Just after arriving in Johannesburg I had my third encounter with crime in the City of Gold. All three had been muggings in central Johannesburg, fortunately none have been violent. While talking to the lady next me she told me she was going to Lesotho but had no idea where to board the taxis as there were no buses to Lesotho. So I promised I would escort her to her taxis. As we went through park station I realised that she was carrying a purse slung over her shoulder.
Knowing that we would be heading to downtown Johannesburg I advised her to put the purse in here satchel to avoid unnecessary attention. She insisted there was nothing of value, but complied. As we came to a red traffic light I bumped into a guy who was just in front of me and broke a rule which I heard learnt early on not to apologise!
The first time I got mugged in Johannesburg I ‘bumped’ into someone and apologised, something I had been used to doing in Zimbabwe. However soon as I bumped that person he went off on a rant of which I couldn’t understand a word he was saying and the next thing I knew he was frisking me. It happened so fast I clutched my one pocket where my passport was and we walked off. But a phone which I had brought into town to repair was gone!
Anyway the guy had a small black plastic bag and was wearing a white Manchester United jersey. I am normally very aware of my surroundings when walking in Johannesburg and don’t take chances. I am not paranoid but cautious. On bumping him he turned to me and started mumbling something, while tapping my chest, then he grabbed my belt while still mumbling. In all this I kept calm and I apologised again and started crossing the road as the traffic light was green. I instinctively checked my pocket where my passport was to find it was gone!
I immediately turned to look for the white Manchester United jersey and sure enough the dude was crossing the road with us. There I was in the middle of the road face to face with the dude who just helped himself to my treasured Green Mamba! As I moved towards him, I looked him over quickly and realised he was short and stocky and well dressed. He certainly did not fit my profile of a pick pocket (scrawny & scruffy! – had to update my profiling database). One thing was for sure he wouldn’t be able to out run me if it came to a chase. My mind was racing as I walked to confront him.
The next thing was to cause a commotion and draw attention to him and what he had just done. But thankfully as he saw me walking towards him he hastily handed me back my passport , mumbling something and then proceeded to cross the adjacent street. As I watched him cross he bumped into another person. They started exchanging words again! My phone had been in my other pocket. Had it been my phone I may have let it go. I am a firm believer that a phone is not worth a confrontation with a mugger
I thank God because this could have so easily gone south. Normally he will not be alone and am sure he thought my passport was a wallet. Had it been my phone I doubt he would have been happy to just hand it back. Sad thing is that its not often that anyone was going to come to my assistance even if I had panicked for fear of being attacked. The first time I got mugged I was shaken a bit, the second time was 7:30am while going to work and I was traumatised for a some days afterwards. This time I was calm with ‘peace that surpasseth all understanding‘. It was necessary as I am sure my lady friend’s heart was pounding. I was more concerned about her safety and it was better if it was me rather than her.
I know its by Gods grace that we are kept safe daily in the city of gold. Funny enough earlier I had written how the decongestion of the CBD would lead to less pick pockets! Here was another reminder that we are in Gods hands. After my first encounter I realised that its only a matter of time before you become a victim of crime in Johannesburg. Its a sad reality, but we have to put our lives in Gods hands and continue with our lives.
After checking with the lady whether she had arrived in Lesotho safely, she eventually turned out to be woman assistant referee Stella Ruvinga, a member of the FIFA and ZIFA panel of referees, who was going for a wedding for one of her referee mates. As much as she looked familiar I couldn’t place the face, but initially I had suspected she was a soccer player. Unfortunately I am not an avid follower of soccer so missed an opportunity at getting an autograph and a selfie with her.