12 February 2008

Crime, crime, crime

Today was just another day in South Africa and despite all the assurances form the politicians crime is alive and well in our country and our city.

Headlines in today’s Herald read:

• Crime wave puts marine sanctuary in jeopardy
• Youth shot dead
• Fake guard alarm
• Bungy firm burgled
• Woman beaten and raped in Richmond Hill attack (quite openly in a street around the corner from where we live)
• Plan to improve parks problems (drugs, littering, urinating in public etc)
• Street patrol initiative in Zwide will help protect community
• Fast tracking transport, tackling commuter crime (crime is rife on our passenger trains)
• Web exchange website set to reduce illegal dumping
• Durban cops probing insurance firm fraud
• Child rapist 71, given 20 years behind bars

And let me not forget, we have again been victims of crime. Yesterday the wing mirrors were stolen from Sue’s car, while she was setting up for an art exhibition.

If I say I hate criminals - rather strong words - they have earned it. You see this is just another crime in an already long list experienced by my family, employees and friends.

When I tell people that there was a time when we did not lock our home, they look at me in disbelief. But it is true. Today, you keep your home locked, even if you are at home - even then it is not a guarantee of safety.. The headlines of this week’s PE Express yell out, “Robbers want you at home”. This makes life easier, as they just ask what they want, including your ATM pin. As most homes have high security wals, no one will even know what is happening.

I remember the days when a violent crime or a murder made headline news for several days or weeks. Today, there are not enough pages in the newspapers to report all the violent crimes. Now, unless it is a high profile person or a particularly horrific case, they seldom receive more than a sentence.

This has been some of my family’s experience with crime:

The past two years
1. Unscrupulous letting agent stole R8,500 from us and the state refuses to prosecute.
2. Security lock forced at offices. Two cell phones and a wallet stolen while my colleague and her friend were on the premises. Took the police 1.5 hours to arrive. Cost to secure the security gate: R2,200.
3. Intruder’s trying doors of flats in complex using keys stolen in a mugging. Still waiting for the police to arrive. All the access codes had to be reset.
4. Garages broken into in our complex where we live. We caught the sod, at a cost. Sue’s arms were badly lacerated and she was stabbed, it took over two weeks to get the police to come around and take a statement. And lo and behold, I should not have beaten him with a broom, even though he tried to stab me, because I can now be held up for assault. Medical bill – over R1000. Additional security measures R4,400. R200 bail for him.
5. Unsavory characters confronted while photographing Sue’s car with a cell phone camera. They do this as they are commissioned to fulfill orders. They beat a hasty retreat when we openly started photographing them.
6. Jewelry stolen from sister by worker she hired. This was left to her by our mother. It means nothing to this sod, but a lot to us.
7. Sister fights back and foils attempted mugging. She moved to a small country town to escape this and becomes the towns first mugging victim.
8. Sue confronted two unsavory intruders – young black males – in the office, trying to convince her that the security gate had been open and that they wanted d├ęcor advice while checking out the offices. They refused to leave until she got tough with them.
9. Car thieves observed outside our home checking out Sue’s car and making arrangements for its theft on a cell phone.
10. Tools stolen by assorted contractors from building we renovated.
11. Intruder evicted from offices by staff after he managed to open the security gate. We have tried to secure the lock with a metal plate. He has been back several times ands is quite brazen about trying to open it. I have bought all our female staff a pepper spray canister. Cost R260.
12. Washing stolen from washing line at daughter and son-in-laws home.
13. Colleague who lives near office followed home by two unsavory characters with bad motives. When they were about to accost her a passing motorist stopped and they fled. They sped off even faster when her boy friend went after them with a hockey stick.
14. Morris chair stolen from verandah. Subsequently recovered quite by chance, when Sue drove past a furniture restorer around the corner and saw it being restored.
15. Outside light stolen from daughter and son-in-laws home.
16. Daughter's car stolen several weeks after returning to SA from Zimbabwe. It was never recovered.
17. Complex broken into and car’s window smashed. Nothing taken, but it cost R250 to replace the window. Police made it clear that nothing will be done.
18. Backdoor of new business premises kicked in. The break-in was foiled by the neighbours.
19. Nephew’s cell phone stolen in smash and grab at a traffic light.
20. Nephew foiled attempted hijacking, while entering his town house complex.
21. Niece foiled attempted hijacking.
22. Attempted break-in at shop in Westbourne Road foiled by armed response.
Last two to five years
23. Three cell phones stolen from our shop.
24. Locks trashed when criminals attempted break into our two garages. Cost R240.
25. Two bicycles stolen fro garage. Value R5,000.
26. Expensive beadwork throw stolen from shop. Value R1,300.
27. CD shuttle stolen from Sue’s car, as well as my wind cheater.
28. Several unsavory characters foiled in shop. Usually arriving as a team they and distract you while their colleagues do the stealing.
29. Garden fork stolen.
30. Garden spray stolen.
Last five to 15 years
31. Radio tape stolen from Karen’s Opel Kadet.
32. Ian’s wallet stolen from suite at cricket match,
33. Radio trashed in Karen’s VW beetle, as it was secured in a way that it could not be removed.
34. Battery cables cut when thieves attempted to steel VW beetle battery, but could not as it had been chained down, to prevent it being stolen.
35. Sound system stolen from Karen’s VW Beetle.
36. Ian’s class mate and friend sexually molested by his teacher. Teacher eventually got house arrest and community service.
37. Brother-in-laws car stolen. (Never recovered)
38. Radio/ tape stolen from Sue's car
39. Battery stolen from Karen’s VW beetle.
40. Radio stolen from my car.
41. Bicycle stolen by builders.
Last 15 to 25 years
42. Reported suspected child molester. The case was not taken seriously until 18 moth’s later when the child went to preprimary school. The father got six years for doing unspeakable things to his two children.
43. Numerous chickens stolen from small holding over period of ten years
44. Fostered two sisters for as year, one of whom had been sexually molested.
45. Ian, confronted by a knife wielding child who demanded his bicycle. He received a hiding from his father for his efforts.
46. Harbored a battered wife for several months.
47. Clive our gardener was stabbed in the corner of his eye. Fortunately he did not lose his sight.
48. Tools stolen by labourers.
49. A gang of youth’s attempted to accost Sue while she was out riding her horse. Fortunately she was able to outrun them on the horse.
50. Sister’s handbag snatched when she was shopping.
51. Arrested a rapist, who attempted to rape a 10 years old child.
Last 25 to 30 years
52. Car stolen, but recovered the next day.
53. Attempted car break-in foiled in Johannesburg.
54. Brother-in-law murdered by poachers.
55. Step father murdered on farm.
56. Burglary in flat while we were sleeping. My wallet and Sues id card and passport were stolen.
Last 30 years plus
57. Poaching on farm.
58. Fishing rods stolen from pump house on farm.
59. Petty theft at boarding school.
60. Enduring school bullies. Yes they are not a new phenomenon. Many of the people I went to school with were rotten to the core. I wonder how they turned out as adults.

The list is probably not complete. I can go on and on ……………. some petty some serious. Each crime adds to the next and contributes further to my anger. An anger that is aimed at the criminals and the authorities, who do not seem to have the will or the ability to deal with the problem of crime.

As a matter of interest, other than where specifically stated, only one of these criminals has been brought to justice. Case number 4 – Sue and I spent an unproductive morning at court giving testimony, 18 months after the event. Haven’t heard of the outcome yet.

Is crime decreasing? I think not. If it is then my family is getting more than their fair share. It is no wonder communities are taking the law into their own hands.

The result of all this? I am angry at having to constantly be looking over my shoulder and worrying about the safety of my family. I am disillusioned and am rapidly losing faith in the ability of the justice system to protect its citizens. And I worry about the person this is turning me into.

Guess what – I am not going to be a victim. I will fight back that is a promise.

PS: I have not included the five murders of people we knew, two armed robberies , a severe assault and numerous car thefts of friends and acquaintances


Oswegan said...

I don't think I would last in that kind of an environment.

Pamela said...

When you start to list it like that it is very scary!

I think I just had a run in with your Estate Agent, but because of Sue's prior warning and a warning from somebody else about the person she was representing I will have nothing to do with her!

Old Wom Tigley said...

Hi Max... a lot of what you are saying and reporting could be from right here in Manchester England... I kid you not. Car Jacking is on the increase, knocking on your door at night time or day time and then robbing you of your money, phones, laptops, cards and of course leaving in your car is a weekly incidance, rape murder shootings, and all sorts of other low down nasty stuff are going on day in and day out.
As for fighting back Max... that's another story. I have done this and charges were bought... not just that Max... I have a back ground of looking after myself and making money by fighting, and being a minder/body gaurd... doorman.. I've mixed and know some nasty nasty people.. but to fight back is not something I would recomend you do. You will be angry and annoyed... never fight when angry or annoyed.. if you hurt someone then you will be charged. Fighting back needs to be a controlled planned for event. Planned for and premeditated are very close in law remember that.

The other thing I would say Max.. is if you have never hurt anyone before, then fighting back can come back to haunt you many months later, when you realise what you did.

The only advise I would or could give you is never fight back unless your life was at risk... and then if at all possible run. These folk would not think twice to hurting you, they will be used to doing it, they will be faster, more aware and like dogs.

It's a terrible world at times Max... but anything that money can replace is not worth losing you life for... better security cost money.. but thats more likely the way to go with this.

What an upsetting post this is Max.. I really do feel for you all in this.

Anna said...

Max-e I don't know if I would want to live in constant fear, I have to consider myself lucky, but then we had few deadly crimes not far away from home that shock the town - step father killing two children and the wife, it really makes your eyes wide open. The worst part I don't like about crimes is that sometimes lot of innocent people die, that is being wrong place at the wrong time. Anna :)

Max-e said...

Hi Scott, now you see why your crime reports amused us. I guess we become numbed to a lot of it after a while

Max-e said...

Pamela, when I put it all together as a list it was quite sobering.

If the agent you are refering to has "Finger" in her business name then it is the same one. The name should be changed to "Sticky Fingers"

Max-e said...

Tom, thanks for your comments and concern. As much as I would like to get a lynch mob going, I think I will have to give that a miss though.

By fighting back Sue and I have become involved in a community forum that deals with crime among other issues. We are also prepared to report crimes and endure the circus of our courts etc.

I don't go looking for trouble, but have an unfortunate tendency to fight back if it comes my way. After our burglary, although we won the day, we were both traumatised for many months and had difficulty sleeping. That is until Harry entered our life.

Harry is a pepper gun, a non lethal legal weapon. He comes with us on walks and lives next to the bed. He is quite intimidating. I will do a post on him sometime.

Sometimes we just take a cannister of pepper spray with us.

Any response from my side will be a knee jerk reaction in the heat of the moment.

Thanks for your wisdom and caution in these matters.

Max-e said...

Anna, thanks for your comments. I suppose we don't live in fear, but are rather constantly on our guard. It is not a nice way to live, but that is a reality.

Watching the news on TV tonight was really heart breaking - a 12 year old girl, on her way to school with her mother, was killed when caught in the cross fire between robbers and security guards. Another innocent victim.

Bob Johnson said...

Holy crapola,lots of crime, wow, Sue got stabbed, hope the sod gets what's coming to him, love the term sod, so fitting

Digital Flower Pictures said...

Wow and I thought the states were bad. Crime has seemed to go down a bit around my neck of the woods by getting tougher with criminals (courts), adding more police and I think that they economy was getting better and there were more jobs. They have also added a lot of computer power to fighting crime (like keep track of high crime areas).

Please be safe, I love this blog ;) I think I would get a pair of the largest German Shepherds I could find! They are a great crime deterrent.

Max-e said...

Hi Bob, will have to phone the prosecutor for information. This is a really bad character - a professional criminal wanted on numerous counts of theft and assault.

Max-e said...

Digital Flower Pictures the politicians make a big noise about fighting crime, but little happens.

The most succesful crime fighting unit in the country is being disbanded in great haste, because it has become an embarassment to the government - so many of them have come under investigation, including the president of the ANC who is soon to be the President of the country.

A municipal court had its grand opening over a year ago - the only person to arrive was an opposition councillor. All he found was an empty whisky bottle. The intention was that it would handle petty crimes - we are still waiting for it to open.

I must say that our new chief of police in our precinct has made a big difference, but it is a tough battle, especially in the courts, which are a circus.

Enough ranting. We will battle on.

MedaM said...

I am so sorry to hear about that much crime you write about. Unfortunately I don't have any comforting words about that. Before the war in my country the crime was almost unknown issue over here but after the war it is in increasing. I don’t know what’s going on? Have the people become insane?

Max-e said...

MedaM, I wrote in a post last year that living in South Africa is in some ways like living in a war zone. You have to keep on the alert, because you do not know where the next attack is coming from. The problems are complex and boils down to a total decay of moral values and an ineffective justice system - that's my view anyway. Thanks for your comments