Crime hits new low

And by a “new low”, I don’t mean it’s just not happening.
No. I mean, could it actually get any more despicable?

I can hardly bring myself to share this. Yes, sadly, SA is known for its crime, but it’s not nearly as bad as you might expect if you read (and believed all that you read) in the newspapers and the internet. I checked this morning, and despite the frankly terrifying murder rate here, I was actually still alive.

On the other end of the crime scale is the Isle of Man. At worst, crime there is sparse, and minor.

Or rather: it was. Because today – heartbroken – I read this story:

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You can keep your violence and your drugs and guns. When an heron garden ornament is taken from a heron garden ornament owner’s garden, something has gone seriously wrong with the system.
And it’s not just any heron garden ornament. It’s a sentimental heron garden ornament. One which wasn’t some recent addition to the heron garden ornament owner’s garden, one which had been there for many years and one with which the heron garden ornament owner had developed a special bond. Not quite enough of a physical bond to prevent it from being nicked; more of an emotional bond, but still, a bond, nevertheless.


The biggest sadness here is that the police in the Isle of Man simply aren’t set up to deal with this kind of thing. And that means that the heron garden ornament owner will probably never see his or her heron garden ornament again.
And that’s despite the clever effort of the IOM Newspapers at the bottom of the story there, with their endeavour to tempt the perpetrator or perpetrators of this heinous crime to inadvertently give themselves away by sending in the best pictures, video or story of the crime. I know that if I was bold enough to take a heron garden ornament from a heron garden ornament owner’s garden, I’d certainly have snapped a couple of pics and grabbed a bit of footage to document my outrageous actions and share with my criminal peers down at the pub on a Friday evening when I was trying to fence my ill gotten ornamental birdlife for a bit of extra ice cream money.

The urge to show off to a (slightly) larger audience by sharing that evidence with “” would probably prove too much to bear and I strongly suspect that the hardened criminal(s) involved in this disgusting theft may very well struggle with the same sort of impulse.

It’s the only hope. For the sake of preserving the very low crime rate on the Isle of Man and in the defence of other wildlife-themed garden ornaments on the island, we can only hope it bears fruit.

I’ll keep you posted.

Smile through the tears

Hard(er) times are coming for SA. The effects of high inflation and the weak Rand are beginning to show more and more, with new stories of job losses, struggling families and desperation becoming an almost daily occurrence. It’s heartbreaking and it’s worrying.

Even those of us who are lucky enough not to be directly affected are seeing a difference. The shopping bill is suddenly through the roof, the requests to help support more members of people’s families and friends are up, and the soaring crime rate is back on the agenda at every braai and dinner party (not that it ever really went away). Such is the lack of confidence in our beleaguered police force that petty criminals can act with complete impunity knowing that their victims won’t even bother to register a case, as all parties concerned are well aware that nothing will come of it.

Here’s a good example:

Opportunistic thieves were caught on a dashcam by Cape Town businessman Marc Nussey last Thursday just after 11am, casually opening the canopy of a bakkie that stopped at a traffic light before making off with a box of toothpaste and other goods.

Nussey posted pictures and a video of the incident on Facebook to warn people and identify the culprits.

He said when he caught up with the driver and told him what had happened, the man did not seem interested in laying charges.

And in the same report:

The Facebook post attracted a number of responses, including from one man who said he watched the same men snatching a box of frozen food from a similar bakkie.

“I jumped out and chased them into Lavender Hill, but could not catch them. I then drove directly to Kirstenhof (police station) to report the crime. They practically yawned in my face,” he wrote.

Still, there’s always hope. And the hope comes in the spirit of one of the other comments on the thread:

Last month, a motorist warned people to stay alert when he saw some guys forcing open a delivery vehicle and running away with a large tin of tomatoes “all in view of a metro police vehicle standing two car lengths ahead”.

“The delivery guy gave chase picking up a brick and unleashed from 10m range, hitting the skollie between the (shoulder) blades who returned fire with the tin of tomatoes like a world-class shot putt athlete.”

The problems are real, but I feel that while we’ve still got a sense of proportion (and humour) about them, for the most part, they’re manageable. The situation is bringing out an almost altruistic “Blitz” spirit in people and that’s good to see.

Just how far that can carry us is up for debate though.

Crime: sorted

Incoming: Great news from SAPS (The South African Police Service)!

After a weekend which will inevitably be filled with murder, rape, burglary and violence across South Africa, all will be sorted from 10am on Monday, when the police service hold their prayer day. Yippee!

According to the media release:

 The prayer will among other things focus on the following:

  • Safety for police officers
  • Reduction of crime in general
  • Reduction of gender-based violence

But will it work? Well, apparently, yes it will, because they tell us that:

A collective prayer has the power to protect and save police officers and preserve the nation. Police officials are responsible for protecting the community and our prayers can help save our police officials from harm.

It does make you wonder why, given the power that a collective prayer obviously possesses, no-one has come up with this idea before. Why waste time with community intervention, detective work and shooting miners when we could all come together, say a few words and kill all those birds with one stone, thus finding ourselves all leaving in a harmonious utopia?

Except, they have tried this before: last year:

The SAPS’s National Prayer Day is at the SAPS’s Tshwane Training Academy in Pretoria West from 10:00 to 12:30 on Tuesday, 13 August 2013. Employees of the South African Police Service are encouraged to attend this worthy event. It is through the divine intervention of the Almighty that we stay protected and reach our goal in the fight against crime.

Yep – the divine intervention of the Almighty will sort everything out, starting at 10am on the 13th August.
So, how did that work out for them, then? Well, here are a few lines from a synopsis of the crime stats released last week:

  • For the first time in 20 years the number of murders and the murder rate has increased for a second consecutive year.
  • This means that there were 809 more people murdered than in the previous year.
  • There has been an increase in all categories of robbery over the past year.
  • Vehicle hijacking increased by 12.3% to 11,221 incidents. This means that 31 motor vehicles were hijacked every day on average in 2013/14.

Oops. And, tragically:

Between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2014 a total 68 police officers were killed in the line of duty.

So, one has to ask where this confidence in the power of the prayer “to protect and save police officers and preserve the nation” has come from?
Perhaps, like the big guy upstairs that their prayers are aimed at, it’s all just made up.

The media is cordially invited to attend the prayer service.

No thanks.

I needed that…

Back to Cape Town and back home after a couple of days at the cottage and I have realised that I needed a break there to remind me that this is a good country to live in.

Don’t get me wrong. SA is my home. My house is here, my wife and kids were born here and I have settled in like a duck settling into water (big splash, few ruffled feathers, some soggy bread). And I love it here. But coming back from our recent visit to the UK, I was again reminded about the thing I don’t enjoy in SA: the lack of personal freedom. (and the fast internet – Ed.)

Even living (as we do) in a leafy, decent suburb, people are uneasy about going out at night. While we were in the UK, wandering up the road to the pub each evening was great. Here, the roads are poorly lit, the standard of driving is poor, especially in the evenings and the chances of being mugged are unnecessarily high. We all live and exist behind great big, high walls and I miss the freedom that living in the UK gives you.

But that’s in the city. Down in Agulhas, things are so much more open. No walls, no electric fences. (I hope I’m not giving the burglars helpful information here.) I needed to be reminded that this can happen here. And we made the most of it. Beach, braai, beer. Brilliant.

It reset my system and I am at peace again.

Two front teeth

Meanwhile in the Isle of Man…
Things move slowly here. It’s like Cape Town slow and then some. Let me enlighten you as to the current to story over here on the IOMtoday website:

Police are requesting for information regarding an assault which occurred in Willaston at around 11:30pm on Saturday.

Officers want to speak with a man who is described as being in his early 20s, about 6ft in height, with light brown/blond hair in a messy style and is missing both two upper front teeth. He was wearing light blue denim jeans and shirt at the time.

Anyone with information as to the man’s identity is asked to contact Douglas police headquarters on 631212 or call Isle of Man Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

The Cape Town connection in that description wasn’t lost on me. The only thing they don’t state is whether the teeth were present before the incident in question.
I’m also well aware that I am about 6ft in height (bit more actually) with light brown/blond hair in a messy style. Having just checked, however, my teeth are intact.