Sharon's Ride Around The World

Mugging in South Africa

Durban, South Africa

February 28, 2000


Down but luckily not punched out in Durban, South Africa.

You have to wonder if the criminal element in Durban has a fraternal organization--and that fraternal organization got together to discuss the "business opportunities" awaiting them with our arrival.

Durban is a port city on the Indian Ocean in South Africa. In the last few years unemployment has reached record highs--and it shows.

Muggings are apparently commonplace--and more than 200 cyclists in our distinctive yellow helmets were easy marks. One member of our group walked a half a block from the hotel to get a hair cut and ended up with a close shave. As Fred walked across the street someone grabbed his shirt...and held a straight razor to his throat--luckily another rider was with him, screamed, and the two escaped.

This was one of several skirmishes riders had with criminals in downtown Durban. Within a matter of hours after our group reached town there were tales of teenagers pushing people down...and trying to steal from them. In the span of 48 hours there were at least four attempted muggings. Some of the victims were helped by passersby--others simply had to fend for themselves. What's surprising is that the muggers didn't get a thing from anyone. But they did steal a sense of security many of us felt we had if we traveled in groups and in daylight.

For my part, I began to feel every person passing me on the street was there to potentially steal from me--or worse. For some of us who had just spent a few days on safari--we felt a bit like the impala being sized up by the hungry lion. And we wondered if every large city in Africa would be like this.

I'll know when we get to Cape Town.

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