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Thread: Situational Awareness - Johannesburg

  1. #1
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    Situational Awareness - Johannesburg

    I'm visiting family overseas at the moment. Last night I stopped to visit one of the local lodges. My father in law dropped me off and pointed out the obivous dodgy areas to avoid (buildings half falling down). I got there a bit early and went to look for a coffee shop to wait. The only thing I found was the cafeteria at a hospital a few blocks away. I bought a sports drink with a card. The hot day had me feeling a bit depleted. The ATM there was broken and I needed to draw money for the dinner later in the evening. I didn't want to broadcast in my accent while wearing a new suit that I was looking for somewhere to get access to my cash. I discreetly asked a couple of people behind desks and they couldn't name any other place in walking distance.

    Private firearms are pretty restricted here. I've felt pretty naked more than once and have had to rely more on situational awareness and just not going where it's a bad idea. In general, I've found myself not letting anyone get within arms' reach, being more aware of who and what is behind me, and not standing still for more than a 5 count without looking around.

    I strolled a short way from the hospital toward a main road, taking note of the private security standing at the entrances to the parking lots. A small pickup truck of non-uniformed workers, aka illegal taxi, passed me and slowed. It came to a stop maybe 30 yards down the road. Part of me said, "Oh, HELL no." and I stopped and checked the street to make my way across and head back the other direction. As I stopped and looked around, the "taxi" moved on. I noticed where it stopped was right next to one of the guards. Whether it was someone who knew the guard and was saying "hi" or stopped for less pleasant purposes and changed their mind when they saw the guard or the guard was uninterested since we weren't in his lot and they moved on because I stopped, I don't know. I'm sure I dodged some kind of bullet there, though.

    I headed back to the lodge and poked around the surrounding neighborhood some more. I came across a large complex and thought it might be a commerce center. I had to tilt my head to read the script that said "Coca Cola - South Africa". I looked toward the gate at the camo fatigued guards chatting but couldn't make out their military rifle hardware. I moved on rather than making them think I was casing them. I quickened my pace since though there were plenty of people around, the light was fading fast and I felt more people seeing me stand out.

    I got back to the lodge and introduced myself to the brothers there, including the secretary I'd spoken to on the phone about visiting. They asked if I'd be joining them for dinner after. I noted that I only had a few Rand and the money machine I stopped at was broken, but if we could stop at another I'd be happy to. One of the brothers said it wasn't a problem and I could be his guest. I thanked him and settled in for the meeting. After the meeting, a brother took me to the dinner club and then another took me back to my in-laws. All in all, a well spent evening.
    Last edited by mahkagari; 02-28-2012 at 02:15 AM.

  2. #2
    Regular Member M-Taliesin's Avatar
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    Howdy Pilgrim!
    I take it then, you're out of town?

    Blessings,
    M-Taliesin

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    Quote Originally Posted by mahkagari View Post
    I'm visiting family overseas at the moment. Last night I stopped to visit one of the local lodges. My father in law dropped me off and pointed out the obivous dodgy areas to avoid (buildings half falling down). I got there a bit early and went to look for a coffee shop to wait. The only thing I found was the cafeteria at a hospital a few blocks away. I bought a sports drink with a card. The hot day had me feeling a bit depleted. The ATM there was broken and I needed to draw money for the dinner later in the evening. I didn't want to broadcast in my accent while wearing a new suit that I was looking for somewhere to get access to my cash. I discreetly asked a couple of people behind desks and they couldn't name any other place in walking distance.

    Private firearms are pretty restricted here. I've felt pretty naked more than once and have had to rely more on situational awareness and just not going where it's a bad idea. In general, I've found myself not letting anyone get within arms' reach, being more aware of who and what is behind me, and not standing still for more than a 5 count without looking around.

    I strolled a short way from the hospital toward a main road, taking note of the private security standing at the entrances to the parking lots. A small pickup truck of non-uniformed workers, aka illegal taxi, passed me and slowed. It came to a stop maybe 30 yards down the road. Part of me said, "Oh, HELL no." and I stopped and checked the street to make my way across and head back the other direction. As I stopped and looked around, the "taxi" moved on. I noticed where it stopped was right next to one of the guards. Whether it was someone who knew the guard and was saying "hi" or stopped for less pleasant purposes and changed their mind when they saw the guard or the guard was uninterested since we weren't in his lot and they moved on because I stopped, I don't know. I'm sure I dodged some kind of bullet there, though.

    I headed back to the lodge and poked around the surrounding neighborhood some more. I came across a large complex and thought it might be a commerce center. I had to tilt my head to read the script that said "Coca Cola - South Africa". I looked toward the gate at the camo fatigued guards chatting but couldn't make out their military rifle hardware. I moved on rather than making them think I was casing them. I quickened my pace since though there were plenty of people around, the light was fading fast and I felt more people seeing me stand out.

    I got back to the lodge and introduced myself to the brothers there, including the secretary I'd spoken to on the phone about visiting. They asked if I'd be joining them for dinner after. I noted that I only had a few Rand and the money machine I stopped at was broken, but if we could stop at another I'd be happy to. One of the brothers said it wasn't a problem and I could be his guest. I thanked him and settled in for the meeting. After the meeting, a brother took me to the dinner club and then another took me back to my in-laws. All in all, a well spent evening.
    First off, I'm glad that you're doing well while there. Even though I'm sure the nerves of having to constantly keep your head swiveling is probably getting to you. Combine that with not having the equalizer with you and it's got to be stressful.

    Also, no offense to you or anyone else, this is simply my opinion and I know that it's likely going to be pretty closed minded, but this is precisely why I have made the choice to never leave the United States unless absolutely necessary. I don't know how you make it through the stress of not having that option defend yourself should the need arise Mahkagari. I went to the Springs today and knew I would be around the Citadel Mall area but was unsure of the carry policy of the business I would be patronizing. After about two minutes of internal debate, I decided I'd rather get kicked out of the store than be down there and not have something to defend myself with. Compu X (the store) is pro/indifferent btw.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZackL View Post
    Also, no offense to you or anyone else, this is simply my opinion and I know that it's likely going to be pretty closed minded, but this is precisely why I have made the choice to never leave the United States unless absolutely necessary. I don't know how you make it through the stress of not having that option defend yourself should the need arise Mahkagari.
    Calculated risk. I could hole up in fear in my basement with a shotgun and perimeter landmines, but there's more to life than that. I'm much less worried about not having a sidearm, though I'd prefer it, than I am about the baboons when we hit the safari next week. Those freakin' things stress me 10x more than street thugs and warlords.

    ETA: IMNSHO, situational awareness and other conflict avoidance techniques will get you much further than any other equalizer. There are plenty of times where a sidearm will be beyond useless without those techniques. Hell, in this city, there is no "equalizer" for a 12 year old sticking an AK-47 in your ear and telling you to exit your vehicle. You'll be lucky if he lets you unbuckle your seatbelt. (Which he allowed a friend of my wife's before taking said vehicle and abandoning it 100 yards away, being unable to work the clutch.)

    My wife grew up here under Apartheid and the civil upheaval of its downfall. Plenty of dingbat backpackers make their way around the world with little incident, not counting the ones who decide muling dope is a good way to pick up extra beer money. Or their best decision of the day is to party with whatever Chuck U. Farley keeps giving them booze. If they can do it, I can cowboy up with USA tattooed on my forehead and Colorado spurs in my swagger without having to rely on only ONE of my "equalizers".
    Last edited by mahkagari; 02-28-2012 at 12:53 PM.

  5. #5
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    Very good points. And as I said, it would come off closed minded. I am all for situational awareness, but I sit here and look at the things that are happening in our backyards and I know how difficult it can be here to see and know everything going on around you. As for being in the situations you could encounter there, you're right, a pistol would do you absolutely no good.

    Also, good luck with the baboons, all I've seen of them is Discovery channel stuff, but I think I'm definitely good on staying well clear of them. I'm still not too fond of horses.

  6. #6
    Campaign Veteran since9's Avatar
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    Yeah, life's not worth holing up as if everything's a war zone. Unless, of course, it actually were a war zone...

    "Rand," eh? S. Africa? Or Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, or Zimbabwe?
    The First protects the Second, and the Second protects the First. They both protect the rest, but only if you exercise them both.

    Nothing in this post is to be misconstrued as "advice" of any kind. It is merely my opinion.

  7. #7
    Regular Member paul@paul-fisher.com's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by since9 View Post
    Yeah, life's not worth holing up as if everything's a war zone. Unless, of course, it actually were a war zone...

    "Rand," eh? S. Africa? Or Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, or Zimbabwe?
    Since the subject says johannesburg, it would be South Africa.

    Sent from my SCH-I500 using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by since9 View Post
    Yeah, life's not worth holing up as if everything's a war zone. Unless, of course, it actually were a war zone...

    "Rand," eh? S. Africa? Or Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, or Zimbabwe?
    SA. Zim's not a calculated risk I care to deal with. Though, I have both lefty and hunter friends who give me the "it's fine if you know where to go" line. I don't care how anti-Mugabe the region is, I don't need to be in the middle of the arguement.

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    Done with the safari (got an impala and a wildebeest) with nary a baboon in sight. My guide said they're pretty elusive so if you see one, bagging him is a chance you go for. I don't know though. I'd worry the sumbich's family would be on the next plane following me home. The one worry I did have was rhino poachers. The preserve has a herd of 5 they are hoping will calve. The farm manager says he wakes up every morning counting them and his heart stops every time he hears a helicopter.

    I thought of this thread and my last trip here and its orange level experience. We were on a road trip to Kruger National Park and stopped for fuel. I asked after the bathroom and was told the entrance was on the side of the building. I turned the corner and my senses went high orange/near red realizing I just turned into a blind alley. I saw a man walking toward me in a workman's uniform, probably with one of the truck rigs parked at the station. It was amusing that we both had subtly made the same hand motion as we greeted eachother in passing. Mine covering my wallet and his covering the cell phone on his hip.

  10. #10
    Herr Heckler Koch
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    Do you plan to look up Charl van Wyk, author of Shooting Back: The Right and Duty of Self-defense, his story of ending the Saint James Church massacre in Cape Town in 1993?

    Charl was the only armed congregant. His return fire ended the massacre with eleven dead. He went on to be a principal in the founding of Gun Owners of South Africa GOSA and works against their Firearms Control Act. http://www.gunownerssa.org/

    If you do see him, please extend the respects of his American correspondents.

    Don't miss their forum at gunownerssa.org/forum
    Last edited by Herr Heckler Koch; 03-15-2012 at 06:18 AM.

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