I became a statistic on Friday afternoon.
A smash and grab. It was only a matter of time – and it is with sadness I write this, because smashing and grabbing and raping and pillaging and robbing and mugging and hijacking is such a norm in our society – but yeah, it finally happened to me.
I work in town. It was on Friday afternoon, the most likely time for shit to go down as criminals need money for the weekend, etc.
It was actually a push-window-down and grab. Waiting at a robot on Rissik Street. My window is down two inches. The laptop is in the boot; the bag is under the seat. I'm aware that there are hundreds of people walking around me and I'm in back to back traffic.
Two guys sticking closely together walk up to me. I see them before they get to the window, and I know what's about to happen.
One thing for sure as no matter how many times you go through a scenario like this in your head, you cannot control how you're actually going to react in a real situation. I could've done up window properly, in those 2 seconds of time, but I didn't think of that. I don't know what I thought.
They came up, pushed it down. Then there were arms everywhere pushing me, smacking me, smacking my face, and fumbling for things. I was aware of everyone around me – in that they could see exactly what was going on, they knew, and they didn't - or simply don't – get involved. Why would they? These guys could blow their heads off.
But that troubled me. People were watching from their cars, and did shit. The arms were everywhere fumbling screaming at me to give them my phone and whatever else was on me. I screamed back, I screamed at the top of my lungs and I fought. They hit me, I hit them back. They yelled, I yelled. I told them to get away from me, stop touching me, fuck off, and they persisted. Then the one said, If you don't give us your stuff, I'll stab you until you die. Over and over again.
Again, there was a part of me that hesitated and thought, “But does he really have a knife on him?” Surely I would've seen it by now? I handed over my phone, and as I did that, the one grabbed the carkeys from the ignition. My car went dead, obviously, and I didn't think of this, but I suppose they either wanted my car, or they wanted to get into the boot. I believe they did it to piss me off even more and prove a point that they were the ones wearing the pants here. I was still screaming and pushing at them to get the fuck out of my space, my face, and stop fucking touching me.
Miraculously, they dropped my keys, after I gave them my phone, cigarettes and some loose change. They didn't find my bag, which I found odd. They took the stuff and ran. I restarted my car and drove like Richard Hammond to the Empire Road BP.
By now, I didn't know what to think or do. So, I burst into tears and continued to wail for a day. 24 hours of crying like a baby, mainly because I was SO PISSED OFF that they a) would kill me for a cellphone and b) they got into my space. They bombarded into my life and fucking traumatised me. I don't give a fuck about the phone, I give a fuck that they can do this and it's the fucking norm. And I cried because it could've been so much worse. They could've hurt me. They could've killed me. They could've raped me, they could've taken more things. The truth of the matter is I got off lightly. It was a best case scenario. But I almost feel guilty of that now.
I was and am, very angry. I couldn't remember any numbers. I was panicking properly, and in shock. I ran through the BP asking for a call box, no one could help and the one I found eventually wasn't working. But I couldn't remember my mother's cell phone number. Which is permanently ensconced to memory.
I drove on, still wailing, mascara fucking everywhere, and got to Rosebank Engen. I finally remembered her number. I left a message on my mum's phone at the call box, to ask her to cancel my sim card.
Then as I ran to my car, making a right spectacle of myself, a man called to me and asked if I was alright. He handed me his phone, helped me with numbers, helped me call MTN myself, calmed me down and basically fucking reached out. What a lifesaver. And Tremaine, if you're out there somewhere – hi, it's me. The shaking, crying Northern suburbs girl who clearly reacted like every other Northern suburbs girl out there. Thanks for helping me and taking the time to actually care and offer your phone to me when you could've turned a blind eye. People still care somehow. Which means I haven't lost complete faith in basic humanity.
So there you have it. I'm now part of the It's Happened To Me Club. It was only a matter of time. I don't want to drive into town now. I don't. I had faith in town, how I could walk around, be in a city, love it and build a community there. But I'm scared. I'm now one of those ultra-paranoid people, and I've never wanted to be one of those. I drove in convoy with friends the rest of the weekend.
However, I was terrified driving back into town this morning. Terrified and ready to kill if anyone came near me. The arrogance of these tsotsis fucking pisses me off beyond all hope. However. Fuck them! I will NOT stop going to my city, and I will NOT compromise on my independence or driving because crime dictates I must. I will never live in a boomed off area, and I will try and get over my fear. It'll take time, because now I'm jaded. I will also keep R100 in the car with me from now on – to give to these guys, because believe you me, I will have NOTHING in the car with me from now on. Boot or bust.
So I'll have something to give them, cold hard cash – that I fucking WORKED FOR AND EARNED AND I EARNED IT FUCKING HONESTLY AND WITH HARD WORK -and maybe then they won't smack my face or threaten to kill me.