and are constantly aware of. We live in a state of stress and anxiety but probably don’t realise it because it has become so normal to us. About 57 people are murdered everyday in South Africa. This is an insane amount, akin to a state of warfare.
My experiences of crime
- I had my first personal experience at 12 years old. Walking to school with my brother and friends, a man in a car stopped next to us and asked to borrow a cellphone. He was “lost”. My brother handed over his cellphone, innocent and willing. He drove off. “Thanx”, was all he said.
- The next time, I am not sure how old I was. Our house was broken into. It didn’t only happen once. Multiples times. Every time we felt violated. Someone was in our home. We never saw them thankfully but could still feel their presence. One time my mom heard them and gathered us all in her room. We were terrified, anxiously waiting for our private security to arrive. When they did arrive, the criminals were long gone.
- We left that house, but crime followed. 2 weeks after moving into our new house, we were robbed while my family was at home. Apparently its common when you move to new house. Insurers won’t insure you in the first two weeks of moving due to the very high risk of theft. “Thank god, no one was hurt”. We always said this after every incident. We had to been thankful because it could have been much much worse. We could have been dead.
- My grandfather was murdered when I was 13. There was building going on at the house he was staying at. One of the workers had a dispute with his boss over wages. Apparently he had not been paid. The worker went to my grandfather’s house one night to rob him but also hit him over the head with a hammer. He died in the bathroom. My father discovered his body the following day. My grandfather had recently met a nice women. We should have been planning his wedding. We planned his funeral.
- The first time I was held up at gun point, I was 20. I went to the park in the middle of the day with my friends. There were six of us; 3 guys and 3 girls. 3 men emerged from the bushes and told us this was a robbery, lie down. They had a gun, knife and rock between the three of them. They took our shoes and bags and jewelry. All I could think was, “please can this be over.”
- The next time I was held up gunpoint. I was 27. Just a couple of months ago. A man came to my car window with a gun. It was dusk, I was leaving work in the wealthiest commercial and supposedly “safe” area of Johannesburg. “I don’t want to shoot you, give me your phone”. He pointed the gun at me. I started to shake but handed him the phone. He left. It took less than a minute. I cried while stuck in rush hour bumper to bumper traffic. Hoping no one saw, I felt embarrassed. My first thought was it was my fault. My window should not have been open. Everyone knows you don’t drive with your window open in Johannesburg. I should have known better but it was late summer, I was hot. Now I boil in my car, I don’t care.
My experiences of almost crime (this year alone)
- I went for dinner with some friends, to a popular restaurant in a “safe” neighborhood, and saw a man grab a cellphone off a table and get in a car that was waiting near by. I almost got in the car because I thought it was my Uber driver. What if I had?
- I was driving to dinner one night when the car behind me started acting frantically and trying to move forward. They were being robbed at gunpoint. Given my recent experiences, I started to panic. Terrified the two men would come to my window too even though my window was closed. I drove off as fast I could once the light changed from red to green.
- While on my way to work to one morning, I stopped at the petrol station to buy something for lunch. I got out my car and tried to lock it but it would not lock. I had to manually lock it. I didn’t think much about it until I was driving away. I had been car jammed.
I am tired of being a victim
I love South Africa, it is a beautiful country but the crime makes it a difficult place to live. The cost of living here is great.
I want to drive with my window open. I want to go out for dinner without being a witness to crime.
I don’t want to be victim again and I know if I stay here I will be.
I want to feel safe driving around my own city.