Much is made of crime in South Africa, both here and abroad.

Insurance is very expensive in South Africa. Johannesburg is the crime capital. There, carjackings abound - and everywhere people live surrounded by razorwire. Cape Town was full of it, it is unwise to travel at night.

The White pessimists viewpoint is that now the black people are allowed in the white areas, what can you expect ..

In the rural town of Richmond, Natal, where I am now, in the old days a hooter went at 9:00PM, at which point all blacks had to be out of town, and all coloreds had to be west of the main crossroads, or they risked arrest. Most towns I have visited have an obvious boundary between the white and black neighborhoods - a railway, a river, a major road, that served that purpose.

There is a problem of jobs - if you have no money, and you have a family, and no other family members to help you - what to do ? There is little (if any ?) welfare system.

However, violent crime has been common - my hosts here list off the friends here who have been murdered during the couse of a theft. Money is usually the issue - on this farm they pay the workers in vouchers, redeemable at the local store. Good for the store (people spend their money there) and good for the farmers (who do not have to carry large amounts of cash about). I have not been able to get close to an ATM in the last few days - the combination of the May Day holiday and the end of the week/month means that it has been payday a lot. Presumably many farmers/companies have an arrangement with the bank where salaries for their workers may be drawn at an ATM.

Much of the violence, however, is also inter-tribal, particularly between the African National Congress (Xhosa) and Inkatha Freedom Party (Zulu). This was much in evidence in the runup to the last elections (1994). It will be again in 1999 - when Mandela (Xhosa) will not be standing to act as a unifying force between the various factions. Currently things are settled - with lines drawn between the various parties in the coutryside - this region is one, over the hill is the other.

There are deadly rivalries between taxi associations. Taxis are a part of life for most local people, who need transport, but do not have a car. A toyota minibus will hold 22 people, and they leave from taxiranks in town when they are full, or pick people up from the side of the road. Various associations ‘own’ certain routes, and will kill people to keep them.

Personally, I have not felt threatened. However, I have old jeans, tatty shoes, and a scuffed motorcycle. I also smile and wave ..

Cheers, Andy!