What types of violence are experienced by our South African community members? To find out, I researched headlines in the Independent Online, which publishes over 20 newspapers across South Africa. From reading their news feed over the past few months, IOL seems relatively unbiased and willing to report on difficult topics such as rape and youth violence. I trust their perspective more so than other South African news agencies that only report on politically correct stories. In addition, I also monitor the International SOS Daily Digest. This daily email is lengthy and geared toward expats and travelers going to less vacation-centric parts of the world.
Since May 15th, Johannesburg has experienced six incidents of armed robbery of taxis originating from OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) as the occupants are dropped off at their homes. There doesn’t seem to be a clear profile of who is targeted as victims have been Indian and Ethiopian businessmen, a South African government official, several tourists, and a Congolese couple. My own assessment is that these people appeared to be wealthy and therefore lucrative robberies.
In northern South Africa where we’ll be living, there have been many reports of house break-ins, small property theft, and violent rape. For example, a University of Limpopo student stabbed a fellow student to death with a knife after robbing him of his tablet last year. A 32-year-old man attempted to rob an elderly farmer couple in their home outside of Tzaneen. The couple and their grandchild escaped without harm and the man was later caught with the help of the local farming community. An hour east of us in Tzaneen, a 17-year-old woman stabbed to death her would-be rapist.
Because of the limited local police presence, locals have taken justice into their own hands. A few hours south of us, the community caught a would-be robber and stoned him to death. Similarly a year ago occurring two hours north of us, a community mob dragged a suspected murderer into the local sports arena, barricaded the arena from police, and proceeded to stone him to near death (he was later rescued). An hour north of us, a community mob caught a suspected rapist, assaulted him, and murdered him by setting him on fire. In three separate incidents in Limpopo province (where we’ll be), local vigilantes set a suspected murderer’s home on fire and also set on fire the home of a local woman and the local supermarket since both she and the owner is suspected to have knowledge of a missing person.
Jazzy will write later on what we will teach our South African women to help avoid them being victims. For now, this post summarizes what we’re up against.