08 September 2007

Never give up

The Port Elizabeth Express front page headline on the 29 August 2009 screams out, “Crime takes hold of Richmond Hill”. Not a good advertisement for a suburb that is becoming quite trendy in the city.

And then a front page article in the Weekend Post, on Saturday 1 September 2007 states: The wave of crime which has made South Africa one of the most dangerous countries outside a war zone in which to live is now rapidly spreading through the once peaceful suburbs of Nelson Mandela Bay.” Is this journalist licence or is it fact.

Several weeks ago when Sue had her knee operation I went walk about in Central, to photograph some of the old churches. This was to kill time, while waiting to collect her after the op. I am not a nervous person, but it was one of the most unsettling experiences I have had for a long time. Not exactly in the prime of my life and walking about in a crime ridden area, with the camera around my neck made me a prime target.

When I picked Sue up from the hospital, I told her that the last time I had that feeling was when we lived in a war zone where I was working. That was in the 1970’s in Zimbabwe, or Rhodesia as it was then called. It was not a conscious action on my part, it just happened. I was like a tightly wound spring, ready to leap into action in a split second. I found myself constantly on the lookout, carefully checking every person coming in my direction, looking over my shoulder every few seconds to make sure that no one came up from behind, checking to see that no one was getting ready to ambush me.

The pictures I took were disappointing because I was not able to fully concentrate on what I was doing. Check shoot, check … wait while this group of youth go by and so on. Despite my best efforts, people still managed to come by me - fortunately without malicious intent - without me being aware of their approach. I eventually gave up and went home.

After dropping Sue at home I went to the pharmacy to get her pain killers. While there I met a young mother who was in quite a state of shock, who had just been robbed at knife point in that very area, where I had been taking photographs. She was there to get tranquilizers.

Two weeks ago on Saturday, Sue and I took an early morning walk around Richmond Hill, after which I did the posts Reflections of the Hill and Signs.

Last week on Saturday morning at 8:30 am in that same area, Lisbet Calitz was shot and killed in her car, while in her driveway in Hartman Street. Another senseless killing in South Africa – another tragedy and another family traumatized and in mourning. Why........ what for?

Yes, that was the very area Sue and I had been in the week before. (Picture alongside is the sunrise over the Bay from Hartman Street)

When we go on our walks we take all the security precautions we can, like carrying a can of mace, or taking Harry with us. I refuse to be a victim and lock myself away, but I also resent the fact that no law abiding person can feel safe in their neighbourhood or home any more. Are we exposing ourselves to unnecessary risks – we probably are. Will I stop the walks? Absolutely not. I will rather go down fighting than back down to a bunch of thugs.

We have had more than our fair share of crime. Sue did a few posts on one experience last year Justice South African Style and Wheels of Justice Grind Slowly (so slowly that the case has still not seen the light of day). Sue took a light hearted look at the the incident, but we were both thoroughly traumatized for many months afterwards.

But on a positive note we are members of a community forum that intends to stand up for what is right and take an active role in fighting crime in our area. We will not be victims and we do not intend living on our nerves for the rest of our days.

1 comment:

Suzi-k said...

Yup, watch out criminals, here are two old farts who will NOT take it lying down!!!!