Tuesday, September 22, 2009

US facilities closed, crime statistics released!

The day started slowly. So slowly, in fact, that we actually called the local news wire service to check that their system was in fact working as not one story, press release, weather report or anything had dropped overnight.
And then it started....
First alert: every United States government facility in this entire country was closed. So I jumped on it, got hold of the press attache and confirmed that yes, indeed, every single consulate, the embassy, mission, US library etc in South Africa was closed. Why??? Because of "information" received by "our regional security office". Groovy story, but above and beyond challenging to pin down.
CutePhotographer rushed out to get a picture of the consulate in Sandton, and nearly got arrested. I phoned numerous mechanical switchboards answered by recordings with American accents. I tried the police, the Ministry of State Security and the National Intelligence Agency. No comment from anyone. I phoned the Association of South African Travel Agents to find out what was happening to the doomed souls whose visa interviews happened to be scheduled for this here day of closure - and they had no information. These appointments are between the traveller and the consulate with no middle man other than a pin number you have to buy from Pick 'n Pay for - get this - US$10 just to contact them for a time to go in and pay a whole lot more for the visa you need to enter the land of the free should you be the holder of one of our green passports.
So ja - smoke and mirrors, bashed something together and got the story into the evening paper. I got an call from someone from the State Security Ministry whe felt sorry for me and said that, in light of the fact that not even Foreign Affairs would say anything, the ministry might just change their mind and call me with a comment. I wait in anxious anticipation....
And then after that the cops released the latest crime stats. They are baaaaad. Really shocking. We are still sitting on 50 murders a day. And house robberies - those hideous stories of gangs who break into homes, tie everyone up and terrify the kids senseless - are up by a whopping 20%.
Ah yes - we South Africans are not likely to sleep peacefully.
Let's see what surprises the stats hold next year after the police minister's enthusiastic encouraging of a shoot-to-kill policy for our men and women in blue.

1 comment:

  1. And I believe those crime stats are not realistic either.