09 December 2008

Innocence Lost

When I made my commitment to become involved in the fight against crime a while back I never in my wildest dreams knew what this would expose me to. In the last few months I have seen a seamy side of life that makes me wonder where it is all going to end and why do I live here and what is it all about.

This commitment also comes with a price. You give up your time - a good two to three hours of patrolling over weekends, you attend meetings, you fight with the police to get things done and you lose your innocence. Nothing is taken at face value anymore, you lose your trust and faith in mankind. This is not surprising when you see what goes on in the streets after dark.

Last weekend we were scheduled to patrol from 04h00 to 06h00 on Sunday morning. Better have an early night we think.

At 21h00 I walk out onto the front porch and see a car parked across the park. I am immediately suspicious, as I was told that drug dealers are active in the area.

I call the guys on patrol to take a look. Before they arrive the car leaves only to return shortly afterwards. It is not long before they arrive and drive past the car, turn and drive up to my front gate. I go out to greet them and they tell me it is just two guys sitting in their car. Before I can start to convince them to take another look, we see one guy climb out the car and walk to the perimeter fence and stoop down. We think he is making a drug pick up.

How fortuitous, a police patrol van comes past and we flag him down. The police quickly intercept the vehicle and search the suspects and their vehicle. They don't find anything and the both cars drive off. "They probably threw it out the window." I think to myself.

Just then a familiar car, belonging to a local pimp I exposed the week before, drives up. He parks next to the flats and walks down the path to the perimeter fence, bends down, picks something up and puts it in his pocket. How wrong we were. This guy was making the pickup. The other two were the runners. He walks back briskly to his car.

I phone 10111 to get a police van dispatched to the area, but the operator is unable to understand me. She hands the call over to another operator, who has no sense of urgency or understanding of the problem - she must go through the bureaucratic red tape. I see the lights of the car turn on as it starts up and watch him drive away.

In exasperation I call to Suzi-k to phone our neighbourhood watch leader, who is in direct contact with the drug squad. I then tell the operator not to bother and hang up.

The neighbourhood watch and drug unit spring into action to see if the suspect vehicles can be located at any of the local hot spots.

Our leader drives up to our home after a having done few circuits in the area and I accompany her to Govan Mbeki Avenue.

Most of the street lights are not working because of extensive road works, and the area is lit by the shop lights. People are wandering up and down the road. Pimps, prostitutes and drug dealers. All ready to offer you their services at a price. We drive slowly down the street and but do not find any of the cars. We do a u-turn and drive up the other side of the road.

There is an atmosphere of brooding evil that makes one want to get out of the "rats nest" as quickly as one can. We carry on.

A big four wheel drive bakkie (truck, ute) with CW registration plates, is driving slowly in front of us. He quickly turns off the road, into some off street parking bays. As we pass him a tall, slim young woman, with blond hair, barefoot and wearing tight shots and a T shirt strolls along the pavement. Two other young girls wearing mini skirts and knee high boots are standing in the shadows propositioning passers by. I look at them with sadness and wonder what it was that brought them down to this level in life.

We decide to do another circuit and a car stops on the side of the road in front of us. The driver climbs out, steps onto the pavement and urinates against a shop window. As we drive past he walks back to his car doing up his fly.

Across the road we see the blond lass climbing into the vehicle with the CW registration places. "I wonder what his wife would say if she knew what he was up to?" I say.

I suggest that maybe we should try and see if we can get help for these young woman, with one of the local support groups, such as The Potter's House.

Cynicism, or is it a reality check, creeps in. It probably won't work I am told. The pimps make sure that their "charges" are so addicted to drugs that they will never leave. I am reminded that many of these young women never became prostitutes by choice, but are victims of human trafficking syndicates.

Our impromptu patrol yields no fruit and we head for home. It is going to be a long night.


Katney said...

So sad.

Here--rural rather than urban--it is gang activity that is most predominant in our local news. One recent newscast about another drive by shooting incident mentioned that some drive-bys are not even reported.

The Rambler said...

How terribly sad,and true in losing the innocence of the world.

Found you via Blog of notes. (Congrats by the way)

Mastergamer said...

vist my blog if you read this

Anonymous said...

"my commitment to become involved"

I often feel the same way about being positive and inspiring others to be positive. There are days when I feel that the world is just a horrible place and why should I should bother? But I know it is. The tiny moments that make me feel great about what I am doing is absolutely worth it! Don't fret. The fact that you are trying means everything!

Sreisaat said...

Found my way here through Blogger's Blogs of Note.
The problem there is the same as the problem here where I am. Sometimes you can feel the hopelessness amongst the community but a small, simple step from people like you means a lot.

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Younghee-jin said...

Scary the way teenagers end up that way.

I have to say some people whether they like or not, they lost the innocence that should be protecting them from the cruel facts of life.

A lot of times I tell myself that I wish I don't have any idea of things that I knew now. It's wicked.

Gurpreet Singh said...

Nice Article Keep It Up.
Congrats For The Blog Of The Note

bitacora38 said...

Tienes mucho texto en el blog. A la gente no le gusta leer demasiado. Busca alternativas para hacer mas dinĂ¡mica tus publicaciones.

lili11 said...

Congrats on blog of note. You deserve it. And I love Africa.

Firefly said...

It really is sad and enfuriating to think that all of this is going on right here in our backyard. Well done to you for stepping up. More people should. They have started neighbourhood watches in Framsby and parts of Lorraine with rollouts in the rest of Lorraine and Kamma Park to follow. I hope Charlo will be next so that I could also do my bit.

Firefly said...

Just to add. I first wanted to go see what the whole Blogs of Note thing is about. Max, I must say I'm not just a little impressed. Well done on your entry into Blogs of Note.

Nick said...

Cool, I see barely any one from Africa on the internet! Keep up the great blogging!

Anonymous said...

Excellent Blog.


The villager: said...

Nice blog, Max.

Just call me Kitt10's said...

Thanks for sharing. Makes me feel so sad that this is happening in beautiful South Africa. Whilst his could happen anywhere in the world, it was always a fear of mine when I lived there that it could happen to my kids.

Ferdi en Mimi said...

Hey there, i came across your blog by coincidence, but really was interested by the way you comment the life of every day in your country. In 2007 november i visited South Africa, and beying from belgium i was more then one time thinking, "" this is a land that if i was going to go away to live enywere else in the world, this would be it "" but futher on our trip, we did have a good look at the high rate of crime that was going on over there, and i had to change my about it. Its good that citicens like yourself take the matter in your own hands in cooperatian with the police to do something about it. I wish you succes in your struggle for a better live over there.
Greetings from Belgium


Hello. I follow your blog from Italy.
You're doing a good job .. .. Very good Continue not despair
"There are days of sunshine and days of rain"

Smile! Ysa :-)

..I love Africa...

Neo said...

just remember the reason for crime in the drug community is because of prohibition, just like alcohol back in the 20-30's, The so called war on drugs is a total and complete failure as well as a waste of money and jail space. I was listening to an group consisting of retired and active police officers that believe the same. Leap is the name they go by.http://leap.cc/cms/index.php?name=Content&pid=4 check out that link.

Dan Tezza said...

an excellent, if deeply saddening, post. I may have to become a subscriber, however, as your post made for compelling reading!

Andi said...

This is a very poignant essay. What month of your blog archive can I find history about the start of these activities?

Love the pics in your recent posts.

Clicker said...

I love the way you write Max. This is a truly sad story though. Although, I was truly moved by Innocence Lost. It was a very interesting post. One of the best and the most memorable posts that I have ever read. You truly did deserve to be on the Blogs of Note list. Great Job Max! And Congrats! I would also love for those of you who are reading this to visit my blog. And read the post labeled "Thief- Thefts #1, #18, and the Reason for Confinement". They are little sections from a book I'm writing and I would love for you all to comment on them. Even Send it to your friends. Please, pleasse, please!
Peace On Earth

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natalie said...

Gee how confusing!
it sounds as if it goes on and on there
without stopping

Anna said...

Max-e that is sad, and please becareful, it looks like dangerous job even though just patrolling one. Anna :0

Jeanne said...

Well done to you for putting your money where your mouth is and at least trying to do something. How depressing that the police are not treating your initiative as the helping hand it is, and get bogged down in red tape rather than catch the criminals. Very sad to think what Govan Mbeki is like now. Even when I was at varsity in the 1980s it was not that savoury, but the activities you describe were certainly not as prevalent and I didn't feel scared driving there even at night.