Criminality is not good, not for the country and not for you and I personally. We probably all agree on that. But real, deeply felt agreement is not reached until we personally feel the effects of criminal activities on our lives.

We have a cottage twenty or thirty metres from the house. The members of the family who live in it do certain household and garden work for us, enabling Miriam and I to concentrate on other kinds of work – such as the musing you are reading at this moment.

Yesterday, I went to the cottage with the idea of entering, but could not. The door handle had been removed. Later, I spoke to Shadrack, who lives there with his family.  “I thought there was a door handle.” I said.

“There is,” he said, taking it from a drawer and passing it to me.

“Would it not serve its purpose better if it was actually attached to the door?” I suggested wisely.

“It would,” he admitted, “but if it is not attached to the door, its absence provides an extra bulwark against intruders.” These are not the precise words he used, but I am sure you get the meaning.

“Have we had intruders?”

“Oh yes,” he said. It was a surprise to him that I did not know that. “About once a week, sometimes more often. They try to get in.” He smiled, a crafty expression. “But I have the door handle.”

“I don’t suppose that’s a perfect way of keeping them out.”

“Maybe not, but it helps. If I’ve got the door handle, my wife is not so scared anymore.”

“Your wife is often scared at night?

“Very scared.”

“Have you ever called the police when you hear them?”

He laughed, but said nothing.

What annoys me about the matter is that a perfectly decent and law-abiding woman is often afraid at night – on our property. Unlike our president who apparently told a former American president that we have no farm attacks, she is aware of the rapes, assaults, thefts and murders to which South African country people, both black and white, are regularly exposed.

As far as our cottage is concerned, that is where the matter stands at this moment. I am going to see what I can do about it and will let you know. Strengthening the fence is not a solution. We have probably a kilometre of fence wire, so I will need to come up with something more innovative, or at least more effective.

The Cottage Lock