South Africa, A Nation Under Siege

We had a security incident at our home tonight. It was literally a minute before midnight when I was prodded out of bed by the sound of the siren for the electric fencing screaming. In typical fashion, I loitered, somewhat from being disorientated because I was in a deep sleep, and partially because it takes me some time to completely snap into crisis mode. I slowly worked through the process of switching on the outside lights, then getting my firearm out of the safe, and then making my way to the security gate that separates our bedrooms from the main living area of the house. In between I vaguely recall going to the bathroom first before finally making my way over to the back of the house to see what was happening.

When I pushed my curtains back, I saw an owl that could easily have been almost two feet tall standing on the parapet of the outside room. I shone the torch straight at it, and it looked at me as if I was wrong for having electric fence. I suspected that the owl had tried to sit on the top strand of the fence but caused the two strands to short circuit because of its weight, resulting in the screeching siren in the middle of the night. But this is South Africa, so you’re an idiot that’s just asking for it if you don’t make sure that all is relatively safe before you step into your own back yard at that time of the night. So I waited patiently for the security company to send out a response vehicle before venturing outside. Unfortunately, due to a poor installation by a fly-by-night contractor who was an ex-cop, my control unit for the electric fence is located in the outside room with no direct access from inside the house. It’s also not wired up to the main alarm system, which means it gets armed and disarmed independently.

A long 20 minutes later the security company arrived by which time the alarm had been screeching for almost half an hour. I expected to receive a call from the neighbours, but no such thing happened. Not even a light was switched on. But, this is South Africa, so we’re either immune to the sound of house alarms in the middle of the night, or we’re too afraid to get involved for fear of our lives.

I did the walkabout around the house with the armed response guy and confirmed that the top strands had shorted. We sorted it out, I reset the electric fence, and it was back to being armed and ready to irritate again. Throughout this ordeal, my mother paced restlessly in her room in the cottage in my back yard, while my wife who is an American ex-pat got her first taste of the anxiety that South Africans have grown accustomed to. If it wasn’t for the two of them, I would not have given a second thought to the incident, but realising how it affected them reminded me of exactly what hell South Africans deal with on a daily basis. However, because there’s a constant threat to our safety, we’ve grown accustomed to living at a heightened level of stress and fear.

At that moment, when the vulnerability showed on my wife’s face, something inside me cursed deeply. It cursed the corrupt government, the inept officials that lead the police force, and it cursed the arrogance of the likes of Nathi Mthetwa and his fallen comrades who were unceremoniously dismissed from their posts after finally being exposed as the corrupt thieves that they are. The average South African burns a significant portion of their monthly income on security related services and equipment just to feel ok, not safe. High walls, electric fence, armed response, firearms (if you’re fortunate enough to have been granted a license), satellite tracking, anti smash and grab window tinting, security spikes, security gates, and the list goes on. Until recently, even those inept police officers were getting their police stations guarded by private security companies, yet we have an arrogant minister and president that believes that South Africa is safe!

I don’t quite care about the political correctness of this article, but under apartheid, at least we knew what we were dealing with. There was a sense of community and a sense of real safety in our neighbourhoods. The most drastic measures we ever had to take was to setup neighbourhood watch groups, and then also, it was manned by the teenage boys of the area because the threat was mainly to property and not to persons. The crime associated with property theft has grown increasingly violent and sadistic since 1994, and news reports on a daily basis proves that criminals are not only getting more creative in their efforts to terrorise people, but are also getting more brazen in their attacks on both private individuals and police officers alike. And all the while our incompetent minister continues wreaking of arrogance and incompetence, while proclaiming that the police are winning the fight against crime.

Too many South Africans have grown complacent, and are still so stuck in the past that they fail to see the country rolling downhill as a dung ball gathering mass until it settles as a heap of manure at the bottom of the hill of progress, with a finely inscribed label made of the most extravagant materials saying ‘Failed State’. I hate what the ANC has done to this country, and every person that heaps unrestrained praise on the ANC-led government for how they’ve pulverised this country into a stink-hole of morbidity needs to have their IQ retested so that we can find a spot for them in a suitable institution. Hopefully for them funding for that institution won’t be cut because of yet another scandal of untold billions of rands having been squandered or simply unaccounted for.

This is not what we protested for in 1976, nor what we protested for in 1984. This is not what I aspired to have as my quality of life in this country when I got my first job and started paying my taxes. We give idiots a soap box to spew racial filth disguised as affirmative action and then cry when we see senseless crimes being perpetrated. We’re focusing on rewriting history by spending billions on establishing monuments and renaming roads, highways and cities while law and order is having to be upheld by the citizens and private security industries of this country at the expense of the ordinary South African who still gets taxed on those security measures that are needed because government is not doing its job to protect its citizens. It’s ludicrous!

There are exceptions to every rule, and that is what is shameful about South Africa. The exceptions are all that’s left in the offices of public service while the norm is to deploy overpaid fat cat cadres to do the jobs of real public servants. While I’m fully aware and I acknowledge the presence of some level of competence in the public offices of this country, without which we would have arrived at the bottom of that proverbial hill already, but just because we have a semblance of competence in isolated areas of government in no way provides justification for the continued presence in office of a largely corrupt and incompetent government. We need change and we need it soon, and waiting for people with weak zips and dripping shower heads to provide that change is tantamount to signing your own death warrant. They’re too incompetent to even run their personal affairs with dignity, so how on earth are they ever going to be capable of maintaining the dignity of the ordinary South African?

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