The ten circles of South African hell

Stuck in a queue, I thought about Dante’s nine circles of hell.

Actually, I thought it was seven circles of hell. But I now know it is nine because I have looked it up. It turns out the nine circles of hell represent nine places where people are punished for various sinful ways in their lives. For the record, these are what the nine circles are:

First Circle of Hell- Limbo
Second Circle of Hell- Lust
Third Circle of Hell- Gluttony
Fourth Circle of Hell- Greed
Fifth Circle of Hell- Wrath
Sixth Circle of Hell- Heresy
Seventh Circle of Hell- Violence
Eighth Circle of Hell- Fraud
Ninth Circle of Hell- Treachery

It’s a long time since these circles of hell were thought of in that way. Today, the concept of circles of hell is often invoked to describe a hellish situation in the present, as in this tweet: “i’m sure the US media is one of the circles of hell…. absolutely 0 critical thinking, just insane”.

It is in that spirit that I present to you the South African list of the nine circles of hell, descending into deeper layers of irritation as we go.

That moment when you wait for a pedestrian (who has right of way) to cross the road before you obey the green traffic light and every car in the queue behind you hoots violently.
Learning that a municipality actually charged someone for planting vegetables on his pavement.
Being stuck in the queue at Clicks, clutching your little ticket, and watching the screen where it always says: “Average waiting time 32 minutes”. No matter how long you sit (or stand), it will always say 32 minutes. Except when it refreshes and says 12 minutes. And then refreshes, and says 36 minutes.
That braai where no matter what anyone does, or how many salads are prepared, the meat will only be ready at 11.30pm. And it will be burnt.
Trying to cancel your Telkom line.
Anything that begins “My fellow South Africans”.
It’s loadshedding again. And you have a deadline to meet, or a customer to serve.
Three words: The Post Office.
And just two words: Home Affairs.

Of course, in South Africa, there’s always one more thing. Our tenth circle of hell is the knowledge that the nine circles of hell I’ve listed are mere annoyances compared to the poverty and violence that so many citizens contend with, day after day, year after year.

Let’s remember that, next time we are in the Clicks queue.

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Main picture: Sincerely Media, Unsplash

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