A Vuvuzela-induced media blackout on crime in South Africa has thus far occurred during the 2010 World Cup. Though a nation perennially awash in a poisonous amalgamation of both petty and appalling crime (boasting one of the highest murder rates in the world) the inhabitants of South Africa have been disinclined to acquiesce to the normal predilections that govern their behavior.
It appears that South Africans are exercising restraint in dealing with the 300,000 visitors from across the world who ventured to watch their teams play soccer. It would appear that way, but the image of a united South Africa disengaging themselves from wanton criminality for the duration of the World Cup is slipping as the façade of harmony is fading (this story took place on June 27th):
Five Australian football fans were among nine people tied up and robbed at gunpoint in a terrifying hold-up in their hotel room following the Australia-Serbia World Cup match in South Africa.
The Nine Network said that one of the female victims was sexually assaulted during the robbery, staged by four armed men at the hotel in Nelspruit.
They were found by another Australian guest, Steve Gaynor, who told Nine that one of the victims, believed to be a member of the Australian Federal Police, had kept the others calm during the nightmare ordeal on Thursday.
Mr Gaynor had found his room had been robbed with about $10,000 worth of equipment, including his laptop and passport, stolen.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had confirmed the incident, News Limited reported.
The robbery and assault occurred after the group had returned in the early hours of Thursday morning after watching the Socceroos beat Serbia 2-1.
Only highlights from “the pitch” (what Europeans call a field) make it out of South Africa, though six of the seven African teams have been eliminated (France is an African team masquerading as a European team), with only Ghana caring the Black Flag for those of African descent everywhere.
Ghana – nicknamed the Black Stars for the maritime company Marcus Garvey created to transport Black people back to Africa – has an entire continent supporting them. Indeed, African Pride is alive and well thanks to the Black Stars, though enthusiasm for teams that fail to have Black athletes appears nonexistent:
Last week, the parks boasting massive screens showing matches across South Africa's largest city were heaving with fans some of whom had travelled up to eight hours to "feel it," partying all night with vuvuzela horns blasting and testing the nerves of nearby residents.
But one week into the tournament, a cold spell of weather added to a disappointing defeat by South Africa to Uruguay on Wednesday have left only a few dozen die-hard believers, wrapped up warm and huddled together braving the outdoor parks where temperatures have hovered around zero degrees.
"South Africa is not doing so well, nor are the other African teams," said Ndumiso Mdlongwa, a 28-year-old waiter.
"This is why there's less people."
In 2006 when the finals were held in Germany, tens of thousands of fans partied deep into the night throughout the country in the fanzones which proved massively popular and an enduring memory from the tournament.
No, the only stories that matter emanating from South Africa deal with soccer, or as The New York Times would have you believe the shocking number of white coaches for Black teams:
This is supposed to be Africa’s World Cup, but Africa’s teams, many on the verge of elimination, are still not entirely Africa’s teams.
Not with Sven-Goran Eriksson, the Swede who spawned a thousand tabloid headlines in England, coaching Ivory Coast despite not speaking French or any of the country’s indigenous languages.
Not with Lars Lagerback, another late recruit from Sweden, coaching Nigeria. Not with the French former star Paul Le Guen coaching Cameroon, and not with Carlos Alberto Parreira, the classy Brazilian, back in charge of South Africa.
Foreign coaches have been a fixture in African soccer since the beginning at the World Cup. In 1934, when Egypt became the first African nation to participate in the tournament, James McRae of Scotland was the manager. It took 36 years for another African team to participate, and when Morocco managed it, in 1970, the coach was Blagoje Vidinic of Yugoslavia.
But this is a deeply symbolic year and occasion, one that was supposed to underscore the possibilities of Africa and its present-day qualities. How inconvenient, then, that of the six African teams in the tournament, only Algeria is coached by one of its own: the 64-year-old Rabah Saadane.
“For my country, it’s symbolic, because Mr. Saadane is the man who qualified us for the World Cup,” said Madjid Bougherra, an Algerian defender. “It’s been 24 years since we qualified, and Mr. Saadane was the coach then, too. He is very respected in Algeria, and I think it gives a good image, the right image for Algeria to have an Algerian coach.”
For the other five African teams, it looks very much like a missed opportunity, and the situation, although more nuanced than it first appears and hardly new, remains a wellspring of continental angst.
“Let me put it this way,” Simaata Simaata, general secretary of the Zambia Football Coaches Association, told the BBC this year, “it’s like saying David Livingstone discovered the Victoria Falls. No, David Livingstone was the first European to see the Victoria Falls. There were already local people who knew where the mighty wonder of the world existed, and they were the local scouts who knew the terrain. That’s the way we view the contribution of foreign coaches.”
South African officials have been critical of the coverage journalists have been providing for those interested in what is transpiring in South Africa besides soccer. Once again, The New York Times believes soccer is the ultimate weapon for bringing harmony to the nations of the world and bridging racial gaps:
South Africa is a country where race is not the subtext of existence. It’s the text.
I was at dinner the other night with my cousins, white South Africans divided as to whether they still have prospects here. The elder men said things like, “I now feel like a visitor,” or “The future is for the blacks.” They see race relations worsening, corruption spreading and inefficiency rampant.
Not the youngest among them, a law student in his mid-20s, proud African, brimming with indignation at his elders’ perceived conceits: “Is it race or is it class?” he asked. “What is freedom to them?” he demanded, voice rising. “They want houses, schools, sewage. They want justice.”
Conversation turned to this tidbit: Under apartheid, blacks could not be bricklayers because the job was classified as whites-only skilled labor. The student’s mother expressed anger, prompting a furious rebuke from him: “Why are you angry now when you weren’t 30 years ago? Your anger’s useless now. Drop it. When it would have been useful you didn’t have it. Now it’s payback time for them.”
“They” are the eternal other, of course, the blacks in this white conversation, the whites in mirror-image black conversations.
There are plenty of iterations of “they” in a land where the 1950 Population Registration Act (evil legislation is always innocuously named) ran a fine comb through types of inferior being, among them Indians and mixed-race “coloreds.” Almost a generation from apartheid’s end, South Africa is struggling to compose these differences into something foreign to nature: a sustainable rainbow.
Rainbows are impermanent, optical phenomenons and are hardly sustainable even in the most extreme controlled experiment.
Well, that’s what SBPDL is for as criminals in South Africa have apparently no regard for the aphorism “everything but the kitchen sink”:
South Africa's police are investigating after thieves stripped a police station of all its contents, down to the kitchen sink.
The office was under renovations and ready for re-occupation when the thieves hit, reports South Africa's Times Newspaper.
The robbers helped themselves to everything of value - including doors, cupboards, basins, cutlery, tiles, furniture, electrical equipment and mortuary fridges.
Officers from the Carletonville police station, west of Johannesburg, have had to cram into three small rooms.