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  • Writer's pictureSandra Caganoff

The Blue Folder

A few days ago I made a list. Wifi password, neighbour’s phone number, handyman and plumber details, how to use the washing machine, where the good coffee shops are and the panic button protocol. I explained in detail about recycling day and how Tuesday’s paper picker likes his tea, handed over the keys and left for six weeks in Cape Town.

In the beginning, I was a bit nervous. Not about my new Capetonian relationship, we are good at that now, but about having a short term tenant. I’ve never rented out my house to anyone and even though this was someone I know well, from the UK, it’s still a responsibility.

For the first few days we had a bit of contact.

“Sandi, do you have coasters. I don’t want to mess your lovely wooden table.”

“Hey, what zone are you for load shedding, not sure if this is shedding or if your electricity has gone off.”

“Sorry to worry you but would you mind directing me to the laundromat.”

All this was par for the course. It’s what being a landlady is about. And then it went quiet and he settled into a Joburg rhythm and I settled into a Cape Town rhythm.

All seemed well.

Until I got a phone call at 6 pm last night.

“Sandi. I went out for half an hour and just came home. The house has been broken into.”

"Dammit, shit, f**&^, dammit, I’m calling the security company, hang on calling the police, wait, are you safe, hang on…"

We both called for help. Beagle Watch arrived quickly. The police soon after. My son arrived. Then one neighbour. And then another.

“What have they taken?” I asked my tenant.

"My Macbook. Kindle. And they got my Blue Folder, the one with ALL my important documents inside. Passport, ID, driver's license, everything."

"Oh god."

"The television has been stolen, I don’t know, your duvet cover has gone, my favourite jeans aren't here, they've left a mess…"

MY DUVET COVER, what the actual.

“Are you backed up?” I asked, thinking thank goodness he was not at home when it happened, also hoping he had insurance.

“My Pajamas have gone.”

What kind of a thief steals pajamas, I asked. It’s summer, the nights are warm.

I put out an alert on my Facebook community group.

My house in Melville, 1st Avenue, was robbed today around 6 pm. Broken gate and two doors bashed right through. Stuff stolen but most important is a Blue Folder with passports and various ID documentation inside. If anyone finds this lying on the streets, please get hold of me.

People were supportive. So sorry this happened to you. Yes, we’ll look for the folder. Are you all okay? Was anyone home at the time? Get trauma counselling.

The neighbours bought tea to my tenant. I sat on the other side of the phone, in Cape Town, pacing and eating anything with sugar in it. He spent a long time with the police, filing the report, keeping me updated all the way. The security company arranged a guard for the house.

The house was vulnerable.

We are all vulnerable.

My tenant found somewhere else to sleep for the night. The neighbours left. I took a Stilnox and turned the lights off. Nothing happened. Tossed and turned.

Around midnight I checked my phone. It was the tenant. Again.

Now what??

"Sandi, you won't believe this. I’ve had an email from a young woman in Soweto who said her son was playing in the street and..."


"They have the folder. THEY HAVE THE FOLDER. With my passport, with..."


" I haven’t got hold of her yet but this is incredible. I am going to call her tomorrow."

I started with the OYS and dammits again. Was this a scam? Could the mail be a phishing mail. Should he be blocking his cards?

I was scammed a few weeks back. I have not fully got over it.

Early the next morning Spot On Locksmiths in Melville arrived at the house. I know them well; I’ve locked myself out so often the locksmith thinks I have a crush on him. They repaired the gate, fixed the doors, changed the locks and checked the electric fence. My son brought them coffee and croissants and my neighbours bought him coffee and croissants. My tenant dealt with the police, his insurance and mine, then picked up a friend and drove to Soweto.

I had two very worrying hours, waiting anxiously for the call. WAS HE KIDNAPPED???? Did I have to open a new police case? Were all the doors fixed for nothing…

The phone beeped. And there it was, the message.

"I've got the folder. With everything, EVERYTHING, inside it."


A happy ending to a shitty story.

Thanks to a little boy in Soweto with a very cool mom.

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