A Normal Day in South Africa..

I’ve told the story a dozen times. I replayed it in my head 100 times more…but until I actually get the events of Wednesday the 14th July 2010 on to “paper”, I won’t be able to let it go.

You know, I get criticized a helluva lot for my “negative” attitude toward South Africa and it’s problems.

One of my last blogs was about how much I hate SA…and I didn’t even go into the crime aspect of it. I got so much hate mail from that, I decided to stop writing for a while, because people, for the most part, didn’t allow me to have an opinion.

Heck, we just held a very successful World Cup, we showed the world what we can do, and how crime and safety in SA is over hyped by the media….right?


After what has been a pretty crappy month (I screwed myself out of World Cup final tickets because some people don’t keep their word, I screwed myself out of any ascendancy at work because people don’t keep their word), I truly believed the month could not get any worse.

Anyways, on Wednesday I went to work as normal, had a normal day of irritations, and had the normal end of the day headache. I decided to leave work early at 4pm, because the headache was just too much to bare.

The drive home was normal. The heavy traffic was normal. The idiots causing a dangerous situation because they were texting while driving was normal. My rising anger was normal.

I arrived home at 5.15pm. Opened my driveway gates, pulled the car in. Switched off the car, began closing the gates. All normal things.

Then perhaps the most normal of all things about living in South Africa happened.

From the pavement a man (I call him man for lack of a better word), came charging at me with a gun pointed towards my head.

He immediately forced open the gates I was closing and pressed the gun against my head. I took a few steps backwards and stepped into the flower bed and fell over, ending up halfway between the driveway and the garden. In plain view of anyone driving or walking past my house.

The gun man started going through my pockets, taking the car keys, mobile phone, all my bank cards, driver’s licence etc. He kept asking where the food was. Assumedly he thought that I was coming home to open up the house for the evening and was looking for house keys so he could further plunder my treasures.

I stared straight at this guy with the anger beginning to rage, at that a second gun man ran into the drive way, opened the one gate I had closed and took the car keys.

My mom who was home at the time came out to see what was going on, and with her my dog came charging at the guy with the gun on me. As he turned the gun on the dog, I attempted to get up to “do something stupid”, but at that, my mom came into view and saw me with the gun to my head and started screaming telling me to give him everything, and he turned the gun on her saying “come on mummy, come on mummy”, at that point I backed down not willing to rush him into taking a shot, my mom turned around and ran back into the house, tripping and crawling, fearing the second gun man would come after her. She made it inside, locked the door and called for help.

The two gun men in the meantime got in my car and sped out the driveway and drove off into the sunset. Complete with my laptop, external hardrive and personal belongings. Basically the sum collection of everything I had worked on for the last 12 years.

A normal day in South Africa.

I get the people who now tell me to “focus on the positive”, “it could have been worse”, “you got lucky”.

How do I even respond to that? It makes me so angry. Yes, things could have been much worse, murder, rape, tragedy. But this should not have even happened. I should not have been attacked in my own home.

It was 3 days after the world cup. It was my 4th incident in 8 months.
It was the LAST straw.

My number one priority now, is getting out this country. I want to live and work somewhere where the value of human life is understood, and that is NOT in South Africa.
I’ve begun the process of looking elsewhere, and I know its going to take a while, I just hope my number isn’t up before that happens…because let’s be honest…I’m fighting the odds here.

But I suppose I should stop complaining and take the time to explore the beauty South Africa has to offer…right?

I guess i officially earned my right to complain now…

I haven’t slept for 5 days since it happened. Not because i need therapy, or counselling, but because im desperate. How do i get out of here..New York, London, the whole of Canada…thats where i belong.


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12 Responses to “A Normal Day in South Africa..”

  1. Susanne Weber Says:

    I don’t understand people who would send hate mail, because you really need to be walking through SA with blinkers on not to realize the extend of the problems that surround living there.

    A man (or person) should be safe in their own home, or so one would hope, but the reality is different. You have people attacking, stealing and taking stuff you have worked hard for and they now haven’t.

    I hope you manage to get out Shaun, I really do. I live in the UK and even though life is not easy where ever you go, there will always be gangs and people who will do stupid things for a laugh, but the risk is so much lower when you’re not in SA.

    Good luck Shaun, I mean it. I hope you can get out…

  2. Mark "Babe" Beylis Says:

    Dude. Once again my thoughts are with you. I feel so bad about your World Cup Tickets and then what happened to you last week. I feel you are entitled to your anger and you must do what is right for you. I hope that the future will hold something bright for you. Don’t ever stop being the The Burg

  3. expat Says:

    I feel your desperation man. I too felt like this before leaving South Africa. I had to sleep in our lounge as this was the most vulnerable place in the house for a break in, and I was desperate to protect my family from these maniacs. For three years while we made plans to come to New Zealand, we dodged bullets and where in an attempted hijacking as they chased us for many kilometres near Magaliesburg.

    When we landed in New Zealand, I lay down on a bed and slept. Slept deeply for the first time in three years, it was wonderful. My children are now stress free and are getting top marks in school. We feel free for the first time in years. Free to walk through the city late at night while the vibrant city life goes on without incident. We can walk through (litter free) parks, have a barbeque on the beach in the summer with no one for miles around, without looking over our shoulders every two minutes.

    I get so angry with South Africans, just living their lives and accepting the crime as part of the new “normal” SA. It’s not normal, in fact it’s extremely abnormal. But people do not want to remove these blinkers and are happy sitting in this pot of water as it slowly becomes hotter and hotter.

    Good luck with your future, and I hope that you find your way out of that God forsaken country before the economy collapses like Zimbabwe, and you are stuck there forever.

    South Africa has become a raped land, and is drying up as the rest of Africa sucks her dry. She is dying, and the makeup of the world cup is soon washed off again to reveal her true colours.

  4. ranchaway Says:

    I’m sorry to hear about what happened to you. I’m glad you and your mom are safe.
    Funny, to us Kenyans, South Africa is often seen as a land of opportunity. Rose tinted glasses and all.
    Kenya is sometimes insecure, in some areas, but I’ve been lucky to be safe for most of my life, barring once, a mugging in the streets. (I didn’t have much, they must have felt silly realizing their loot consisted of two bags of cat food, milk, and less than 2 USD).
    Good luck, wherever you go.

  5. 7.75 Says:

    Damn… Sorry to hear your story, Shaun.
    I think you’re right to want to leave a place if you don’t even feel safe in your own home.
    When I was a kid, one of my best friends came from Johannesburg and the shit he told me about downtown and stuff really turned me off visiting the place.
    I don’t think you can blame the entire country for it’s crime rate because I’m sure there are innocent civilians trying to do the right thing, but judging by your story I can understand your position.
    It’s funny because I came here via your coffee mug story. Putting things into perspective, the coffee mug can’t be all that important, right?

    • The Burg Says:

      Thanks there are really two side two my writing, the brutal honesty in living the way i have to, and the humerous tongue in cheek side that keeps me going….its about a personal balance…i prefer to see humour in things i go through, but as the saying goes…behind the makeup of a cloud are the tears

  6. blackwatertown Says:

    Horrible horrible story.
    I live so much about South Africa, but there’s no denying the horrible side of it.

    I have neighbours now, from South Africa. For a long time the wife in this couple missed her big house, the sun, servants, relaxed lifestyle. But the husband was just pleased his children could walk to school and that he could relax, not worrying about carjacking, armed robbery or worse. The tension began to ebb out of him.

    I used to live in a place that was fairly violent at times and hardly noticed people pointing automatic rifles at me as a matter of course. It took a long time away to appreciate a different kind of normality.

    The first time I actually noticed and felt a little uncomfortable that someone was pointing a rifle at me was when I realised my idea of normality had changed – for the better.


  7. presjzuma Says:

    Stop complaining.

    Try doing my job for a day. I have to keep the barbarians from storming the palace gates every morning.

    You haven’t slept for 5 days? Shit, I ain’t slept since I was “elected” into office. You try sleeping with the thought that you could end up with your tackle in your mouth and then we can talk again.

    As for your WC tickets – now that’s the real tragedy.

  8. bookjunkie Says:

    sounds awful. Your poor mum. Sounds absolutely traumatic and terrifying to me. I take my own safety for granted but not anymore.

  9. kevinmorente Says:

    Wow the way you sounded on your story made me realized that it was for real. I stayed there once went to Pietermaritzburg, Durban, Johannesburg, and Pretoria. Before I went there I was warned of the crimes on the street when our plane landed at Joberg I read on the paper that a man was killed due to 10 Rands shot on the head faced to faced by the assailant. That I didn’t notice as it was my first time in your country. Before I went there I keep on hearing stories from a south african friend and our supplier – they had a project here in the Philippines, that South Africa one of the most dangerous country in the world. He felt safe here in the Philippines and would love to come back.

    I did enjoy my stay there for more than a month most of the time I was accompanied by our host but was never allowed to go out at night alone without them except when I was in Pretoria I managed to stroll the street near my hotel for a while.

    Good luck with your plan.

  10. REASON Says:

    You remind me of a little child who dropped his icecream…. WAAAAAH WAAAHHHH WAAHHH

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