Freitag, 18. Februar 2011

Will it ever be safe, Mr. President?

Vor dem Konzert ist nach dem Konzert - hier ein Leserbrief eines Besuchers des U2-Konzerts in Johannesburg am vergangenen Sonntag. Wir Kapstädter sind heute dran (mit dem Konzert!)...

Sir - I address this letter to President Jacob Zuma. On Sunday evening I went to the U2 concert with two of my daughters - I left inspired. Bono can sing, but properly. The band can make music - it’s clever. U2 is a worldclass act and they are performing in our back yard - I love it!
Everyone was included - Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Aung San Suu Kyi, the Egyptians, the Bahrain people and over 100 000 of us South Africans. At one point Bono referred to SA simply as “the future” - I believed him, we all did.
After the concert was over we clambered, rushed, pushed, squashed into the train back to Park Station. Jam-packed together we rode, a snug and sweaty crowd of us South Africans, closer to one another than you’d ever think we’d accept (I mean vas, boet, armpit to armpit), but happy in the knowledge that we are the future - proudly South African.
Like unleashed ants we emerged from all exits of Park Station into the badly lit streets of Braamfontein, dodging the self-appointed car guards in their luminous red and yellow waistcoats, waiting to cash in, past the empty buildings and people of the night, headed home.
Some hours earlier I’d parked my bakkie on a well-lit corner across the road from a garage, three or so blocks away from the stadion - it was as close as you could get, by then - I mean, U2 is in town!
It was around midnight. I could already see from more than a block away that my car was gone. I swallowed and blinked and walked on, kinda hoping that my kids wouldn’t have to notice until they had to, but I knew it was gone, stolen. The first trainload of us had by now disappeared into the night, we were alone. I started calling people I know who live nearby - Dave answered, but he was in Cape Town, others were asleep.
I spotted our car guard, “Michael” (asking their name at the beginning seems like the right thing to do). He denied his name and any knowledge of us, or our car.
Suddenly you feel exposed, fragile - forget all the polite adjectives - I was scared. I was aware of being alone, but not - I was aware of the night.
We decided to walk back to the station, in the middle of a six-lane one-way street, huddled together, facing the occasional oncoming car - too scared to walk on the pavement in the shadows of the deserted buildings.
As citizens of our country we deserve to feel safe, to know that we are safe. All of us, all of the time. Dammit, it’s our right!
A friend finally answered her cellphone and came to fetch us. I got home at about 2.30am, after reporting the theft to the police.
I began disconnecting the automatic garage doors, bolting the gates - then I sat in the garden, waiting to see if they would come.
I’m still angry.
I’ve changed the locks and remotes and alarm codes (you know the story), I’ve checked the electric fence and the cameras - at my house, where I live!
We can’t accept it, we can’t think its normal, it is not. I want to get involved, how can I help? I want “the future”.
Mark Barnes, Johannesburg

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