Some more real good news about SA!



Wow! I am absolutely astounded by the sheer volume of responses to my “gatvol” email two weeks ago. Now I know what they mean when they say “word gets around” I’m blown away boet! Gobsmacked, to say the least!

A big thanks to all of you who took the time to reply. You can view your replies at the end of this article

Ironically, just after my letter, we are klapped with Xenophobia. Things now appear to be moving from bad to wors. (Personally, I smaak my wors medium rare – how about you?) Anyway back to the punt. One in five citizens now plans to quit SA, according to the Cape Times front page on Thurs 22 May. This is not surprising, considering that the Cape Times front page of 19 May displayed a shockingly disgusting and disturbing full colour picture of a burning man set alight by insane thugs. In my last letter I wrote: “Iaccept that bad news sells, but soon there will be nobody left here to buy it!” Wake up Mr. Cape Times Editor – I tjooned you my bru!

So what to do? Stay or waai? Eish, this is an agonising question my boet. Are things really better in other “first world” countries? I suppose it depends upon what you mean by better

It would also appear that Xenophobia is on the rise in many other countries around the world. To quote Justine Gerardy, in the Weekend Argus of May 24. “Xenophobic attacks and immigration challenges are not new. They are not even particularly South African. For example in Russia, since the beginning of 2008, there have been 211 reported victims of hate crimes – with 53 murders. In Italy, just last week, police arrested hundreds of people in a (Xenophobia) crackdown. And even Britain, an island nation with no porous land borders or neighbouring dictatorships, is facing a historical immigration high.”

Even in the good old USA boet, this stuff is happening: I read the following report online athuffingtonpostAt a fundraiser in Florida last Thursday night, (American Presidential Hopeful) Barack Obama accused anti-immigrant crusaders Lou Dobbs and Rush Limbaugh of “ginning things up” to such an extent that there was a rise in hate crimes against Hispanics last year. Obama said. “A certain segment has basically been feeding a kind of xenophobia. There’s a reason why hate crimes against Hispanic people doubled last year”

So that still leaves us with good old Australia, who themselves have some baggage regarding their Aboriginal population. Aussie does seem like a safe bet though, which is interesting considering that as a country it started off as a sort of floating prison. I was amused by the following anecdote from a South African who moved to Australia, could not adjust and came back home. He said: “Emigrating to Australia is like being invited to the biggest jol of the year, and then spending the whole night dancing with your mother!”

No offence to the Aussies mind you. I am not an Aussie basher. I really think they are an awesome nation with many great qualities and much to be proud of. (Rugby not being one of them!) Good on ya mates!

But getting back to our situation, those of us who do choose to stay here in ZAR have to keep asking ourselves “What can I DO to make things better?” Cause if we are not going to be part of the solution we will remain part of the problem. And please, if any of you feel that some of the ideas I am suggesting below will not work, don’t bother writing to me unless you have another suggestion that will. I’m really tired of people telling me that this and that won’t work and yet are unable to offer any alternative suggestions of their own. Its defeatist thinking and it achieves nothing! Verstaan jy? Kwaai my bru

So here are some more suggestions to consider:

Join themillion man march against crime(in JHB) on 10 June 2008. It should be a huge event.

Read the book “A Country at war with itself” by Antony Altbeker. It really puts our crime wave into perspective and, most importantly, suggests practical steps which can be taken to significantly reduce the crime wave. Three of the many interesting and well researched statistics from the book are:

“Since its peak in the mid 1990’s, the number of murders recorded in SA every year has fallen by 30% from nearly 27 000 to 19 000.”

“Only a small proportion of murders in SA are committed in the course of a robbery. Most are the result of what analysts have taken to calling “interpersonal violence,” a category of crime that covers everything from domestic violence to road rage, from a barroom brawl to a violent dispute between an employee and his boss.

And finally: “…the number of cash-in-transit robberies recorded by the SA police in 2006/7, at fewer than 500, is actually quite small…In the United Kingdom, over 700 of raids of this sort are recorded each year. This is in embarrassing contrast with Germany, which had fewer than 20 incidents. In that country though, the largest security company in the field collapsed when its managers were tried for skimming cash off their payloads Read a book revie for this excellent book


You could take some kind of action to help the victims of Xenophobia. For a list of suggestions on how you could help, visitSARocks

Write letters to the editors of your local newspapers, whenever you feel that they are over sensationalizing crime and violence or perpetuating negativity. Get your friends to do the same. And don’t hold back – they certainly don’t

Start a campaign to ban negative newspaper headlines from being displayed on lamp posts. (Thanks for this idea Kareen) We don’t need their version of life shoved down our throats every day.

Visit the blogSARock and post your comments. Or send your own article to the editor of SARocks, Nic Haramboulis at the following email:

Lobby your local MP’s to speak out against crime. This is one of our biggest frustrations in this whole situation. If our president, cabinet ministers and others in positions of power would just take a firm stand, speak up and declare a serious intention to fight crime, violence and lawlessness, things should improve significantly. (That is, if they follow up their words with sustained action)

Also if you have any more practical, positive ideas on what you believe we can do to make things better, please send me your suggestions. I deeply appreciate them

And don’t forget to keep smiling and of course styling, wherever possible.

Until next time, I remain your passionately pissed off brother from another mother


Mark Berge



  1. Rouvanne
    Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Hey Mark! Awesome stuff – love your chilled way of looking at things!

    Wanted you to know that I have added you to my Blog links, with the hope that you get 1000’s of hits (nice ones) in the future!

    Welcome to the blogsphere!

    Mooi skoot!

  2. Agor
    Thursday, 29 May 2008 at 8:05 am

    Have looked up the Cape Times page, but the stoooorey about ‘one in five of all citizens wanting to emigrate’ sounds like “wors” journalism. (It must be the sceptic in me?)
    For starters, if you eliminate the too young (65) to even “contemplate contemplating” emigration, almost one in three of the remaining “eligible” age group of citizens would have to be considering emigration!!! (15 – 65 age group only makes up some 64% of all population)

    I also wonder if the author remembered to include in the survey anyone from the ‘under R5,000 p.m.’ income group (like the MAJORITY of SA citizens, daaaaaa)?!
    I am holding my breath for the next Cape Times headline: “Emigration – the most frequent topic of conversation on Golden Arrow busses”.

    I have recently read a book “How to lie with statistics” and this one sounds like a study-case to me…

    Hang high!
    Australia (just kidding…)

  3. Caron
    Thursday, 3 July 2008 at 12:42 pm

    I luuurve reading your stuff.
    I do have one suggestion (small … but huge if you get my drift) – change the name of the ‘million man march against crime’ to the ‘million man march FOR PEACE’. Focus the attention, energy and intent on what we do want (always in the positive) and not what we do not want.
    So if you want to initiate a march or campagin, make it FOR whatever you want, and not against the thing you don’t want.
    This small thing will make all the difference.
    peace bru

  4. Keryn
    Friday, 30 January 2009 at 5:49 am

    HI again Mark
    I know this is an old post but having read your more recent one yesterday I did a bit of backtracking.
    It seems to me that your post is as relevant in today’s GFM (Global Financial Meltdown) world as it was in South Africa last year (I was there last year visiting family and just reading the headlines made my hair stand on end). I entirely agree that journalists should start reigning in it and be held accountable for psychological damage – this constant outpouring of gloom does nothing to help the situation but only serves to disempower.
    Words are a powerful tool – look how they have served Obama in shaping history and how people like Michael Moore have used them as vehicles for positive change.
    Im linking you to my website – when I can find it – and joining you in this crusade.

    may the force be with you.


  5. Tracy
    Tuesday, 10 February 2009 at 9:57 am

    I’m a returned South Africa, back in Cape Town for 9 months now after 13 years in the UK. South Africa is a much nicer place to live than the UK IMO. You get to see and be immersed in REAL life, not some sanitised version of life where you don’t have to think too much about the problems of the world where you are easily assimilated into the mass of consumers driving between shopping malls and eating junk food (why do you think people get fat after living in the UK for a while), while spraying themselves and their homes with anti-bacterial chemicals. Nah, give me easily accessible mountains, beaches, creativity and craftiness (‘n boer maak ‘n plan), a braai, a sunny afternoon and some good old fashioned dirt anyday.

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