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Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Business as Usual in South Africa

Many realists are predicting that the wave of violent crime plaguing South Africa, much of it racist in nature, will marr and possibly ruin the 2010 World Cup tournament.

There are two recent stories of British fans being violently attacked and robbed in the country whilst following the Lions rugby tour. FIFA has sat up and taken notice, but the ANC have 'guaranteed' they can provide the security necessary to make the World Cup safe for anyone other than themselves.

The first story concerns a British man who lost two pints of blood and the hearing in his left ear when he was hit over the head with a 'rock or a hammer':

Rugby fan Midge Ferguson is warning other supporters to take care after he was mugged following the Lions in South Africa and left with a fractured skull.

Mr Ferguson, 43, from Cardiff, was hit over the head and robbed while walking a short distance between his friend's hotel and his own in Bloemfontein.

He said he lost two pints of blood and has lost hearing in his left ear.

South Africa is hosting the 2010 football World Cup and he warned all sport fans to "be sensible" there.

Yes, be sensible - take a taxi the 200 yards between your hotel and a friend's. At least he is realistic about the outcome:

"The police said if they caught somebody, they would charge them with attempted murder," he said, although he thought it was unlikely that anyone would be caught.

Mr Ferguson was not just a random victim, however; earlier in the week four British fans were carjacked by armed men:

Johannesburg - Four British rugby fans on Saturday told how they were beaten up and robbed by armed thugs in South Africa shortly after their arrival on the same night that the Egyptian side in a key football tournament became the victims of thieves.

Brothers Michael, 57, and Peter Harriott, 58, and Simon 57, and John Murphy, 52, flew into Johannesburg on Thursday night for the British and Irish Lions tour.

In an interview published by the Saturday Star, the men said the robbers had followed them as they drove to a guesthouse in the plush northern Johannesburg suburb of Sandton where they were due to check in.

"A black Mercedes-Benz boxed us in and four men appeared with guns. They surrounded our car. They ordered us out of the car and told us to lie on the floor and remove our wallets and watches," Michael Harriott said.

He was punched in the nose when he tried to grab one of the robbers' guns, according to the report.

"They threw me to the ground and, the next thing, one of the robbers got into our hired car, while the other three jumped in theirs. They sped off with our luggage."

Last week, one of the new stadiums built for the World Cup was attacked by armed robbers after an international rugby game.

The robbery at the sports bar of the new Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in the southern city of Port Elizabeth took place on Tuesday afternoon, after a game between the British and Irish Lions and the provincial Southern Kings side.

For the ordinary people of South Africa, such things are normal - the only difference being, much worse crimes rarely make the BBC news.

Earlier this month, a Johannesburg doctor was stabbed to death and his practice burned to the ground in a completely brutal and senseless crime:
A Rosettenville doctor was stabbed to death at his practice before the establishment was set alight, Johannesburg police said on Friday.

Inspector Lorraine van Emmerick said Doctor Michael Sprenger, 55, was working late at his practice on Thursday night, when the incident happened.

"It is believed that he was stabbed by an unknown suspect or suspects, and then his practice was set alight with his body in it," she said.

"When the fire was noticed by nearby residents in the area, police and the fire brigade were called in.

"After extinguishing the fire, the doctor's badly burnt body was found inside."

The practice was owned by three other doctors, but they were not there at the time of the incident.

Investigations into his murder were continuing, Van Emmerick said.
As with the first case, the police do nothing but make excuses. He was working late, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time - as if this in some small way justifies what happened. The problem is that South Africa now has a soaring violent crime rate and an increasingly incompetent police force, not to mention racial tensions which too frequently spill over into violence.

At the beginning of June, a judge jailed two carjackers who murdered Jennifer-Rae Hall, branding them 'merciless':
Monstrous and merciless.

That is how a Durban High Court judge described the murder and hijacking of beauty therapist Jennifer-Rae Hall before he sentenced one of the hijackers to life imprisonment on Monday.

Hall, 22, of Winston Park, Gillitts, was killed and her friend, Kate Flemming, was wounded when they were shot in a hijacking at Amanzimtoti on June 14 last year. Amy Lansdell, who was also in the car, was not injured. The car they were travelling in was stolen.

The three had been on their to a Scottburgh caravan park to watch the sardine run and had stopped to change drivers.

Sifundo Mkhize, 23, of Illovo township, near Amanzimtoti, was convicted of Hall's murder, and further charges of attempted murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances.

Mkhize had denied his involvement, saying he had been at home at the time.

In addition to the life sentence, Mkhize was also sentenced to 15 years for robbery with aggravating circumstances and 10 years for attempted murder. These sentences would run concurrently with the life sentence. He would not be eligible for parole until he had served at least 25 years.

Judge Ronald McLaren said Sduduzo Madida, who was an accomplice after the crime, had been a good witness. Madida testified that he had seen Mkhize and another man in a white VW Polo on June 14. He, Mkhize and others had used the vehicle to go to a wedding at Gingindlovu later that day.

Madida had been granted indemnity against prosecution in return for his testimony.

While the State did not prove that Mkhize had shot Hall, the judge found that he had acted in common purpose with his accomplice, who fired the shots and who has not been arrested.

"The State proved the falsity of the alibi of (Mkhize). The accused and his co-assailant acted in common purpose to rob the victims," the judge said.

Judge McLaren said: "In a business area in Amanzimtoti, they literally pounced on their victims. The victims were not given the opportunity to surrender their property in exchange for their lives. The deceased (Hall) was shot in cold blood at close range before she was given an opportunity to hand over the keys to the car. This all happened in broad daylight. Society is disgusted by the wanton lawlessness and brutality of the assailants."

Surrounded by friends and supporters outside court, a tearful Lansdell said she was pleased with the sentence.

"I am glad that justice has been done and that it is over. We are happy with the sentence but it will never bring Jennifer back. It is also very sad that Jennifer's parents could not be here because her father is very ill."

Lansdell thanked the supporters who had attended the case, including a wheelchair-bound woman who had flown from Johannesburg to attend the trial because her husband had also been killed in a hijacking.

Speaking from London, Hall's brother, Justin, echoed Lansdell's sentiments. "It doesn't bring Jen back but he got what he deserved. I wish that I was there or that I could fly to be with my family. My mom just called me and told me he got a life sentence and started crying."

He said his family was considering hiring a private investigator to find Mkhize's accomplice.
That is what it has come to. A young woman, brutally murdered for nothing, some of her family not being able to attend the trial because they live in self-imposed exile because of violence, and to add insult to injury, they have to hire a private investigator to find one of the violent criminals who did this.

Will that be making the BBC any time soon?

I doubt it. But those who wish to travel to South Africa for the World Cup deserve to know the truth, just as the innocent people of South Africa deserve to live in civilised peace.

1 comment:

Solkhar said...

The violence in South Africa is famous, studied constantly and well documented. The horrible crime-rate is as much as against their own population as for foreigners, be they white or not.

A study done, incidently by the FCO (British Foreign and Commonwealth Office) stated that reprisals for the years of apartheid did not eventuate.

Mind you, a white foreigner is at greater risk, only because the chances are that the target is more than likely carrying something of value.

I personally think that there will be many incidents of crime, violent as well, at the World Cup. I have no confidence that the authorities will be able to protect the events completely.

Holland to win of course against Spain.