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South Africa - Crime



Folks,

Much is made of crime in South Africa, both here and abroad.

Insurance is very expensive in South Africa. Johannesburg is the
crime capital. There, carjackings abound - and everywhere people live
surrounded by razorwire. Cape Town was full of it, it is unwise
to travel at night.

The White pessimists viewpoint is that now the black people are
allowed in the white areas, what can you expect ..

In the rural town of Richmond, Natal, where I am now, in the old
days a hooter went at 9:00PM, at which point all blacks had to be
out of town, and all coloreds had to be west of the main crossroads,
or they risked arrest. Most towns I have visited have an obvious
boundary between the white and black neighborhoods - a railway, a
river, a major road, that served that purpose.

There is a problem of jobs - if you have no money, and you have a
family, and no other family members to help you - what to do ?
There is little (if any ?) welfare system.

However, violent crime has been common - my hosts here list off the
friends here who have been murdered during the couse of a theft.
Money is usually the issue - on this farm they pay the workers in
vouchers, redeemable at the local store. Good for the store (people
spend their money there) and good for the farmers (who do not have
to carry large amounts of cash about). I have not been able to
get close to an ATM in the last few days - the combination of the
May Day holiday and the end of the week/month means that it has
been payday a lot. Presumably many farmers/companies have an
arrangement with the bank where salaries for their workers may be
drawn at an ATM.

Much of the violence, however, is also inter-tribal, particularly
between the African National Congress (Xhosa) and
Inkatha Freedom Party (Zulu). This was much in evidence in the
runup to the last elections (1994). It will be again in 1999 - when
Mandela (Xhosa) will not be standing to act as a unifying force
between the various factions. Currently things are settled - with
lines drawn between the various parties in the coutryside - this
region is one, over the hill is the other.

There are deadly rivalries between taxi associations.
Taxis are a part of life for most local people,
who need transport, but do not have a car. A toyota minibus will
hold 22 people, and they leave from taxiranks in town when they
are full, or pick people up from the side of the road. Various
associations 'own' certain routes, and will kill people to keep
them.

Personally, I have not felt threatened. However, I have old
jeans, tatty shoes, and a scuffed motorcycle. I also smile
and wave ..

Cheers,       Andy!