Security concerns in South Africa

Many times people tell me how unsafe this or that place could be. And all these wealthy houses with electrical wires, or at least a big metal gate and most often ‘armed response’ certified. I tend to think (White) South Africans are paranoid, they over exaggerate, mostly because they fear the unknown. On the other hand, they are the minority (7%) and have a typical western life style while the rest of the country is pretty poor. And even 20 years after the end of the Apartheid, communities still live separated.
Even in a black majority village in Undenberg, Natal, that’s how a kid’s game playground looks like:

Playground in South Africa

Playground in South Africa


After 4 quiet days in the peaceful Transkei, place of the rural Xhosa people, I arrive in Mthatha, the city of the Xhosa, but definitely not a good place to stay! When I arrived there, I get told that is the most dangerous city in SA for the traffic, and indeed, people drive badly there. It is also one of the most unsafe city. And I get finally caught: while I am about to stop my bicycle to go to a shop, 3 guys surround me with their knifes and one grab my cell phone that I stupidly let attached on the bike. Very convenient to follow the GPS, but not in the streets full of people. I don’t have the time to react and prevent my phone to get stolen, but at least avoid the other guys to get my wallet in a zipped pocket. So my nice Lumia 735 bought 4 months ago is gone, my GPS with it and most annoying, all the data on it I did not backup. More specifically, I did a GPS tracking of all my rides and hikes every single day since I arrived in SA, and never made a copy of all GPX files (tablet, hdd or cloud). Very sad, I lost all the accuracy to track my rides and where I took my pictures!
Since the aggression was at 5pm, I cycle directly back to the place I stay before sunset. The next morning, I report it in the police station, and also visit a service to track the IMEI number of my phone, more specifically the cell number of a new SIM put there. Because this service requires a 24h time frame, I have to stay one more night in Mthatha. I anyway buy a new cellphone, and keep on windows phone to restore most of my data (contacts, calendar, notes, sms, apps, etc). The smartphones are quite exepensive in South Africa, especially the Nokia. While the Lumia 530 dropped down to 60 euro (and got one for free when I bought the 735, special MS offer last Xmas), it is still R1400 in the shops here, so over 100 euros. I choose a cheaper SA/Chinese Verssed W1 for R800, and spend the rest of the day setting up this phone.
First time I lost something important after more than 600 days of travels in 30 countries!

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