Tuesday, July 17, 2007

time to leave?


recently i posted on the effect some stories of violence had on me. but recently i heard another story that once again made me think.

the doctor who starred in my post bringing balance to the force was the main character. as it turns out, he was on his way home after what i assume was a busy day at work. he got hijacked. common in south africa and very often fatal. the two hijackers, apparently both about 18 years of age, made him drive to his house. there they stole what they could. thereafter they forced the doctor back into his car (as if they hadn't done enough damage) and drove off to some deserted area.
the hijackers then tried to suffocate the doctor using a piece of an inner tube of a tyre. he fought back. can you imagine the scene? a 60 year old man fighting for his life against two strong young boys almost in their prime? he must have done well for himself because they had to try three times. on the third attempt, the doctor realised he wasn't getting out of this easily. fighting hadn't worked. so he went for plan b. he held his breath, struggled a bit and then went limp.
they left him for dead. he was not and that's how i know his story.

amazingly enough, the man is still positive about staying in this country we both love so much. i am starting to wonder.

there were a few things about this incident that worried me. in sangoma, one of my commenters was so keen on knowing the racial breakdown of the players. that made me think she had once been south african, but was no longer. maybe i was wrong. but south africans that watched the trc when it happened would, like me, have been horrified to hear that one of the methods emplyed by the apartheid regime to torture and kill their opponents was to suffocate them with the inner tube of a tyre. for that commenter, i mention that the doctor was white and the perpetrators were black. yet they were too young to have known first hand anything about apartheid and such. they just heard the stories. a coincidence that they employed this method to try to dispose of their victim when a bullet to the brain would have been faster and more certain? somehow i think not. there was at least an element of racial selection in their crime. they wanted to be able to say they had killed a whitey (not that there are so many left, relatively speaking, in the country). they can no longer claim their crimes were motivated by some political ideology or fight for freedom. but in their minds it is about us vs them. it's black and white. no shades of grey here.

anyway it seems to me we have gone through so much to revert back to our racist ways like these two youths did. south african violence is maybe too much now. yes, maybe it is time to leave.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bongi, been reading your blog for a while now. We need a good General Surgeon in Newfoundland, Canada, ASAP. If you ever seriously think of leaving, e mail me : etienne@vanderlindes.com

JaniceNW said...

In America, where we never had official apartheid, we hear cries of racism all the time. Yes, there is racism~are the cries all valid? No. I hope, some day, all people can get along. I know, I'm an idealist.

Bongi said...

etienne, sometimes i truly think it is time. then i think if we leave the country to the criminals, they have won. yes, we are on the zimbabwean slippery slope, but i just think if people like me jump ship, what chance do we have of avoiding it?
anyway, thanks. will let you know if i do bail.

Jason said...

Getting hijacked is common in SA? I wonder if residents are able to keep weapons for self defense then.

Bongi said...

yes we mostly have guns. i don't. i reason i'd probably get shot with my own weapon. recently they tightened the gun laws in an attempt to curb violence. didn't work.

rlbates said...

So sorry you even have to worry and wonder "if it's time to leave". I wish you well (and the 60 yo doctor whom your story is about).

Sid Schwab said...

Once again, you leave me nearly wordless... I think also of all the doctors in Iraq who've been killed, ransomed, or who've left. I simply can't imagine what I'd do in your situation. I think it would take a really powerful love to keep me there.

amanzimtoti said...

And shades of brown?

Lynda said...

Bongi, also been reading your blog for a while. I am a S.A. who has jumped ship. But if it's worth anything I haven't found 'peace' if you know what I mean. Miss S.A. ever single day (been away for 7 years now). All the other S.A. I know are in the same boat - we constantly wonder if we should come home (some do and then leave again, some stay). Africa gets into your blood and it stays there. Reading your blog always makes me homesick (even the horror stories bizarrely). Anyway good luck and please don't stop blogging....

Bongi said...

lynda, thanks for the perspective from the other side. yes it is a pretty strong love that i have for my africa and my south africa. i'm not sure i could leave.

i'll try to be part of the solution rather than watch it sink from the sidelines.

amy.loved said...

Hi bongi, As the commenter referred to : FYI I am not south african, but spent significant time there, it affected me deeply. I am/was married to an ex-Mkhuntu soldier. Time has passed since last I visited south africa, but I remember well the racial and class divide that created an environment and legacy of such violence as I had never in my life encountered. not just physical but as you say unimaginable cruelty, endlessly ingenious ways to torture people, to make them suffer horribly, to break the spirit.they (the apartheid regime)failed to do so. but 10 years is not enough to heal the wounds of apartheid. the poor young black men with no opportunities for advancement in your "black empowerment" "rainbow" nation, have a collective and immediate memory of the humiliation exhorted on them by whites with money and good lives. they do not have to have witnessed first hand specifics of torture. if you shoot someone they die they cannot suffer. the aim is to share the unbearable pain.
I remember a friend asking me what was i doing there in that land, where you are always "walking on the skeletons of dead people", but i also fell in love with south africa. many do. its a bit of a romance and a trap i think. i'm over it now.

Bongi said...

somehow excuses to commit crimes don't make sense to me. should we then just allow there criminals have free reign because they are poor, young and black? are they excused from civilisation because of this? somehow that view is demeaning of poor people and young people and black people. sorry i respect all people on equal footing. criminals should get justice, despite their status as poor or young or black.

amanzimtoti said...

amy...

I am older than these young black men and yet not old enough to remember anything about apartheid first hand, so there is no way that these boys have an "immediate memory" of the atrocities commited. My parents however were affected and I have heard their stories and those of other family members who were involved in the riots, etc. In fact, my father lived in the very place where the riots started. Yet I am not a criminal and do not go around committing hate crimes against whites, because that is what they are. you admitted this when you said the aim is to share their "unbearable pain". that is unacceptable. when have hatred and vengeance ever solved anything? do they in fact not make everything worse? from the current situation in our country it is clear that they do. I too am inlove with this country, but the difference is i live here. I have always despised people who actually have no idea but feel that they can comment because they are liberal and sympathise with the so called sufferers. I have to live in a country where I fear for my life everyday. These criminals have caused this situation. They have more opportunities for work than many other people in this country but they have chosen crime. They are nothing more than criminals.

amy.loved said...

sorry both, if i offended.
it is not my intention to say that violence is excusable. or justifiable. it is not.
but you speak as if there is no history to this situation. as if you don't know how things came to be the way they are.
"I have always despised people who actually have no idea but feel that they can comment because they are liberal and sympathise with the so called sufferers."
thanks very much. but i am not a liberal, and i am not really an outsider.
there are alot of people, white black and colored, in south africa who have a historical understanding of the present. the government in fact for all its flaws espouses that analysis.
bongi i do feel for your situation. it is a very difficult one. and your commitment is unquestioned, very heroic.
good luck to you.