THE AF­TER-CRIME: CHEESED OFF BY PO­LICE SER­VICE

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - SM - TUMI MO­RAKE @Tu­mi_Mo­rake

I WAS robbed on a Sun­day morn­ing, just as I ar­rived at a speak­ing en­gage­ment. I shouted for help, but alas – there went my phone. Four se­cu­rity guards emerged out of the lit­tle house at the boom gate. Where had they been? This is Joburg, what else do you do? At least they didn’t hurt me, right?

As re­al­ity set in, I bor­rowed a smart­phone from a mem­ber of the event team and fol­lowed the drill: Sounded the phone alarm to an­noy them, then checked to see if my phone was still on­line for track­ing pur­poses, then re­motely deleted ev­ery­thing on it. Only then did I get up­set.

If you have never had to re­port a crime, then you would not know the fur­ther ir­ri­ta­tion of hav­ing to deal with the po­lice. I can tell you that you are at their mercy and they know it.

On this par­tic­u­lar oc­ca­sion, I ar­rived armed with as much prepa­ra­tion as pos­si­ble: IMEI and ITC num­bers writ­ten leg­i­bly on a piece of pa­per. Ad­dress where the in­ci­dent took place and events as clearly nar­rated as pos­si­ble. Ex­tra two pens for luck. Two op­tions for iden­tity. Res­cue rem­edy.

Re­port­ing was fun. I was sent to a cu­bi­cle where I waited for 20 min­utes. I felt like I was in a room where hopes and the will to live go to die. Even­tu­ally the of­fi­cer re­turned, ask­ing her col­leagues for sta­tionery. Turns out they had run out. Of forms, of pa­per, of pens. She man­aged to dig the last form out from some­where in the back.

She asked me if I had a pen. I nearly hi-fived my­self. She asked me for the IMEI and ITC num­bers. I smiled. I gave those to her be­fore we came to sit this side. She blinked. She asked me if I had them writ­ten some­where else – per­haps even on my phone. I smiled widely. My phone was stolen and, no, I gave her the only source of those num­bers. She breathed. I breathed. She got up. Twenty-five min­utes later, she was back with the piece of pa­per. She asked me what the value of my phone was. I gave a ball­park fig­ure, but she asked me if I couldn’t just Google it on my phone. I smiled but my mouth twitched. Her col­league walked in. I asked her how much she thought the phone cost. She an­swered quickly. The very amount I had of­fered.

In the time that I had been wait­ing for sta­tionery to be found, a young man ar­rived to re­port his phone. He was re­ceived by a cop with a ter­ri­ble stut­ter and an ap­par­ent hear­ing prob­lem. This young man re­peated him­self so many times I could con­fi­dently re-re­port his in­ci­dent ver­ba­tim. He still fin­ished be­fore me. I popped a res­cue rem­edy. At least I wasn’t hurt, right?

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