Monday 25 November 2013

How safe is South Africa?

Well it all depends on where you go and what you do.

We live in a security estate set around a 18 hole golf course, when I look out my window I see houses, when I walk down the street I see grass, lakes and a river.

When I drive out of the estate I see security fences, barbed wire, electric fences, armed guards and have to pass through finger print checking and CCTV to access the outside. I hear gun shots/cars backfiring, you never know and rarely hear about it on local news.

But I don't notice the security anymore, I just live with it. I don't feel unsafe and have never felt in danger, but I do feel scared sometimes, I worry about car jacking, shootings, mine and my families safety, but I don't live in fear, I don't let these feelings/thoughts control or restrict my life.

I tell you I live in South Africa. It shocks most people that we would chose to come here, where crime is rife, murder is high, to what a lot of people perceive as one of the most dangerous countries in the world.

I volunteer, I visit townships, I drive alone, I drive at night. My 18 year old drives, goes to parties, bars. We go on holiday, we food shop, we pay the bills, we do everything that we did before, just in South Africa.

I haven't changed how I feel about living here, I've changed the way I live. Every day outside the estate is like being on holiday, except I'm not. I stop the car at the lights or a 4 way stop. I'm like a learner driver on the day of their test. I check the mirrors, big obvious looks in the mirrors. I'm making sure no one is approaching my car. But when they do they're usually trying to sell you car chargers, sponge bob square pants and hello kitty stuff. I keep my handbag under my seat, my phone in my pocket. I park in security car parks, centrally, not alone on the top floor, or the unlit corner. I put my shopping in the boot. Left it once on the front seat when I popped into another shop and some guy tried smashing my window for milk and bread. I put the food shop in the boot and another guy opened the passenger door, took the sat nav and camera out the glove box. I don't leave anything of value in the car. I only take out what I need.

I carry a handbag, a nice leather one. I'll use my laptop in a cafe. I will walk from the Mall out of the security area to another Mall and back to my car. I've observed others, I've asked locals if things are safe for me to do. They understand my questioning.

I go places many locals have never been, they've grown up in a different world to me, many are scared to leave their houses, many have left the country after violent crimes to themselves, family or friends, many leave due to the fear of violent crime, many can't understand why we came here.

But to me living here is no different from living in the UK, we lived in a nice, low crime area, we drove many miles to football matches, to visit family and friends, for day to day activities, we've been caught up on 2 occasions in violence at football matches, I've driven alone at night with my job in areas around Birmingham where I've felt scared, intimidated, I've had my car broken into, my hand bag snatched, a knife pulled on me many years ago by a 14yo in a youth club. But I accepted that as the norm, for what I did for a living, that was my life. I did my best to minimise the risks and that's just what I do here and now.


1 comment:

  1. I believe the key is to be aware of your surroundings; no matter what country you live in, there are always risks at one point or another.