Ghetto dances: Shopping spree gone wrong in SA

As we disembarked from the bus, I felt compelled to remind Fatso to be vigilant.

Rasta cancelled the trip on the very last minute. He had not saved enough money. It was not like we had not planned for this trip to South Africa for a long time. It took me three months to save the money for shopping in South Africa. Mai VaMaidei also wanted me to buy some  blankets and winter sheets for resale as  the long cold winter was fast approaching and blankets would sell like hot cakes. Bongani, who lived in Shumba Street, also gave me some  money so that I could buy him some sneakers.

In the end,  we travelled by the overnight bus to Johannesburg. Fatso slept all the way from the border town of Messina to Johannesburg.  I could not afford to sleep even a wink. South Africa always gives me goosebumps and I was highly alert to  scams otherwise we would  lose  all our money. Even some people from other provinces like Limpopo and North West tried to avoid Johannesburg as much as possible. You were a bit safe as long as you avoided the Park Station area and Hillbrow.

Besides, I did not trust the man who sat  next to  us. He had a strange pair of eyes that gave you the impression that he was looking beyond you when he was actually staring right at you. I did not like him one little bit. Fatso was too naïve. How could he sleep? I allowed my thoughts to think like this.

The last time I had been to South Africa, everything that could go wrong had gone wrong and I had almost lost my life. Twice bitten, twice shy, this saying aptly applied to me.  No ways,  nothing was going to go wrong.

If I had my way, I could do anything to avoid Park Station and one street that was dangerous at any time of the day was Bree Street. Most of the harrowing tales of robberies and knife stabbings emanated in this area. The MTN rank was also another red zone.

Robberies happened in the glare of the public eye and funny enough, people would pass by, minding their own business. This attitude festered these robberies and this  emboldened the culprits. They were untouchable and the police seemed helpless and their inaction fanned rumours of complicit with the notorious muggers.

As we disembarked from the bus, I felt compelled to remind Fatso to be vigilant.

“Don’t talk to strangers and avoid looking people in the eyes, the robbers will spot fear in your eyes and that will be the end of it,” I said. He was very excited and I wanted him to keep his guard. Fatso had never stayed in South Africa and he was bound to be too trusting.

All we wanted was to do our shopping and catch the returning buses in the afternoon. Nothing more, nothing less. In another place, shopping is a very simple process, but not at Park Station, you  have to be watchful all the time and keep the wolves at bay. And the muggers operate in groups and their main weapon is triggering fear and confusion. Avoid being isolated from the crowd. I learnt this the hard way  in the past and so I was extremely alert on this trip.

In the end, nothing can ever really prepare you for trouble and when it came, we were least prepared for it.

As we were walking, and  climbing the  short stairs to the taxi rank, Fatso was stopped by a guy selling some T- shirts. I wanted to give him a warning but it was already too late. He called out to me. I scowled. He had not listened to everything I had told him.

I had a sudden premonition of disaster. Fatso had broken all  the rules and he had opened the floodgates to trouble.

Two minutes  later, he caught up with me.

“I have just bought them for one hundred rands,” he said excitedly waving a pack of T-shirts in his left hand. There were about five golf T- shirts, in different colours. The price he bought them for was too good to be true. My alert mind told me that there was a catch somewhere. A mousetrap had been set. And sure enough as we took a turn into Bree Street, four guys suddenly accosted  us. They were all hostile and one of them pounced on Fatso.

“It’s him, he stole our T-shirts in the boutique, show us your receipts,” the stranger said. Two more  guys had joined and we were completely surrounded. One of them had an ugly-looking okapi knife that looked like it had been used several times before.

“Let’s search them,” he said.

Simple. They stole all our money and it was not lost on me to see other pedestrians passing by, minding their own business. I even saw out of the corner of my eyes a policeman hurriedly passing by.

All our business suddenly came to an end. We only managed to go back home because we convinced the drivers  that we would pay once we arrived back on home soil. I never talked to Fatso all the way.

  • Onie Ndoro X@Onie90396982


Related Topics