So today after work I went with my 4 year old to town to quickly get some gifts for a baby shower tomorrow morning. I love to teach my son the value of giving generously.
Normally going into town would be a happy event. Today, as soon as we reached downtown, one block away from the main street drama unfolded right before our eyes. A man was being pushed to the ground by an angry person. Soon several men where kicking him everywhere. Ribs, legs, head. Before I knew what was happening, a mob started forming, screaming angrily. The men started to kick the guy in his head, he was bleeding and I saw him loosing his consciousness.
Suddenly more than a hundred of angry people shouted all around us. It all had happened so quickly, my heart felt like melting wax. All I could think about was how to get my son out of there as quick as possible.
A few moments later I was trying to calm down at the store I went to in order to buy baby garments for my friend.
My son luckily hadn’t really noticed too much of the scene. He just asked why the people where behaving badly. I promised him to find out what was going on. If you think action movies are fast paced, try real life. It happened so quickly there was nothing one could have done. The same morning an African student who is in our church’s youth had posted a video on facebook where people in some village where apparently burned to dead alive. I didn’t watch it, I was just horrified of the kids posting this, the thought of somebody recording it with the cellphone, the barbaric terror of it all.
“Last week my village necklaced a thief”
Now there I stand, still shaking, at the queue to pay. I do what any woman probably does, I talk about it. I am the only white person in the store that afternoon. The guy behind me laughs at my report and says with a calm, assuring voice: “He probably stole something”. The till lady nods. “Yes he must have stolen something. Last week in my village they necklaced someone.
They put a tire around his neck and set it on fire for him to die. He had taken R 2000 (about 170 Dollars) ” She smiles kindly.
Imagine my feelings standing there. Hello. If you don’t know South Africa – it is a beautiful, intelligent, civilized (I thought so) nation with all the 1st world comforts and 3rd world challenged mixed into one big potjie (hot pot).
First world country.
I am not standing in the bush. I am at a till with make up displays and advertisements for elegant dresses and funeral policies.
Oh that’s why. The guy behind me is amused by my questioning looks. “Listen that’s how WE do this. It’s the law of blood. You steal, you pay with blood.”
I turn to my son: “Steven put that lipstick back. Don’t steal stuff darling.”
I am stopping at our school on my way back. Our handy men are still working on some gates. I mention the incident in town. They aren’t worried. “He probably stole something” is their answer.
My Zimbabwean coworker is preparing next weeks class. When I ask her if its normal, she smiles patiently. “He must have stolen something”.
Okay. I get it. After almost 8 years here in the country of freedom and reconciliation I still didn’t know that this is how we deal with thieves.
The legal system – too western?
Today #guptagate trended on twitter. A super-uber rich Indian family had a ridiculously fancy wedding party and since they have close links with the ruling party, the ANC, they got some special treatment…
Twenty flying squad members, 10 high-powered flying squad cars, as many as 40 members of the police counter-assault team and VIP protection unit and several armoured and specialised surveillance vehicles.
This is what taxpayers coughed up to protect more than 200 guests of a very rich Indian families wedding party.
There is also controversy about the arrival at Waterkloof Air Force base of a passenger jet carrying wedding guests.
The civilian guests, who arrived at the air force base without being screened by customs officials, were whisked away in a convoy of white Range Rovers, protected by the large police detail, who clocked in at 5am.
A police officer who was involved in the operation and its planning said yesterday the security detail had been finalised last week already.
As many as 40 policemen from the counter-assault team and the VIP protection unit were ordered to escort five trucks from OR Tambo Airport to Sun City. Two of these apparently contained gifts for the wedding couple and dignitaries.
“The CAT members used their armoured Humvees and specialised surveillance vehicles for the operation,” said the officer.
So our president is once more stealing from the taxpayers. After building a mansion the German politicians can only dream of (in my home country you get fired when you allow your aunt Anna to go on holiday in a government jet, in south Africa it’s commonplace) while it’s May and many kids still have NO schoolbooks (government has no money ?), what’s next … ?
In our municipality, according to Afri-forum in the Soutpansberger newspaper, new, job-providing businesses can not be allowed to register because we do not have the infrastructure for it. Power cuts, no clean water, etc. No money for that. But boy oh boy, you should see the villas sprouting like mushrooms on top of the mountains.
When confronted about this, the answer was: This is Africa. We do not do things the western way anymore.
I am sure there comes a day when president Zuma must decide: Does he want Western justice with a legal court, commission, hearing, investigations where all the tax money went, or should we rather deal with it the African way?