Thursday, October 6, 2005

Wag vir groen

A four hour drive back to Jo’burg (with no wrong turns! Hurrah!) But as we approached Jo’burg, we saw traffic slowed up ahead.

Closer, and we came across a horrific traffic accident. A pickup had run a stop sign, and crashed into a small 4-door sedan. The pickup was on its back, the sedan was completely crushed, and there were injured people lying all over the gravel shoulder of the road. Ambulances, police cars, people driving up in other cars to help, IV drips being held aloft -- what a nightmare.

The really extra bad thing about this is, the pickup truck was probably filled with a whole bunch of workers, heading toward some job somewhere. Everywhere you drive, you see pickups absolutely loaded down with people, up to 10 at a time, perched on the edges, hanging onto garden equipment in the pickup’s bed. It always looks like someone is going to fall out. Just terrifying.

But the car crashes! It’s happening all the time here. People are just terrible, terrible drivers. There’s a sign on almost every stoplight pole that says, “Wait for green. Wag vir groen.” And “Stop On Amber. It Could Save Your Life.”

But people don’t. They jump the green, they’re into the intersection before cross traffic has stopped, and then they keep going after the light’s turned to amber, and now red. A South African friend of mine said once, “You’re good to wait, to check for cross traffic.” Because two different friends of his had been killed in side-on collisions. One was a friend who was driving in Pretoria. The lights changed, she went out into the intersection, and ... SMASH. The other person was, I think, another close friend of his... and he was in the car with her at the time. Somehow I can’t even imagine that.

Another tale along those lines. A few weeks ago we went to a fundraiser for the school, St. Stithian’s, and they put on a fantastic fashion show. A truly amazing, professional production, with former Miss South Africas modeling, and multimedia backdrops, and professional dancers. It was a marvelous success. Among the various scenes, they had some “gum-boot” dancers from Refilwe/Lanseria (township). They do the most astonishing dancing, like hip-hop, but even wilder and more energetic. Their performing was one of the highlights of the evening. That was Saturday night.

On Monday morning, I picked up the paper and read that the taxi carrying this same dancing group had overturned, with multiple injuries, several people in critical condition, and one death. The van had been overloaded, carrying... seventeen people. So at least one of the people dancing on stage on Saturday night was dead by Monday morning.

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