Fri Oct 28 02:32:45 CAT 2016
Order restored at Sun City Prison after fiery protest over inmates’ TVs

Correctional Services said that “matters are under control” at Johannesburg’s Sun City Prison on Wed.

It's time to praise our City of Gold

By Zukile | Jun 24, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

ONE of Britain's wittiest journalists Jeremy Clarkson recently penned a brilliant piece about crime - or the perception of crime - in Johannesburg, the so-called crime capital of the world.

Writing in London's The Sunday Times in March, Clarkson describes Joburg as "tranquil" and "the least frightening place on earth, yet everyone speaks of how many times they've been killed that day".

Clarkson, who hosts the BBC's TV motoring show, Top Gear, wrote: "You could tell your mother you were going on a package holiday to Kabul, with a stopover in Haiti and Detroit, and she wouldn't bat an eyelid.

"But tell her you're going to Joburg and she'll be absolutely convinced that you'll come home with no wallet, no watch and no head.

"Joburg has a fearsome global reputation for being utterly terrifying, a lawless Wild West frontier town paralysed by corruption and disease.

"But I've spent quite a bit of time there over the past three years and I can reveal that it's all nonsense."

The Joburg Clarkson described for London readers is the city that has been my home for the past four years. Not once have I been robbed, threatened with a gun, a knife or even a fist.

Clarkson also had strong words for the locals who run around creating a negative reputation for what is one of the friendliest cities on the globe.

"Why ruin the reputation of your city and risk the success of the World Cup to fuel a story that plainly isn't true?

"I've sauntered through Soweto on a number of occasions, swinging a Nikon round my head, with no effect. You stand more chance of being mugged in Monte Carlo."

Clarkson reminds me of an utterly bonkers exercise that was done by my previous employer, the Mail & Guardian, - just a few months after I arrived in Joburg as an investigative-cum-political reporter from Durban in 2005.

The paper wheeled out a reporter and other resources to the murkiest parts of the city to "buy or hire" an AK-47 for R100 in a futile bid to prove we truly were living in the crime capital of the world. This followed the broad daylight slaughter of police by a gang of thugs in Jeppestown.

Needless to say the story, already packaged, remained the misguided exercise it was originally conceived as - though it stayed on the diary for weeks. Clarkson recalls a similar tale.

"Time and again I was told I could buy an AK47 for R100 - about £7. But when I said, 'Okay, let's go and get one', no one had the first idea where to start looking.

"And they were even more clueless when I asked about bullets."

Nuff said.

I invoke Clarkson's tale about the City of Gold in the light of reports that some among us Joburg dwellers allegedly broke into the Wanderers Protea Hotel, currently home to the Egyptian football team, and robbed the Pharoahs of an estimated R19000 in cash.

A quick police investigation has found no forced entry into the hotel rooms.

The police are convinced the alleged foul play might have been committed by people invited to Pharoahs' victory party following their 1-0 triumph over Italy.

Encouragingly, soccer boss Danny Jordaan and Deputy Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula announced this week that incidents of crime had been low during this period of our hosting the Confederations Cup.

Besides, South Africa hosting the cup has elements to it other than the crime rate.

So in the midst of this "lawlessness", let the world's football fans follow Clarkson's advice: "If you are thinking about going to the World Cup next year, don't hesitate.

"The exchange rate's good, the food superb, the weather's lovely and, thanks to some serious economic self-sacrifice, the Kruger (National Park) is still full of animals."


Login OR Join up TO COMMENT