Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Crime and the Golf

One of our first impressions of the local whites was their extreme paranoia. You can see it quite regularly in the international press: "whites fear land reform in South Africa", "whites fear rising crime rates." Now, clearly most of the crime takes place in the communities which breed the criminals, and the gated, barbed-wired and electrically-fenced tree-covered northern suburbs, filled with the city's ex-winners from apartheid are typically not the communities (if one can call them that) which breed crime. So while whites do face crime, I would warrant that they don't even face the worst brunts of it, or at least not the rich whites whose opinions fill the international press. And as for the land reform, once you realize that the majority of land (70+%) is commercial agricultural land (read 'white owned land'), well, it makes you at least a little more sceptical about the extent to which white paranoia here is based in reality, rather than being a reaction to loss of the Utopian near-absolute security they faced under apartheid.

Indeed, the whites here are going quite literally crazy with fear. An Afrikaner friend told me that some old Boer guerrilla communities are re-organizing to create "anti-crime" militias, which almost certainly must mean vigilante justice and possibly anti-black retaliatory assaults at the worst.

That said, crime is indeed a problem. Our car was broken into Saturday night, for example, and they fucked up the wiring and starter, but were unable to steal the vehicle as a whole (thank god, since we're as yet unregistered and w/out insurance...). The parking guard (a single poor black guy with a reflective vest) was literally no deterrent against the vandalization; either the perpetrators paid him, threatened him, or knew him (this is what most people here suspect; complete complicity from these private security guys), but the most he did was tell us as we're returning to the car that "hey, your window's down". Well, thanks so much! A police car drove by as we're trying to get it started, and I had to run up and tap on the car to get them to stop. they proceeded to threaten me for failing to respect them and made a number of menacing comments until I apologized and let them drive away.

In short, crime is a problem and while statistically the worst affected are the other poor, the vast majority of whom are black, it is the formerly safe (under apartheid) whites who are most upset about it. They feel "abandoned in their own homes, and where else do we have to go, since I'm not FROM anywhere else? Where else in the world do they speak Afrikaans?" The lack of legal and official recourse is breeding a massive white proto-fascist revolt which, if it is allowed to happen, will certainly end in bloodshed and worse. The poor, economically marginalized, blacks here will not, I think, be the source of the next South African revolution, but the poor and middle-class whites, politically and economically marginalized and increasingly nationalist, funded by the rich Afrikaner aristocrats of the last century.

1 comment:

Heather said...

you really should change the name of this thing to "Roger and Todd's Totally Heinous Crime".... even if you guys aren't technically the ones committing the crimes. or time travelling.