Day two - Johannesburg,
4th October 2007

I have been away from Johannesburg for just over 12 months and the three major changes I have noted can be summarised as follows:

  1. the worsening traffic situation (yesterday is took me two hours to travel along the M1 from Sandton to Klip Kop - about 50km.

  2. the worsening crime rate - one of the factors that contributed to the delay on the traffic yesterday was a truck hijacking - the truck driver was shot dead by the police on the M1

  3. the falling standards of the remaining white population - last time I saw just one white beggar - this time I saw many at traffic lights and even caught one on film at an intersection below.

The new face of South Africa

Today I left Klip Kop at about 8am and took well over an hour to get to Kensington (eastern suburbs) in traffic which was much better than yesterday. I met with Patrick Baker (the corporate book buyer for Pick 'n Pay) and Erica Warner (the corporate social project manager). The meeting went well and we could be doing business in the future.

From there it was into Johannesburg to meet briefly with James Mitchell out the front of The Star at 47 Sauer St. James, who promoted my book launch tomorrow (click image right to see newspaper notice listed today). He was appalled to see my camera in view and warned me that the Johannesburg city centre was the worst possible crime area in South Africa... and that the gangs pounced before you knew what had hit you. I was able to hand James a personal copy of "Children of the Mist" - like so many others posted to book reviewers - his never arrived despite being sent to the correct address.

Then to Rosebank where I used to work - the security in this still affluent white suburb was extraordinary with sentries posted on each street corner and electrical barriers mounted above walls as well as razor wire. When I stopped to take one photo a mobile security van appeared and had me under surveillance for a short while... this is the new Johannesburg!

Image right: example of razor wire security round a home in Rosebank

Up to Sandton on the way home to drop into Exclusive Books then out on the M1 north to Pretoria in the early afternoon before the traffic once again became chaos. The only time you can travel on the major arterials around Johannesburg is between 10am and 3pm - from 6am to 10am and 3pm to 7pm is gridlock... and the African taxis! While the taxis are unguided missiles on wheels one has to be so aware of the suicidal motorbike riders (normally white) who scream through stop start traffic taking no fear of vehicles changing lanes!

Out on the M6 Lynwood road going to Bronkhorstspruit  stopped at a little Garden of Eden in the chaos... Watercrest where many couples get married is a beautiful spot - gardens, beds of white roses and a lovely little restaurant where my lunch cost me ZAR25 or about US$5!

Word of advice for visitors to South Africa - escape the city madness just take a drive in the district roads and simply drop into a small roadside venue advertising tea or lunches that you have never herd of before - I have yet to be disappointed - great company, food and above all value.

I was the only person at Watercrest - only because people always drive by! Take this link to find out more about this location - they have great cottages.

The new phenomenon

Pick n Pay's Head Office

Signs of the past

Confrontational Nike

More city views

Upmarket Rosebank


This pic resulted in being
followed by  a patrol

Mandela Square parking pay
station does not work!

The new face of retail

The M1 before the rush starts

More roadside


Traffic Jams...

A black roadside beggar

Gun emplacements above
the family home

Sign says it all

A beautiful Zulu word

The other face of security

Gates to an Eden

Real roses!

This is Watercrest

Their Church

Watercrest Bar


Resident dog

Spier Hotel wines!

Lion matches


Straight talking sign

Security at Klip Kop

A ghostly house

Star notice promoting the
book launch

Return to Scott Balson's 2007 book tour