Guns up Close and Personal

Crime is a problem in South Africa. Now, while true, the previous statement is as gross an understatement as, for example, ‘Donald Trump is not universally popular’ or ‘Madonsela was of the opinion there had been some unnecessary expenditure on Nkandla’.

‘South African students were unhappy with the fee increases’. ‘Refugees from the Middle East started arriving in Europe’.’Game of Thrones is a popular TV series’. ‘Queen Elizabeth is not as young as she once was’. ‘Swaziland’s King Mswati has more than one wife’ and ‘2016 was the shittest year in recorded hisory and 2017 will be even worse’.

It’s quite fun actually to think up sound bites which underwhelm by downplaying the level of importance attached to the initial premise. Okay, that’s shockingly bad English but I suspect I am suffering from a tad of PTSD so excuse my less than perfect syntax. Besides, if you have read any of my stuff before, you will know I love the ironical understatement.

Yes, crime is a problem in South Africa. On every level possible – government corruption, corporate finagling, tax avoidance, muggings, rape, car-jacking -from the top to the bottom people are being robbed, raped, and killed.

In the opinion of many our President, the head of state and the man who represents our country, is a criminal: he is considered by some to be a rapist, and a liar; a man who accepts bribes and who steals. I have never heard him being accused of murder but possibly that’s because I don’t mix in the right circles.

The Beloved Country, the Rainbow Nation, is a sick rose, with the worm of crime and indifference eating away at our heart.  a member of he white middle class I am indignant about it, but I have not suffered the way my poorer, darker, fellow citizens have suffered.

Many hundreds of thousands of rands worth of heritage jewellery was stolen by a trusted [Zimbabwean] char; tools and equipment were taken by a protege we had housed, fed, and educated, a car left outside for a few minutes was swiped, and I was stabbed by a sharpened sparking plug and my bag grabbed at a traffic intersection.

Compared to most, I have got off incredibly lightly. Most South Africans know someone who has been murdered during the commission of a crime. I do not. I have never been shot, attacked, hurt, or even really threatened – until today.

It was my favourite weather and unusual for JoBurg – heavy, set in rain. It rained steadily from before 7am and was still raining when I left home to go to a fellowship meeting in Parktown North.

All I can say is it’s lucky I’m a strong swimmer because roads and pavements were totally flooded and when I got to the rooms I couldn’t have been wetter had I sat in a swimming bath.Thanks to the weather there were only seven of us. two of whom were newcomer to our Fellowship, but we got stuck in.

Long story short, three armed men in black burst in, told us to keep quiet or they would shoot u dead, and while two kept us covered, one went round the table sticking a large gun in our face and demanding our money and valuables.

None of us had ever been in this situation: were middle class, middle aged white women and had escaped drunken, drugged-up, armed men, shaking with adrenalin and fear and greed. But most of us had heard the advice: they were more nervous than us so sty calm, be friendly, be quiet, give them everything they want, give them no reason or excuse to harm us.

Our attackers were scared – the venue had a caretaker and armed response in the carpark – so they wanted it over fast. One woman sat on her keys, another put her diamond ring in her mouth, but we were scared if they didn’t get enough they might hurt us, and most of us were not carrying a lot of cash.

My Cartier Tank watch, my cellphone [not backed up in anyway] with all my contacts and photos; for another of us, it was R600 cash – an easy loss in comparison- and for another a Jewish emblem she had worn for 35 years. A newcomer lost a diamond eternity ring with 26 diamonds, and two lost cellphones which they had had for under a week.

When we had been robbed we were cable tied. Fortunately only our hands. We were told to be silent for another ten minutes – if we made any sound they would kill us. After having guns shoved against our foreheads and smelling the crazy on our attackers, we were not keen to challenge this directive.

‘Be silent – and pray’ the gang leader said as he corralled his men out of the room. My hands were already cable-tied in a praying position so I lost  no time in arranging tem into a flame position and giving thanks for our having been spared.

Some were crying and others were telling them to shut up when the caretaker strolled in: Peter is a black man and he was wearing black clothes – the same basic description as the thieves. He entered the room and looked at us, then said ‘Have the men left?’

Goggle-eyed, we held up our cable-tied hands but the caretaker did not recognise what he was seeing t first. He was leaving the room actually before we called him back to help undo our ties; he assured us the attackers had gone but some of the group were still convinced the gang were hiding behind the hedge, ready to shoot.

I had a gun held to my head! I was threatened with death! I was robbed! I was tied up! I survived!!!!!! I have experienced the ultimate South African experience and have a pist0l-gun-head-bruise to prove nit.

We all survived unharmed: now, if only they would hold our phones and watches to ransom. Whatever – at my age a pistol whipping would be worth my Cartier watch and all my cel telephonic contacts.

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