I’m not sure if you still remember me. Your victim number 100; I was wearing a brown t-shirt with blue jeans the other day when you stole from me. Trying to run some errands for my mom. You came as dirty as you were. We don’t know each other by name but I’m sure you know mine now.
I was doing a little shopping at Mr. Price when we met. I was so happy that I had passed my term 1 tests. You had to come and wipe the smile off my face. I grabbed a few jerseys, getting prepared for winter. Tried quite a few and liked a lot. You may have been watching me as I moved around the store; what a busy Thursday that was. Unfortunately, I was on my own, minding my own business. The ladies that were working that day were really friendly, not sure if you noticed. I stood at the queue waiting to pay for my jerseys. You were not anywhere near me at that time. But I could feel the hair on the back of my neck rising. I was shivering, even though it was 35 degrees outside. I glanced at the little adorable baby that was crying outside. The jerseys were resting on my shoulders. My brown and yellow purse hung on the side. The lady behind me was impatient and stepped out of the queue. You came from nowhere and my nostrils picked up on your unbearable scent. I didn’t want to look like a mean person, so I just looked away. It was now my turn to pay and you were very close to me. I couldn’t even breathe. You pretended to be falling, little did I know that your hand was inside my purse. You took R500 from me. You went away and never looked back. I cried for hours inside the shop.
I had no money for transport; you destroyed my day. I stood there like a fool trying to locate where you went. I was left with an empty purse with no cent. The people who were at the queue are as guilty as you are. They did not say anything, but they saw everything. No one had the guts to warn me that you were taking without being given permission. I wish I knew who you were so that I can tell you what you made me go through. I hate you and may you never find peace. You took a brown envelope that contained R300. That was the money for my university applications. Well done. I hope I am your last victim, for my tears are not for nothing. I will find you and all hell will break loose.
I can’t sleep at night thinking about what you did. You may think I am using you as a scapegoat but the truth is you brought me a lot of problems. My parents no longer trust me with money. I am broke, thanks to you. Have you ever heard once in your life that stealing is a sin? How do you sleep at night knowing that someone out there is devastated by your actions? It’s people like you that are bringing this country down. We are Africans, why can’t we just be united as one? I do not want to hate you for the rest of my life, but I want some sort of relief, some sort of ‘justice’ for what happened to me. I’m not your first, but I better be your last.
Think things through next time. What if you had stolen from someone who was trying to apply for tuition to study medicine which could one day save your life? What goes around comes around. This has to stop, and you will meet your match one day. If you pick your victims looking at their gender, you will be solemnly mistaken. Women are now stronger than you think. Take time to think about what I could have done if I had turned back and seen who you really are. Do you know what people do to thieves in town? They burn them without showing any mercy. You may call what you did surviving or ‘hustling’ but why don’t you man up and look for work like everyone else and make an honest living? What good does it make looking over your shoulders every time you go out? I’m sure you may think you have some sort of power over your victims. Funny thing is, you don’t approach them face to face. You crawl behind because behind them is where you belong. Word of advice: he who has a thousand friends has not a friend to spare, he who has one enemy will meet him everywhere.
Your last victim
Tell us: Why do you think people steal?