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CRIME STORIES, Wiser, 10-11 June 2009 Federica Duca sidehk@gmail.


Sosh: township under the siege of community talking about crime Dialoguing in/about Soshanguve and surroundings1

Introduction While writing my Master thesis on Residential segregation and social diversity: paths and relations among the old city center and the big building at its South, Hotel House, I ran into the opportunity of spending three months in South Africa for any kind of research I would be interested in. The requirement was to present a very brief research project in which the aims and objectives as well as the methodology would be explained. A previous university paper I wrote about gangs in Soweto and Los Angeles gave me some insights on the gang phenomenon in South Africa, and specifically on Soweto gangs. While studying for a year at University of California, Irvine I have been given two books on gangs I was supposed to read for this paper. The first one by John Hagedorn2, a lucid critique of conventional criminology when dealing with gangs, and the second one by Clive Glaser3, an history of Soweto gangs between 1935 and 1976. This last volume introduced me to some literature on gangs in South Africa and it has been one of the first approaches I have had to South African gangs. Back to my South African experience. Why was I interested in gangs? And what kind of contribution would I have been able to give with an investigation into gangs in a country of which my knowledge was basic, simple, fixed on the idea of apartheid, xenophobic violence and segregation? I was sure there was more to know: in fact quick looks at websites such us Indymedia South Africa were already giving me updates of many groups activities in the country and of a vibrant daily culture to be discovered.

This is a preliminary expression of a wider study I intend to engage with either elaborating further these thoughts and paving the way to a more structured investigation. 2 Hagedorn (Editor), 2007; Gangs in the Global City Alternatives to Traditional Criminology (Paperback)

Glaser, Clive. 2000. Bo-Tsotsi: The Youth Gangs of Soweto, 1935-1976. Portsmouth, N.H.Heinemann

The fixation on apartheid was also caused by some of the literature I had gotten it touch with during the drafting of my Master thesis. When attempting to draw some sort of relations between different urban contexts such as the ghetto, the Italian periphery and the French banlieue I had the chance to read some materials about townships, the colonial city and gated communities, this last being the centre of gravity of many contemporary studies on urban and segregated space. It was not enough though. In fact my work concentrating on a case study of a little town in central Italy wanted to outline how the perception of segregation was affected by the common knowledge of segregation itself and by concepts such as ghetto and periphery from a relational point of view. Nevertheless looking into South African literature from Italy was a mere exercise in uncritically getting aware of separation and division in the country. The articles about Gated Community4 were interesting but a simple description of the gated panorama and, as usual, townships were described as indigent and hopeless. Hence the need of looking beyond a taxomatic expression and representation of the reality. The research I was going to undertake was starting from a blank paper, even the proposal, I would understand later in South Africa, was too approximate and superficial. What would be my approach to gangs? And what would be my position towards crime and gang related crime? Furthermore it was the first time I was stepping onto the African continent, something I had refused to do earlier because I hadnt been able to find a good reason to do so. Now that I had my project my adrenaline was at the utmost. I believe that this lack of knowledge, together with the huge enthusiasm I had, helped me to adopt a very flexible position and it has magnificently contributed to the richness and spontaneity of my stay in South Africa which I hope Im going to be able to honor it through this little paper which is just a preliminary format of what I intend to develop further. In fact this account looks more like a draft, or better, a sort of a stream of consciousness from which I wish to depart for a longer trip. I think it is important to share it with you. It might have many more details but unfortunately transcribing interviews takes a long time. Elaborating memories takes even more and unfortunately circumstances are not always favorable. I really wanted this paper to reach you at Wiser during these days of colloquium on Crime Stories, thats why I rushed a bit but I hope I will have the chance to do more, enlarging it and deepening it to a wider conceptualization of my experience.

See, for example Landman, (2004)Gated Communities in South Africa: Comparison of four cases in Gauteng; Gated Communities in South Africa: a review of the relevant policies and their implications, CSIR; plus website

Positioning myself within the research (dealing with methodology) The spontaneous outcome of my investigation is not to talk about South African society now, nor to talk about the contemporary5 state of the township and of crime. I dont see myself prepared for such a complex task and I believe theres no such need of a holistic approach to it. In fact I would be easily trapped in a simplistic interpretation of this reality linked to two main conditions: Im not South African and positing that you dont have to be South African to get an understanding of the environment, I havent lived in South Africa for a critical amount of time. Even so Im in the position to share an account with you, that of an experience thanks to which I have come in contact with a portion of life in the township and in the suburb overcoming my nave idea of a strong dichotomy of the two. This preliminary note suggests that what Im going to write is more a narration than anything else and that there is a wide and open space for an accurate parsing. From October 2008 until March 2009 I have been living in Gauteng starting from Brooklyn (Pretoria) during the first two months, going through Yeoville (Johannesburg) and finally landing in Soshanguve (City of Tswhane), trying to get to know something about crime and more precisely about gangs, these issues being the most debated in the country not only by the media and by the public policing. Not surprisingly, crime is the privileged starting point of description of the country, by anyone. And it makes the task even more interesting. What seems to come to mind anytime we talk about South Africa, no matter where we are, is crime. And interestingly there are different ways of talking about it: it depends on where you are. Not particularly focused on South African news, the Italian media highlighted the xenophobic wave that hit South Africa during the Spring of 2008, while the Hong Kong news machine broadcasts mainly about the Asian and Chinese community in South Africa, talking about the harassment and robberies the Chinese are subjected to. In fact for the first time I left Italy with a little bit of concern about crime, I have been bombarded by information and necro-events about South Africa, and even if I didnt want to be scared, I had been slightly affected by it. I find it hard and confusing to place myself in the narration, this reflecting the difficulties of positioning myself during the research (in fact one of the most common questions I have been asked was what are you doing, who are you, are you a journalist? and it was very difficult to define my position). If I was not just a researcher while living in Soshanguve, how did I introduce myself? And what was I? And how do I attempt now the task of narrating the experience? Am I an internal narrator, an omniscient one, and where is the author? These are the questions I was asking myself

The call for attention to the contemporary is indeed a critical issue. It is obviously to be read together with the problem of positioning myself within the narration. Hence the possible relation between the stranger and the contemporary. For this point see Agamben (2008)Che cos il contemporaneo?.

while commuting from place to place, while telling my friends in Soshanguve that I needed to go to Pretoria to have a relaxing time on my own, checking my email at Cool Running and having a beer without being tackled as a girl drinking beer as usually happened when going out in Soshanguve. Simone in the introduction to its book For the city yet to come talks about a Multiple Engagement as Methodology where he makes explicit his different positions in the diverse environments from which his investigations stem. At some time operating in the city as an activist, in some other moments as a teacher and so forth, Simone believes that this inside role was going to help him to positively challenge a sectorial based notion of the research of urban Africa. But mostly, this is the question I came to terms with while responding to the uncountable questions I have been asked when commenting and discussing my research. What is clear to me, and I hope I have been able to convey it to everybody I have interacted with, is that I dont intend to speak for anybody6: this is just an attempt to render public my account, giving insights on a randomly structured experience of popular gang crime/security. Unfortunately sometimes the simplification I was obliged to in order to give a plausible sense of my presence in a township and to make clear that I was not part of the police or an infiltrator, drew my research in the realm of the study of the community and in the worlds of many I see, you want to know how we live, our culture. This is one of the reasons why Im putting much effort into trying my best to succeed in translating and building a prosperous dialogue between my personal experience and methodological issues, drawing on what is conventionally called ethnographic observation and renewing it as a research method through experience. Maybe my situation is better explained by the description Simmel gives of the Stranger: his position in the group is determined, essentially, by the fact that he has not belonged to it from the beginning, that he imports qualities into it, which do not and cannot stem from the group itself. The position of the stranger stands out more sharply if he settles down in the place of his activity, instead of leaving it again.7 Nevertheless I wish to stress my multiple experience within the different dimensions of the region, the diversity I have got in touch with made me aware of the complexity of the country and guided me to question the meaning ascribed to the spatial idea of white suburb, black suburb in the city and township. The process becomes the most important part of my experience. Getting in touch with gangs, interviewing them, understanding fears and security disposals becomes part of my daily life. Constructive discouragement was given by the conversations I have had with some new

For this point, see Spivak, (1996) Can the subalter speak? in Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, Columbia SC. 7 Simmel, G., 1908,

friends when they were asking: You will never know much about here. You are different, you have money and you would not be able to live here for a long time. Furthermore when I started going out with an ex-gang member involved in some kind of political-economic activities I have been asked not to tell people about my research on gangs. He did not want everybody to know that me hanging out with him was very much linked to my interest in gangs: He was drinking beers with some friends and I just joined them. I then realized that all of them are Pasma (Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania) members and that they are really involved in politics, at least at a school level, which is pretty much institutional. When I reached them at the shebeen in front of main campus I introduced myself and they asked me what I was doing but I just told them about my broad research, I didnt want to get into details about my gangs, especially when S. last time told me not to tell anybody about it. I told them that I was doing research on environment, just because I didnt know what to say. They said that they could see that at the moment I was off duty and that for this reason they could talk to me freely. They kept talking about the hood and hustling, one of them kept talking about the ghetto (Field note, Soshanguve, February 6th, 2009).

From these points stemmed the idea to narrate the time spent in South Africa in a fluid, open and eclectic way. Through the narration I would like to convey the methodological process I have encountered and modeled. Furthermore the intention here is not to write about the positive aspects of living in a township or of the negative ones. Ill leave it to the local news teeming with daily articles on crime and decay of the township. Such a design of the research didnt allow me to get in touch with a specific gang, and actually has confirmed that the concept of gang is wide, related to an eclectic and multi-faced lifestyle and often detached from a specific activity of the group , thus without a group specialty. This is why I am not asking myself why a certain type of group is very present in that environment or why gangs are recidivist in South Africa as elsewhere in the world. Here we are in the realm of a domestic tale thanks to which the gang is understood by the means of the dialogical maieutics. Of course, I am more confident talking about the understanding given by the daily frequentation of the place, when my presence is visible yet not disturbing the joined flow of actions which unfortunately, in some of its part, I still fail to understand. Im not confident about conclusions though and I dont know if, for this matter, I should blame my insecurity in expressing myself along the line of statements, or if, on the other hand, Im giving naf relevance the richness of anecdotes. For sure, this preliminary work needs to be re-read in a

more meticulous way. It needs to be better theoretically framed and better analyzed. It is going to be more complete when I include all my findings. Before going back to Italy from South Africa in March 2009 I spent two weeks in Hong Kong. Walking the streets of it I randomly met some people and I ended up talking about my experience in Soshanguve. Why did I go there? What have I really understood about it? From Guadalupe, one of them lives in Hong Kong, hes trading cell phones and the other one is there on a business trip. They are curious about my stay in South Africa, they really want to know how I have conducted my research. I start explaining but Im almost immediately stopped: you havent understood anything about life in townships and in South Africa, you didnt live in a place without electricity and water..I think you have misunderstood the situation, and then what are you trying to do Black people dont work on writings, they work on oral tradition... Im aware of the simplisitc nature of this short introduction, obviously not original and dealing with matters more than debated in the field of sociological research. But the strong impact that five months in South Africa has had in my personal and professional life should not be underestimated, nor in the methodological perspective, since I strongly call for a more accentuated attention to a wider range of tools of investigation. This final work is the result of five months of research in South Africa (from October 2008 to March 2009), three of which (from January 2009 to March 2009) were spent in Soshanguve, a township in the city of Tshwane where I could experience the common perception of crime and gangsterism, especially the way it is told and narrated. Participatory observation and interviews (semi-structured and narration) in three secondary schools and in the shebeens allowed me to have a closer look at the self-representation of crime. Breaking down the meaning ascribed to being a gangster, a criminal or a thug not just for those who consider themselves so but also for those who are familiar with this semantics was the aim of my research. It entails comprehending what being a gangster means in the social space within which the action takes place. Hence the double perspective of the active actor who sees himself as part of the criminal paradigm as a whole and the active actor who seeks a solution to it, being often trapped in the criminal paradigm itself. About the township of Soshanguve and its surroundings Little has been written about the township of Soshanguve, yet at least 500,000 people live there. It has been challenging for me finding my way in Soshanguve. My only acquaintance when I got there was G., a man I had met in November at a Symposium organized by the Correctional Services 6

discussing the Ubuntu as a rehabilitation method and philosophy. In that occasion I also met another lady living in Soshanguve, she is the founder of an Association called South African Women on the Move. The first time I had heard of this township was when I contacted the Housing Office of the Tshwane University of Technology. They offered me a room on TCE campus: It is in the location though, do you really want to come here? A week after arriving in South Africa I even didnt know what a location was, I didnt know it was a synonymous for township. At that time I was staying at a hostel in Hatfield, Pretoria; I asked the owner for elucidation about it, but the only answer I got was: If I were you, I would never live in a location, it is a township. It is dangerous there. The places you could live in are Brooklyn, Hatfield, Arcadia. I would avoid Sunnyside and Town, as well as townships like Soshanguve and Mamelodi. The knowledge I had about townships was very limited, and I would understand later, for what concerns the Gauteng region townships, there is a very wide academic production about Soweto or Alexandra, but not much is known about others. I had no clue about anything and I trusted him as well as a professor from TUT. In fact, for the first two months I ended up living in a student commune in Brooklyn described as follows: Friends Accommodation is a country house in the city where guests become friends. The hostel is situated in Brooklyn, a quiet, safe and upmarket neighborhood in the heart of Pretoria. The house is within walking distance from shopping malls, restaurants and consists of a dorm, single, shared, double and en suite rooms. This is why the first approach to crime and security I have had in South Africa was from this point of view. It was more about ADT security service, little security wooden houses out in the streets and warning of armed response within two minutes. I was starting my journey in search of gangs from this perspective. And I had some sense of the difficulty of it. Not having a car obliged me in the first place to roam the streets during the day, firstly to explore a little bit the place, secondly to look for my information. Here come the first problems: how do I know about gangs? And where do I find them? Am I in the right place? Walking helped me a lot. It has been part of the processuality of the research. This action of walking, and the situation of not having a car (in the beginning, I would have one in the last three months), has given me the possibility of talking to most workers in the street. Again, under this circumstance I have orally come in contact with the township of Soshanguve. It seemed to me that most workers of the security sector were commuting daily, either by train or by taxi, from Soshanguve-Mabopane. Along with this, the very first and superficial conclusion (confirmed in the future when I will live in Soshanguve): the deep, intense, continuous and daily dialogue between the city and township and the feeling that for many people the township is changing to such an extent that, in the words of the Vice Principle of Wallmannsthal school: town is just one of those placesit doesnt matter. 7

Whether you stay in town or here. It is the same. At first (when the apartheid system collapsed) we were excited. People would move out for no reason. But now some of them are coming back to socialize with us. Even in the suburbs, since the price of the house is so high, they want to come back. The complexity of the town-township interaction is confirmed by another man I have interviewed with my friend G. : Sometimes I go. Nowadays what do you do in town? We have everything here, even Morula Sun8. Maybe we go to town to go to the bank or to pay water, there is less queue in town. On weekends sometimes we leave. Last Saturday we were in Mamelodi, but in most cases we sit here. What Im writing here is the result of a continuous play of hazard in the reading of the township, not influenced by any sort of previous knowledge of mine and at the same time relying almost entirely on the memory of few people. This is not a comprehensive social history, it was not the aim of my research. I just intend to give a little bit of framework, to contextualize and to share with you the questions that I have posed myself while living there: When was it founded? By whom? How many inhabitants live here? How has the expansion of the township been shaped? What do you know about this township? Retrieving information about Soshanguve has been very demanding, and I havent been able to do it in a proper way. At the Municipality in Block FF where I thought they would give me some hints, they sent me to the library in Block DD. At the library they showed me a reference book Township of the PWV9. I glanced though it. It is an administrative type of information. Not exhaustive, but a good basic starting point. I learnt in fact that Soshanguve lies about 45 Km north of Pretoria and it was established by the government in 1974 on trust land (land scheduled for incorporation into a homeland) to house people coming from the surrounding region. Unlike other African townships in the Pretoria/Witwatersrand/Vereeniging (PWV) region, Soshanguve has no black authority A black authority, it was said at the meeting, would be an extension of apartheid and any plan aimed at forming such a body in the township was therefore rejected. By 1988 Soshanguve was not a trust land anymore, thus it was not incorporated into homeland. In the words of the minister of development aid Dr. Gerrit Viljoen, Soshanguve was not eligible to be incorporated into Bophuthatswana because the inter-ethnic composition of the population was an obstacle to it.

A casino hotel with a swimming pool where residents of Mabopane can enter freely. This is one of the main attractions of the area, where people from al over South Africa come. It is, also, an enjoyable moment for those who live closeby, unsually hanging at the casino/pool on Saturday nights and Sunday. 9 Harry Mashabela, (1988), Townships of the PWV, South African Institute of Race Relations

What everybody in Soshanguve seems to know is where the name of the township comes from, and it is, in fact, what I have been asked the most Do you know why this place in called Soshanguve? Yes, I think so, it comes from the different ethnic groups living here! I knew it because when I was still living in Pretoria I had gone to the Tourist Office in Church Square where I had found pamphlets advertising and boosting township tourism of the city of Tshwane. I picked all of them: Soshanguve, Atteridgeville, Mamelodi and Mabopane. At that point in time I was not sure I was going to end up living in Soshanguve and I was trying to find information about townships through different means. The pamphlet is titled Soshanguve: a unique tourism destination and it reads: Soshanguve was founded in 1955 and is located 45 Km north of Pretoria central business district. The name comes from the first part of ethnic groups that the government of the day relocated here, namely the Sotho, Shangaan, Nguni and Venda. These people come from Wallmannsthal, Mamelodi and Atteridgeville. How come you know it? Oh, right, you do research, you have to know it!, the answer of my friend in the car. But there is more curiosity about it. I will ask a little bit to as many people as possible. F: When was the first block established? D: 1975 and they settled here. Soshanguve grew from this block (we are in Block F, where the school Wallmannsthal is located). When they came here, there were still Bantu stands. People were put in their areas by the old government. Here there were Tswhana people. These people put in here were called Sotho, Shangane, Venda and did not belong to Tswhana. That is when the segregation came in. This school is said to be started in Wallmannsthal when people were taken out of this settlement called Soshanguve. It started in 1952 as small church and after that the community build their own classes, about three. Unfortunately those people were relocated to Soshanguve, so the school came here. I want to know more, I ask D. F:Why did you come here in 1992? DI was married in Joburg and my family was in Nelspruit and it was far. I asked my mother to come here to be close. And this place was a new place in 1992, when they opened it. A friend of mine told me they were making stands in Sosh, so I rushed to the office and they gave me two papers, I chose two stands here one for me and one for my mom. But then I changed job coz they were moving to East London, too far. And I work in Pretoria. F:Did many people come here in 1992? D: Yeah, it was a big bush before. We had to hire a tractor to clear. No tow roads, no lights, just bush. Many people started to come from everywhere. From Wintervald, some from Hamakaskral to get a train to town. F:I thought that many people have always lived here! D:No, there were cows, white people were staying here, then they had to move to town coz we moved here. F:I didnt think white people were staying here. D:They were blowing here. At the end of Block P, R, Y. Theres a white person there and you cant go there, he shoots. Hes got animals. Hes blowing vegetables, mills, and no one can go

there. Theres a tract. You cross there, you are dead. When people started coming here, they were stealing there. So they made a line and nobody can go. Hes a farmer. You know, some people they like staying in the Kruger National Park, he likes staying there. One white man, in a distance you find another one. During that time of apartheid we could not come here.this part was a white part. Black people were staying in Wintervald. Have you ever been there? F:No D:Dont try. You must be in a group. Because black people staying there. In a stand like this10 one maybe more than 15 peoplechildren, grand grand childres.thats why when they opened this space, everybody came here. It was a white place following under Hammaskraal. After apartheid this people opened this space. And they put black people. F:So you are saying that all these shacks are new? D:Yes. We built here in 1992. No shacks before. People were staying in the mud houses. That was their houses. Put stones and mud. Only black people were staying like that. Shack is a new thing. This one here where Im staying, this is from Joburg. I brought it from there. The white guy I used to work for. When I told him I had no place to stayhe took all this and gave it to me. He had to move so he gave me all. The shack is bad but the mud house is dirty. The floor is from the sheep cow, then you get sick and they must bring shacks. The feeling that little is known about it, and the overexposure of some other townships has been told to me by some students of the schools: F:Is Soshanguve changing?. I ask to one of the students of a school in Block RIt is the improvement, they have RDPs but it is too slow. In Soweto people become successful very fast coz there are lots of sponsor there, everything is done over there. I watch it on TV. Sosh should move a bit faster.. F:Are you jealous of Soweto then? People should come over here, over there in Soweto, everything is happening there. It seems like Sosh. is not recognized. There should be lot of things here like concerts. F:What would you do to improve Sosh? I would call celebrities to dance for us so that people could recognize Soshanguve. Another student agrees with this: They dont know much about the township. They usually forget that here in Sosh we exist and that we can have the same performance as others. And then they think it is Tshwane and they forget about it. They know that Sosh. is there, but dont know much about it. They say, ok, its there and thats it and they forget. We are also part of South Africa and we want to be involved like other towns are involved. When they talk about shacks, they just talk about Alexandra, Soweto, they forget about Soshanguve. Its been a while, its a long time and its also a township, so Im glad you are doing something about it.

Fearing and not fearing crime Since the moment I stepped into Soshanguve I have been asked if I was not afraid of living

Referring to the place where we are talking. It is a shack with a kitchen, a bedroom and a sitting room. Toilette outside.

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there. I did not want to be nave and at the same time I did not want to be trapped in the criminal hysteria. For sure, however, the questions I have been posed too often in Soshanguve made me think a lot: Are you not afraid (implying, and many times directly expressed, of living here with black people)? We dont want to intimidate you (especially when Im talking to political groups leading the strike on campus in the month of January). Great you are going out on your own, but please be careful, theres a lot of crime out there. Watch after yourself and never go out at night on your own. Dont show them that you are drinking beer or smoking, it is bad and they can take advantage of you. In fact in South Africa, as suggested by Sello S. Alock in an article published by the Mail and Guardian on Februart 13th Crime still makes us quake- Despite declining statistics South Africans still believe its out of control. Even though crime rate is stabilizing, people feel threatened by it. According to the last release of the Institute for Security Studies11 reported crime in South Africa is still on the decrease, even if, on the overall of fourteen-year period, at present the nation is not experiencing the lowest rate of crime which were. Captain Marindi from the Soshanguve Police Department says that there is not gangsterism here, there are house arrests, car hijacking and petty thefts. Yet according to the students of three of the Secondary High Schools of Soshanguve and to most of my respondents a criminal is a gangster and a gangster is a criminal. There are no gangs but a gangsta culture who doesnt seem to have any kind of affiliation with the most notorious gangs of South Africa (either prison or street gangs). I just believe that it is important to point this out, but my intention here is not to give insights on the type of crime, nor am I interested in the psychology of the criminal. Giving a look at crime statistics helped me to have a better picture of the situation, yet it did not help me in understanding why since when I stepped into Soshanguve everybody kept scaring me with gruesome stories about the township. Are you going out now? Arent you scared? Im black and Im not going out, you are white and you do that! Be careful, your cell phone will be stolen, and you are gonna get shot! Its full of bullshit outside. This is what I usually hear from my roommate friends anytime I go out. Going out on a Friday night seems to be the most frightening experience of the ekasi (the hood). Block H is the roughest of Soshanguve, together with Block KK, Block P and Block R,
Johan Burher and Henri Boshoff (compiled by), The States response to crime and security in South Africa, 2008, ISS

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those blocks hosting the informal settlements. Tonight I have gone out for the first time with an ex-gangster. Actually I dont know him well. I met him randomly on campus. I gave him my phone number since he said he knows a lot about gangs. Actually at that time his friends kept telling me that if I want to know something, I have to talk to him. We meet at the main gate of TCE residence (one of the residence of TUT in Soshanguve). He first apologies for not calling me in two weeks. He was financially broke: You always need to make a plan, if you want to get something. We start roaming the street. Going out on a Friday night means drinking and dancing on the street, listening to the music and watching the car spinning show. Following the protocol, we start going from shebeen to shebeen. Since it was the first time Im going out with him, he introduces me to his friends but he asks me continuously not to tell anybody what Im doing. I show you the action? he asks me. Why not?. But I could not see particular events, everything was more than ordinary there. Car spinning, are u ready for this? Of course I am, I have seen it already. He keeps going: If you can handle this I will show you more?. My question is why shouldnt I be able to handle this? Its just a bunch of people drinking outside, getting drunk and not much more. I dont know about the internal activity (the unseen), this is what I have been told. For this reason I cannot talk to anybody, I can just stay close to my informant. He orders: Put your cell phone in your breasts. Please dont tell anybody about your research, its gonna fuck you up. But I really want you to meet my brothers, they know what they are doing. Please be careful. Tonight I felt like a dog. I could not talk to anybody and nobody could talk to me. It was really bad for me. I felt like I was in cage since I could even seem rude to most of the people who wanted to talk to me. But I had to respect his position even if I truly believe that it was a bit of an exaggeration. In the meantime Ive tried to understand the different people who were in the whole context. And I have also realized in a greater way how difficult it is to present myself as a researcher, and especially as a gang researcher. Everybody knows something about it, and everybody kind of describes himself as gangsters coz they hustle and they are in the hood. But at the end of the day I will find it difficult to have and collect a coherent set of materials. Im wondering if this form of common knowledge is not a mere result of an imposed knowledge about particular groups of people living in particular areas, as pointed out by Jensen in his work Gangs, Politics and Dignity in Cape Town. This form of narration is very important, and I believe that the point to be addressed is: what kind of representation of the hustle, of the ghetto, do they have? Is it based on a certain idea of it derived from movies, songs and so on? Or, is it just a common jargon that doesnt need to be explained? This kind of question is always very important especially if we want to deal with the contextual relevance (Field note, February 6th, 2009).

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After being in front of TCE, I think it is time for us to go back home. T. does not have a car and he will need to hustle to get home. And his way of being overprotective is very funny to me. Sometimes he exaggerates, he doesnt want me to go out on my own, but hes ok with me driving late at night when, according to him, a car hijacking is likely to happen! According to his stories, everybody knows him and this thing brings me advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand I always have direct protection, but on the other hand he claims that he might be victimized in case anything happens to me. I have to be careful. On the way to his place (he says hes got 3 houses, rooms, at TCE, main campus and a private one) he wants to show me a shebeen, nothing really special, its just a bar like the ones in front of TCE with the only difference that people with money go there. While getting close to the sheeben, he wants to make sure that Im able to drive properly, hes scared and a bit nervous. Im also nervous coz everybody is looking at me. We park the car and we go through. The car is not well parked and when its time to go we have to ask someone to move the van. T. is really nervous about it. He wants to make sure that I dont do anything wrong to challenge his position. I dont know if he wants to perform well in front of me, or if hes really in danger.(Field Note, February 14th 2009 ) I meet one of the Pasma (Pan Africanis Student Movement of Azania) group friends, T. doesnt like him. He says that I should be away from him, hes a thug. Hes really dangerous, he retaliates, he could even push you inside his car and nobody would say anything about it. That guy is dangerous, I dont want you to talk to him. Even G., I dont know if you should trust him Why? They are the homeboys What kind of relationship do they have? I dont know, unless G. needs to give him money. But you should not talk to him. Let me tell you, from BP garage to the end of the street is the roughest part of Sosh. You need to be aware The night is a bit confused, not much order in it. There are some spontaneous fights, people throw bottles at each others, theres a fight inside the campus, and the security is involved, many guys are surrounding two security and they beat each other. The police is patrolling the street up and down. Theres a fight among Pasma members. Later during the night I take the Pasma guys to main campus, but to sort out their financial dispute I was not supposed to be aware of in detail, they decide to go to another Shebeen to have some Amstels and Savannahs. As usual T. checks on the money, and decides how many beers to buy for everybody. He also meets a friend: Im here to do a research on gansterism 1 3

But you should to Mabopane, there is rough, Im telling you, here is Sosh there are no gangs. There you find gangs But what is the difference then? The difference is that if you go to a place where you have gangs, they are gonna tell you, hey, what do you want, are you looking for my girl? And then theyll take your phone with a knife. But here they just come close to you and take your phone. But if you are with T., you have no problem, hes a hustler, I mean, T., and he keeps repeating his name, hes like a God. Both of us were Muslim together at same pointEven the first time that when we went to Cape Town. We got there, it was the first time that I went on a airplane, and we were there, we had no money, we called him and he made plans for us to have money, hes a hustler, he knows what hes doing At some point during the night Im tired, I want to go home. I tell T. that Im leaving, Im tired and I felt too much under social pressure, didnt want to be on the spot of the light anymore. T., Im not waiting for you any longer tonight, can you walk home?, No, Im scared, Im not safe today going home on my own. I feel like there are some people who do not like me. Tonight something else happened: Someone tried to search my pocket while waiting for a beer. To be honest I didnt realize it completely. I knew I had to be careful and fortunately T. reacted to the situation faster than I did. They also tried to search him, he had lots of money in the pocket. He tells me that I should tell as many people as possible that I know him, Ill be safer. Actually Im not totally sure about it, thats why Im trying to be distant and at the same time together (Field note, March, 6th 2009 )

About forms of policing community. Aggiungi Jan Malan I have to acknowledge, (however) that I have been exhausted by a phenomenon that remains inexhaustible; a concept that has shown incredible resilience in the public imagination and, perhaps more significantly, in the imagination of the state (Hornnerger)12 There were too many things I didnt know about South African society, and many abbreviations were even more difficult to understand or memorize. While in Pretoria I had interviewed Jan Malan, the founder of Street Safe, an organization set up with the aim of promoting and legally framing Gated Communities. He had introduced me to the former idea of Kommandos and to his contemporary idea of replacing it in the new form of the Gated Community or enclosed neighborhood. I had also talked to Mr. Du Toit, director of the CID (City Improvement District) who helpfully gave me elucidations on the role of this Institution

Hornberger, Julia (2008), Policing Community, in The Wiser Review, number 3, June 2008

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in preventing crime and regenerating areas of the city. NEED TO EXPAND ON THIS. None of them had talked about the Community Policing Forum. A brief interview to the Sector Manager of the Soshanguve Police Station gave me some information about it. Constable Motshwane describes her position as follows: The sector manager of the CPF is basically the link between the community and the police. You can call him a mediator concerning crime matters. We use a state cell phone. Most of the people send please call and we call back in case of emergency. The manager is also in charge of attending meetings with the executive committee with the sub-forums (more than a block) who speak for the street committee. The meeting takes place every month and there are 3 sectors. The members of the CPF must call the manager but if they dont call it is worse, in fact they are going to take care of the problem with their own hands. What is the community doing then? George friend talks about it: R:In this moment Im a member of the CPF. If you break in somebodys house we take them to the police. Even last year, we arrested 3, one was my child, eventually I started with my child. He told me everything. They broke a house, thats how we understand things. In most cases, this house belongs to a cop, I myself read a lot, also about how crime in SA is going on, SA is a good country. We are living expensive life, first we want to wear clothes that we cant afford but this underground people, they can afford that. Thats why some of them commit crime, to wear a suit of Armani. Here who wear Armani dont work, they steal, sell drugs. Thats why I say that South Africa is too expensive and poor. People resolve to crime, to drive expensive cars. How is the police going to smell them out. We cant put them in prison. We know who sells drugs, but they are professionals, are we going to take them to court, but in other countries if you have the information you get arrested. They are going to start from the financial account, they find money and they dont work, so they ask where did you get money. Here is not that way. They are not coming to the ground. We are coming from Apartheid, and it took all of our resources. Black people just steal to the whites to repossess back F: How long have you been working in the CPF? R: 3 years, after they have broke in here. The police said to open a CPF. CPF, we are members of the community and we look at each other, my wife suggested that there are people here that are suffering, they have nothing to eat, so we take the numbers, we went to Shoprite, Pick and Pay and in December they gave us lots of food. Every house pops out 30 R per month. And they work everyday 3 oclock in the morning, there are people who are going to work, they need to catch taxi, and they rob them. This CPF is helping us a lot, the same people who is robbing is on the street. They come together, they know that that side there is someone waking up to go to the taxi and they assist. At 6 oclock the go home. We give them 200 each, is here, in our place. This place is for lawyer, police, soldiers, teacher, here where we are here. So, this place is very powerful. Even today, we are going to another one. We are not going to destroy them, we are going to punish them. Even my boy, hes a crook, today we have a meeting, and sat. we are going to have another meeting. Since 1999 this place has more crime now. Before you used to find people dead. Even today The role of the community in punishing those who commit crime is always narrated by the students I interview. Many are satisfied with it, they think that it is improving the quality of 1 5

life, especially when the police is not involved. The following sentence from a student summarizes the common view of the community in Soshanguve: The robbers, the rapist, those are the one I hear about. Last year the community was beating up the people committing crime so this year they dont do it anymore Speaking of G. some students residing in Block KK say: Hes the community leader. Hes a big guy, hes the one leading Block KK. You know we have lots of criminals in Sosh. hes the one in Block KK, if he knows that someone has been robbed, hell take action. Theyll call the community and show the people that this guy has done this and then theyre going to the police. Even with lack of sanitation, RDP houses. Hes the one, if we have a problem at home, if we dont have water or electricity hes going to the offices. Hes a good guy but a little bit rude if you are doing things that he doesnt like. Hes kind if you are doing normal things.. The one who helps the people of KK. Do you know G.s house? From where he lives, Im staying that side. G. is the person who helps our community: if some people committed crime or is stealing, he used to call the meetings and he can solve that problem. If somebody has been raped he takes action. Or he makes sure that our streets are right, we have electricity, or steal other people things I know G. very well. He is an ex-prisoner and he has helped me a lot interviewing other exprisoners. I visit him almost every week in Block KK, and when he needs to go to Town or when hes invited to Conference about crime in South Africa, I drive him there. We talk a lot. At first I thought I would not need to have an interview with him, but in the last days of my stay I decide to have one. The interview is taking place at my home in Soshanguve. I went to pick him up and drove him back. We bought ourselves beers and we start talking about gangsterism in South Africa, he claims to know a lot since hes been in prison, but at the same time hes never been a gang member. But first of all I would like to know more about his role as community leader that he had hidden before. F: Whats your involvement there? Ive talked to some guys living in Block KK and they know you coz of the Community Policing Forum. G.Is it? Ive been advertising myself coz I still have high hopes. What I am doing there. As soon as I get that block making machinecoz I know that youngsters not going to school, they commit crime coz they want money. To give them a part time job you have money, you have to go and sweat to obtain whatever you want. What I say is that whoever wants money, this is simple, and doesnt want to work, will resolve to bad things. Must go and rob. The solution lies in job creation. F:They were telling me that punishing people in the block workswhen there is a reaction. G. It works if the person is caught. Because if you are caught, it doesnt mean that they cant rob you when the community sleeps. The rule is that if you are caught they will punish. But how many are caught? Just one or two. Ever since I came there I havent had anyone approaching someone saying this one is a criminal.never. But it happens, but now the 1 6

community is going backward, its relaxed, its not interested anymore. Most of them live out of robberies of their sons. The family lives by that. Moral decay, thats what happening F:So, is it not going better? They told me its going better? G: Its going worst. They are just afraid to say how it is. It used to be that way. They are still singing the same song about crime. They have been trying to do the same thing to me there. I know coz they have tried to target me but they couldnt coz I know the rules of the game. F: How? G: Coz Im staying alone. And sometimes I go and I dont come back. There was a time even before I closed that gate.with the wire. So that they cannot come as they are pleased. They were using all sort of ways when Im not around. F:How did you know that? G: You see, I had a lock, whenever Im there I put the lock outside, as if theres no one. Meanwhile Im inside. When the person comes to see if it locked or attached, I hear someone checking. F: What do you think they wanted to do? G:The impression they have is that I have lot of money. I had a tender where theres a Cell C container and they tell the people that I have lots of money. Especially my neighbors. They see my blankets, my clothes. They were after me. But they couldnt coz they found out late that it is not the case. There was a burglary at the bottle store and they ran into my yard. They took the window out they took all the liquor, and they targeted me. Then I started countering them, thats how I know. But they fail coz they have tried to house break that place of mine. F:But why did they think that you have money? G. The result of..I dont know its some sort of, most of the people like to break. They start telling people you see, hes got lots of money thats how it works in the location. These people start targeting me. And at the time, honestly I was doing a 20.000 job tender: tender is a job given to me by the Department of Works to do to renovation were police operates, I own a CC, a construction company. I have three companies, the CC, business enterprise and a Security Company but it has no job. But what the job comes from is the CC and I was renovating the police station. The role of the community has been introduced to me by another interesting account, given by two students at the school in Block F. While talking about their experiences with crime, they mentioned the role of the traditional healer in preventing and eliminating crime. Lucky enough my friend G. had introduced me to her friend living in Block P. Shes also a traditional healer: D:The traditional healers which are not trained and have not gone to school like us, she knows something but sometimes can traumatize the people that can go in the houses and steal something. So, a really trained traditional healer doesnt kill people. If they mix something they know how to kill people. Now like in Durban, have you read the paper, they kill people and they take parts. I dont know about other places, but here in Soshanguve is not like that. Here the community will kill the one who kills. Since I have been here in 1992 I have never seen something like that. F: Is it not that people come to you to ask for help if their car is stolen? D: Sometimes yes, especially if someone wants his car not be stolen. If they want that people who want to steal dont manage to get that. Then I can help like that. Some others come and ask for their car to come back, sometimes it comes and some other times not. That is win or loose. If they know, those who have stolen the car they know that the owner came to the traditional healer, they bring the car back coz they are scared. Or take something form him. Or 1 7

he gives information, hes not someone who his far. Or gives information. F: Do you know who steals the car? D: You can see in the bones, they tell you. It tells you where it goes, west, east, north or south. You can see how many people stole the car and in what side they are, you can say eastern side. The bones never give names, but you can see if they are men, how many and where they are directed. F: How is the chance to get the car back? D: It is difficult, because some of them get shocked inside the car and youll find the car close to the site. F: You are saying that if this person came to you before because he didnt want the car to be stolen, and then someone managed to steal it. The thief can feel it. D: Yeah, he get shocked and bring it back. F: How is he shocked? D: The heart beats and the brain says to take it back, its like when you have a child at home, you cook maybe, you put the meat in the fridge, he takes it but put it back coz he knows that hes not allowed. F: Is it working? D: Yes. F: Do people come just for cars or do they come for other things as well? D: No, if you have a place like this one and you want to make it safe. Like here if someone wants to come inside to steal something, he cant manage. F: So you are safe here? D: Yes, 100% and I feel safe. Im not scared. I dont lock my door. If he comes inside hes never going to go out again. He will sit here just check what he wants but not going to take it out. F: Have you experience it before? D: Yeah, I did F: Did someone break in? D: No, but there was someone going around here. I saw her, shes a woman. She didnt do anything. F:But you cannot do this for the whole community? People have to come to you? D:I cant just do for anyone coz people are going to give me a name and are going to kill me. When they know they want to come and steal something and they know its my fault if they cant, they will kill me. So I dont advertise myself. If someone comes and cries Ill do that but I tell him not to tell anybody. F: So nobody knows D:If you tell people they come and kill you. Sometimes on the papers they say that there is the tail of the lepard. They keep the tail and the nose. They ban it in front of the house then they come inside and steal. I never experience it. F: Ive never thought of that, a week ago someone told me that in extension 6 part of the crime was decreasing coz people were scared of the traditional healers punishing those who have committed crime. D: Coz a real traditional healer will never kill. Someone who says to be a healer. Especially here in SA.people come from Nigeria just something and say that they can help you with this, this and that. But I cant go to Nigeria and tell that I do witch craft, but they can. Cant they help the people that side and leave the people here? We know how to heal people here in SA. Thats how people are taken when they think that they have to go to those who come from outside and get witch craft that can kill. Why cant they help people that side. What can they do that I cant? They were talking about a snake (nomalanga). They put it under the bed and it gives you more money. Ive just heard the story but Im scared to have a snake inside the

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house. And that snake, if you dont give him the blood, he kills your family. Who must I kill, if I love you I love you. The other people say that kill people for money. And where did the snake get money from? Is it safe where it goes? Ive never saw it, I cant do that. F: Are you safe walking out at night? D: Im no scared. If now Ive got a man who is training to be a traditional healer at my mothers. And if we do the, when he graduates we do dance the all night until the morning, so Im not scared. We put a tent outside and plenty of people will be here. Some come from Mamelodi, some from Block L, we invite them.

What kind of crime? Speaking about the gang and the gangster Approaching the gang phenomenon means attempting first a deconstruction of the concept itself. Side by isde to the most known and institutionalized gangs such as the prison gangs, the syndicates and the other groups who have been present in various communities in the last twenty years, South Africa experiences a further dimension of the phenomenon, probably better referred to as an everyday life trend, namely gangsterism. This latter implies and is explained as a gangsta behavior, or as a group sharing the characteristics of a gangster. According to the interlocutor from Soshanguve gangsterism is either a common feature of the kasi life or just a very particular and defined kind of conduct. If, according to the daily discourse, gangsters are those who steal cars (I have been involved in this motherfucker of gangsterism since 1994, ask me what you need to know), those who spin the cars every Friday night, those who carry a gun or a knife (okapi) to threaten people walking in the squatter camps, there does not seem to be a specific gang group with a shared identity defined by a name and recognized by the community as a whole. Yet the perceived idea of the gang is that: According to the English language one person is just someone, two people are friends, three people are a gang. What follows is a series of dialogues and interviews I have had with students and friends in Soshanguve. It discusses the variety of meanings ascribed to being a gangster, joining a gang. F.: Do you know gangs here? E. Yes. They do bad things, robbing people, smoking drugs like Nyaope. I know them personally, some of them live in my community. F. Do you know any gangsters living in Block P? E. Yes, many of them, too much dangerous. When they dont have money they come to us, beat us. F.How? E.With their hands, they are too dangerous. F.How do you know they are gangs? E.I see them breaking house, robbing somebody. For them it is not ok to do this thing coz

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they hurt other people, they are not doing the right think coz crime is not good. I think they must change: go to church, playing soccer, respecting other people. Change their life. They dont go to church. When you play soccer many things dont happen, you dont think of crime or that you dont have the money. And they must choose a good friend. Not bad friends. They must change their lives so that they can live more, at the end they are going to die. F. What do you mean, you pretend to be foolish? R. Yes, we dont want them to see that we are intimidated and we meet many of them. There are so many and one mistake, there will be a big trouble. If you walk to the counter to buy beer and they are there, its a big trouble. You can do many apology, and give them 10 R. it happened to me. F. But if I go there and I dont know them R. They are going to beat you, they dont understand people What kind of business Robbery, they have lots of money to buy a beer, support themselves, there are many groups of 6, 8, 4. Do they call themselves gangs? Yes Who is a gangster? Somebody who is doing crime but in South Africa we dont do gangster. We operate individually but sometimes we operate in gangs. So we are 5. Maybe in Joburg they have other 5. There is time that we combine, when we need to do something bigger. Because we must 4, a gang is from 10. Mainly to Pretoria, but also in other places, to rob and to steal, but never here, we used to respect our community Gangsters, they differ from those who rob. Those who make millions of money bombing an ATM, so there is a connection with the mines to buy dynamites, those are the cats, they know how to deal. There are those who rob the cars, they are cats again. There are those who hiject, the pigs. Then there are the dogs, they come inside the house, everybody is asleep and they take TV, theres a certain chemical which makes people to sleep, they spray it where you have wholes. They do it here as well. They can open everything. Having this knowledge. This youngesters are brothers, if we are in a drinking place, its good for them, they tell us what they have done. They dont hide anything from us. They know we are not going to talk to the police or inform anyone. Usually my crew mates are my friends. In the township is unique, we get discriminated just because we are not like them, they smoke, you can see from the way they walk and the way we walk. F:How? The way we dress, normal, maybe a bit baggy, so you know, they dress likeyou see them at school, the trousers are short. They are kind of like, they want to be gangsters, if you look like that, its like you get the style, you get the system, its how it works, they usually discriminate on us coz we are different from them and we are making something good. they say you guys want to be American style, what, what, what, be local. They want to be local. Probably Im not saying that Im copying American style, its pure African style, just coz those people in America are form Africa, its an African element, its not like Im copying an America style. We are just taking our own heritage back home. They listen to deep house, they call menkoko, its house music.

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Block X is so rough, there are a lot of people and it is so rough and there is crime What kind of crime? Like, gangs, robberies, breaking house. Not only in Block X. It is not safe, especially when you are girl walking alone at night. It has happened to many people, not recently. On Saturdays, we call it cooler bags when people are banking the moneyon December. Those things coz the rape. F:Can you explain? This cooler bags (lots of DJ coming, not in one place every day). They come with a car, the tents, so they first meet, then share the money, after that they drive and share alcohol, walking at night. Those things coz many things. Ive see it here in Block R or X. it happens in night time. There are people coming, especially boys, they put the tents, they drink, they share money. F:What money? They are helping each other, even you, you can come and say that you want to join them, you put the money in the bank and in December they share the money with interests. When they do that they call people to come to their party, people when they get drunk, they start fighting. The trouble starts at night. In the evening nothing happens. You can hear the guns. F: Do you know any gangsters? I dont know their names but I can tell. F: How? The clothes, the face, their style F: Describe.. D&T tshirt, the have the flowers and All Stars and the linen trousers, its light you know. They are wearing the caps, walking like this, and they say sure, sure, sure, then you start to be nervous. If it was another person he would say hi. Then you start to think that this person is going to kill you and you greet with the smile. F:What are you scared about? Their movement. And they are smoking cigarette, others are smoking dagga and they are more like tsotsi. They want money, they dont ask for it. They want it. They just get it. They put a knife to you. You have to give them money, cell phone, clothes. Yeah, here in Sosh I know gangs like there is a gang of boys who call themselves cheesboy, they wear those expensive clothes, they are 17. They fake credit cards and they use to take clothes from expensive shops. They are the ones who call themselves killer gangs, they get involved in certain fight and theyll beat you until you die. F: How do you know them? Im that kind of guy who sits with them, listen to them when they talk, even if I dont know them Ill sit with them, greet them. Normally theyll ask me who are you? and Ill tell my name and surname, then theyll ask me where am I from ,what do I do for a living. Ill tell them that Im going to school, then theyll say no man, you are boring, then theyll say have fun and I tell them that I have experienced those things in my life with my dad when I was still young, and that I know the consequences of that. Those gangs, they know me and I know them, so anytime I want to talk to them I go to them and say that they are wrong, negative, and they think that Im jealous of them coz they have money and I dont. F: Was your dad a gangster? He was hijacking cars, robbing banks, then he was involved in lots of matters of other people. At home I never knew it coz at the same time he was working, he was a brand manager at its like so close. That company belong to him but now it belongs to my mom. I liked hanging 2 1

out with my father, thats why I knew about him Im not scared of gangsters coz I know what kind of life they are living. And I know how to beat them. Even if I walk at night and I come across a gangster I tell them to get lost. I know that hes going to shoot me in the legs and then run away unless that person is a serial killer. Before a serial killer never asks for money, his intention is to kill, thats what my father told me when I was young. A gangster will ask you for something and hes going to hurt you, not kill. Coz I gangsters is afraid of killing. Normally in a group there is one gangster. They are all boss of each other. F: How do you know they are gangsters? You see it from the appearance. From the face. I can recognize, I dont know why. Movement, is changing. They dont walk normal, this side (left)is going down and the right side is going up, and this one is pending. The right arm is down and the left one is moving. They wear All Star, when you find them in a groupthey speaking about who is doing action. When they talk like this, we call them niggers: when they are talking they talk like them. From the appearance you see that a guy is aggressive. They are similar to the American gangsters, they listen to house music, like DJ fresh or bacadi, its just instrument. Gangsters like RB music, they act like niggers (dont know what a nigger is) F: You told me that your life as a Pasma member is a gangster life. Not as a Pasma member, but as a Pasma leader. It has taken a form of gangsterism because of mainly of the life inside the campus. Let me start from the contestation between 11 institutions. The rivalries sometimes grow to become physical. And then we start grouping each other as Pasma, Sasco, F: What do you mean by gang? I mean, like it get physical our contradiction and going on your own becomes dangerous because you can meet a group of drunk young men who intentional provoke you. You know how we are politicians, we react., beat up. Then that is when the gangster is growing, a group of Pasma. In our instances we ended up carrying weapons, guns, knives. And the other group will provoke you. Thats the first part. Is the gangster really visible? So, I think people classify a gangster as somebody who is strange, I think anybody can be a gangster, you dont know them by day. It might be someone you talk to everyday but then you dont know what is doing during the night. But nowadays they operate also during the day. After 8 oclock in the morning, we go to school, if you are late they operate. They wait for us at 4 oclock. I remember when I was going home, I was in Block DD this other man told me, my child never come home this late, people here get mugged, they are checking for those coming back from work. There is this other guy, hes the king of gangsters, hes been to jail and he came out. Hes not afraid of the police, he can beat the police, then there is, even if you are a policeman you dont know him. He can come right now, take the computer and go, and then take the chairand then he says: if you talk you are dead. F: Have you seen him? Yeah, for the first time this year. He looks like a gangster.. F: How so? If I didnt know him I wouldnt say hes a gangster, hes kind of disabled. Hes normal, he can say hi to you and not harm you. Jabu seems the sweetest guy ever, he eve killed somebody, and he came with the gunbecause the other one was quite he shot him. Gangsters, there are a

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lot and it influences a lot of people. We had gangsters at school. People say that it starts at school but the child is at home and the parents dont discipline him he takes it to school and it influences other kids and the My uncle is one of them, it my cousin in fact. He lives in Block TT, he steals everything car, motorbikes, the fact that I like motorbikes is that hes got lots of them, even if its stolen. Breaks in shop, the big ones in town. Clothe shop, jewelry, he was in jail fro 6 years, and after 1 month he had a car!!! How did he got it? He said he had his way. He has got a group and hes the leader, the big guy. I like hanging around them, they talk about bad stuff. How somebody got shot, how they killed someone, how they hijack, he also likes hanging out with me to cox I dont judge people, I take everything in, good or bad. He also tells me how women fall for him coz hes good looking and hes got nice clothes, he has a car and drives a superbike. He told me when he went to Venda, in Limpopo, he was breaking in a shop there. He said Im going to Venda, what are you going to do there? you know, my business!!, he doesnt work here, this is home, he goes far, Mpumalanga and so on.

Bear the difference! This part of the interview takes place in the car. My friend T., the guy I had met randomly on campus claiming to be an ex-gangster is going to become a friend of mine, hes going to help me vastly with my research. F: Tell me the difference between a thug and a gangster T. A thug is somebody like me, a gangster I said the English language thats how it is, according to the language one people is nothing, two people are friends and three people upwards are a gang. Still then, I cant even say Im a thug anymore coz Ive grown. Maybe two years from now, if theres nothing new in my life and I want to change, Ill be a thug again. F: So you are saying that you were a gangster first, then a thug and now nothing? T. :Yes. Now. There are different types of thugswe can get something from the bottle store. A thug is someone who mixes up with everything, even with a gang. Can do anything at anytime and you get money. No matter how. There are many things you can do. F.: Can you explain it better? T. The example I can give you is me. But I cant even say that Im a thug now. Im just earning money, sleeping. F. : But I mean, the way you get money T. : Even if I have to speak in this thing of yours, are you happy now? There are different kind of thugs, Fede, Im gonna count. Can we stop to buy a bottle? F. : Am not going to give you money T.: I know, I never say I want money from you. Yesterday, I had to hustle to get 10 R, the money I gave to that guy while speaking to you.. then someone had to give me money. F.: Who gave it to you? T.: Some guy who was gambling. He knows me. I went to the gamble table and Ive been there just for a minute. Ive got 50 R and Im going to use 20R.

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F: Can you keep talking about thugs? T.: There are those who rub you in the street.. those are pavement thugs. Right? Then theres another kind who carries guns and do the same things. Here comes the other kind, then theres a combination of whatever you think of. If you are a gang, which means that Im going to come up with my own mind then combine something, within a gang. After you have been a gangster, working with other, you can become a thug. F. : Why do you change? T. You start being a ganster and you become a thug. You do similar things but before it is in a gang, and you share things. The king is going to get the best in a gang. I always wanted something that is more than the rest. I even wanted to have extra money.

Nyaope related crime I didnt know much about Nyaope, actually I had never heard of it before going to Soshanguve. Drugs to me where confined to cocaine, heroin, mushrooms and other chemical pills. Weed, or dagga, was not deemed among the most destructive drugs in my world. And I was very surprised to hear continuously in the daily discourse that dagga smokers were committing crime as well as those smoking Nyaope. But what was it? Where was this name coming from? The first time I had heard of it was during an interview I had with the brother of a lady I had met at the Symposium in Pretoria Prison on the 20th of November 2009. She was there with G., a man who strongly believes in rehabilitation through work ethic. They live in Soshanguve and he had promised me he would help me to get in touch with gangsters since he had been in prison for a long time and knew many of them, especially in Eerstrust and Mamelodi. Needless to express my enthusiasm about it, we kept in touch and when in January I moved to Soshanguve he invited me to see this other lady, whom I would learn that day was a traditional healer, as well as the founder of an association and a worker at the Pretoria hospital. It was a Sunday, I took my car and decided to travel to Block P. It was not a long way, just a fifteen minute drive on a very wide highway, if you want to make it easy, then just a little bit of gravel to get into Block P, one of the roughest according to the people living there. It was the first time I was driving on my own there, and I was not sure I was going to find my way. Luckily G. was waiting for me outside waiving at me from far away. He was scared I was not going to find them and he felt responsible for it. Welcome to my shack. The lady smiled very calmly, offered a seat on the sofa, a cup of cold drink and put a DVD on. And we started chatting. How is your research going? What do you need to do? For now Im staying here in Soshanguve and Im trying to get to know the place, I need to know how to get around, it is not really easy to get to know places here when everybody tries their best to scare me. Im thinking of interviewing high school students, I will be able to enter smoothly in the

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environment and Ill also be able to know the geography of the township through their eyes, their experiences You should interview my brother then, he knows a lot about it and about crime, gangs and all thsese things. Let me call him. She picks up the phone, talks for a few seconds and informs me that her brother is coming right away. It is a Sunday and he is free. A few minutes later the ladys brother joins us. I dont have time to introduce myself, apparently my brokers have already done it for me. He starts explaining just as though he were an expert: B.:These guys from Nigeria, introduced a drug called Nyaope, they sniff it, its a powder, like cocaine, its like a tablet, but when we asked them, they said it is an ingredient of a perfume in Nigeria. If you sniff it you become a wild animal. Where do you find it? I ask, Im curious to better know where this ingredient comes from, what the characteristics of it are and so on. Mabopane station, drug dealers are there. There are some shacks where you find people selling CDs but behind they are selling the drug. It is imported by people who come from a different country. They are well developed in technology and they are training the South African guys on how to sniff this thing, how to use it and how to keep money, how to fold100R, they are having some machines.. The other thing is that where there is Nyaope, there is a fire arm. It is sold by South Africans but brought by Nigerians. They are in contact. The Nigerians need shelter to cover, they dont know our language and where they can supply. The South African guys sell it to kids in primary school and university. Its 30 R each. Its a tip of a teaspoon and you have to sniff it. After that you become wild. Then they become addicted if they dont have that type of drug they dont write exams or tests in the school. After sniffing they start to be clever. F:How do you know all this, who gave you this information?, I keep asking B:This is a research I did on my own. What is happening to those kids? Coz here the only drug is dagga, Ive never come across Nyaope, but they told me that it is an ingredient. I went further and I went to Wits University and they confirmed it. Now we need to organize, go to Nigeria and see how it is organized. Actually if you smoke that Nyaope, after 3 months it destroys your appetite, you just want to eat eggs and porridge. That drug makes youngsters to become rapist, steal vehicles, steal cell phones, to rob. Some sell it to make money, some buy and give it to the workers to steal. Nyaope is the scapegoat. It is the cause of most problems linked to order, family cohesion, community cohesion, which are never questioned in their being, but always described as decadent due to external intrusions such as Nyaope. Since that day I always try to find out more about this perfume. Is it really a chemical, is it really coming from Nigeria? What kind of research had he done at Wits to come up with this explanation? A few days later I went with G. to interview another friend of his, they were in jail together and they hadnt met for a long time. He lives in Mabopane, in one of the better off neighborhoods. The high stratification of the townships is clearer to me now. That day Georges friend talks about different types of crime, his past involvement in it and about new forms of crime he has come across while living in Mabopane. While he accentuates the political meaning of crime during apartheid and he explains the contemporary state of crime along racial lines and differences of material conditions

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between blacks and whites, G. interrupts him asking: G.:Then how do you explain blacks stealing from blacks? F.:Im telling you that crime here in the townships if these small boys who are smoking Nyaope, it is a very dangerous chemical, they suffer from hangover, its very strong and it makes them to make quick money, and they even steal from the neighbor house. They sell fast and can have cash soon. They go to the mothers house, steal the phone, and the parents wont even believe that it is the own child to steal it. Nyaope, they steal next door house, just to sell. And when the money is finished, maybe they willthats how we have house breakings. Nyaope again, I think this must be something really significant here. But I havent understood yet what it is about. I start posing the same question to everybody, I really want to know what it is and what it looks like. These are the responses at the schools: It is a pill, I dont know, Ive never seen it before, people talk about it, and people are smoking. That thing is not good, it can lead you to steal. People are saying that this thing is so expensive, so you need money to get it, so the way to get money is to steal. I used to see people smoking it. Its a powder with a little plastic, its too small, its 30 R for a smoke. Its very expensive. They use a plastic and rib it like a ring. F:How does it work? I ask with a lot of curiosity. When I see people smoking, after smoking, they become lazy, they become slow, they are not active after smoking. They are mixing it with Dagga. They take a Ritzla, put dagga there and pour the powder Nyaope. Its brownish , whitish color, sometimes you can find it white or brow. I once heard that it is called the heroin. F:Is it what they told you? Yes. F:How many of this can you smoke on a day? If you are addicted to it you have to smoke more than 5 times a day. You have to smoke in the morning when you wake up, then 9 or 10, 12, 13, you smoke it a lot of times if you have money F:How can you have money? They are smoking in groups. When you smoke it on your own, you cant finish the plastic. Sometimes you find people laying on the street corner F:How many hints can you make out of one? They smoke 3 with one. The size of the Ritzla is small. When they are smoking they put the saliva on the front of that thing and light it again and again. You have to beat one, pull and pass it to the other one, its rotating. F:How does it feel when you smoke it? It becomes like its nice to smoke, but I dont believe it. They cant even talk properly, they are too slow. People who smoke are not hungry coz they cant eat without smoking. They dont eat too much, maybe two slides, they dont even go to the toilette. F:If you dont have the money.. They dont give you to smoke F:Where do you buy it? I dont know, when I go out at the corner, I see them smoking, even now you can find someone smoking. F:How do you buy it if you dont have the money? 2 6

They sell their clothes, something that they like too much. F:Is it a recent thing this nyaope? About 4 years in Sosh. Was it elsewhere before? In the North West in 2003 or 2004 I used to go to my aunt and I was having a friend next door and he used to smoke it, before coming to Sosh. F:Is it very popular? Yeah, here in Sosh is a popular drug. Lots of people are smoking, even at school but at homethese guys are not gangsters, they are like this because of friends, they can take you there F:Do gangsters smoke it? They dont smoke it because they are the ones selling it. There is someone I know in Block S who used to sell it, he was arrested last year, he was a gangster. Gangsters are those who sell, they have connections with drug dealers. I know some of them. F:How? You know when you are boy here you come across a lot of people and many people tell you that you can make a lot of money out of selling it. Like my brother, he was one gangster, not deep in crime, just petty crime. And they know about my brother. So they asked me to sell for them. If they give you 100 bags, they tell you that you finish up 75 bag, the 15 bags is your money. They pay how much you sell F:Actually it is convenientisnt that difficult to refuse such an offer? Sometimes it is, because you come across someone dangerous that can even kill you if you refuse, but if you refuse they cant force you, maybe they try to threaten you. F:Is it the same dynamics with dagga? Sort of, but people who sell dagga do it in the yard, people who sell Nyaope go somewhere else, they have the corner. F:Is it true that Nyaope makes you steal money? Yeah, coz when you dont have it you go crazy, you cant function if you dont smoke. But what is the press saying about it? I google Nyaope; the only article I can find dates back to 2006 and reads: There is nothing else to do Nyaope, a mixture of dagga and heroin, is causing inestimable damage among Tshwane's township youth, workers in the field say. Schoolchildren in Soshanguve, Mamelodi and Atteridgeville have taken to the drug to the dismay of parents, police and school authorities. The South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence's Castle Clinic in Pretoria released a report recently highlighting their concerns over rampant drug abuse among the youth and the growing use of nyaope. According to Soshanguve police drug investigator Sergeant Oupa Mahlangu, nyaope emerged about six years ago and has become more popular and easier to obtain because of an increase in the number of dealers. By Lesego Masemola, Pretoria News, July 3, 2006 The students again: Nyaope, I dont know what it isyou mix it with weed and it makes you hyper, its a lot of temptation, especially when you dont know what you want in life coz people tend to look likethey except that it is right, but its wrong I dont know, you can hear people talking about it. When theres contest in our school they 2 7

are drinking beer and smoking dagga and they told me theres Nyaope but I dont know what it is. But we know it is going to kill someone. Its a little powder. Little little. They sell it 30 rands. Wrapped in a Kaki plastic. They fold it like a little ring and you can put it here (shows the finger) like a ring. Its folded like this. I dont like gangsters, gangsters are nigger and I dont like gangsters that use drug like Nyaope, some are addicted, steal from our parents, its corruption, the stomach if you smoke Nyaope, you feel cold and hot at the same time. That thing is not good. Sometimes they (gangsters) ask you to do something but you can choose. I did some stuff. I tell you but dont give the infoI used to use drugs and smoke Nyaope F: When? Last year but this year I got out of it because it was starting to get to involved in my life. How do you use it? Its a powder, you mix it with marijuana and you smoke it, inside a Rizla. But it doesnt smell, I can smoke it even here and you wont smell it. Then my mother found it out and she sent me to rehab. F. Where you also joining the other guys? Yes, we used to steal money together. I was the one taking money from home and keep it for myself. I used to sell it so I know much about it, I can tell you much, and I wont tell you where people sell it because they are my brothers, but Ill tell you something. I can bring some.. F: No, I would love to see it, but not at school Its a kind of drug that is affecting the community and you can be addicted, its addictive fast, maybe within a month youll be addicted. It costs around 30 R a plastic. they measure it with the dental wire. With one that you buy you can smoke two times. If you smoke weed, you mix it with dagga, you can open it and use a laser, you put it on the top of the ten and usually you crash it, they use a laser to get it together, they use a zoll. You can open it with a laser, and you can take it, they use the ten, they put it on the top of the ten, after that the nyaope is to be crashed and becomes thin thin thin, they use a laser to get it together again, and after that, they roll it and sniff it, they mix it with the zoll, and after that they .if you smoke and drink, it make you sleep, you see, it can make you sleep and maybe about two hours youll be needing more and it affect your stomach, if you havent smoked you feel that your stomach is soar, ish, and you are addicted. F: How about those who sell it? People who sell, they dont smoke it, they just sell it. If they smoke it, they will finish the stock because they become addicted. those who sell, are afraid of police, I saw someone selling Nyaope and told me that hes not afraid of police. The police came and searched him, and they kicked him.

Gang stories F. : Can you tell me a gang story, about your gang? It was last of last year, 2007, it was December time, November the 21st, my neighbor was marrying a woman from Orchard, and we wanted to enjoy the party. One friend of mine said, today Joe, well see things, we are boys. And we said that we should ban all the people bad for our community, those coming from Orchard, all white people, some are black, then we ban them, we surround them and they are more than us, we are just 4, I know if you are in my community, then we take them and we get the cell phones, the money, coz we are blacks, they will never see us again, so we beat them, beat them. They were dancing, drinking.. F: Were you guys invited?

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Me, I was invited coz I was the neighbor, but my friends were not invited. They come coz I invited them , but I said come late at 6, 7. They will be drunk and will not see that my friends come. They come one by one, and they enter, after the party, one white girl, that girl Joe was beautiful, it was first time I see a beautiful girl, ish, I said I try to greet her, I said hello, she said hi. I felt in love with her and I wonder why I must fall in love with her. One of my fried saw me and said hey Joe, why do you fell in love with that girl? I said: dont worry. I want that girl close to us so that we know what she has and what shes drinking. I called her, but I didnt know English, she came with 3 of her friends. Two boy were blacks, and two whites, one black was a boy and he understands the tsotsital language, so that boy translated my words to that girl. I said to that boy: I want that girl to go with us, to have a stroll (have a walk). That boy said that: is fine, I trust you. He trusted me coz his step-father was married, that boy knew very well, and they trust me. I pretended like I didnt know nothing. And this people didnt know Suthu. I said in my language: rabatova we take their money, cell phones. Those people didnt understand and asked me what did I say and I said we must go this way.. those friends of mine come and surround us, 5 of us. I acted like I dont know nothing coz the gangsters were surrounding us, but I know that, ish, is time for my boys to take what they want, but I acted like, ah, I dont know nothing. I organized everything and ish, my heart didnt want it coz I was falling in love with that white girl. They take her cell phone, money and the trousers. F. How was the scene? My gangsters boys were having knives, and we had guns (3), and we know that a girl has a small heart, they scare fast, and that girl run to me and said: tell your friends to stop, and I told her that those people are not my friend, they are my community members, I dont know all of them, but in my mind, in my heart I know all of them, those boys. They hit me, they slapped me like.. if they didnt slap me, those people I was staying with, they will see that we were together. They take all the things, they left us with panties, and they had no bra. I took her home and I gave her my things, because I know that I was the man of made the plan and I fell so bad. It is the time when I think that I must quit this thing, coz, ish, making lot of mistakes and that time was November. At the 16 of Nov. there was a party and the community knew that Alfred and his friends are the ones who make things bad at the community, who are corrupted. So they didnt invite us at that party. We were sitting at the street at night, at 10. It was the 21st, you make a party, they give you present, but us, we were not invited at that party, I was worried why we are not invited and I told my friends that those people are full of shit, then we go and buy petrol, that time petrol was cheap and we buy 20 liters and we put it in petrol box, we ban the place my friend and run away. Then police came but I managed to escape, escape, escape. I run to Mabopane, I move from Soshanguve to Mapbopane, to live with my grandmather and I stayed there maybe 3 months. The my friends, they were arrested but 10 were out coz they were under age. Those one over age, and me to Im under age, but then I decided to quit, coz we do bad things you see my friend. Always the outline here at school, we take the school bags of people, we beat them and after we laugh. F: Why did you start this then? Coz at that time there was older guys than us, they would do things to us, taking our money, our shoes. Those people are making our lives miserable, I said, ish, I must start something new, and I opened a gangster group. I called all my friends, whose life is miserable. We wanted to stop those older guys, but we did more, we did over. We just didnt stop them, we tried to make a revenge, you see my friend, what is ours.. and there was another man in my community, hes dead, that man is the one who poisoned our mind. He was telling us about apartheid, those things because he knows that we are gangsters but we play soccer, cricket, you dont recognize it. But us, we look at people at the community, we think that the white girl is poisoning our community.

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F. : What did the man told you? His name was Hida, he was clever but not so clever. He was not a good man. He was trying to act as hes a good person, but hes not. If he says go and do something, we would go coz hes a old person and we listen to him. You see, but with time I realized that this man is not good for me, he was kicked by one of our gangster, because we found him sleeping with his mom. This made my friend sick. He told me many stories about that man and I didnt him but I have to trust him coz gagsters is to trust each other.

Yeah! Last year December it was me and my friends, we were chilling down my street to the main road, we were having a chat, it was two days after the school was closed. This other guy came, I guess, it stood in from of us with a stolen car. They dont stop coz otherwise the engine would stop, they were kasi boy, not all the kasi boys are bad, but most of them are. If you walk down the street, most of the people who rob you, you can see that it is a kasi, by the way the walk, the expression saying that they are planning something take out the phone, then they take out the gun. F.: Has it ever happened to you? Yeah, I was at the saifa. That day, ish, I was so stressed. We take chances when we go to the saifas, when we get back, most of the guys are jealous of us coming together, everybody understandif they come, the saifa happens in a basketball court, and they come and they want attention, some of them just come with a stick, a bit one, just maybe, after them they push you coz they want attention. They just threaten other people, but we ignore them, so they robbed us about twice. And one day there was a big fight. F.;How did it go? At the saifas we are a lot, maybe 120 people. It happened that we were tired of them. They came and they tried the some thing, the technique of robbing us. After people go to the homes, when the populations reduces, they start. If they see you alone they start covering you up, walk at the back, the other one comes through the other side. They dont want to show you that they are looking at you. It doesnt look like they are robbing you. Take out your phone. That time one of us noticed them and they fought, one hip hopper and one of them. Then they said hey, you. You think that you are clever, with that American style and the other replying, Hey, you panzolesa, the kasi boys are panzolesa. It started right there and everybody joined. The whole bunch of them from the hip hop came to help him out. They got beaten that day and the police even came. I was happy. The police stopped the fight and they ceased us away. They wanted to stop the saifa coz they thought it was bad. After couple of months the saifa started again, you cant stop the true spirit of hip hop. F.: Can you tell me a gang story? It was when I was in tembisa, grade 8. And one I decided not to go to school. I know a lot of gangsters in Tembisa coz they were living with my father before he passed away. Then I decided, let me go and see certain guys coz I know them. He said to me that they had a work to do and I said What kind of work? he said do you want to be like your father?, and I said yeah, I like to be like him so lets go. We got inside a car and went to his friends house. I found lots of guns there, and they said to me choose one, I said I like this one, they call it the baby one, they said that we were going to Mpumalanga to rob a shop. I was inside like a guard, they started robbing there. Then we said lets go to the garage and I said what are we going to do there?, watch, they got to the garage and there was a BMW a new model. They said this is the car we were looking for, they opened and there was no alarm, they took the car with the broken window then we went to another garage where they fix cars, and got away 3 0

with it. But I have another one! F: Go! With the girl, I was studying last year, it was December and it was time to party and I started to date lots of girls. I got involed with a girl and we had sex, and I had sex with three girls, it was those parties where you go around drunk in a club in Midrand. They will tell you that no person under 18 are allowed, but I met a girl, she was 24 but his body is like a little girl and I got myself involved with her. She had my phone number and she called me and she said that she was pregnant. I was like what? tell me it is not true, I said ok, you can come at my house. I think that girl knew me. I said you can come at my home with your parents and report it but Im not going to say yes, you know. She came with her parents and my uncle started shacking his head. I said that it had never happened and a few days later I saw her with the real dad of the baby. Shes not sure who is the father. I said that we are going to do the DNA test. We are still waiting for the result. Im sure Im not. A one night stand. It even didnt last more than 9 mins. I counted it. Because I remember when I went out of the toilet of the club my friend said no man, you are ten min late. It was more like an oral sex. F.: Its difficult to get pregnant with oral sex!! Im not scared, I know the baby is not mine

F.: Do you know a gang story? Me and my best friends asked some guys with motor bikes for rideswe asked hey, give as a spin or a ride, they gave a spin and it was so cool, we became friends with them. They would drive us to Wonder Park with the bikes, but then, my mom was telling me that these people are bad and I said that they would do nothing to me and one day they asked me if I wanted to join them, they do take girls to, to pimp it up a little bit, so that people would think, they are just boyfriend and girlfriends, they dont do anything, they are not gangsters. They asked me if I wanted to go to Durban, but my dad would kill me. What are we going to do there?, they said business, and I didnt know they were gangsters, they told me that they were workingI though they bought bikes, I didnt know that they stole them. F.: How did you know them? I thought they had good job. I met them coz they had bikes and I asked them to give me a spin. And then the guy told me to go to Durban and I said that I cant. When they told me they were going to do business like housebreaking and stuff like that, I told them are you sick or what?, and they replied dont you know that we are a gang?. Ok, but dont say it to anyone, they told me. It was scary. And the one who said that hes doing IT, hes stealing money from the computer, if you are doing your Internet Banking, he could see money being transferred. Most of the time is done by Nigerians. F.: You didnt go to Durban. They came back and after a month the Scorpions took a couple of them and the bikes, they took them in prison but now they are back. The characteristic of a gang is someone who is not afraid of anything, who does take lots of risks, I dont care if I kill somebody, its just to their benefit, or if they hurt somebodys feeling. They are violent and very angry inside. They dont care and they are not afraid of ding. I dont think they are dangerous, I just think they need help. I dont know, coz most of them are coming from very poor background. They do that coz they are poor, and some of them are just, sometimes we grow up and people tell us you are just a failure and people become angry. The hearths become a rock. I had that negative thoughts once in my life, people just see bad things and not good things. Some of them are neglected in their families.

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The end Im going to the Home Affairs to renew my Visa, I realize I need to stay in South Africa longer than three months and my tourist Visa is expiring. With circumspection and very little nonchalance I try to find parking just in front of it with no success. The street is busy and full of cars, police and metro policemen. Where am I going to park? I find a spot a bit far from the Home Affairs, but in the same street. I park and I confirm with the parking man that Im not going to receive any fine. Everything looks ok. I am going to the Home Affairs, inside my hand bag are my laptop, passport, documents and money. Inside the car are all my belongings. In fact Im moving to Soshanguve, it is the 16th of January 2009. I was living in Brooklyn, Pretoria before and I had stayed in Yeoville, Johannesburg for the last three weeks or so where I had confronted myself with very weird circumstances, some of them being the trope of my stay in South Africa. The one I remember most vividly was a time I was going back home in Bellevue. Along Louis Botha Avenue I decided to buy some beer. I stopped at the Liquor Store very close to the home I was house sitting. I parked the car and entered the liquor store, exited it and while opening the car a guy sitting on the sidewalk started talking to me. But I was in a rush and was not interested in what he was saying. I didnt want to give him my phone number and I wanted to go home. Why are you trying to leave as soon as you can? he asked. Are you afraid of me? Im Nigerian as I told you, maybe this is the reason why you are escaping from me. At the sound of that sentence I really decide it was time leave. I didnt need to listen to these positions about being scared of someone. Some days later I go to the internet caf in Rockey Street and I bring my MP3/memory stick along. After checking my email I leave the place, headed towards home. I keep packing and putting together my things as I am supposed to leave soon. I suddenly realize that I have left my MP3 at the internet place, I run up the street and gasping the breath I reach the place. Immediately going to my computer post, I dont see the MP3 anymore. With very little surprise I realize that someone had taken it. I sadly ran down the street, it is getting late and I have lost one of the most exciting interviews I have done so far. The 28 gang members in Sobie. Why didnt I transfer it to my computer? The enthusiasm I had of leaving and going to Soshanguve is slowly turning into fear and hesitation. This is the mood I am confronted with while parking the car in Pretoria at Paul Kruger and Pretorius Street. It seems that suddenly I am touched by the Heart of Darkness

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that I had critically read in several occasions. Regression ended. I am not familiar with the parking and I am paying extreme attention to it. I do not want my car to be towed away. I walk to the Home Affairs. It was the big move of my stay in South Africa and I was a bit nervous about it. The queue was not long, the officer nice and surprised I was going to go to Soshanguve It is dangerous there, do you know anybody? Do you speak Sotho? Actually not. Too many emotions concentrated in one moment. I am going to my new accommodation now, which I have surprisingly called home from the beginning since I dont have any other reference in South Africa. I exit the Home Affairs and I run over the street again, backward. But where is the car? I cant find it anymore. How can I be so distracted not to remember where I parked the car? It is not possible, I still have the reference point I had made note of. Yet the car is not there. I start looking for the man who was supposed to check on it. Cant find him either. I roam up and down the street and the car is not there. I ask the other guys if they saw my car, and I dont even know what kind of car it is. So ridiculous. They directed me to the metro police: Maybe you parked it bad and they towed it away, go to the metro police, take Paul Kruger and make a left in Church Street, keep going straight, you will find it. The car is not there either. Go to the police. We cant do anything for you, but are you sure you remember where you parked the car? Of course, it was just there and now I cant see it anymore. I pick up the phone, call my friend and I communicate: I am leaving tomorrow, I cant even find my car. I am going crazy, Calm down, the car must be there if you left it there. Do you think someone stole it? No, I am not saying so, but why cant I find it then? The conversation keeps going on for a few minutes when I suddenly realize that I am speaking in front of my car. Sorry, sorry for being hysterical, I can see my car, it is just in front of me. Shamefully I pay the social tax to the guy looking after my car and leave. Relived but shattered I go to Soshanguve.

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