Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Snakes in the Garden of Eden

And since then, I’ve been back here in Jo'burg, readjusting yet again, and anticipating my next escape from this beautiful, deadly country. I tell you, every day, every time I meet someone here, it’s just another crime story. Every single day. It’s quite tiring in a way. You don’t even ask, the stories just come out.

Apparently, as I had begun to suspect, the crime stats and stories in the papers are censored, and alarming things don’t often come out in print. At a lunch the other day a woman said, “They don’t print anything at all. It would cause mass panic. The government does its best to keep it all under wraps.” Hmmm. That’s reassuring! A case of what you don’t know, probably WILL hurt you. If not today, then tomorrow or the next day?

So you read about the random event, like a toddler falling down a manhole, or a woman getting her nose bitten by a seal, but a police blotter like the one in Waynesboro, PA? Uh uh.

“On 5th Street, a woman reported that 6 pairs of underpants were stolen from her clothesline. No suspects have been apprehended.”

“On Main Street, a pear was thrown through an open car window at a pedestrian. No one was injured. The pear was recovered at the scene and retained as evidence.”

Yeah right. You got all the details in Waynesboro, and they weren’t so alarming after all. You learned to keep an eye on your “smalls” on the clothesline, and to watch out for flying fruits. Just like here.

“In Craighall, a woman was shot in a car hijacking. The car was not recovered and the suspects are still at large.” (Past board member of the International Women’s Club).

“A man was shot after investigating a disturbance in the drive outside his home. Police were alerted by the man’s son.” (SABC tv director)

“Two men killed in Capetown in a possible carjacking.” (A fashion designer and a movie director)

All this in the last month. And those are the “high profile” people. A helluva lot of ordinary (read: black) people end up dead every day, and we’ll never know. What a sick place.

Ahhh, man. Do you want to know? Probably not. I don’t want to know, and I live here. A South African friend said, “Maybe you’d better not talk about these things anymore. It just gets you down.”

When I apologized, and said I wouldn’t bring it up ever again, the response was, “But no, you must keep talking. When you stop telling me is when you can’t tell me anymore. It’s okay.”

Hey, what are friends for? Listening. So yeah, thanks for that.

I do appreciate it.

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