South Africans love to complain about crime. With an almost morbid fascination, they will compare shocking stories of themselves, friends or family falling victim to criminals. Admitedly, South Africa has a high crime rate. It is certainly not the most dangerous country in the world (think of the DRC, Darfur or even Rio’s favellas) but it has the crime rate that you could expect with African slums and rich European-style suburbs being within a 20 minute walk of each other.
So, following in the South African tradition, here are my modest experiences with crime. As a rich white foreigner who likes to hang around central Cape Town, I seem to be targeted more than most people.
My first experience with crime was simply a smashed car window. Unfortunately for the thieves, there was nothing to steal- not even a car radio- so they stole nothing. The car was a fully insured rental (not Joanna), so all the only consequence for me was that I had to spend the morning in a South African police station. I spent almost an hour queing under a sign that said “Please be patient. We are understaffed.”
The second experience was less pleasant and more bizarre. In the middle of the day in crowded street of Cape Town, about 3 young teenagers walked up next to me and told me to give them all my money or they’d kill me. I turned around and saw three lightly-built 13 year-olds without anything even resembling a weapon. So I told them no. They continued trying to convince me until the end of the street, and then gave up.
The last time was similar. Except this time I was with Daniela and they actually bothered to show me a knife (and then immediately put it in their pocket again). I must say that they weren’t very convincing thieves (also in their early teans and not very confident). They got 30 Rand (about 5 Euros) off me.
Not bad for 3 months in the Western Cape. I guess I must have “stupid tourist” written all over me.