South Africans: Tough
At the weekend a 21-year-old Zimbabwean national took an air waitress hostage on an SAA flight, holding a syringe to her neck and demanding he be let into the cockpit or she would die. An off-duty SAA pilot and two other passengers promptly tackled him, bore him to the ground, and beat him senseless. Then they handcuffed him and tied him to a seat, before turning back to land at Cape Town International. One thing you can say for living in a society as violent as South Africa – we don’t scare easy.
Last week I read an article about an Irish couple who had been cycling through Africa raising AIDS awareness. They’d been through many of the poorest countries on earth, including war-torn Sudan, on their six-month trek, but it wasn’t until they hit South Africa that their experience soured. They took a night off and went to the Suncoast Casino in Durban to see a movie, parking their rental car in a ‘secure’ parking lot. They were gone for only a short while, discovering that there was nothing showing they wanted to see and returning to the car immediately. They discovered the car had been broken into, and among the valuables stolen were their digital camera, the woman’s handbag with all the usual contents as well as all the jewelry they’d purchased from various countries on the trip, and a removable hard drive with over 25,000 photos from the last six months. They say they’ll return to Africa, but never to South Africa. And my first thought is, who is stupid enough to leave a camera, a handbag and a harddrive in a car? Here, we’re pleasantly surprised when we get back to our car and it’s still there, never mind anything you may have left inside it. I suppose we’re just desensitized, but it’s almost inconceivable for me to leave something of any value in my car, regardless of how safe the area appears to be. It must be nice to live in a country where you can do something like that and expect your things to be there when you return. Here, you’re on your guard all the time or you may as well be walking around with a sign saying ‘victim’.
Speaking of how tough life can be here, I always chuckle when people talk about the danger posed by Killer Africanized Honeybees. In SA, we have Killer Africanized Honeybees, only we just call them ‘bees’. They kill people too, but only those stupid enough to think that a sangoma chanting some mumbo-jumbo is going to be enough to protect you from them when you’re trying to steal their hive. Or those who crash their car into the structure that is currently housing a hive. Or try to remove them from pipes without professional assistance.
I think the next FIFA world cup is going to be interesting. I can’t wait to see English soccer hooligans meet Sowetan soccer hooligans, or soccer hooligans from Mitchell’s plain. I think we have a thing or two to teach them about violence, plus the tourists are going to be easy pickings for the local ‘entrepreneurs’. It’s going to be hilarious.