8:30pm – Wednesday, June 20 on ABC2
Documentary filmmaker Louis Theroux takes on the issue of law and disorder when he travels to Johannesburg, where the residents find themselves increasingly besieged by crime.
Despairing of the capabilities of the police and the courts to protect them, many residents are turning to the private security industry which offers protection for a price. Are the sometimes brutal methods of these private police really a solution, or just another part of the problem.
The first stop for Louis is a meeting with William Mayangoni, the local co-ordinator for a security firm known as Mapogo. William investigates thefts for his mainly white clients. When he catches a suspect, he gives them ‘medicine’ which involves beating the alleged offender with a leather whip known as a sjambok.
In the centre of Johannesburg, a security company called Bad Boyz works in an area called Hillbrow, notorious for its high crime rate. Louis meets company director Hendrik De Klerk, who explains that much of their activity involves reclaiming and securing buildings that have been taken over – or hijacked – by criminal gangs who illegally take rent from tenants.
While on patrol, Bad Boyz introduce Louis to an unseen Johannesburg underworld. Here, he meets the gang boss known only as ‘The Chairman’ and is escorted into a hijacked skyscraper to meet residents who have lived for years without electricity or water. As he watches Bad Boyz protect their buildings and tenants, Louis begins to wonder about their readiness to use violence, and witnesses the compromises that are made to keep order in a violent city.