On my first night in Johannesburg, I accidentally shut the rape door behind me, trapping myself in the bedroom.
Most middle-class homes in South Africa feature ‘rape doors’ — sliding jail doors that compartmentalize a house so that no intruder can get at you if — and this is the phrase commonly used — “your perimeter is breached.”
It was funny for a minute. Then I realized that since all the windows in the bedroom were barred, I had no way to get out in case of a fire.
We phoned the couple we’d rented our pleasant bungalow from and explained the situation. The owner laughed a long time, and then said he’d be by in the morning to release me.
South Africans are afraid of many things. Fire ranks very low on the list.