Grand Theft Auto: South Africa — documentary mashes game-styling with real-world crime (video)

Above: Violent crime is on the rise in South Africa, fuelled by massive inequality and corruption.

Image Credit: YouTube/Channel 4

Gaming and real-life collide in a documentary short released this week that uses the style of Grand Theft Auto to tell the story of two private security guards in Pretoria, South Africa, who are risking their lives to earn a living.

Carjack City — which shares the name of a multiplayer mode from Rockstar Games’ open-world action title Grand Theft Auto IV — comes from Channel 4 in the U.K. and follows guards Aaron Kekae and Andries Hlongwane during a dramatic 12-hour shift.

Touches of Grand Theft Auto permeate the short film, including the Grand Theft Auto V-style profiles of the protagonists, a mission screen that proclaims “Recover Stolen Vehicles,” and a closing shot that highlights the scant rewards Kekae and Hlongwane are working for.

There are nearly half a million private security guards in South Africa -- almost double the number of police and armed forces.

Above: South Africa has nearly half a million private security guards — almost double the number of police and armed forces.

Image Credit: YouTube/Channel 4

According to Channel 4, a single 12-hour shift in Pretoria can include carjackings, muggings, shootouts, and robberies. With unemployment running at 25 percent in South Africa, though, the guards are just happy to have jobs.

The documentary reveals that South Africa has 30 vehicles hijackings a day. Getting these cars back carries significant risks to the guards and their families, as 43 murders occur each day, and gangs will apparently kill for a cellphone.

So, how much does Andries earn from a night putting his, and his family’s, life on the line? Well, with an hourly rate of $2.11, a 12-hour shift bags him just $25.30.

The Carjack City short is a supporting piece for a full 30-minute documentary, which was broadcast today in the U.K.

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