July 20, 2011

Is Dainfern Safe?

As I mentioned earlier, our neighborhood was broken into the other day. According to the bulletin that was immediately posted by our security office, this was one in a string of similar break-ins throughout the Dainfern area (which makes you feel slightly better, somehow). Apparently the thieves knew where exactly the perimeter camera was knocked out due to a storm (corruption IS indeed a problem here), pried off the wall brackets holding the high-voltage wires and squeezed through underneath. Then, so the story goes, they succeeded in getting into a house, tying up the owner, and making off with a few items like cellphones. Incredibly, they got away. The tied-up homeowner was able to call for help and a neighbor untied him and called security, but by that time the attackers had left.

I was somewhat mollified by the swift response of the police and the fact that our security people are now putting renewed vigor into repairing fences and cameras and driving patrols at night, so that the same attack is now more unlikely to happen again. I am even more comforted by the fact that we don't live anywhere near a fence and rather close to the main guard house, but of course it still sounds a bit scary. On the other hand, these stories always sound slightly fantastic as well and you wonder what is really behind them. I mean, why would somebody go through all this effort to break in when anything that was stolen had to be carried over a wall and squeezed through a rather small gap? Or then you hear of the guy who gets kidnapped out of his neighborhood in his own car to be forced to withdraw money from an ATM, and later it turns out that he set up the whole thing, for what reason is beyond me.

So we still feel  pretty safe here, but I did want to share the incident. Like I've said before, in another country you would brush this off as "something that happens to other people" and rarely at that, but here in South Africa you are immediately alarmed, because you hear so many similar stories.

By the way, as I'm sitting here writing this, a security patrol has twice passed by my house.

Update: Click here for another more serious security breach in Dainfern that happened subsequently to me writing this post.

10 comments :

@injoburg said...

Some would say that by by building one of Joburg's most exclusive compounds right next to a squatter cam you're asking for it :) The difference between Dainfern and Diepsloot is striking.
I live in a house closer to the city centre and have the impression that our area gets hit less than the gated communities in the northern suburbs. Still, locals like to moan and freak out, and our local neighbourhood watch recently emailed some stories about crime that I simply don't believe - I think there's a lot of scaremongering, though apart from our car being stolen we've been lucky to escape the crooks' attention. Reading the press from back home in Holland, the number of house break-ins, violent crimes etc there is on the rise - in that respect I think that we in Joburg are better prepared with our gadgets and particularly with our higher vigilance.

Lea White said...

This just brought back so many unpleasant memories of when we lived in South Africa. We've now lived in NZ for close to 7 years and I can honestly say ppl here have no idea. Our lives here are so incredibly different to how it was when we lived there.

Stephanie said...

I could go on and on and on about this subject. I won't though and appreciate you sharing it. I would love to know the real crime statistics in this country.

I live by the fact that where there is a will there is a way. That said, I do turn on my alarm every night and when I leave the house, I am comforted that my neighbor has a 24 hour guard outside his house three houses up and generally exercise a lot more caution here than I would living in other places. However, what we sometime forget is that the black on black crime in the townships is fifty times worse and doesn't just involve a cell phone and getting tied up. Two nights ago, my maid had her ladder stolen from her house. Her son was murdered for a cellphone and her daughter raped.

There are some perils to calling South Africa home but there are many many many more pluses. Look at what just happened in Brooklyn to the Jewish boy for example...

Stephanie said...

Oh I don't mean to say her son was murdered with the incident I indicated. All incidents are separate of each other....

Sine said...

Stephanie, I'm totally with you on that. My whole blog is essentially dedicated to the fact that there are so many plusses to living in South Africa that it is ridiculous that some people insist on only looking at that one statistic, crime. Their loss, I guess.

@injoburg, I get your point about us being close to Diepsloot, but I don't think that has anything to do with it. This particular incident was done by a gang of organized crime that have covered this whole area. These were professionals. The huge majority of people living in Diepsloot recognize Dainfern not as the golden opportunity to steal from, but a good place for them to find work. And yes, there is an alarming rate of crime in Europe that doesn't get much press at all. It could be that New Zealand is the place to be in terms of crime, but given the choice between Europe and here, I'm not so sure.

julia said...

Hi Sine great blog!! I'm an American, married with two kids, who is on the verge of relocating to Jozi or Durban (our choice!) and we are currently weighing our options before we make our choice. You have some great info in here, but I'm curious if you have any comments on Jozi versus Durban? Thank you!

Sine said...

Hi Julia, that's great, and I think you'll love South Africa regardless. In all fairness, I know nothing about Durban, haven't even been there yet. The weather will be more comparable to the Southern U.S. there, muggy summers and very mild winters. Joburg here I think is more comparable to San Diego - not so hot in the summers and always very dry, with a couple of cold months in the winter. Other than weather, I think Joburg gets a lot of bad press about crime, but in reality it is a very liveable place with nice people and lots to do. But I'm sure Durban would be similar. Tough choice! One thing I love about being in Joburg is that you're so easily connected to the rest of Africa with direct flights to pretty much everywhere.

You know what, I'll just write a post asking that question, and maybe some of my readers will comment more!

Stephanie said...

Hi Julia,

I live in Durban and can give you a lot of info about it. I am an ambassador for Durban in the tourism department. :-) I think it's great -- smaller than Joburg and has the warm Indian Ocean. While Joburg is great with direct flights, there are many many many great things to see within 2-3 hours of here.

Let me know if you want any info.

W. A. Jeffrey said...

Glad you mentioned the organized gang aspect in your follow up comment. Anymore that tends to be the main culprits for break-ins, especially in the security estates. I was surprised to hear that you did not have electric fencing on your property. Most of the clusters and estates that I have looked at so far each house has electric fencing in addition to the fencing for the compound/estate itself. Perhaps Dainfern Valley (as well as others for all I know) are different. I also wonder if someone tipped them off about the camera. Casing the area would not have given them the info unless the camera was visibly fried.

Sine said...

yes, definitely a tip-off, and no, most houses within these types of estates don't have additional electric wiring around them. I would hate to live like that. They do have walls though, but that is more a matter of style than security. They could easily be scaled.