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Hiding in what used to be our homes


GREY MUTTER: I looked up definitions of what “home” means, and stumbled across a definition that, sadly, seems to be a thing of the past these days: “Home is a safe haven and a comfort zone. A place to live with our families and pets and enjoy with friends.”

Picture: Joseph Mucira from Pixabay

A GOOD friend of mine sent me a disturbing text this past week with the terrible news that intruders gained entry to his home and he had been killed after being mercilessly stabbed 46 times.

We were able to laugh about it, but not a belly laugh this time.

The subdued laughter we shared was as a result of the fact that, although the reports of his cruel demise were wildly inaccurate, my friend had in fact been attacked in his home early one morning last week.

Imagine opening your front door, after just having prayed with your spouse, and have an intruder, who had been waiting on the threshold, slash you in the face with a sharp object.

That’s not a pleasant way to start any day.

As we chatted – my ‘rumourly-departed’ friend and I – we speculated about how the story of the attack had grown such a long tail. We came to the agreement that – seeing as it took 36 stitches to patch up his wounds – the rumour mill ground out the tale, changing stitches to stab wounds and adding a fatality, just for spice … after all, these days, home invasions are not as thrilling as they used to be; they are so run-of-the-mill and mundane.

Just recently I was poring over the headlines on this newspaper’s website, and it made for disturbing and heartbreaking reading.

Headlines like: “Woman raped and robbed in her home by knife-wielding assailants”, “Galeshewe woman gunned down in front of her home” and “Man gets 15 years for attacking ex-girlfriend, child with axe” … these, to me, are horrifying!

Then add to this short list, the headlines about people around the world in conflict zones who are being displaced from or killed in their homes due to military aggression.

As all this darkness swirled in my mind this past week – especially through the long nights when I struggled to sleep thinking about this attack on my buddy – I agonised over the fact that our homes are not havens any more.

I looked up definitions of what “home” means, and stumbled across a definition that, sadly, seems to be a thing of the past these days: “Home is a safe haven and a comfort zone,” the definition stated, before adding, “A place to live with our families and pets and enjoy with friends. A place to build memories … A place where we can truly just be ourselves.”

Growing up, I remember driving past properties in Kimberley that had broken glass cemented onto the top of the boundary walls. And some might argue that, seeing as there were those glass-topped walls, crime has always been around; but the thing is, those glass-topped walls were around businesses like scrap yards where thieves would break in and steal.

These days walls have spikes, electrical wiring, barred windows and security doors, but not merely just to keep burglars out. These security measures are in place just so people can feel a bit safer in their own homes – the place that at one time used to be a safe haven, comfort zone, and a place to live with our families and pets and enjoy with friends.

And on the subject of pets … a while back, another friend told me that her two fur babies, her two beloved Rottweilers died after they were poisoned by, she suspects, heartless, cruel brigands, with no moral compass, who had identified their neighbourhood as fruitful burglary territory.

She added that it was not only her dogs; six other animals in the neighbourhood were poisoned around the same time.

Then, also last week, I heard another alarming story about a group of people who were attacked and robbed in the City by some young men posing as informal “pothole patchers”.

According to the sketchy details I was able to scrape together, instead of filling holes, these young men were placing sharp objects in the road with the aim of damaging cars’ tyres, and when the drivers stopped to take stock of the damage, they were pounced and robbed at knifepoint.

Looking at what has been going on of late, all this crime and ugliness, it’s no wonder that I have not been sleeping too well. However, I was encouraged this past week when I read of Operation Shanela on our paper’s website.

“Shanela”, a strategic law enforcement initiative has been disrupting criminal activity, and with 336 suspects apprehended across all five districts of the Province in the most recent operation.

That proved to be some desperately needed positive news! As was the news that the country’s New Minister of Police has vowed to combat violent crime in South Africa!

In addition to Operation Shanela, and our police minister’s assurances, the other good thing is that I learned a very, very interesting historical fact this past week that helped me process and filter through all the bad news. It’s always good to learn something new, especially when sleep is evading you through the late night hours.

It’s come to light recently that a lot of thought went into planning the Great Trek. And remember, this was in the early 1800s, long before GPS and road maps; goodness, there were not even roads at the time, and the terrain was rugged to say the least.

I learned that the reason that the Trek set off in a northerly direction was because they calculated that if they had travelled south, their oxen would have drowned in the sea!

So now you know what kind of ridiculous thoughts come to my mind when I don’t get enough sleep at night.

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