Once again, in Kuruman, on the same street as last time (maybe 100 yards away from the site of the last incident, with the same friend as last time even) I was harassed again by tsotsis. This time one guy tried to stop us both, then two followed us trying (in the most obvious way you can imagine) to get into our backpacks. I could feel them trying to do that, so I kind of waggled them off, then we stopped with our backs to a taxi, pushed them away, and yelled at them for awhile. They left, but not right away. They seemed kind of pissed, which is about par for the course here. The sense of aggrieved entitlement is very common here, like I owe them my stuff. The tsosti Ubuntu. It's infuriating--these drunken chumps are lucky I'm not some Afrikaner with a gigantic pistol on my hip.
Neither of us had anything valuable on the outside of our packs, and they didn't get inside them anyway, but it was still a pain in the ass. I noticed this time that I was much calmer, and we both acted more rationally and effectively. I'm getting used to it. Still, it's getting out of control. At this point I expect to have an robbery attempt every time I step foot on the street between Shoprite and the taxi rank. Three other people that I know of have been involved in similar incidents in the past three weeks, all in that same place.
I am continually struck, though, by the stupidity of the criminals around here. I was never robbed in New York (in fact, it's one of the safest cities in the US), but from stories I hear, criminals there don't screw around. None of this half-assed following two young males around for half a block pawing drunkenly at their backpacks. In New York (or in Pretoria or Joburg, most likely) that would have gotten your ass kicked, or maced, or worse.
UPDATE: Someone emails to ask if anything can be done. I've been in contact with the Peace Corps security officer, and tomorrow I'm going to call the police chief of Kuruman and file a report. I got a good look at one of the guys this time (he only had one good eye), so I think that can do some good. My feeling is that this is a relatively small group of very stupid people who could be caught or scared off easily.
I've been considering steps to take personally. I want to avoid the backpack as much as possible, and keep as many things as I can in my money belt or around my neck. I kind of wish I had brought an expandable baton, though that's probably the wrong step to take. One wonders what would serve as an effective deterrent. Hopefully the police can work some magic.