SA crime – the moaning continues

Sadly, South Africa is known, amongst many other things, for its high crime rate. But there came some good news on that front today with the release of the latest crime figures, which show a marked decrease, especially in many of the more serious crimes: murder down 4.7% and robbery with aggravating circumstances down 7.4%, for example. Well, I think it’s good news, but others aren’t happy.
Once again, (I always have to clarify this bit before I talk about crime in SA), I do recognise that South Africa has a problem with crime and I do recognise that something needs to be done about it and that people have a right to expect the government to do something about it. 
However, with the murder rate down to its lowest level in six years and a overall decrease in crime, I think that it is obvious that the initiatives and efforts which are being put in place to combat crime are beginning to work. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are very few people who seem to recognise this, though.   

A lot of the negative comments I have read on various SA websites and forums on this subject fall broadly into four categories, which can overlap Venn diagram style, to allow maximum pessimism.
Firstly, there’s the Mugabe reaction: these people have read and heard that crime has decreased, but they are simply ignoring the news and pretending it hasn’t happened. That way, they continue to have something to moan about and a reason to live.
Secondly, the negative optimist approach – and no, that’s not an oxymoron. These people note that crime has fallen, but are not happy that there is still crime happening. In the negative optimists’ world, there is no murder, no robbery, no vandalism and everyone obeys the speed limits. These people should have listened to Safety and Security Minister, Charles Nqakula, as he was presenting the report this morning: 

He told media in Pretoria during the presentation of the annual crime report that even though the statistics indicated a steady decline, crime levels were still very high and “unacceptably so: Government wanted to see a more drastic decline.”

 See? He agrees with you. Crime is still unacceptably high. But it’s down.

Next up, my particular favourites: the nit-pickers. They will pick and choose the worst stats to illustrate just what difficult circumstances South Africa finds itself in: Yes, murder is down, rape is down, robbery is down, but what about truck high-jackings? Did you see that truck high-jackings were up?
Finally, the never-believers. They stand by the words of Mulder & Scully. Trust no-one. These stats are all made up by the Government to make us feel better, when really, crime has sky-rocketed. They cite the fact that these figures are only for reported crime. Which is absolutely correct. However, I defy any government, worldwide, to present accurate statistics on unreported crime, because, you see, it’s unreported.
However, in the unlikely event that the Government has completely fabricated the figures presented today, then I feel that they could have done a much better job on reducing truck high-jackings.

So, there you have it. Once again, I’m fed up with people moaning instead of doing something proactive, like joining their neighbourhood watch. I’m fed up with people only looking for the bad news instead of being happy that there’s actually some good news. I’m fed up with people having foolishly high expectations and feeling angry when they are unfulfilled. Bring forth your predictable and ill-thought-out comments.

One final thing – I’m also growing a little tired of Italians ruining my weekends. This time, the act was repeated by the utterly appalling one-sided refereeing of the Euro 2008 Final by Italian Roberto Rosetti.
Yes Roberto, handball and headbutting are against the rules in football.
German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann thinks the Euro 2008 final was fixed:

“The referee was a catastrophe and sometimes I think it is fixed when I see such a referee, who is biased and not correct in his decisions.”
For example, A Spanish player (David Silva) head-butted our player (Lukas Podolski) and the referee saw it and the linesman saw it.”

Now, I’m no fan of Lehmann’s, but I’m in full agreement that something weird was going on with the refereeing last night. One dodgy decision after another – all in Spain’s favour. How strange.

 

Are Italians naturally dull?

Having swum down to Newlands in miserable conditions on Saturday to watch the rugby, I was disappointed with the atmosphere, the standard of play and the complete lack of general excitement that usually surrounds an international test match. Sure, it could have had something to do with the weather, but being the scientific kind of person that I am, I then extended my research further the following day.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to watch the second bit of my experiment, because it was a Ferrari winning at the French Grand Prix. Formula One is only worth watching for the crashes, and what with all the new safety equipment and silly little rules from the FIA, even those are getting a bit few and far between and less exciting when they do happen. For the rest of the time, it’s just like a procession, with the fastest car starting in pole position and then going round and round the track with no-one able to catch it or overtake it. This fastest car is usually a Ferrari – and Ferrari is?
Yes – Italian. Exactly.

Incidentally, have you noticed how irritating it is when people think that they are “in the know” by referring to F1 drivers by their first names?

Ja, Kimi had a great race as he followed Filipe around the track for 79 laps…

Presumably, these are the same bores who refer to Star Wars films as “Empire” or “Phantom” and their favourite bands as “Jovi” or “Leppard”; their movie and musical tastes giving us further insight into their sad little lives.

Anyway, by now, a pattern was beginning to form: Italy + Sport = Dull.

A last chance to disprove my theory came with the eagerly-anticipated Spain v Italy Euro 2008 quarter final clash. And, dear Lord (even if you did vote ZANU-PF) – they went out of their way to hammer the point home. 90 minutes of the most excruciatingly dull viewing I have experienced since I last watched an F1 race. And then another 30 minutes of extra time as added punishment. What did I do to deserve that?

It seems to me that a country with such a proud military history (well, until about 100 AD, anyway), a wealth of national monuments and treasures, a pretty cool, bouncy, upbeat national anthem and moreover, a well known reputation for passion and excitement, can turn out such mind-numbingly boring sporting performances.

Has the true Italy come to the fore? Is this what Italians are really like, their genuine characters previously hidden under a thin veneer of heated, volcanic emotions?
I don’t want to believe it, but the evidence of late is pointing firmly in the direction of dull.
Convince me otherwise. Please.

Not in Kansas anymore

UPDATE: Looking for pictures of the 30-31st August 2008 storm? Try here!

As I stared, bleary-eyed, out of the bedroom window into the cold and dark of the Cape Town morning, I was once again blown away by the sight of the lights of Muizenberg glittering on the ocean. What a view. Despite the atrocious weather of the past 24 hours, I am very fortunate to live here.
It was only a few minutes later, standing under a very welcome steaming shower, that I realised that we live about 10km up the road from Muizenberg. Something wasn’t right.

It turns out that rain over the past 24 hours had turned my back garden into something akin to the ocean. As the gloomy, grey morning struggled to be slightly less gloomy and grey, I caught sight of an aging hippy in a wetsuit with his longboard next to my braai, anxiously looking across the lawn for any sign of sharks before he paddled out towards the birdbath to wait for the next big breaker.

It’s true that it has been a pretty torrid couple of days weather-wise for the residents of Cape Town. One of those times that you are glad that you aren’t living in a shack in a township or a tent in a temporary refugee camp (sorry – “displaced foreign nationals site”). Glancing at the SA Weather Service website, I see that Kirstenbosch – home of the famous botanical gardens and just around the corner from us – had 135mm of rain dropped on it in the last 24 hours. That’s 5½ inches for you oldies out there.

S'wet
Kirstenbosch: Rather damp

Still, this is winter in Cape Town so we really should be expecting the wet and the cold. Interestingly, in exactly 2 years time, the entire world will have descended upon the Mother City for the 2010 World Cup. I’m already buying up Pak-a-Mac’s by the lorryload which I will sell at a vastly inflated mark-up to ill-prepared Europeans who think it’s hot and sunny here all year round.

The profits will be used to install some sort of drainage system into my garden before high tide floods my living room.

Overheard at the rugby

Cape Town’s Stormers take on the Crusaders from New Zealand.

We will win this game.

We’re the South African team – we invented humanity, for f***s sake – we’re the Cradle of Humankind.
We were the first nation to f*****g invent nuclear missiles and then give it all up.

We can’t lose this game.

Final score: Stormers 0-22 Crusaders

Moral of the story: Success doesn’t automatically follow big achievements.
(Oh, and you should have kept those missiles).

It’s Argus Day!

Oh joy!

The annual Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour is here in Cape Town once again.
Each March, the largest timed cycling event in the world effectively paralyses the city for the day and increases the square metres of lycra to local population ratio far beyond safe limits.

So why do I love it so much?

  • For the two weeks (although this is now stretching towards a month) prior to the event, cyclists in the city are apparently permitted to ignore any traffic rules. Extra points are given for going through red lights and causing accidents, which are then blamed on anyone sitting in something with an engine (and helpfully, with insurance too).
  • On the actual day, residents of the city get woken up by the television helicopters flying the route from 6.15 in the morning. On a Sunday. Thanks.
  • It’s a wonderful day out there today, but can I take my boy to the beach?
    No, I can’t – because all the roads are closed.
  • Better not have a heart attack today if you live on the route. Getting an ambulance to you will probably take a bit too long. Anyway, it’s far more important that some poorly-prepared 55 year old from Bloemfontein gets to the local cardiac care unit first, because he has a bike and is wearing lycra.
  • For the next three months, we have to endure people talking about how they went “sub four” and what a struggle it was in the wind.  Then, for the nine months following that, we have to endure people talking about how they’re going to go “sub four” and that they hope it’s not windy.    

“Come now, 6000” some people say. “It’s just one day of the year!”

And they’re nearly right. They just missed a bit:
It’s just one day of the year TOO MANY!