I like to travel a lot my whole life. A few times I have also fallen victim to robberies. I didn’t expect the robbery in Johannesburg, although I knew that Johannesburg is dangerous and I was especially careful. With my girlfriend I still had a few hours until our flight was to leave. We had already checked all our things at the airport and put our carry-on luggage in a locker. We then went to a market. We were not dressed flashy but just the only white people walking. As I do in African countries, I had bought some fruit and vegetables in a plastic bag so that it would not look like we were complete strangers. It was 11 o’clock in the morning, in the evening to I would certainly not have walked around in Johannesburg. Then it happened very quickly: we didn’t notice anything, we woke up lying on the floor. Some people were standing around us. Since we had both been unconscious, we had no memory, but it was clear that we had been robbed by a well-organized group. Our bags were emptied, fortunately we had most of it in the locker, so only some money and some IDs were lost. The police we informed only told us that this was not unusual.
Thinking about the robbery later, I reflected that yes, such robberies are surprisingly rare. I had spent a lot of time in many African and several South American countries, even in dense crowds. In those countries, too, poverty and wealth were often quite pronounced, and there were slums and large numbers of young men who had little chance of achieving a good standard of living. What was the difference? South Africa has the peculiarity of having many more whites than the other African countries. Also, the apartheid period was different from the colonialism period in the other African states. The politics under and after Nelson Mandela tried to make the best out of this situation: they tried to bring as many blacks as possible into responsible positions, they also tried to make the unequal distribution of land and other property more equal. Of course, this is not so easy. Nelson Mandela did not intend to expel the whites, which would have been very unjust, since they had already been cultivating their farms for several hundred years. I think this unresolved tension contributes to the special aggressiveness in South Africa.
What consequences did I myself draw from the case: I would not walk around in a city in South Africa anymore. The time we were in rural areas with a rental car was not dangerous. In the national parks there was no danger. I would definitely go hiking in rural areas e.g. in the Dragon Mountains, but in the cities I probably wouldn’t even drive around with a rental car unnecessarily since there is also carnapping. The all-black states in Africa are also quite different in their dangerousness. In Moshe and Arusha in Tanzania I feel free and not endangered. Would of course not obviously richly dressed at night run through the city with a Rolex on the wrist, but that is anyway not my kind. In the big cities like Dar es Salaam, but also Nairobi or Mombasa I would not walk around in the night .