Thursday, September 8, 2011

Cutting it Short
To cut a long and maybe extremely boring narration short; I got myself mugged in South Africa. Oh, this was not the hands-in-the-air, gun-pointing-at-you, armed-person-looking-fugitively-around kind of mugging. It was more of gal-squealing-at-sight-of-Moda-shoe-store, going-in, sitting-down, trying-on-pair-of-shoes and opportunist-thief-unclasping-gal's-shoulder-bag making off with everything she had :- passport, money, new purse, camera, eye glasses, hotel keys; everything.
Since this is going to be a short narration, here goes; the hotel was so kind to let me use their hired bus and money to take passport pictures at Kempton Park for my temporary travel document- no charge (hey, given that everything else (insert: Internet) at the hotel apart from the basic stuff must be paid for), the Ghanaian ambassador, who had just arrived, came all the way from Pretoria to Johannesburg when he was informed at the incident (now, that might have been because my colleague is a friend of his family. :)), Charles (my good samaritan) innocently asks how much I had lost and gave it all back to be, saying 'This will not compensate your loss but let it ease it somewhat' (it is great meeting new people. They keep surprising you. I had met Charles only the day before).
Oh must not forget this, this Ghanaian dude who drove me to get a traveling bag at Festival Mall took what little rand I had on me for the cost of the transportation (Charles give money in the currency I was holding, $. In order to change foreign currency in South Africa you must have your passport, travel document etc)); I had to borrow money from the hotel's till  Hmmm.  One might ask, how come? This person was sent by someone else (my colleague and I had initially contacted to take me to the mall based on the understanding that we were not going to pay because we were going to advertise his lodge free for him), and this guy charged me his normal fees, which as twice the normal amount if what the receptionists at the hotel said is true.
So yes, next time I go to South Africa, I am hiding my passport and money in my 'druss' since it looks like that is the only way I can protect them and I will be watching with eagle eyes since almost everyone will take advantage, including the police. Bedford police said they could not take me back to the hotel after the mall security had taken me there to make a report. Apparently they are not allowed to move out of their precinct. One policeman offered to get his colleague policeman to take us to the hotel but he will require payment. This policeman after getting us to the hotel took 300 rands and asked that we add more since the guys at the police station will ask for a cut of the money. Huh? At this point, I cried buckets of water on the guy; telling him in-between sobs and sniffles that the police in my country will go out of their way to help foreigners who had been through such an ordeal as we had and not made demands on us for money we did not have. How did we pay him? Premier Hotel O.R Tambo gave us money (to be refunded) to pay. POLICE in SA? Baabiara enjoo ye! No place cool!