Today I’m feeling kind of flu’ish and horrible, so I’ve decided to take up where I left off yesterday. Now you already know where I stand on traffic officers, but what are my feelings towards the “real” police? Hmmm, let’s see…
I guess one of the things you have to get used to when living in the beautiful city of Cape Town is the fact that we are surrounded by crime. That’s ok. We all know it and we all know that we need to adapt our lifestyles a bit in order to be extra careful not to become a victim. We do that, no questions asked. We lock ourselves away and glance around us at the robot. We don’t even give much thought to these little “security gestures” we’ve picked up over the years. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been truly scared or worried about crime.
The problem is we become so relaxed that we start to forget we live in a super dangerous poor ass country. We do something silly, like leave a bag full of clothing and shoes on the back seat of our car. And then on a beautiful, sunny Cape Town Saturday, we walk out to find our car window smashed. Luckily I had the all important “Smash-and-grab proof” film installed on my windows. Please note that this does not prevent the window from breaking; it simply ensures that all the shattered pieces are kept in one piece… inside your car. Lucky me. Except for the few items of clothing, including a pleather(!) jacket, they didn’t take much. Right on the front seat, in full view were 2 pairs of sunglasses up for grabs, but I guess they weren’t interested. So all in all, I got off quite lightly.
It’s a bit of a schlep driving around without a window and organising to get it fixed (PG Autoglass did a superb job in record-breaking time), but the annoying part comes when you have to report this silly incident to the police (yes, the SAPS) in order to get the money back from the insurance.
I made the terrible mistake of giving up my well-deserved lunch break to report my broken window to the Buitenkant police station. Silly me. Not only did the rest of Cape Town also decide to get their “Police Business” done during lunch, but most of the police force then also decided to go on their lunch break. The result? One (and at one point none) officer helping the irritated (and flipping hungry) masses. And I have evidence:
Eventually (after 2 and a half hours) I got my case number and left. I was just so happy to be out of there I didn’t even make a scene. (Who do you complain to anyway?) But I should have. And if I knew then what I know now, I probably would have.
Following that day I have had some additional encounters with police incompetence, once when I wanted to report a very serious assault taking place in front of my eyes. I didn’t want to get involved, so I called the national police emergency number. It’s the one we’ve been taught since we were like 4 years old. You know, they go “Make a circle with your right index finger at the base of your right thumb… what do you see? 10111. Whenever you’re in danger, just call 10111 and the good policemen will come rescue you.”
WRONG. They won’t. Because they don’t answer the phone. So don’t even bother calling. You can try reporting it, but I doubt that hellopeter will have a big effect on the South African Police Service. Still, in order to warn others I feel that it is my duty to complain somewhere, anywhere. So now I’m making a scene, here. This is me, making a scene…