Crime and punishment

This morning, I read an article about a new website, set up by a guy called Neil Watson, which details the crime and violence in South Africa. Apparently the aim is to discourage tourists, ultimately to force government to take crime more seriously.

Have to admit, thought to myself great idea; a place to vent and steam and rant a bit. Somewhere for people to share their stories, good and bad.

Then this afternoon, I read another article about a blogger who tried to makes some positive comments on the site.

The comments weren’t posted. Nice and democratic then. So he presumably thought bugger this and started his own blog where people can say good stuff too.

Anyway, it’s made me think. I lived overseas for almost 7 years, trying to convince myself that the rational choice was to live abroad. Where it’s nice and safe.

I lived in Israel, where the bombs fell indiscriminately. I lived in London. A year ago, today, bombs tore that city apart too. Again. I lived in Australia, where they put refugees in prison camps and forgot about them. I visited Thailand, the USA, Eastern Europe; flood, terrorism, genocide.

No more denying it. Home.

So, we all watch our backs. We balance our lives with our living. We try every day to remind free of hate. Free of prejudice. Free of bitterness and apathy. Sometimes we fail. Dismally. Sometimes I have to turn away from the raw wound, the whole world of suffering, that I see behind the glazed eyes of poverty, crime. I can’t imagine how I would survive, if faced with such limited and limiting choices. But I wouldn’t be anywhere else. South Africa offers me more hope, more vision, more compassion, more desire, more life worth living than anywhere else I’ve been.

So, I’m with Andy. Let’s talk about the kak stuff, but let’s celebrate the good stuff too.


30 thoughts on “Crime and punishment

  1. dolce says:

    Just get so grumpy when it’s all sturm und drang. I dig living in a country were people are forced to grate and mash and grind along together. Much better than the pseudohappyfests countries like Australia pretend to be.

    I loved Aus, but I couldn’t have one real conversation about what was happening to the boat people there if my life depended upon it. Nor could I find one white Australian who would acknowledged that it was pretty hideous that Aboriginals were still classified under flora and fauna, and therefore huntable in the 40s or 50s without them making a whole heap of excuses. Don’t get me started.

    And they’re all so sympathetic about life in SA. Phatooey!

  2. zephilla says:

    I’ve never had the opportunity to live in another country (unfortunately). However, I have to say that if I did, I’m sure I would return after a few years. I like it here, though Jo’burg is getting me down. It appears to be soooo dirty. (I think my recent visit to Cape Town is influencing that though).

  3. dolce says:

    Jo’burg does seem a little squalid sometimes, but then again, after those incredible thunderstorms, it can be beautiful.

    Ever think about trying somewhere else in the country?

  4. andreas says:

    …but I sort of feel out of place there. I actually contemplated moving to the Cape this year, perhaps partly swayed by my sister’s idyllic life in Kommetjie…but I just dig Joburg, man.
    And I still kinda have a soft spot for Durban’s faded charms. In Joburg, I’m still a Durban boy…have you noticed that about this place? People live here for years and they’re still Durbanites or Capetonians or Potchefsroomians (ok, maybe not the last one)…this place is still a flippin’ mining camp, man.

  5. andreas says:

    I’ve been reading too many of Dolce’s blogs.

  6. stick says:

    I moved from south africa when I was 13 (1985). I moved to Hollywood, California (no, not to try acting). For me it was the holy grail – not because I was out of south africa but because for a 13 year old at that time it was one fuckin great place to be. Things didn’t work out and my family returned home. I was devastated! I spent the next 5 years trying to get back.

    I was able to return for short visits over the next few years and just yearned to stay there but it never worked out.

    Then I got married and had a kid. 4 years ago I returned for a 4 month stay in the US and an amazing thing happened. After 3 months I was looking out a window and realised I was so home sick it hurt. Somewhere along the line I grew roots in Africa.

    And I have travelled quite a bit – been to UK, France, Denmark, Australia. All great places but they aint home.

    They don’t have the crime we have. But they don’t have the sunshine, the people and all the things that make this a great place.

    To make it worse I feel that way about Joburg. Been to every city in this country and they’re beautiful in their way. But I love the grimy, dirty, fast paced thrill of Joburg.

    I hate the fucking crime, hate that I have to call my wife hour when I’m not at home at night to make sure some thugs haven’t tied her up or tried to rape her.

    But this is Africa – the most raped continent on earth. I love the place. There is abundant hope and for that reason I busy myself with things that have the potential to make a difference and work to be as a decent a human being as I can so I nurture that hope.

    This is home. So it’s all very well to bitch but you better have a fucking spade in your hand trying to do something about it. And I have my doubts that setting up a bitch website goes in the right direction – particularly when you’re doing it to make somebody ELSE do something.


  7. zephilla says:

    but, unfortunately I can’t. The reason been that then Lenore won’t see her dad. And it is important to me that they have a relationship.

    Ag, you know, its winter here and its really dry and depressing. I’ll feel better in the summer, when we do have those incredible thunder storms. And we do have incredible sunsets.

  8. andreas says:

    So you’re an East Rander …no way, Zeph.

    But I normally rip off the West Rand, don’t I? Where Dex is from. Or is that the East Rand. Sheesh, this is so confusing when I don’t have the sea as a reference point…which is the one where the guys have mullet hairstyles and “boneys what fuck off”?

  9. zephilla says:

    You ripped off the East Randers in a comment to me once. Ag, don’t worry about it. I’m so used to it.

    I’d say both places are candidates for mullet hairstyles and “boneys what fuck off” Hang on, what do you mean there?

  10. andreas says:

    (we’ll have to ask Dex) but I think “boney” is a East/ West Rand term for motorbike. I used to know a guy who was in towing…his company was staffed by mullet-wearers who were obsessed with “boneys what fucked off”.

  11. zephilla says:

    If you’re looking for an interesting morning out head to East Rand mall. Many interesting and varied characters there.

  12. bluepeter says:

    i’m trying to imagine the mermaid / goth chick walking along on the mountain with her little goth chiclet in tow 😉 Had a really cool walk above Kirstenbosch today with my dog. And in all that beautiful faint morning mist, cool forest air and that green, treed sky I was thinking about …. the blog (how sad is that?) All about how we should publish a “Best of Blogmark 2006” book with the profits (if there were any) going to a literacy charity for underprivileged kids. We could each choose one or two pieces to send to the editor. Could be cool – Jack’s poems, Andreas’s rants, MJ’s frothy cappucinos, one of my blind dates. Old GM has bailed on us but there are tons more bloggers to fill the gap. But then reality dawned on me. You can’t capture in print form what we have here – and it wouldn’t do justice to it. Have a good w/e. I’m settling into the couch with some excapist DVDs (Prison Break 1-4), sport and some red wine.

  13. zephilla says:

    Right now I’m sitting in the office, for, wait for it, my 8th shift in a fucking row. Thankfully I have tomorrow off. However, I will be wiling away the day at Lenore’s school, helping out with their carnival. Then it’s back to this office at 5 in the morning on Sunday. Arghhhhh!!!

  14. andreas says:

    You work too hard. And damn your breezy single life, BP. I’ve been getting whiney “where are you?” smses since 16h00. She knows nothing about the blog, by the way…imagine that. This place is my mistress.

  15. zephilla says:

    but that’s the life of a journalist and a lecturer. You gotta fucking put in the hours, just to make it at the end of the month.

    So why aren’t you at home, A?

  16. andreas says:

    slipping that innocent little question in there like that. I’ll save the answers for any future e-mail correspondence, okay? Right now I gotta go – I have a “thing” at seven. If its any consolation, I’d rather work tomorrow – it’s Bree’s birthday party tomorrow night and everything has to be perfect , you know. That’s my Saturday shot to hell.

    You have a good weekend.

  17. zephilla says:

    At least you can get drunk at the party, maybe even behave badly. I can’t do anything along those lines, at least not at work. Ja, you have a good weekend too.

  18. zephilla says:

    no-one ever wants to admit being from Jo’burg. Though technically I’m an East Rander, having been born and breed in Benoni. (I can see you cringe Andreas, seen as you have ripped off the East Rand on numerous occasssions)

  19. bbmatt says:

    When people ask me about SA over here, I try to be realistic, giving them the good and the bad sides.

    I’ll mention the high crime and how it is a problem, but I’ll also mention the very true fact that South Africa otherwise, is a friendly and accommodating place, not to mention breathtakingly beautiful.

    Every British person I’ve met who has visited SA on holiday has more positive things to say than negative and as we all know, word of mouth is good for tourism.

    I think the biggest threat to tourism is not the crime level, but economics. SA used to be one of the most affordable destinations for Europeans seeking the sun, but this is no longer the case. It’s still relatively cheap, but the competition is tough. The problem is cheap flights. £200 on a flight and £400 spending money to seek the sun, or £500 on a flight and £100 spending money to seek the sun in SA. That’s enough to turn many people away.

    The tourist industry in Europe/Asia has reached such high levels of competition, SA doesn’t stand a chance in attracting the levels of tourism it could handle – it is, in fact, a fairly exclusive destination to visit.

    I think this idea of a website to point out crime to deter tourists is pointless – in a changed world, where terrorist threats are everywhere, a stable country with a high crime rate isn’t that much of a deterrent. People are more concerned about value for money.

  20. bluepeter says:

    … I was just being an insensitive jerk. Instead of saying, “I wish you’d move to CT” (which is what I was going to say) I tried to make a joke about you and your daughter walking on the mtn. Ok, sorry about that, and sterkte for the double shift.

  21. zephilla says:

    stop being so sensitive. I was playing with you. How is the wine drinking going and the lying on the couch watching DVDs(that’s what I was actually referring to, when I said don’t taunt me)

  22. bluepeter says:

    … watched three episodes of Prison Break. Didn’t actually get round to the wine yet. How’s work? Were you following the Prez’s speech in Berlin?

  23. zephilla says:

    I had already left when you posted this. Did you eventually get round to the wine? Work was kak, because my concentration was shot to hell because I was so tired. Not feeling much better today. Followed the Prez’s speech to death, infact we out fifaed ourselves yesterday…(in joke)

    Anyway have a good day, I’m off to enjoy the carnival (can’t you see, I’m really excited about it).

  24. bluepeter says:

    Hey, took a break from the blog today since I’ve been a real blog addict of late. Think I should do an MJ and just go cold turkey for 6 months. Watched about 8 episodes of prison break between last night and tonight. Great series but gets a bit repetitive. Hope you had a fun time at the car-ni-val. That fifa speech was sooo boooring. Africa’s time has come …. dedadeda … in 2010. And the speech was on the same day that the M&G was alleging payments into swiss bank accounts to the T-man himself. Holy shit, bet you guys didn’t lead with that one!

  25. dex says:

    It’s a bike what has been bored out and performance pistons fitted. At the end of the month, whatever’s left of the paycheck after paying for the usual klippies, braai and edgars account, is used to fix whatever broke on the bike during the month, and do more modifications. The only thing what will remain original on the boney is the oil leak.

    It is what is called the circle of life.

  26. Port St Johns. Quiet, peaceful with a couple of muggings and burglaries, the stuff discussin is made of. No AK’s and cash heist shoot outs. But no access to printed media besides Wild Coast Herald and Daily Dispatch and the usual football and gossip mags. No cinema, no draught beer but crayfish abound and there’s also good weed.

  27. dolce says:

    That’s me, spreading lite expletives and goodwill amongst men….

  28. dolce says:

    Sounds amazing…’specially those crays! Yum. Fresh out the sea, with a bit of lemon, some Hellmans and some Maldon’s sea salt. And a nice icy cold beer.

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