Thursday, 26 September 2019.
Momma dearest went under the knife to have her long-overdue knee surgery. She lives in a different city, 2 hours away from my location. In the ideal world, I should have been there by her side, give the love and support she has given us throughout our lives. However, this is the real world and nothing in this world ever goes plan.
My siblings are also in their respective places in this world so it was just her without family support. The surgery went well and she was transferred to ICU after the surgery. She was not allowed to use her device in the ward, and I didn’t know that at the time, so not receiving any news throughout the day added a bit of stress to my day.
I have an older brother who is based in Turkey. By chance, I happened to be scrolling through Twitter when I saw a video post from someone I follow who happens to be his colleague. Earfquake! There was a 5.8 magnitude earthquake had struck and post showed people outside of the building he works at. My brother didn’t say anything to anyone so naturally, I reached out to check in his well being. All was well and he was okay but it just added a bit more edge to my day. This was a day-long event that went well into the early morning throughout the country. Now I know that Turkey is situated near a fault.
Thursdays are personal days where I go see a therapist and treat myself out for lunch after and meditate for a little while. On this particular day, I changed this up a little bit by skipping therapy and going out for dinner than lunch. I spent time looking at places where it wasn’t too saturated with men in the hope to meet a girl and have a random conversation. It is a difficult thing to do these days befriending women randomly. I found a place, semi upscale, took a shower, got dressed, called an Uber and proceed to get my evening started.
The place I went to was quite decent, Dukkah. They made a mean cocktail, the name escapes my memory, it was delicious and it’s ingredients had a few things I love and loathe. What better way to get the ball rolling.
After three delicious glasses of my drink, I was feeling quite merry and made the executive decision to bar crawl. A good place to start was at my favourite drinking hole (The Charlatan), it was less than a KM away so it wouldn’t have made much sense to call an Uber, so I took a drunken stroll.
The walk started out fine, I was on my phone a whole lot. I managed to the major road without any trouble. I then went right passed a young mother and her child with little attention paid to them. It was nippy that evening, and in my semi-drunken state, I looked back and saw the young boys face. For some reason, I felt compelled to do something and thought about all the injustices of this world, and felt like I could do something small.
I doubled back and asked the mother what would she would like for dinner and mention that she could have anything she desired. At first, she struggled to understand me but eventually understood. Surprised and modest as she was, she settled for KFC and we began to walk to the nearest franchise a few meters away. Before we could even cross the road I made an executive decision to have them actually sit inside a restaurant because it’s an experience they probably don’t get often if ever, and also it will shelter them from the cold. So I darted inside a restaurant, found a waiter, explained the situation and he was more than happy to assist. They ordered their dinner, I paid for it and continued with my mission – get to The Charlatan.
I got to see the excitement and joy in the boys face and it really made my night. I also hope that this random act of kindness will inspire this boy to go on to do good things when he grows up, instead of being apart of the cycle of poverty.
Shortly after I leave the restaurant, I was briefly on my phone responding to messages. A maroon Toyota Avanza with clear windows, looking a bit weathered stops and a man in the passenger side gets my attention and starts asking me casual questions about how the night is going, while his smoking on his vape pen.
Being in a social mood I entertain the conversation, to which he picked up on and gets out the car. As the door was open I could see that they were also in a party mood because of the beer bottles sitting in the passenger footwell where he was sitting. The driver was drinking and couldn’t really see his face. Our conversation then went on about women and where they may be that night. I naively said where I was and where I was heading. When then spoke about how to approach women to which he became physical with me to demonstrate how you handle women. First, he grabbed my arm and pull near him, then wrapped his arm around my right arm and pretended to walk then next thing he said something and started stomping on my right foot quite firmly. I cannot remember how the conversation ended but it ends shortly after that little moment. He then went back to the car and my hands naturally my pockets and immediately something didn’t right and realised my phone got lifted. I chased after him but it was already too late, the car started going and saw him dismiss me with his left hand.
In disbelief and not too sure what to do, I just continued with my stroll because it was the only thing I could. I thought about walking home, asking for an Uber driver to take me home and pay him cash but I didn’t entertain those ideas for too long.
When I arrived at The Charlatan I told Dan about my situation, he was sitting outside chatting to someone. I rudely interrupted their conversation borrowed Dan’s phone and started to track my phone. The thief didn’t switch off the device so I was able to get reliable location updates.
Dan then tells me that my friend, Mfwimi was inside. Mfwimi is like a brother to me and a drinking buddy. I actually invited him to join but he chose to stay in that evening, so imagine the surprise I got to know he was at The Charlatan. I inform and all my friends who work there and we are determined to get my device back. I gave back Dan the man his phone and took Mfwimi’s one. My stolen device is still giving me a live location, and when I was standing outside waiting for the troops to gather I saw a police van. I flagged them down. I explain my case to them and since I had the exact location of where my device was I got in the van with them and went to go find my device.
On the way there I was feeling confident that we’d find these guys, a maroon Avanza sticks out. They had made their way to the CBD and when we were going to the last reported location my device was switched off. Undeterred we get to the location and there is nothing there, and start to make our way back. We took a slow drive back in the hopes of spotting the car driving by. It didn’t take too long because on the route back it was parked outside on a busy road near a shop in the city centre. This whole time the police had their blue lights on because they were commanded to keep them at all times. So when we found the car they turned their lights off so that they wouldn’t spook my perpetrators.
The van was parked just in front of the Avanza so that nobody could try making an easy escape. The policemen took the licence plate of the vehicle, wrote it down on a magazine which was stowed away under the driver’s seat. They called the control centre and did a check on the plates, which came back clean but revealed to me the address of where the car is registered to, and damn it, it’s around my place of employment. After a few minutes, someone retrieves something from the car and that’s when the things began to kick into gear. At this point, adrenaline should be kicking in but nothing, I just calm and composed. The police van reverses to reveal a group of people, 8 – 10 of them sitting outside and all drinking.
We reverse and observe the group, which the officers ask me if my perpetrator was among them. It was quite a stressful situation trying to identify the correct person. I took some time and I pointed to someone who looked similar to the person I was looking for. The police ask if I was sure it was him and I confirmed. The officers then hopped out the van with haste went straight to the group, with authority and purpose they summoned the man I fingered. At first, everyone there was confused and hesitant but the officers got the guy and brought him to me sitting inside the van, slightly away from view from everyone else. I looked at his face and it was him. I apologised, the officers also apologised immediately as well. A few guys from that group started asking questions and getting agitated with the officers, then I was spotted by one of the guys and they confront me and aggressively tell me that I do not know what I’m doing and pointing his finger at me. I continue to look around and see my perpetrator hiding behind someone else, actually ducking now and then trying to be elusive. His vape pen is what gave him away, and the only difference to what he was wearing is that he’d put on a jacket.
I tried to get the attention of the officers from the police van but they were engaged and trying to de-escalate the situation, I started yelling so the officers could hear but then everyone heard and they didn’t appreciate it. 3 other guys came to me saying some shit and tried sneaking in a sucker punch. I fended off the first few attempts that came my way through the window from the passenger side of the van. I did get a gin and tonic hit me square in the face and after that, the perpetrator could read that the situation was out of control and had the confidence to confront me and deny my complaints. It didn’t take long for the others to surround the van, open the doors and slap me around a little bit.
The laws here in SA are quite backwards. Police officers are not allowed to use their firearms unless someone is armed and the officer’s life is in immediate danger. They cannot let rounds fly unless someone shoots first. In this case, nobody had a weapon apart from the officers and they were being pushed around quite aggressively, and it got to a point where they eventually managed to retreat and get back into the van.
With our tails between our legs, the journey back to where I was picked up was quite interesting. The officers were frustrated at the fact that I had fingered the person and that it created doubt with my complaint. They went on to say that they were prepared to call for back up and make use of their service weapons since they felt they were at risk too. They also confirmed that those were Pharas (thugs) and knew their rights.
Later on, on the way back as our nerves calmed, my head starting to pound, reality suck in for a minute…
1. Shout out to those two officers who put their neck on the line over a damn phone. They were ready to shoot some people because their lives were at risk but couldn’t because none one was armed. Their jobs aren’t easy, and they do more than one job. Just prior to them finding me they had just returned from transporting a dead body to a morgue themselves because people responsible for that were on strike. We often give them a lot of shit about their inefficiency and opportunism but what must happen if they’re not being looked after by society and their employers, I am not condoning illegal activity.
2. As a society do to fix the world we live in because it seems as if you stand up something that is right your life is automatically at risk. Why do we have to live in that world?
4. I don’t care about my phone, as much as I love it, it’s replaceable. I put in the effort to look for it for the sake of justice and wanted to see some recourse in the world. As much as I have to lose I don’t think it crossed my mind the risk I was in and would have taken a beating and then some just to prove a silly point.