For those who have the same warped sense of humour this Letter can also be had in French.
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Sunday, December 4, 2011
Great Walls of Shame
Dear Minister of Police,
In South Africathe very rich are ignoring history
and it’s the fault of your Government.
It teaches us that high, thick walls
were a great means of defense in the
days when the only weapons available
were bows and arrows, swords and the
like. Then with the advent of
gunpowder and artillery the wall
The most famous wall of all is theGreat
Wall of China. That was effective for centuries. Now it is
nothing more than a tourist attraction.
Africans are determined to turn the
clock back by building thicker and higher walls to protect themselves from gangs of burglars, rapists and
murderers, who are invading homes all over the
place, often armed with up-to-date weapons. Put these
walls end to end and who knows one day they
could stretch as far that one in China.
It all happened after the advent of your African
National Congress Government in 1994
because you let crime get completely out of hand.
Nowhere are these
walls more evident than in Johannesburg. There, as the crime levels have gone higher and higher, so
have the walls. Up and up they go as money, bricks and cement gets poured into
them at an astonishing rate.
Many have got one
up on the one inChina.
A wall five meters high, higher than the
average house, is not considered enough protection by itself, it still has to
have an electric fence on the top.
I’m sure there’s one round your house.
And how much of our precious resources are going into these
fortifications when they would be far
better spent on uplifting the
The next logical step in the great fortify-your-home race would be to have a
moat inside the boundary ramparts
with a drawbridge at the gate. That
would provide an extra obstacle for the
cat burglar, who arrives with ropes and pitons or a grappling-iron.
In the morning the
gardener could fish out the ones who
could not swim. Think of all the
prestige a moat could bring. For the
slightly less, well healed owners it could double as a swimming pool.
rich are barricading themselves like
a tortoise going into its shell. But like the
tortoise they have to come out some
time and that’s when they are so
vulnerable to predators.
The predators are after their flashy limousines, their
diamond rings, their big bucks, their cell phones and anything else of value. As you
know they think nothing of killing
to get what they want, or just for the thrill of it. It’s scary and the more you’ve got the
scarier it gets.
For every meter a boundary wall goes up
those prying eyes on the outside are
registering that as the owner has so
much to protect, they will have be
more ingenious ormore vicious to steal
does it really pay to advertise wealth with those high walls in a land where the majority can not afford to build just one meter
of one of them?
Some walls are so high that for the people inside and their
neighbours sunrise in winter is close to mid-day with sunset around the middle of the
afternoon. Talk about interfering with nature.
worse is that an environmental impact study is not required before permission
is granted to put one up. Protection is the
new buzz word that over rides everything else.
Of course people can have their 4X4, their fancy BMWor Mercedes Benz armour plated, the
equivalent of having a wall around their
vehicle.It will enable them to get in and out of their
fortress without being hijacked or shot.
But once they’ve
left their home environment this
moving safe deposit box only keeps them
in one piece as long as they don’t
get out of it.
These high walls
are already becoming obsolete as ingenious crooks have come up with a Trojan
horse. They rent a home inside the
ramparts of a posh townhouse complex and continue to rampage among the rich.
Will the day ever come do you think Mr Minister, when the Great
Walls of South Africa will be nothing more than tourist
be a time when a guide points to the
walls and says, Those were built to keep invading hordes
of thieving, murdering have-nots from plundering the
homes of the haves.But fortunately these days they
are nolonger necessary. They remain just a reminder of our evil past.
Sadly I don’t think I’ll live to see
that day unless we get a new Government that can
tackle the crime problem far more
effectively than you and your colleagues are doing now.
and more talk without effective action will never get the
Jon, a Chinese trained wall builder of distinction.
It doesn’t do much to discourage crime when our country’s overall Police Chief gets 15 years for corruption and his
successor is suspended for much the same thing.
Buy my book ‘Where have all the children
gone?’ on Amazon Kindle It’s a thriller with an
underlying love story that defied generations of prejudice.