I knew you were notorious, I knew you had your own flaws and that included some incidents when disobedience with the law was the norm. But now as I write to you, I worry about how you are.

Children from the age of ten die at the hands of the crooks who forcefully wanted a television set that was not theirs to begin with. Mothers and daughters are raped every now and then by your unruly ‘men’. When they are reported, it is a taboo to say it out loud because they are ‘pillars’ of the community; fathers, uncles and sons. They are deeply rooted in uncontrollably high levels of alcohol consumption because you are a volatile space and you do not offer them a chance at life.

Where did you go wrong, you city of Tafelkop? Why are you letting grandmothers stand as bullet-shields for their grandchildren? At night, when no one is awake and jealous boyfriends want to surpass the prospects of the blade runner’s offence. Where did you go wrong, you homely village in Sekhukhune-land?

I know you know that I don’t like you anymore. Those beautiful mountains and the flawless streets that made people from nearby villages envy your beauty amount to nothing these days but a mere façade. You are very much aware that the businesses your offspring are harboring and developing are not as exciting as they are supposed to. For that, your soul has become rotten. Should I now point the blame to the fact that you are closer to the capital city of Pretoria, and allow that to be an excuse for this horrible conduct? Or should I direct my fingers to the forever-growing community and say there are some bad apples that are flocking as masses behind the mask that you have put on so well?

Every year, a few noble people around the village gather to elect and appoint policing forums. They try by all means to select those who are as noble as them and have some level of integrity. Not by choice of course, but they do that out of concern for themselves and their families. Upon the appointment, schedules of patrols are put up and then, like sleeping serpents, you give them hope that they will achieve the goals they have set.

You grant them a chance to strategize and target possible delinquents. However, as a dangerous serpent, you manage to steal away their plans and target them back. You manage to crawl into the head of the nearest police station commander. You manipulate him to not support the calls that this noble group of people make. While at it, you steal away one or two of the members of the forum through night attacks when they are not on patrol duty. Then, little by little, weeks pass by and hope becomes to non-existent.

Where did we go wrong to let you have so much violence? To give you the power to make us fearful when we least deserve it? Do you even know that we are forced to put up electric fences in our yards and set strict rules on how to move around the streets, just to feel a little bit of safety? As if we are animals in the bush. Dear Tafelkop, you are growing but you are not a safe space to grow up in anymore.