Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Well, it finally happened. I was fairly certain I couldn't be that lucky to walk untouched by crime in Johannesburg.

Got mugged on my way to the supermarket.

It was already getting dark while I was walking alongside a major road. Suddenly someone overtakes me. That was the first odd thing - I walk fast, I overtake other people, not the other way around. But well, then it was too late.  The guy turns, blocks my path, I hear a click, and there is a knife in his hand and a demand for my phone. A split second hesitation if I should dart sideways on the road - but then decide not to and follow what I've been taught. Just do what is asked, don't make eye contact, tell calmly what you're going to do.

I don't care about my phone. It was the cheapest model and I don't have a contract. There was less than 15 Rand (less than 1.50 Euro) credit left on it. I gave him the phone and asked if I could keep the SIM card. He said, "Fuck you" while he was already walking away. I guess that was a no.

I generally don't take anything of value with me when I walk after sunset - except for my phone and 20 Rand of contingency money. But today I was carrying my 1800 Rand worth broadband antenna in a plastic back and my bank card (separately and outside my wallet) with me for my shoppings. Could've been worse.

The biggest loss is the 70+ SMSes of my girlfriend where she tells she loves me. And the hazzle to get a new phone is an irritant.

But well. I'm fine, unharmed, and a little wiser. I hope the guy will feel bad about it one day.

That's it.

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Sat Feb 9th, 2008 at 04:21:59 PM EST
I'm just glad to see you're safe.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Feb 9th, 2008 at 04:29:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Could have been worse. Time to start backing up your SIM ....
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sat Feb 9th, 2008 at 04:31:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I´m sorry to hear that, Nomad, because you also lose hope and trust, but I´m really glad you were calm and in control.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Sat Feb 9th, 2008 at 04:53:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thankfully it was just a phone and you're alright.  You'll just have to have her make up all the SMSes.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Feb 9th, 2008 at 05:14:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for all the love and concern; it's touching me.

I had a good night, nothing restless, no bad dreams. But metavision is right: I've lost something of trust, I'm not as eager to go walking that part of town and feel more motivated to get a car.

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Sun Feb 10th, 2008 at 04:11:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Only read about your experience now. Good to hear that you got unhurt out of this experience and that you were able to sleep. Sometimes, despite trusting one still needs to be careful. Take care!
by Fran on Sun Feb 10th, 2008 at 08:53:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've never been mugged (knocking on wood), but, yeah, the loss of trust doesn't surprise me.  Muggings are pretty common in this part of the DC area, and we do have people breaking into cars at my apartment complex pretty frequently, looking for iPods and stereos to sell.  (There's a crack den a few blocks away, apparently, so that would explain the break-ins for valuable items.)  But the best thing to do is to stay calm, do as they tell you, and hope for the best.  At the end of the day, you're worth more than a phone, so you nailed it.

If you've got friends there nearby, it might be a very good idea to travel in a group, or perhaps call for a ride, if you're going to be out late, though.  If you get word that muggings are pretty there, you might want to speak with the police about getting more frequent patrolling in the area, too.  I'm not sure how much good it'll do, since, in my case, the cops are usually concerned with preventing violent crime on the other side of the river, but it can't hurt.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Feb 10th, 2008 at 11:18:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you get word that muggings are pretty there

Change that to "...pretty common there...."

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Feb 10th, 2008 at 11:22:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was well aware that the street I was walking on passed a corner which is notorious for "smash-and-grabs" (windows of cars waiting for a traffic sign getting smashed and valuables snatched off the seat). It's a patch of green nearby a viaduct with no lights - a perfect place to quickly disappear. I was just walking on the other side of the street. Didn't help me this time - but I've walked that stretch of road dozens of time in 2007, also after nightfall. But then I was always still on guard - and yesterday I had pretty much dropped it...

Generally, crime in Jozi appears somewhat migratory to me - because intensified police actions are migratory. The business district is getting cleaned up, and notorious Hillbrow is following. The area where I live seems to be on the rise: it's full of careless students with enough money to live outside the townships. It's also the new academic year - also a period with higher risk.

Less than 30 minutes later after I had "redistributed" my phone, near the street where I stay, there was a massive police raid. My friends told me today that the area appears currently heavily targeted by the police.

But it's good advice. I'll be asking for some more car pooling in the meantime and will just swim more on campus to get my exercise...

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Sun Feb 10th, 2008 at 12:13:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Where were you?
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sun Feb 10th, 2008 at 12:16:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Crossing on Empire St just before Barry Hertzog - there's a (new?) Pick 'n Pay in the nearby building. I was walking back from Wits, planning to do my shoppings and then get home by a cab. If I had done the smarter thing, I'd have taken a taxi for the 500 meters in between...
by Nomad (Bjinse) on Sun Feb 10th, 2008 at 03:16:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey Nomad, I just saw this, so sorry to hear it happened, but yes, it could've been a lot worse.  I've lost a couple of phones to bag-snatchers and it sucks.

Obligatory SA crime story:  The one time I got mugged there, the guy beat the crap out of me, I was covered with bruises and had headaches for weeks from where he hit me in the head.

Obligatory USA crime story:  But I know (personally) half a dozen people who've been killed in robberies or attempted robberies in the States, so it could all obviously be worse.

You handled it exactly right.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sun Feb 10th, 2008 at 12:15:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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