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Crime -South African style

'When they got back to their car my friend realised that he had lost his wallet. Mildly concerned but not too worried because there weren’t many people about he wandered back the way they had come feeling confident he’d find it. Given however there had been some leaping over rocks ...


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Crime -South African style

'When they got back to their car my friend realised that he had lost his wallet. Mildly concerned but not too worried because there weren’t many people about he wandered back the way they had come feeling confident he’d find it. Given however there had been some leaping over rocks ...


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Crime -South African style

Posted by Iain on Oct. 9, 2015, 3:25 p.m. in Crime

Sitting on our deck up the beach house on Sunday enjoying some early summer sun my wife and I were jolted from our dozing by a car pulling into the driveway. Not expecting visitors we hauled ourselves off our loungers to see who it was. A good friend had clambered out of his car and was cussing and cursing. Turns out he and his wife had been at an ‘open (show) home’  that was for sale an hour or so further up the coast. Having poked their noses into all corners of the property they had set off for a walk along the sheltered and picturesque beach.

When they got back to their car my friend realised that he had lost his wallet. Mildly concerned but not too worried because there weren’t many people about he retraced his steps feeling confident he’d find it. Given however there had been some leaping over rocks on an incoming tide when he couldn’t find it he assumed it had been washed away. Credit cards, cash, driver’s license – the whole caboodle.

I asked him if he had been in touch with the credit card companies and cancelled his cards.

‘Nah’ he said ‘I’m pretty sure someone will find it and hand it in’.

‘Yeah’ I replied, ‘You are probably right’ (not really believing it).

A cup of coffee later and a wander around our property with us we all returned to the sun drenched deck to catch up.

Within ten minutes of sitting down his cellphone rang.

Is that Grant? asked the caller.

Yes it is, he replied.

Lost your wallet?


I’ve got it. You still in the area?

No, I’m halfway back to Auckland.

No problem, I’m the local Constable. I’ll courier it down to your local police station in the morning and it’ll be there by lunch time…..

Thanks mate…

Wallet and all it contained now back in Auckland.

Now this could happen anywhere. I know that. It just seems these things have a much higher chance of happening here in New Zealand.

It would have been very tempting for someone to have held on to that wallet or taken the cash and credit card and dumped it. But they didn’t. They did the right thing.

I reflected on this while scanning the latest crime statistics out of South Africa earlier this week kindly sent to me by a client just before I pack a bag and fly back there.  I leave tomorrow morning to give another series of seminars in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban – the aim of which is to try and help people understand what sort of country New Zealand is if they are allowed to come and live here and spend time with those that want it to assess their eligibility to do so.

Crime is sometimes  high on South Africans reasons for wanting to emigrate but it isn’t usually number one which beggars belief for me as a Kiwi.

I always talk about crime in New Zealand when I present seminars in South Africa as part of a desire to paint a realistic picture of life here – it ain’t all peaches and cream if it isn't obvious.

When I talk about crime I am quick to remind audiences we are not crime free. I have been burgled. Recently one of my sons had a car window smashed (he wasn’t in it) to gain entry to steal whatever he had in the car (which was nothing). So we have crime but overwhelmingly it is crime against property and not people.

Crime in New Zealand across every category has been falling for over a decade – fewer murders, fewer robberies, fewer burglaries and less violent crime. Safer streets. The one exception is sexual assaults which are statistically increasing – explained however by those that analyse these things to be less of an increase in actual criminal offending and more a willingness to report it by victims. Nothing to be proud of to be sure, one is too many – but if the rate of actual offending isn’t going up, simply more people are willing to report it, it is not a situation getting worse.

South Africa on the other hand is off the charts. The population of South Africa is estimated to be around 55 million (no one really knows). The population of New Zealand has just gone through 4.6 million (we do know). So in rough numbers their population is maybe 11 times our own.

In the past 12 months South Africa reported:

·         Murders – 17,500 (up 4.6%). That is no typo.  New Zealand had 38.

·         Attempted murder – 17,500.

·         Sexual offences -   53,000 (down 5.4% - less reporting?)

·         Total assaults  - 340,000

·         Robbery – 55,000

·         Carjacking – 12,700 (up 14%). I don’t think NZ had one.

·         Robbery of premises 20,000 (up 5%)

To put that murder figure into some perspective, if New Zealanders murdered one another on a similar per capita rate to South Africans we would kill about 1,500 Kiwis a year. A bad year here is 50. A typical year is 35-40.

Got to paint a picture about your odds of being a victim of serious crime here.

Or to put it, another way in the decade the US had troops in Iraq fighting a war they lost about 4400 servicemen and women killed in battle. That people, was a war. And over almost a decade. South Africa (not a war apparently) kills around four times as many of its own citizens on their streets and in their homes as the US lost in a decade long war, every single year.

Quite horrifying numbers, yet there are still plenty of South Africans who live in their houses on the golf estates (protected by armed security) looking out of their windows (burglar guarded and barred) to their lovely gardens (surrounded by 2 metre concrete plastered walls topped with electrified razor wire) wondering why anyone leaves.

My advice is to get out more . Out of the country.

I am amazed how many people tell me that they lead great lives and they aren’t really affected by crime. Where I live we describe such living conditions as a ‘prison’. A guilded cage perhaps, but a cage nonetheless.

And so I return tomorrow to the South African 'war zone' for the last trip for me of 2015.

Packing my Kevlar when I finish writing this. Not really but I do sometimes wonder….

Until next week

Iain MacLeod

Southern Man

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7 comments on this post
Oct. 9, 2015, 8:33 p.m. by Samantha

Hi Ian, interesting yet scary post!!! Scary because I'm South African and those stats send shivers down my spine!! Crime is definitely one of the main reaons that I would like to emigrate, along with our failing economy! I would love to give my kids the oppotunity to live freely without constantly being afraid that some one might mug you or worse!!! Rape of women and girls in our country is absolutley atrocious and what makes it worse is the jail time the criminals receive (not harse enough sentensing). You can understand my concern for my 2 "daughters" safety.
The stuggle is sickeningly real in SA!

Thank you again for the post. A wake up call for sure!

take care!

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Oct. 9, 2015, 8:55 p.m. by VICKY-LODENE DU TOIT

GREAT read, thanks!
I too live in an estate, I go for a walk early every morning around the estate, my children ride their bicycles in the streets.... it's safe yes... BUT we can't spend the rest of our lives in an estate... we too need to drive to work, need to go out to supper or parent evenings etc.. we are at this stage terrified of going to our local grocer, as they've been robbed in broad daylight and a customer was shot in the incident. In this week only, 2 of my close friends were robbed at gunpoint in separate occasions, one on their way to work, the other out having supper in a restaurant!? My brother's UTE got stolen at a "Paid parking space" a couple of weeks back during a family outing to an airshow! We are NOT safe in SA anymore, and we can color cote it as much as we want... That's why I'm sooo looking forward to meeting up with Ian on Sunday and planning our journey out of this war zone! My kids are my priority, our safety is our priority... THAT's Why We're Doing It!

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Oct. 9, 2015, 9:39 p.m. by Willem


If anything, those crime stats are under-reported.... seriously.

I know many European families who want to leave - just regular working people who have neither the money to go over as investors or the specialized skills to get on a Skills Shortage list.

We are all stuck here until a state of emergency is declared and we can be considered as refugees. We all speak fluent English (as well), have the same ethics and morals as NZ, share the same British-based common law system, same religious views and even support the same sport (Bokke vs All Blacks!!).
But, we are invisible as refugees because the UN says we're not in a war zone - despite the stats.

Enjoy NZ mate, you are fortunate indeed.

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Oct. 10, 2015, 7:10 a.m. by Jill Barnard

Great post, Iain, and a reminder for us how blessed we are to now be living in New Zealand. We've been here almost a year and our girls are thriving and we're loving our newfound freedom. New Zealand truly is the most beautiful, diverse country I've ever been to. We enjoyed the snow in winter and love the beaches and lakes in summer. We go mountain biking after work and return to our cars as its getting dark, without worrying that they might have been broken into or that we might be assaulted - a very real fear when we lived in SA. We have no fences, no burglar bars, and we sleep with our windows wide open in the hot summer months. It is the best decision we ever made so thank you, Paul Janssen & Immagine for helping us pave a brighter future for our family.

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Oct. 10, 2015, 11:30 a.m. by Cornel van Basten

Hi Iain

This feels like dejavu when you posted this letter about the wallet because a similar thing happened to us yesterday. We are currently through IMMagine in the visa residence application process. I work in Oamaru and my husband and kids came to visit me over the school holidays. I took them to the Timaru airport on 9 October about 6:00AM and when I got back at work at 08h00 I saw a message from someone at Timaru airport informing me that my husband forgot his wallet in the airport terminal. I nearly died of a heart attack because they are on their way to South Africa with a brief stop in Wellington. The airport and Air New Zealand were so kind - they took the wallet on the next flight to Wellington and my husband picked it up about 13h00 on Friday. We can not believe it and are so greatful. I would never in a million years have thought that this is possible.
I can just agree with the post from Ms Barnard that although our process is still in motion I am already soooo happy and thank you and Paul and all the friendly staff at IMMagine.

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Oct. 11, 2015, 10:37 a.m. by Edmund Wilschewski

I have to add our experience about wallets in New Zealand.
My wife and I travelled to New Zealand and wanting to see the country, we rented a campervan to travel at our leisure.
We passed through Queenstown and went on to Wanaka, where we visited the amazing Puzzle World. A few hours later we left Fox Glacier.
Arriving at Haast on the coast, some 142Km away and almost in the dark, we had to stop for fuel. I got out to fill up and my wife, white in the face and in shock and horror realized that she couldn’t find her wallet. We searched everywhere and the only conclusion was that she must have left it at the Puzzle World.
I instantaneously called them, only to find out that they have closed for the evening. Luckily someone answered the phone and said: “Oh yes, we found the wallet and we have it with us, but we’ll hand it in to the police at Wanaka as we’re already closed for the evening.”
I thanked them and we got back in the camper and we headed back for the 142Km or probably 2 hours drive back with the campervan. Not sure how long we travelled, but when we arrived back at Wanaka, we were amazed to find that the police station was closed. Yep, there was nobody and no-one answered the door. What? A police station that is closed for the night???
We walked the roads and searched around and luckily came across a police officer who just happened to walk across the street. We approached him and he confirmed that the station was closed already as apparently nothing happens there at night. My wife explained to him what had happened and that we were looking for her wallet and he confirmed that it was inside. The police officer opened the police station, did a security check and then handed the wallet over.
To our amazement her wallet was untouched. All the cash, credit cards, identification was all there….
Good luck finding that in South Africa. Thanx New Zealand, this was an experience we shall never forget!!

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Oct. 23, 2015, 6:40 a.m. by MariaA

Interesting article. Thanks!

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Crime -South African style

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