Translation:African style robbery

African style robbery  (2021) 
by Viktor Pinchuk, translated from Russian by Wikisource
An article from the newspaper "Yuzhnaya Stolitsa", published on August 16, 2021, which describes the incident depicted on the cover of the book by the same author.

What does a soldier have time to think on the battlefield, a second ago, received a tiny hole in his gymnastyorka, “edged” with a scarlet spot? Or an accidental passer-by, being under the wheels of a just passing truck? Probably, to the victim of tragic circumstances is immediately appeared by the thought: “No, it's just a dream: this could happen to anyone, but not to me... ”

Street crime victim on the book cover
Johannesburg, South Africa, 19. 04. 2018

The bus Gaborone — Johannesburg pulled up at the final point of the route, where almost everyone got off. “Where are you going?” — asked driver to the last passenger in the cabin. “To a cheap hotel!” — “Hide the camera”, — the owner of the vehicle strongly recommended, taxiing out onto the highway, and explained: — In this city, they can kill even for fifty dollars, — in the daytime and in full view of everyone.” After a recent six-month expedition, included twelve countries of Latin America, I took his words as some exaggeration of the likely danger. The interlocutor, meanwhile, continued: “We are approaching the hotel where my compatriots, residents of Botswana, are staying usually.” — “How much will it cost to stay here?” — “About twenty-five American dollars.” — “Expensive for me.” — “This is South Africa, there is no cheaper here”. — “Ok, but where do those who came from Mozambique live, for example?” — I tried to approach the question differently, mentioning a country with a lower standard of living.

“At their relatives or... in the bushes.” I did not have time to find out whether the last statement was a joke, or was said seriously, because the driver stopping the car in front of a one-story building: we had arrived.

The suburban street was teeming with hotels. In the first and two neighboring ones, prices were not lower than in a multi-storey building, which was chosen by the citizens of Botswana. Having agreed with the administrator of a private property, I settled in a modest room that served as something like a living room, renting two meters on the floor behind the back of the sofa. Occupied area was sized for a sleeping pad; price — the equivalent of ten US dollars — a little expensive, but no choice.

“The devil is not so black as he is painted” — thinking, walked from the outskirts towards the center, which in the future had to do every day. During the entire stay in the most populous city in South Africa, I managed to explore many areas. The route ran past Ponte City Apartments — a skyscraper, a peculiar shape (hollow cylinder), turned by local gangs after the abolition of apartheid into a giant trash can; then, bypassing the university building, I got to Lilian Ngoi Street, which crosses the whole of Johannesburg. Many retail outlets, shops, hairdressing salons; hustle and bustle reigns everywhere, as if you are in the middle of a large, anthill. White people do not walk the streets — they are afraid, — moving only in cars; by the way, there are few of them: the black population predominates. There are beggars of European appearance — I've seen them twice.

Exchange currency for local money — rand — is possible only with great losses, because should paid commission, be it a private or state exchange office. Residents of neighboring countries have got used to making an exchange in Indian shops. The “procedure” is not entirely safe (and the reason is not in Asians — they do not cheat, earning a percentage on the client), — a black man can notice what is happening, but whether he is a respectable citizen or a member of bandit clan — nobody know.

If the aforementioned street, also called Bree, is something like a “market” city center (filthy and unkempt), then Commissioner Street is real downtown. Here is located the 50-storey Carlton Center skyscraper, the tallest office building in Africa, having a height 223 meters. It was there, in the “center of the center” of the city, a rather crowded place, that the following happened...

…A single expedition, which lasted almost six months and included ten African countries, came to an end. Only a few hours remained before the flight to Moscow. There were a few rand in my pocket — they needed to be spent, and in stock — time — it needed to be filled. What can happen on the last day of your stay in a foreign land, when you are already at home with one foot? Relaxing from this thought, I headed to the city center and took with me camera, don't care of the safety of the footage.

…Suddenly, I felt a sharp chokehold from behind. At the same time, four black limbs reached out to me from both sides, trying to unbutton jacket, under which there were a camera. Trying to resist, I made an effort to lock my hands together... falling into the abyss.

It all lasted approximately 4 seconds. Came to my senses lying on the sidewalk. Nearby at the crossroads — about a dozen passers-by — are looking at me. I came up and asked in a hoarse voice where these people had gone. Then, after a while, I remembered that I spoke Russian. On the opposite side — there are two uniformed guards. I addressed them: did you notice someone? The answer was negative. Returned. Here is my sidewalk “bed“. How long have I was lying here? Seconds or minutes? On the asphalt — there are pieces of paper and business cards from an inner pocket: the criminals hoped to find money there and threw out the contents. Nearby — the cap of one of the attackers: they were in a hurry...

Carotid sinus — the name of the common part of the artery, to which a small nodule — glomus caroticum (in latin) is attached; this is a reflexogenic zone, external mechanical impact on it causes loss of consciousness. One of the three was a professional, the rest were apparently assistants: their presence is necessary for the speed of the plan. The result of a six-month of photography has gone to hell. “Whether to lament over the loss, or to rejoice that they did not kill?”— was thinking on my way to the international airport...

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