Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Confidence Part 3

"They take matters into their hands. That's how Diepsloot is." 

This is part three of my interview with Confidence. You can find part one here and part two here.

Confidence will graduate with a diploma in accounting in March. Then, she plans to return to university for one more year (her fourth year) to obtain a degree. After that, she hopes to get a job in financial management. 

I asked Confidence about her goals for the future, the old "where do you see yourself in five years" and she replied, without hesitation, that she wants to get out of Diepsloot and that she wants to get her family out of Diepsloot as well. She wants to send her parents to live on a farm because "they love animals." She also wants to make sure her brothers attend university. 

I was a little surprised that she replied that way. Not completely surprised because I have been to Diepsloot and I can't imagine living there, but throughout our talks Confidence has never mentioned anything negative about Diepsloot. In fact, I am pretty sure she had told me once that she liked attending the Diepsloot Combined School and that she thought it was a good school. But in hindsight, it all made sense, how and why Confidence was able to survive the starvation, the rats and the disingenuous pastor, when I am pretty sure most of us would have given up, it's because if she gave up and left school she thought she'd be destined to a life spent in Diepsloot, and she's probably right. With 25% unemployment in this country being a hard worker and a loyal employee is not enough. You have to have skills and education and even with those things it can still be a challenge.  

This is the essence of Confidence, she is not just working hard for the sake of working hard, like a lot of us. She has a plan and even if that plan involves a lot of suffering or giving up hopes of a career in art to instead study accounting she will do it. Whatever it takes. 

Confidence has her learner's permit but she had never driven a car before, so I gave her a driving lesson in a practically abandoned parking lot.
To the casual visitor, like me, Diepsloot is overwhelming. It is a different world, one that is extremely crowded, where there is trash, dirty water and often sewage in the streets. There is also a lot of crime. According to crime stats SA in 2016 there were 68 murders in Diepsloot plus another 70 attempted. There were also 151 sexual offenses, 776 assaults with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm and another 494 common assaults. Also, 169 robberies and an additional 487 robberies with aggravating circumstances. And, there were 22 cases of arson. These are just the reported crimes of course and there are even more crime stats available but I think you get the idea. Keep in mind that in Chicago in 2016 there were 762 homicides, the highest number in 20 years, and Chicago has a population of 2.7 million. Whereas about 200,000 people live in Diepsloot. A better mathematician than me could analyze and translate that information for you.   

But the issue that Confidence told me about and the one that I think she finds the most upsetting is vigilante justice. My words, not hers. 

Confidence said that one morning when she was in matric (grade 12) she heard noise outside of her house. When she went to investigate she saw a mob of people chasing and beating a man. He was hit in the face with a brick and he was killed as Confidence and her brother watched. He had been caught trying to steal a car. 

Another time, there was a rumor that a man was raping children and so members of the community killed him by necklacing. Meaning a tire was pulled over his head, pinning his arms to his body, he was doused in petrol (gasoline) and set on fire. Confidence didn't see this happen but she said she smelled it. 

And then once, after a series of robberies where electronics and appliances were taken from homes in Diepsloot, the suspected thief's shack was burned to the ground with him trapped inside. 

The day after Confidence told me these stories, I was with Gift and I mentioned this mob violence to him. "Oh yes," he said, " I once saw a group of people beat a man in Diepsloot (Gift once lived in Diepsloot.) "In Diepsloot" he told me, "you must not break the law."

Students at the Diepsloot Combined School

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Hello and thank you for taking an interest in my blog. This blog tells the story of some big life changes. First, my husband and I have just moved to Geneva, Switzerland for a few months following a few years of living in Johannesburg, South Africa. The two places could not be more different. I'm excited to share our adventures, challenges and insights with you! My thoughts and opinions are my own.