Monday, November 23, 2009

Suffering a bout of impromptu crime-fighting

Living in Cape Town, South Africa, I should know better than to put my valuables in my jacket pocket. This year I've been robbed three times. Or, should I say, rather today was the third occasion. This time the thief came off second best, although I can't say I'm entirely pleased, since I'd rather have avoided this in the first place.

I consider myself fairly aware of the nonsense that goes on around me so to have had strangers help themselves to the contents of my pockets is really... just not cool... especially if I'm not even aware of it happening.

Third time "lucky"? Can I even call it that? This morning at 8.30am, while walking to work, and already quite twitchy, I felt a tugging at my jacket and turned to surprise a man who had his hand in my pocket, busy withdrawning my cellphone.

Gods, I got angry. Some people get all scared and whimpery. I get angry. You see, I've been in a situation where someone stabbed me before. I refuse to be a victim. Of course this reaction may not be very prudent if the guy had a knife... but hey, I didn't give the creep permission to take my cellphone.

Before the guy had a chance to run or do anything, I started shaking him, screaming at him, and the strange thing was, he went completely limp in my hands. I snatched my phone out of his hand and he started apologising. I called him terrible things, of which I can remember "vulture" and the infamous Cape "P" word, which flew from my lips as if I were no more than a common fishwife.

As if saying sorry would make a difference. He still tried to steal my things. Central City Improvement Districut (CCID) secruity officers were there in less than a minute and they took the man in custody. A few bystanders smacked the guy a few times... It was very surreal.

Shaking but unhurt, I was given a lift up to the police station where I made my statement. Sure, my cellphone is only worth about R3 000, which is not a lot of money, but I've just renewed my contract and I'm not in the mood to start over by getting new phone numbers so soon after my last phone was stolen.

It turns out my would-be robber was a young Tanzanian man. He's not even local. Which makes me wonder how many other opportunists are going to arrive here in South Africa in time for the festive season and the Fifa Soccer World Cup. Oh, they are going to have a field day with tourists.

It's days like these that I wish I could move to some small rural town and not have to commute daily. Oh wait... I already live in a semi-rural area...

Perhaps I should rather say: Buy my books so I can stay home and rather chase the baboons that try to raid my garden.


  1. But you did the right thing. I am amazed at how docile people can be when they're being victimized. When I was younger, I was almost mugged by two guys much bigger than me. But I got really enraged and they took off. I was actually scared shitless. I guess they were, too. It's amazing what you can accomplish by deciding not to be a victim. - Mike D.

  2. I've been mugged once, in Kingston. The muggers took a disposable lighter, which is all I had at the time. They had a knife and a gun, I was unarmed.