I think I have to start by saying:  I love South Africa.  I would love to live in South Africa. I would love to prove to my husband that South Africa would be a better place to live in than the UK, but unfortunately this is not currently true for us.  Not everyone has the same experience or same perspective. I always say that life is a scale: you put all the pros on one side and all the cons on the other side, and then you wait to see which way it tips. And it won’t tip the same way for all people. Currently, it’s tipping in favour of the UK for me. There are so many things I love about South Africa and I hate about the UK, but still my scale is tipping in favour of the UK.

I wanted to share the incidents over the past 2 years in South Africa which helped tip my scale.  For those who don’t know, I am a South African, but married to a Brit, and have been living in the UK since 1999.  But my experience is that, since Mandela died less than 2 years ago, South Africa has changed – and not for the better. It’s almost as if he were South Africa’s guardian angel, but the respect people had for him disappeared at his death.

This is what I was exposed to in South Africa during my 2 years. All these events are people known to me – friends and family:

  • Laptop stolen by someone who worked for me. It was an open and shut case. We knew who she was, we knew where she was, all the information was given to the police. But nothing came of it. The police had bigger fish to fry.
  • Brutal murder of parents-in-law of someone who works for me. This was a massive story in the papers. It was shocking and horrific.
  • Sister’s friend shoots dead attackers. They live on a farm where we grew up. She was brave, and armed and saved her family’s life by returning fire.
  • Rape of a neighbour by Nigerian house-sitter. I was working late one night and heard a blood-curdling scream, called out the police, rallied with other neighbours to help police pinpoint the house behind us. This really rattled me.
  • Rape of someone close to me. To protect the person, I can’t say too much other than he was caught, denied bail, but then ‘got out of jail’ somehow. Police think he paid a bribe. Turns out he raped a second girl too, went to her house and shot her. Luckily she lived. And he is now back behind bars. But the question is: for how long?
  • Neighbour attacked. This happened on a Sunday afternoon in broad daylight. She was severely battered and bruised, but ‘lucky’ as they took the phones and laptop and didn’t hurt her daughter, who had locked herself in her bathroom.
  • Someone cloned my number plates and the police can’t seem to open a case without victimising me. I am getting invoices for their eTolls etc, but cannot find any way of resolving this issue, getting it properly logged with the police etc. I am concerned the car will be used in crimes, and they will come after me.
  • Lady who works for parents found out she has been fraudulently divorced. Sounds odd, but as she wouldn’t grant her husband a divorce, some dodgy lawyer manufactured a whole case supposedly on their behalf, signed over all her assets to the husband, claimed that she chose not to exercise her rights to any of his assets, and as she ‘failed to go to court’, the Divorce was issued in absentia. First she knew about it was when she received a Divorce Certificate in the post and someone started building a house on her land, that her husband had sold off!
  • My dad was scammed over the internet. They cleared out his bank account, but luckily there wasn’t much money in there at the time!  Granted, this could just as easily happen in the UK. I have been a victim of cyber crimes many times.
  • My cousin’s car was fraudulently transferred into the name of some guys without having original certificates. They arrived with the police in the middle of the night to pick up the car (without a court order!) onto a truck and drove off with it. They assume the police were bribed to help pick up the car.
  • My friend was held up at gunpoint at their rental flat in Sandton where they stole her rings (including her grandmother’s wedding ring), handbag, phone & car keys
My stories aren’t unusual. If you speak to most South Africans, they can rattle off their own list, often longer and more brutal. When talking this over with my dad he said he thought my list was unusually long.  I disagree. I think I just have a better memory. I think that for a South African’s coping mechanism, it is important that they forget, so that they can move on. Plan tomorrow, keep living.
Don’t think for a minute that, because of these incidents I love South Africa any less. I love South Africa, its landscapes, its people, its quirks. It will always be ‘home’, in spite of me making a new home elsewhere. I would love to move back, but on my scale, these incidents makes my scale tip in favour of the UK, at least for now. But I have to live in hope that Mr Zuma and his cronies who has systematically been killing the country I love, will be replaced by people who don’t have self-enrichment at their core – and who will build the country back up to be the nation that I believe it can be.