with Busi Ntuli
Like Roodini I disappeared from the face of the earth! And in township lingo nginibambise I pali – I left you hanging on a latch! I had a good reason for my almost four month’s silence. I was traumatized. On the 24th of March 2007 just after 7H30 I became a victim of crime. The incident took no more than 15 minutes however it was the longest 15 minutes of my life. Now I’ll never use the phrase “15 minutes of fame” to describe one hit wonder celebrities. 15 minutes is a long time!
I did not sleep well the previous night because I was anxious to wake up on time to pick up my husband from the airport. He had been away on an overseas trip and would be landing at 6H45. This was one of a few occasions that I had to pick him up. I nevertheless managed to wake up on time. It was a warm Sunday morning and I remember thinking that I should make it a habit to wake up earlier on weekends because I was clearly missing out. My drive to the airport was a pleasure. There was no traffic congestion and as soon as I parked outside the drop off zone, my husband came out and off I drove us home.
I had not seen him for a week and we used the 20 minute drive back home to catch up on his trip, my work and everything under the sun. Just as we were about to enter our suburb, I suggested that we go for breakfast. My husband looked at the time and thought 7H30 was rather early and besides he wanted to freshen up. As I drove into our driveway we shared a joke about our neighbor who had put her house on the market for 8 Million Rand, and we were imagining the sucker who would fall for the price when all of a sudden and I swear, out of nowhere, a beat up, maroon and number plate less Opel, came screeching behind us and into our drive way. Out came three wide eyed and determined gun wielding brothers. In a second they were surrounding our car, shouting in unison that we get out of the car. Did I mention the swearing? And the promise to blow our heads out? Well yes, that was also mentioned.
The look my husband and I shared in that split second is still engraved in my mind. Just from that look we shared, a lot was said. In a matter of seconds and from just a look, we agreed to remain calm, we thanked God our daughter was not in the car with us, we decided we were going to do as we were told and at the same time remain in control. We gently opened our doors and as we attempted to get out, we were suddenly ordered to get back into the car. The swearing and shouting stopped when they realized that we were cooperating and calmly so. The first thing to be removed from the car was my hand bag – a beautiful one I might add. Inside of that bag was my life – my driver’s license, purse, cards, iPod, cellphone and everything else. My husband was searched and his wallet and wrist watch taken. They then asked for the car keys and remotes – which were promptly given. One of them went to the boot and the idiot did not know how to open the boot so his friends joined him at the back frantically trying to figure out how to open the boot. Whilst they were arguing about how to open the boot, my husband looked at me and said don’t worry baby, just take off your rings and hide them. I quickly took off my rings and one of them came back franticly waving his gun and shouting that we open the boot.
My husband leaned over to the driver’s side and pressed the boot open. The brother who a second ago had ordered the opening of the boot just freaked out! He demanded to know why and what button did my hubby press. At that moment I broke the silence and told him in Zulu and I quote “Yini manje? Angithi nithe sivule I boot? He did not respond and quickly rushed to the boot as all three of them helped themselves to my husband’s luggage, laptop, and briefcase. Everything was loaded into their obviously stolen car. Two of them got into their car and one came back clearly still enjoying the rush of robbing sitting ducks and asked for more money. My husband told him they already had it. He still had a few dollars from his trip. And then they were gone!
As soon as they drove off, we gave chase shouting the same profanities subjected to us a few minutes ago and on foot nog al! They sped off and a few meters away stopped to pick up a fourth guy who was clearly the look out guy.
By then the neighbours had heard our screams and called the police and private security. I stood there in the middle of our road on a beautiful Sunday morning and wept. I cried for many reasons none of them had anything to do with the material belongings they took. I cried for my daughter who could have lost both parents, I cried for my life going forward – a life of fear even on an easy Sunday Morning! I cried for the love of God who gave us the power and inner strength to endure such a violation with dignity. I just cried.
The security company came a few minutes later followed by the cops a few hours later. The police took statements and fingerprints that were all over our car and told us as a matter of fact that we were victims of the latest crime fashion of being followed from the airport. Apparently these thugs target people who come from overseas. Chances of scoring big with designer clothes or US dollars and gadgets are high. That was the last we heard from our dear officers. Following up has yielded no results.
Somewhere out there someone is wearing my husband’s clothes. Somewhere out there a sister is carrying my bag and somewhere out there, a student or a worker or a business person is using my husband’s laptop. Everyone says we are lucky. They say it could have been worse. That is another debate.
It is now four months later and we have not forgotten. I don’t feel safe but I continue. I love my country, my family, my life and I have decided I can no longer prolong the violation. I’m back. I’m different but I’m back and I am still an entrepreneur. Till next week. Keep your eyes peeled, and look out for the boogie men! They don’t only come out at night!
Previous Diaries of Busi Ntuli
Busi Ntuli is
a founder and Managing Director of Flexi Personnel
(Pty) Ltd, a recruitment and HR company specialising
in recruitment advertising, skills assessment and executive
placements. She is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.flexipersonnel.com