When is it time to just say enough is enough?

When is enough enough | Tyranny of Pink

I don’t want to be one of those people who just runs away. I’m terrified of being that person. So terrified that perhaps I choose to live in denial instead but when is enough really enough?

This last week has really shaken me up. I don’t know why it was so different to any of the weeks before or the months, years before that. It hasn’t been really but maybe my perspective is changing?

You see, my 19month old son has been on school holidays for the last two weeks and it has been different for me because of him.

We’ve played a lot and we’ve had a ball mostly. We’ve also had some tough moments. So what’s different about this time than the time before you ask? Well, let me tell you.

This time, I’ve felt like a prisoner in my own home.

On Monday this week, there was an armed robbery at a filling station near my house. It’s maybe 1.5km from me. It ended with shots fired and a car chase. Then later that day, perhaps related, perhaps not, a store about a 5 minute drive from my house was also held up at gun point. WHAT the hell I wondered but we went on with our lives. I woke up on Tuesday morning to a message in my community group saying that there had been an attempted break in at a house near to mine. It’s Wednesday now, who knows what will come next.

Okay so on Wednesday night, I discovered the answer to my what would come next question. A house three houses away from me was broken into just after 8pm on Wednesday evening. Yay!

It’s not like this is new. I live in a fairly decent neighbourhood and in the four years we have lived here, they’ve broken into the house on my right, the house opposite mine and the house diagonally from mine. They stole our car from our driveway too. So it’s not like this didn’t happen before now, I’m just more aware now.

I just want to let my guard down for a minute

My son wants to play outside in the day but I’m terrified to be outside in case someone jumps over the wall. We have that happen around here you know, wall jumpers! Yeah it’s kinda ridiculous actually but you have to be afraid of people jumping over your wall while you’re home! Sigh

So this whole week really affected me on a deeper level. The level where I’m mom first and Jonelle second. The level where I want to protect my child but I’m not sure if I could if anything ever happened. So instead I take all the precautions I can. I walk around with the panic button in my own home.

This is no way to live is it? Checking that doors are closed, windows are closed, locks are latched, alarms are on… and repeat every single day of my life.

I can’t explain how much I love South Africa without it seeming like I’m justifying what I’m writing, so I won’t. You will just have to take my word for it, or don’t, that’s okay too. The bottom line for me is, I need to protect my child. I brought him into this world and I have a duty of care and responsibility to look after him. I want him to be safe and I want him to sleep well at night without being afraid.

I don’t want him to know the fears I know.

Until you’ve been forced to the ground and had your body searched while machine guns are pointed at you and you ask yourself over and over is this how I die, praying you don’t get raped, while hyper ventilating just at trying to get through this moment, you don’t know just how afraid you can feel.

I try not to play that memory over in my head anymore, it makes things worse. I do my best to let go but I’m constantly living in fear that I will wake up at night with men in my home and I won’t know how to protect my child in the other room.

A whole new world

I remember visiting my friend when I was 18 in a country far away from here. It was like a whole new world for him. We parked the car and walked through the park to get to the pub. At night! I was shivering in my boots and everyone laughed at me. “It’s not South Africa” I remember them saying. And I felt ashamed for the way my mind was programmed to look over my shoulder.

SIXTEEN years have passed since that experience and the only thing that has changed is my age.

Inequality, the cause of crime

It’s still not safe here. It’s getting worse every single day. How can it not, the level of inequality keeps rising and as long as we live with so much inequality, we will continue to have rising crime rates. The government blames everyone, everyone blames the government but in the meantime, there’s no real change happening.

I read an article that said Cape Town is the 13th murder capital of the world. Of course the data is biased in this situation because it is highly concentrated in certain areas over others so it’s not like I’m sitting here waiting to be murdered but the reality is that this is my city and that’s what the numbers show.

I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’m getting older and watching things get worse and maybe it’s because I have a child of my own now but it’s getting harder and harder to see the pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.

I have no doubt that things will get better here but I’m just not sure that will happen during my lifetime. I’m just not sure that things will change for me and my family anytime soon and certainly not before they get worse.

So I’m left heartbroken, asking myself the question, is it time to leave?



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17 Discussion to this post

  1. […] little while ago I wrote a blog post called When is it time to just say enough is enough? and I haven’t really mentioned anything about it since then so I thought it was time to let […]

  2. I’m so sorry you have to go through this. Sounds very scary – you are brave though. Strongs

  3. Karin says:

    You’re where I was 13 years ago. My sister was taken with her car, driven to the ATM to withdraw all her money over 2 days and kept locked in the boot of her car. Thankfully they didn’t rape or kill her but the experience of not knowing where she was for 48 hours, telling her child mommy will come home and dealing with a nonchalant police force, finally made the decision easy.
    I dread coming to SA after the UAE. The safety and security my daughter has experienced is priceless. Her childhood is very different from other children in SA. I’m glad.
    I hope that you find peace with your decision. It’s not easy away from home, but there’s only sommuch I care to sacrifice. My child’s childhood is not one of them.

    • Wow, that is a really terrible story! It breaks my heart to consider leaving. I have felt like I belong since the day I arrived in Cape Town and my heart is completely South African but my child is the number one priority and I, like you, don’t want to sacrifice his childhood! We are planning our move as I write this! Thank you Karin for sharing your experience with me <3

    • Yoh Karin, that’s awful. I’m so so sorry for your sister. I hope she’s coping better now.

  4. Cassie says:

    Jonelle I get it, in so many ways you have no idea!

    We have just (3 weeks ago) left South Africa temporarily and I never thought we would leave EVER. My family all immigrated after we were held up, but I stayed in my beloved country for 10 years after the last family member left. When I saw how my daughter grew exponentially in her self confidence when we went to visit my Mom overseas last year, my decision was made. I was tired of looking over my shoulder, not allowing her to walk 5 steps ahead of me in the shops in fear of kidnapping, not opening the windows too wide because you never know what happens, teaching her to always lock doors no matter where were went.

    I hope to return to South Africa when my visa is up next year August, I hope she would have healed enough by then. South Africa will always be home, my first true love, but the fear of something happening to my daughter just got too much for me to bare.

    • Cassie this made me feel heart sore and that’s what I’m afraid of. Congratulations on leaving, it’s a huge step in the right direction, one I have no doubt you will never regret but it’s so hard to leave and know that home is a new place now. My heart is so South African but my child is more important to me than feeling like I need to be here. Maybe one day things will be better and maybe then who knows but for now, it’s the right sure I’m sure. What you describe is exactly how I feel and why this is the right choice for my family too! There’s just something about being a parent you know, things change and your priorities change and that just becomes the most important thing! Thank you for sharing your experience! How hard was the move for you? And how long did it take?

      • Cassie says:

        From deciding to investigate options to the visa being granted was 3 months, maybe 4 at a push. From the visa coming through to landing in Australia took 13 days. It was hard I wont lie, I spent the waiting time detaching myself from “things” so when the time came I could sell my belongings – Im a very sentimental person so this has been extremely hard – you never knew how much you loved a couch until you see it loaded on the back of someone else’s bakkie. Emotionally Im still at the crying every day stage, hopefully that will let up when we start at school next week and new friendships can start to be forged. The time frame was insane, that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone, but I had to do it that way so I couldn’t change my mind plus it meant allot of good byes were not done in person and I dont think I would have been able to handle the people thing very well at that stage.

        • Wow, that is VERY fast! I’m glad to hear it was relatively easy to actually get in though. Everything here takes so long, my step dad has been waiting over ten years for a work visa. I’m hoping he will move with my mom and come live where we go. I can totally relate to your attachment, I’m already looking around my home and I know what I will want to take with me and what I will leave behind. There are a few pieces that my dad had bought me (he’s dead now) and those will be hard to leave behind. Was it easier to move without your things than shipping them over? I am already dreading the goodbyes.

          • Cassie says:

            Im on a study visa, so the process was a little different, hence Im only here temporarily (for now). Shipping would have cost in excess of R75 000.00 for the container and for that I could furnish a house here with more modern updated things.. There are 1 or 2 pieces that I didn’t sell, very sentimental pieces and I will have them sent as Cargo in a few months time. When it came to selling my furniture I did alot of “Paying it forward” and decided to help those that needed a helping hand as apposed to those that already had (if that makes sense).

          • That makes a lot of sense! Just having started our journey all these things still need to be investigated. I suspect moving with four animals is going to be the biggest burden for us. Though it isn’t an option to leave them behind. Also having a baby and two of us will probably complicate the visa process. Yikes, so much to think of!

    • Cassie that’s a heavy decision you had to make – it’s good that you made it for your daughter. One always need a bigger reason, especially when it comes to the heart. My country is my heart, I’m sure it is for you too.
      All the best for your journey ahead – you’re going to love your new home and you’re going to be happy.

  5. Heather says:

    It’s a tough one Jonelle and no easy answers. I am starting to think the economy more than anything else might push us out but I always seem to be too naive or optimistic when it comes to crime even though we have been burgled a few times before we got the electric fence.

    • I think it’s amazing to be optimistic and truly, that has been me for the longest time. I constantly tell anyone that listens that things will get better but I just don’t see that happening in my child’s lifetime. I want him to love his home, his life and to look back on his childhood with fond memories, not ones of fear. I don’t want him to feel the fear we feel. It isn’t easy Heather – it’s literally the toughest thing to decide. Leaving a place I love in hope of a better future… for my child!

  6. Paula says:

    Thinking very seriously about this for the first time ever. So done with living in fear. That together with the fact that my son is getting closer to his uni years and with that being a mess as well just makes me feel like that inherent love of Africa isn’t enough anymore.

    • It’s a terrible feeling isn’t it. I’ve thought about leaving before but never as much as I do these days. I keep telling myself things will get better but realistically, I don’t think they will any time soon and you’re right, just the love of Africa isn’t enough!

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