Marcus McKenzie, strategic planner at The Daily Telegraph, used to
work in Johannesburg for The Guardian as group sales manager.
’Johannesburg is purported to be the most violent democratically run
city on the planet. It has one of the highest rates of rape and, where
weapons are concerned, the preferred ’tool’ is either a 9mm pistol or an
’This was the psychological baggage I took with me to South Africa. The
reality was completely the opposite. Like anywhere, if you’re in the
wrong place at the wrong time, horrible things can happen, but simple
precautions are the most effective deterrent.
’Working in South Africa is fantastic. They drive on the left like us
and despite there being 11 official languages, English is the norm.
’My working day started at 8am but finished at 4.30pm. The pace is
slower than the UK, although just as competitive in certain quarters. I
was surprised to find the communication infrastructure to be first-world
in many respects.
Getting the pronunciation of names correct is an ongoing difficulty but
people are quite forgiving. Learning a few rudimentary words in Zulu and
Afrikaans is a real winner.
’The social side of things was out of this world. I met the president,
acted in commercials, ate at the best restaurants, went on safaris,
frequented shooting ranges and addressed a graduation ceremony at Wits
university. And yes, I had a swimming pool in my garden.’