adrian is rad


mugged (months ago)

Filed under: — adrian @ 4:27 pm

I wrote this on January 26, 2010, four days after the incident. It affected me decreasing amounts over about six months. Despite this incident I think that South Africa is a safer country than is often portrayed and that the paranoid often displayed about safety is detrimental to one’s life.

On Friday I got mugged. Walking home from a meet-up at a hotel bar not far from where I lived, three guys, probably around 18 or 20, pushed and held me up against a fence and went through my pockets. They took my debit card and a couple hundred Rand in cash. One who took my ID gave it back when he saw what it was. The street was one I’ve walked many times, both in dark and light. It’s not heavily trafficked, but it’s also not deserted.

Soon after they let me go and moved away, a car guard came up and asked if they’d taken anything. When I told him they had, he started chasing them down the street and around the corner. He came back after a few minutes saying the police caught them around the corner… Sure enough there were three undercover policemen with three guys and a crowd forming.

I suppose “cruel and unusual punishment” doesn’t mean much to those policemen. At least one suspect was hit (slapped) by a policeman. Two were put in the trunk of the unmarked car–a small Citi Golf sedan–for transport to the station. One policeman sparked off a taser repeatedly in the air as a threat. Another policeman told me how they once made a suspect run in front of the van the entire way from Vredehoek to the station–a distance of about two or three miles. I didn’t particularly have any love for the people who mugged me, but I immediately knew that at the very least they should be treated fairly and humanely.

I went down the the station to give my statement. In the end, I could positively identify one of the three people they picked up. Maybe he’ll go to jail or maybe he won’t. Cracking down on robbery is necessary, but not as necessary as creating situations where people in desperately poor situations can improve their lives.



Filed under: — adrian @ 7:22 am

I have a lot of things I want to say about a lot of things, but first I wanted to say something about Ingwavuma and my time there over the last few months (most of October, all of November, basically). And I want to start with that because I didn’t write very much about this trip there, particularly compared to last year.

But first, if you haven’t seen it, watch the video I made about Ingwavuma. Not because I think it’s great, but because until you see what Ingwavuma looks like I don’t think you can understand it.

I’ve written about a number of the instances and events in Ingwavuma, so I’ll say something more about the intangibles.

For me it’s salient characteristic is stillness. Things move and change slowly. People walk slowly. Sounds are laughing and shouting, goats bleating, cows mooing, roosters crowing. Clothes flap gently in the wind. Trees sway.

It’s a really gorgeous region. The rolling hills and valleys of the Lebombo Mountains are covered in lush green trees and accented with slate-grey rocky outcroppings. From the tops of the hills, you can see 20 or 30 miles on a clear day. At one end of town, the dirt road runs along a 700m drop-off looking over Swaziland.

Everyone greets everyone. I’d go for a walk and most everyone I’d pass would greet me and ask how I was.

People are nice. Like really nice.

There is a small non-Zulu community (60?). People tend to know each other and help each other out. It’s a nice community. Someone who arrives might get invited for a weekend away right away. And if you don’t help someone, who will? I found myself being a nicer person because of that. Who else is going to help change the tire? Or act as a courier of a box of books back to Cape Town? And it certainly wasn’t one-sided. I was invited to dinners where I hadn’t even met the hosts before and welcomed into homes when I got stuck without a phone somewhere.

There aren’t any bars and there’s one small cafe but no restaurants. There’s next to nothing in terms of entertainment that one can go out to. It takes away a lot of the social hang-ups. You want to spend time with someone? Invite them for dinner or to go for a walk or hike. And alcohol is not as free-flowing as in cities so you’re more likely to be offered tea or juice at someone’s house than a beer. It’s basically a completely different social paradigm than in most any other place I’ve been to.

at the docks

Filed under: — adrian @ 3:38 am

adrian at the docks

My friend Mic took this photo of me at the Cape Town container port back in June. I think I was taking this photo at the time. (And more photos from the port.)

I like it.

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