A few weeks ago I received an email from Natasha* in which she detailed nearly becoming the victim of a hijacking. It was a very harrowing experience. This was also not her first incident. Before adding my inputs, I will first let her do the talking.
Allow me to tell you of my recent experience on the corner of Republic and Jan Smuts. I was held up by two guys pointing guns at me. They were screaming at me to get out the car, and that they are going to “fucking shoot” me. After I threw my phone out of the window to distract them, I managed to close my window (after being forced to open it or else be shot). During this process one guy was still trying to force my window down.
After they realised that my window wasn’t going down again, the culprits casually walked back down the road – they didn’t even run!
Now, this just shows how fearless these assholes are! Four weeks before this my daughter and I were on the way to fetch my boys from school, and criminals tried to smash and grab me at William Nicol and Republic. It is sickening!
I was chatting to my husband this morning, and saying to him that I am not going to allow these assholes to be victors and me the victim. I will make myself heard even if I have to shout until I am blue in the face. This cannot go on.
I have not been able to sleep, because every time I close my eyes I see these inhumane people – I can barely drive by myself due to the impact these two villains had on me. I will do everything to ensure that this doesn’t happen again soon. And I will go to every newspaper and political leader possible to make myself heard, and to have something done!
Something has to be done now – women especially are being targeted, and we are particularly vulnerable to these sort of attacks.
What I would like to know is when is something going to be done about this? This is not the first, or second, or third, or tenth time this has happened. Republic and William Nicol, and Republic and Jan Smuts. What can we do to stop this from happening again? Because the next person might not be as lucky as I, and get to walk away with their life.
We should be uniting together to stop this scourge. I am not the only one complaining about it – it is in the papers and splashed over social media. What more do we have to do to be heard?
The saddest part for me is that my daughter, who is only 11 years old, said she wishes she could run for president so that she could stop crime, women abuse, rape and murder. How sad of a thought for a child to have – that she thinks so poorly of this country? Is this the country you want all kids to grow up in?
Kids cannot be kids because of the justice system and corruption. What is going to be done about this?
Natasha, I think it would be fair to say that your sentiments and concerns are shared by millions of South Africans. I certainly can attest to seeing as much on my own social media feed on a daily basis. The fear of violence. The anger and resentment of being a victim of it. These are very real and meaningful worries.
I don’t think I need to quote crime statistics in support of it either – unless you live under a rock, the reality of life in SA is well documented.
Now, regarding what you can expect to be done about it; I am afraid I am going to be the bearer of bad news. Our criminal justice system is beyond dysfunctional. It is a wreck. The government and authorities have no ability to launch any meaningful fight back against crime.
The SAPS is barely functioning due to budget cuts, grossly incompetent mismanagement, political interference, astronomical levels of corruption, and criminal capture. Crime intelligence gathering is similarly nonexistent. The causes and extent of the problem is beautifully described by Jacques Pauw and Mandy Wiener in their respective books.
All is not lost, however.
When government functions fail, it is up to individual citizens and civil society to step up to the batting crease. I have always told people that they are the first responders to their personal crime scenes. An anecdote that is repeatedly proven to be true. I would thus like to help you help yourself, and hopefully put you and your family on a journey to a better place. And I am not talking about Australia!
A friend of mine recently fended off a hijacking in peak morning traffic. The reason he was successful, was because he was armed. By his own admission, he isn’t particularly well-trained and is by all accounts an average civilian. No military or police experience. No martial arts background. And certainly not an overly aggressive person. He is a typical corporate professional living in Johannesburg. (You can read his first person account of the event here. It is a cracking good story!)
I have also extensively written about the value of armed civilians resisting criminals, and how doing so will certainly not make your chances of survival worse. Quite the contrary in fact. What puts many people off owning and carrying a firearm for protection, is they are intimidated by the licensing process and the responsibility.
This should never be an insurmountable challenge. Not at all.
I have a very comprehensive step-by-step guide in how to legally acquire your first firearm here. And Aziza Scheidereiter, the owner of CHS Guns, has written an excellent guide specially for women in how to choose and carry a handgun. Bryan Mennie in turn has done superb work in helping people find a training provider that can assist you in becoming proficient in self defence.
Please make use of these resources (they are free).
Until then, there are other practical steps you can take to lessen your chances of becoming a victim. Good quality pepper spray (my favourite brand is Sabre Red) is a must have. High quality smash-and-grab film and maximum window tint on your car will also make you less of an enticing victim for criminal miscreants. These are all part of your defensive layers.
Lastly, I think your daughter’s presidential aspirations are inspiring. I don’t think they are sad at all. In fact I am proud to see someone so young embrace a very rare and absolutely invaluable characteristic – self reliance. Adults can learn much from her desire to make a meaningful difference. Please cherish and encourage her to hold fast to such sentiments. Because if she does I can see her growing up to be a strong and independent woman. And potentially a future leader our country is so desperately in need of.
I hope my response has empowered you to grab this bull by the horns. You have already shown that you won’t accept things as they are, and take crime lying down. You have the power to choose if you are going to be a victim, or if you are going to be a victor.
God speed, and welcome aboard.
Editing and response by Gideon Joubert
Gideon is owner and editor of Paratus
*Natasha is a nom de plume