So I am back in the country. In Cape Town shooting a commercial. Yes, Cape Town. And yes, I know I wrote an article slagging off the place. But that’s life. Full of irony. It has been a great trip. The weather has treated us fairly well (if you can ignore the wind). Our crew has been fantastic. The local production people have gone out of their way to make us welcome. I have eaten my body weight in good fish, meat and Niknaks. Anne Stevens really has no clue about restaurants. Cape Town restaurants are good. World-class in fact. And as a long-standing 5-star twat, I feel I can make that claim.

But there is one thing that has come back to hit me slap-bang in the face. Something I had forgotten about. South Africa’s hate affair with the pedestrian. SA drivers really don’t like the pavement dweller. Given the chance they will kill every person on foot within a hundred yards of the street. And I say this from first-hand experience. While I have been in Cape Town, to try and help with the enormous consumption of food, I have been running every second day. Now the thing with running in the inner city is that you need to cross roads. You have to kind of work with the traffic. Run along, wait for your gap and then take it. But the drivers in SA seem to want to hit you. They will speed up as you begin to cross the road. Just so they can get the opportunity to scare you or hoot at you or on the most beautiful of occasions, actually run you down. It gives them an enormous sense of well-being to know they are capable of taking your life. WTF is that all about? Why do they do that?

I could maybe understand if there was some sort of intricate challenge in being nasty to the pedestrian. A harking back to a primitive skill. A modern version of hunting. No longer can we hunt the boar so we must kill the walking pig. Use our cunning and our superior speed to sneak up on him before ramming him down and crushing him beneath our metal fenders. Smearing his blood across the walkway like the ancients did with the buffalo. But hunting is about skill and there is no skill in killing pedestrians. Take me for instance. As far as prey goes, I am rather lame. I am not a fast runner. More like one of those seals down at Kalkbaai, the big fat ones that beg for fish rather than catch their own. Just add a pair of legs and you got me. So if you want to kill me on the road, it would be fairly easy. There will be no glory in wiping me out. No sense of achievement.

To understand the real reason for this motorised depravity, you have to look at the people who normally populate the pavement. It is the workman, the hawker, the beggar and the hooker. The “bottom rung” of the social ladder. There to be stood on. Yes, there is the occasional jogger or weirdo who likes to walk but the majority of people on our streets are the poor. And the crux of the matter is that the driving classes of this country look down on their footed friends. They have a feeling of superiority. They view them as no better than road kill waiting to happen. Like a cat with a gecko. You could call it: carpartheid. A country segregated by preformed metal sheets and fuel-injected engines.

Over the last week I have had a driver in Cape Town. A lady who takes us from one location to the next. She feels nothing for the less fortunate souls who have to work and walk on the streets of our great country. She will drive so close to them that I’m sure her wing mirror gives them a little clip around the ear as she roars by. She will speed up as they try their best to cross roads that have no pedestrian crossing for miles. Now, she doesn’t tell me she is doing it on purpose. But I watch her and I can almost see the glee in her eyes. The smallest of satisfied smiles on her face. I can only imagine what is going through her mind … Ja, that made you kak, little man, now go back to your hole, you carless vermin… Now the image you have probably got in your mind of this woman is probably of some ruthless killer. But she is actually the loveliest person you will ever want to meet. Sweet, caring and always laughing. I suppose that’s life. Full of irony.


  • David Smith is a world famous artist and a British Olympic hammer thrower. He is a curler for Scotland and Manitoba. A pro wrestler fondly known as the British Bulldog. A Canadian economist and a Mormon missionary they call the Sweet Singer of Israel. He is a British historian and a bishop. David Smith is the biographer of HG Wells, a professor of physics, a composer and a music teacher at Yale. He played rugby for Samoa, England and New Zealand. He created the Melissa worm, a deadly computer virus. He is the Guardian's man in Africa, he starred in a reality TV show and shot his way to silver in the 600m military rifle prone position at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp. But this isn't that David Smith. This is the blog of the other David Smith. David J Smith. The one from Durban by the Sea. The one who lives in Amsterdam. Yes, him. The David Smith who likes to write about himself in the third person. To learn about all the other David Smiths: To contact this David Smith: [email protected]


David J Smith

David Smith is a world famous artist and a British Olympic hammer thrower. He is a curler for Scotland and Manitoba. A pro wrestler fondly known as the British Bulldog. A Canadian economist and a Mormon...

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